Distribution #15 – Week of September 13, 2021

The News from Windflower Farm

Hello from Windflower Farm!       

What’s in your share?

  • Green Bibb lettuce
  • Purple ruffled kale
  • Purple beets
  • French Breakfast radishes
  • Tomatoes
  • Garlic
  • Peppers
  • Eggplant
  • Red and yellow onions
  • Zucchini

This week’s fruit will be prunes from Yonder Farm. Prunes are very like plums, differing from them most noticeably by their shape – plums are round, prunes are oblong. In markets, prunes will often be identified as plums, which bothers Pete. He suspects that this is the case because prune juice has an association with a home remedy for people who are irregular. I have my own childhood memories of my mom chasing me around with a little brown bottle of prune juice if she thought I’d become bound up! Which is unfortunate, Pete says, because prunes are absolutely delicious and they should be called by their proper name! 

What’s new on the farm?

I bought a four-bottom International plow last week. Fresh points, coulters and tires, and new red paint to make it shine. I was putty in the salesman’s hands. Still, it was the result of a little horse trading. Our neighbor Matt became aware that I’d broken a plow in the spring of last year and I’d left it in a hedgerow. In the business of spring, I’d replaced it with one I’d purchased from a local dealer that turned out to be too big. They have five bottoms, my old plows had four, and my old John Deere struggled to pull them. So, yes, I now have two plows. But I plan to sell one set. The salesman told me that 4-bottom plows are in more demand than those with five bottoms, so I’ll have to do the work of cutting them down to size. In the meantime, Matt purchased my old plows, giving me the opportunity to put a down payment on a set that was a better fit.

To save money on delivery, I decided to drive my tractor into town to pick up the plows myself. I’d not taken my tractor on a road trip before. The dealership is about ten miles from our farm, on the edge of the village of Greenwich, near a traffic circle. My tractor and plows were not a small presence on the highway, and therefore hard to get around. Moreover, the rig topped out at just under 22 miles per hour. In short order a line of several cars were behind me. I would pull over where I could, but opportunities for doing so did not come along very often. At one point, some twenty cars were behind me. It was then that a large combine was coming toward me from the opposite direction. He gave me a friendly wave as we passed, and very possibly a thumbs up. I counted close to thirty cars behind him! All of which brought to mind a Craig Morgan song Daren and Kristoffer had talked about a few days earlier called “International Harvester.” It’s about “a third generation farmer, a combine driver, hoggin’ up the road with his pupapupa plower, chugging along the road at 5 miles an hour…” The music video depicts very unhappy drivers in a mile-long traffic jam behind Craig’s tractor. In my own experience, drivers were nothing but considerate. I like to think that they were as pleased with my new plows as I was.

Have a great week, Ted

Distribution #14 – Week of September 6, 2021

The News from Windflower Farm

Happy Labor Day from the Windflower Farm team!       

What’s in your share?

  • Crisp or oakleaf lettuce
  • Butterhead lettuce or radicchio
  • Red and yellow onions
  • Yellow potatoes
  • Cabbage
  • Tomatoes
  • Garlic 
  • Sweet peppers
  • Green beans or yellow wax beans from Markristo Farm

This week’s peaches will likely be Pete’s last of the season. I’ve been pleased with them, and I hope you have been, too. It cannot be easy to grow peaches in the relatively cold climate of the Hudson Valley. He thinks it may have been his best crop ever. Bartlett pears and late summer plums will be in fruit shares during the next two weeks, and then on to apples and cider.

Next week’s vegetable box should include, among other items: sweet corn, tomatoes, eggplants, garlic, kale and beets.

What’s new on the farm?

Highways heading into the city from the north were closed on Thursday morning after Hurricane Ida passed through, and Don and Daniel had to find a new route on the fly, taking them first into New Jersey and then across lower Manhattan. I was very pleased that they were able to get to all but one site given the difficulties they encountered along the way. But Don’s been behind the wheel for us for nearly ten years (it will be 440 deliveries at the end of the year) and he knows what he’s doing! I hope that you managed to get to the site yourself given the challenges presented by the storm.

The shorter days and cooler weather of September mark our transition to the vegetable crops of fall. Potato, cabbage, onion and beet harvests have begun to fill our barn’s storage bays. Soon we’ll be bringing in hard squashes, sweet potatoes and carrots. Row covers have been put back on salad crops in the field as temperatures have dropped. There should still be plenty of warm weather ahead, and tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and squashes, our summer lineup, will, I think, continue to produce well, but I already sense a change. 

Our little farm continues to be a busy place. We’ll be seeding greens for winter shares this week, which should allow us to transplant them into our unheated greenhouses on time in early October. And we are preparing land now for cover crops and for planting onions and strawberries that will overwinter under floating row covers. Nevertheless, the days feel easier somehow, perhaps because of cooler working temperatures or the reduced daylight hours available for working. Perhaps because we’re in farm shape, having trimmed down after four months of field work. Or perhaps because there are fewer decisions to make, having dispensed with most of the many hundreds of small but tiring decisions that must be made in the course of the farm season.

I hope that you, too, find your work easing, at least on this one day of the year during which we celebrate and take a break from our labors.        

Have a great week, Ted

Distribution #13 – Week of August 30, 2021

The News from Windflower Farm

Hello from Windflower Farm!        

What’s in your share?

  • Lettuce
  • Collards
  • Red potatoes
  • Bok Choy or chard
  • Sweet peppers
  • Assorted tomatoes
  • Genovese basil pot
  • Yellow and red onions
  • Sweet corn
  • Garlic

Cabbage and beets will be in next week’s share. Squashes will return in another week or two, and carrots should be ready in another couple of weeks.

