Friday is harvest day and we turn to the almost iconic white plastic laundry sink as veggie washing station. It’s a one-tub day today, with only beet greens to hydrocool (sometimes dunking in water is to wash off dirt, usually, and especially with above-ground crops, it’s to cool them down to keep ’em fresh, and the term for that is, yep, hydrocooling). The legs on this one gave out, so Jon replaced plastic with wood—a fair bit heavier overall for something we move around and stack, but then, still in service. Make do!
Just-rinsed carrots in the soft light of an overcast day: beautiful every time! Some veggies look particularly good without trying… These are freshly pulled Nelson, at a pretty fair size but not yet fully mature, from our fourth planting of the season. Every year so far, I’ve put in at least four, sometimes five plantings in succession, and we rarely see really fat, full-sized carrots. This has worked well for CSA and farmers’ market: our carrots are freshly harvested every week, never from storage, and at a versatile size, always perfect for eating raw and usually big enough for convenient cooking as well. Today’s haul, bundled and laid out for rinsing on the long screen table, will be heading into CSA share bags in just a minute, for pick-up this afternoon…
Without much thought, I handed visiting Allie my camera and let her take pictures around the farm. After she’d disappeared from sight, I did start wondering if the camera—500 bucks to replace—was safe. But if this six-year-old can, just from watching, efficiently harvest sweet potatoes with a digging fork about as tall as she is, she should be able to handle a point-and-shoot, right?! Right! First, I showed her what button to press to take a photo. A few pics later, I showed her how to use the autofocus (“point at whatever, hold the button down halfway till it beeps, wait till the rectangle turns green, then push all the way!”). That went well, so I showed her when and how to switch between normal and macro mode (“turn the dial when you want to shoot up close”), which is how she shot the Bulls Blood beet (above). Wow, that was easy!
She took around 40 photos in all. Above, mom Michelle rinsing beets, below, her little sister Violet, with carrot. Kids, digital technology, and the field…all part of the TFE! (Guest photos by Allie)
The Friday harvest is shrinking. This is the second to last of the year, and the last for CSA members, and we’re down to mainly root veggies. Some of the last cabbage planting has firmed up, and we’re picking them as “baby,” about 1-2 lbs (450-900g) each (multiplanted, the yield is good, the size really convenient for cooking, and the taste quite fantastic). And there are beets, carrots, parsnips, plus onions, garlic and other storage crops. And some lettuce… As the harvest gets shorter, so do the days, and I’m out rinsing beets and carrots after dark once again. Try not to get wet when it’s COLD…!
In the fall, post-harvest work doesn’t necessarily end when the sun goes down (it’s dark by about 7:30pm right now). Actually, this year the fall Friday harvest has gone great, with Lynn, Libby and usually Michelle knocking things off in the field by around 5pm, with only bundling and rinsing to go. But I’ve been wrapping up with the crew by 6, taking a break, and doing whatever’s left on my own…later at night. It’s something I’m used to from the first few seasons, when the mainly solo harvest usually went straight through until 11pm or midnight. Tonight was the first time I’ve hauled out the light stand this year. It’s around 10pm, the two lights specally installed on the side of the Milkhouse for this purpose are on (they’re both regular 100W bulbs, the full plan is to install floodlight fixtures), and there are twin 250W all-weather halogens on a stand. It’s not perfect lighting, but quite enough to get the job done without stumbling around. Tonight is a quick set-up to rinse carrots and beets. Full-on post harvest lighting includes a second light stand, with both set higher up and beaming down, and floodlights properly positioned, to give pretty good 360° coverage of the work area, and enough illumination to watch the mud wash off…
After rinsing harvest bins for the regular Friday harvest, instead of spreading them around to dry as usual, I stacked ’em high to represent the house-of-cards global economy—I was trying to illustrate a point! What on Earth? Well, a few days ago, I became sadly hooked on the US presidential election action, especially on the endlessly fascinating PALIN. I slipped off the wagon and started obsessively sneaking in quick peeks at CNN through the day, and actually WATCHING in the late evening. This is so not in sync with the natural flow of…tiny farming. It’s been a couple of years now since I actively stopped consuming news: no TV, newspapers, Web, radio, just no news, except what came by word-of-mouth. (No-news really does wonders for your head…) Suddenly, I was back in, in an intense but luckily limited-to-presidential-politics way. Or so I thought. Earlier this week—overnight, it seemed—the ENTIRE U.S. ECONOMY STARTED TO MELT DOWN, and now the election thing has gotten SO MUCH CRAZIER. Wow. Anyhow, after I’d stacked the bins, Lynn and Libby tried to rapidly destabilize the economy by throwing potatoes at it—guess my model wasn’t too realistic, ’cause it wasn’t easy to knock down… We went on to a great harvest day, beautiful fall weather, a fine time to be in the field!