Monday, April 28, 2008

Berries and Barack

Stuart and I are rained in today. Looks like we'll have to run errands and do housework, officework. Our CSA starts Wednesday and we'll be giving them two, maybe three pints of strawberries per share. They're going to love it! We think this might be our biggest harvest week, this week or next. The berries are HUGE! Stuart picked them all yesterday in advance of the rain so they wouldn't all be a mushy mess. We even laid some of them out on a towel to dry (it rained Sat. evening as well) because even if they are a little wet and go in the cooler they will mold and rot.
I have been quite worried that we wouldn't have enough produce to put in everyone's box this week, but it turns out we'll have plenty, as Stuart frequently reassured me. He is the more patient, peaceful one in our relationship. Once again Alice frets for nothing. My father used to tell me that 'worry is an endless payment on a debt that never comes due.' I agree that worry is a waste of energy and that it probably brings me down more than it should. But don't they say some level of stress is good for you? Must be a fine balance.
We are going to see Barack Obama speak at the Dean dome tonight. YEAH!!!! We're so excited. Erin, Stuart's sister, is coming with us and we're going to witness one of the most eloquent, intelligent public speakers around, a man who very well may become the next pres. of the united states of america! Someone who may actually be capable of uniting the states, and the people, of america. Wouldn't that be something. I recently heard that Hillary Clinton served on the board of Walmart from 86' through 92'. I listened to a sound byte (from Democracy Now) from either a board meeting or some ceremony Walmart had to honor their board members and Hillary said something like "I'm so proud of this company. It stands for what I believe in".......Makes me cringe all over. Not that Barack doesn't have any negative dealings going on, but I have such an easier time giving my support to him. I don't think our country needs a dynasty or a monarch to rule it anymore. And I'm all for a woman being in charge, just not one who is married to Bill Clinton. Enough already of the Clintons. Enough.
So, back to farming. We successfully sold more ranunculus this past weekend at market as they were more open and more lovely. Or as Stuart and I endearingly like to call them, 'radunk-a-dunks'. Slips off the tongue a little easier than ranunculus. Native to the mediterranean and in the buttercup family, this stellar flower comes in a dazzling array of colors and sizes. There is a variety they breed in Italy that makes a flower the size of my fist. Huge! They all grow from a tuber that looks like a sea urchin. They seem pretty tricky to grow, and I think I started them a little later than I should've, but I think we'll profit from them and next year we'll plant even more. More colors, more choices, more sales. Let's hope all this rain doesn't ruin them out in the field!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Am I really a farmer?

Some days it just doesn't feel true. I feel there should be some stipulation that you can't call yourself a farmer until you've been doing it at least five years. Making a living at it. Sure we farm, but do we really know what we're doing? Somedays it feels like not so much. Like yesterday. Even Clover seemed out of of it. It felt like I hit the wall running. Sometimes I'll question why on earth am I trying to be a farmer. Why. Do I really like my back and arms aching all the time? Do I really like having ten million things to do in one afternoon for work, and then come home to ten million more things to get done at home? Do I really like washing off a thick layer of dirt and sweat, sunscreen and muck, pulling off ticks, and then crawling to the kitchen at 9 to fix dinner? hmmm. I guess through all the negativity there is a light that says yes, I do love farming. Somedays are just worse than others. The beauty of it all is that usually apathy has no place in farming. The plants and soil come before our own penchant for moody self-absorption. But I do say usually. There are days for sure, like yesterday, when the wall gets hit and self-pity envelops me for way too long. Maybe it's because our dryer has been broken for three weeks and our laundry pile is higher than our manure pile on the farm. We were finally able to hang clothes outside (been rainy here for a while) so I guess starting such a task is a little daunting. We'll have it done soon.
Maybe it was the lisianthus that got me down. Lisianthus is a beautiful flower that people can't seem to get enough of, but let me tell you, what a time-consuming princess of a flower this one is.

Here she is at almost five months old. Yes, I kid you not. Grows slower than a baby I think. Our bed of this flower got weedy with the row cover over it and I had to hand weed the whole bed. I was close to saying goodbye to the lizzy for 2008, but since I had already spent an obscene amount of time with it (not to mention money on seed), I decided to suck it up and get down on my knees for the princess. This year I feel confident in saying we probably won't be making any money off of lisianthus. I am slightly excited to see how the four varieties we have differ in color and form. We're trying carmine mariachi lisianthus which should be a deep hue of pink. excellent. I'm sure when it blooms I'll craftily forget all the pain it put me through and think of it as one of my favorites. Oh the beauty of selective memory.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Transplanting the day away

Today we transplanted most of the day. Such a boring task really, but we had some company so it went by a bit faster than normal. Claire, a UNC student about to graduate. is doing a photo-documentary of us and our farm, and perhaps a pic or two of clover honey (that would be our dog). We got to see her picture presentation today and we were psyched to see some great pictures from a visitor's perspective. We look forward to posting some of her pics as they are some of the first (and the best!) pictures of our new farm. Besides that we enjoyed the weather that has been pretty wild of late; reports of hail have come in from not too far from us, and dark clouds that both awe and frighten have been not so far from us either. But it looks as if we'll remain unscathed unless something rolls in tonight. Two years ago I lost all the first peppers and eggplants I had as well as the remains of the strawberries to hail. It all came down in about ten minutes and coated the ground with marble size hail. Good thing the garden was teeny tiny at that point. Can't let things like that get you down though. Although I was steeming like the ground at that point. Ken was nice enough to give me some extra starts he had. I wasnt a good enough grower then to even get a red pepper that year. Lame.
We also planted two hundred feet of sunflowers today. They should bloom late May-early June. They are the kind with green centers (my favorite), good for early summer sales. It is so nice to look at two hundred feet of anything that has just been planted in freshly tilled soil. makes you feel so good. The picture up top is actually not from our farm. We went on a dump run yesterday and this is what most of the fields out here look like now. All pre-tobacco or soybeans or corn. They all look so lovely it's hard to fathom why anyone would waste such nice looking beds on something that kills people, but I guess maybe a sale is a sale to these farmers. I wonder how many people who grow tobacco have had someone they know die from cancer. On a lighter note, the ranunculus are coming in. The colors we have don't all match though. Next year we won't have this happen. Its just this deep red color that has to stand on its own. Which i think it can do. Sales were lame this past saturday for these beauties, but I think the flowers were too closed for people to realize that they are a great cut. we'll have them open up a little more for next Sat.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Tulip Mania is over

So today we celebrate the end of tulip mania. No more picking the late frenchies anymore. They were glorious this year, all 1300 that we planted. Well, wait, not all 1300. The 100 parrot tulips we planted failed to amount to anything more than stubs coming up 2-3 inches out of the ground. And the peony tulips did not perform well either. But the late frenchies, all in hues of red and pink, were enough to make anyone celebrate the Dutch and their monopoly over the bulb trade. Excellent vase life, majestic height (we had some that topped 3 ft!), and elegant lines make this one of my favorite flowers. I am glad to have them done; no more bending over to yank them out of the ground and no more five hours of tulip bunching on Friday evenings. The beauty of seasonal flowers persists with the demise of tulips, only to be revisited this fall as we plant 1300 more. The next flower we'll have that will manage to fade the image of the tulip in my mind--it's gotta be the peony. Stuart gave me two tree peonies for my 2006 birthday. They both have buds on them this year and I can't wait to see them open up! I've read that the trees can have up to something like 150 blooms on them in the springtime. Our regular peonies seem almost boring compared to the tree form. But maybe I'm just partial to my birthday presents.