Your fruit share will be watermelons from us. Soon, stone fruits will be giving way to pears, apples and cider.

What’s new on the farm?

It’s county fair week here in Washington County, and our fair, or so goes the claim, is the largest agricultural fair in the state. This doesn’t surprise me – everyone here seems to have something or other to do with farming, and agriculture is by far the leading economic activity in the county.

Like many of you, Jan, Nate and I have rediscovered bicycling during the pandemic, and in seeking out new bike routes we have rediscovered the beauty of our working landscape, which is a mix of orchards, vegetable fields, rows of grains, giant swaths of hay and alfalfa and woods, especially on hillsides and along waterways. A farmstead can be found around virtually every turn in the road, with horses, cows, sheep, chickens or goats in the farmyard.

After getting out for a morning bike ride on Sunday, Jan, Nate and I washed the red potatoes that will be going into this week’s share. To wash root crops, we use a machine with rollers and brushes and banks of fresh water spray nozzles. My job was to tip the crates of freshly dug potatoes into the machine’s hopper. Jan’s was positioned on the outflow conveyor and tasked with inspecting the crop and tossing bad potatoes into the compost bucket. Nate gathered the potatoes that made it past Jan into clean totes and stacked them on pallets ready for today’s packing.

The first thing we noticed after removing the soil from the potatoes was that every tenth potato or so was weirdly creased and deformed. Many were so bad that Jan had to toss them. “These would win the ugliest potato contest at the county fair!” she said. It was not a problem we had encountered before. Puzzled, we did a little homework, and it turns out that many potato varieties, especially the early ones, will be deformed in seasons where poor growing conditions (the hot and dry weather of May and early June of this year) are followed by relatively good conditions (the regular rainfall of late June and July). Concerned, we checked our unwashed inventory. Happily, the second and third varieties we harvested, which were a few weeks later to mature, seem to be largely free of the malady.                    

Have a great week, Ted    

Distribution #12 – Week of August 23, 2021

The News from Windflower Farm

Hello from Windflower Farm!  Good news: Henri brought us very little rain or wind.       

What’s in your share?

  • Lettuce
  • Cabbage
  • Sweet peppers
  • Assorted tomatoes
  • Mizuna
  • Bok choy
  • Yellow and red onions
  • German White garlic
  • Eggplant or squash
  • Sweet corn

Your fruit share will be peaches from Yonder Farm.

We harvested red potatoes last week, and we’ll send them as part of next week’s share.

What’s new on the farm?

It is Monday afternoon and I have just snuck away from the assembly line. The pandemic has added this element to our packing operation. Many of you will remember that we used to send our vegetables in bulk, using recyclable plastic totes. But we decided last spring that pre-packed boxes are a requirement until the pandemic is over.

My job had been to put tomatoes in your box, but I’ve abandoned my station in order to get a quick newsletter off to you. The assembly line is a simple one, and I don’t think I’ll be missed. Abe sets a pre-folded box on the roller, places a cabbage in a corner and shoves it along to Kristoffer, who places an eggplant or two and two peppers in another corner of the box and pushes it down the line. Jan is next, and she puts red and yellow onions in the box. Her work requires a little sorting and represents the slowest stretch on the line, giving the rest of us occasional breaks and chances to chat. Nate is next in line and he puts garlic and bagged green beans in the box and pushes it along to Andrea, who puts lettuce and kale in a corner and then pushes the box up to me. Because four of us had spent the morning sorting and bagging your tomatoes, my job was nothing more than setting a bagful of tomatoes in the remaining corner of the box. Victoria takes the box from me, closes it and sends it up to Daren at the end of the line. With me gone, she also deals with the tomatoes. Daren arranges the boxes on pallets and rolls them into the cooler where they will remain until loading early tomorrow.

It has become routine now, this business of assembling boxes full of vegetables. Seven people harvest your shares over the course of two to four days a week, depending on where we are in the season. That work is rain or shine. The box making, produce washing, bean and tomato bagging and final filling of the boxes takes seven people a full day twice a week. It’s not bad work, and the packing shed is a comfortable place to be, especially when it’s raining or extremely hot.

Have a great week, Ted               

Distribution #11 – Week of August 16, 2021

The News from Windflower Farm

Hello from Windflower Farm!      

What’s in your share?

  • Red Romaine lettuce
  • Bunched mizuna greens
  • Sweet corn
  • Sweet peppers
  • Assorted tomatoes
  • Genovese basil
  • Red Russian kale
  • Yellow onions
  • German White garlic
  • Eggplant 

Fruit share members will get one quart of peaches from Yonder Farm

What’s new on the farm?

Although I wouldn’t be so bold as to say we’ve outsmarted our resident raccoon family, we have learned a simple trick this week: don’t be in a hurry to mow down the old corn crop. Our first generation of corn was planted near the back fence line, next to a woodlot and pond – prime raccoon habitat. Viewed now, it was obviously a poor choice of locations. The second generation of corn, the product of which is in your shares today, is growing in the next field, but two city blocks and a hedgerow away from the first generation. And, happily, it has been free of raccoons. Because they still have plenty of corn to eat in the first planting they have had no reason to send out an exploratory team. Perhaps by the time they have eaten all there is and have had to move on to planting #2, we will have moved on to the western part of the farm, two fields and two hedgerows away, where planting #3 is located. The corn variety you’ll be getting is called ‘American Dream’ and it’s one of the few really good organically grown sweet corn varieties on the market. Visitors this weekend grilled some for us, but I continue to think the best way to eat sweet corn is raw, freshly husked, with the fragrance of leaves and silk in the air and kernels still on the cob.

Have a great week, Ted