It’s a Week B Pick up This Thursday, August 10th!
This week’s share:
- Sweet corn
- Your choice of kale or Swiss chard
- Either radishes or a small conical cabbage
More of the same next week, potatoes coming soon. Your fruit will be blueberries, peaches will be coming next week and melons are coming soon.
The next Lewis Waite Delivery is August 31st. Did you know that you can place an order and edit it up to a few days before delivery? Helpful advice for those who sometimes forget to order until it’s too late (I know I have).
CSA News from Windflower Farm
Delivery #10, August 10, 2017
On this Monday following our open house on the farm, we are pleasantly tired. Heavy rains on Saturday morning threatened to spoil the weekend, but in the early afternoon, just about the time CSA members began to arrive, the sun broke out. Turnout was good, the food was great, and we all made new friends. Thanks to all who came.
I have just abandoned today’s bean harvest. Nearly a quarter of an acre of beans are ready for harvesting, enough to keep all of our shareholders and the food pantries we serve in fresh green beans for the next two weeks, but my machinery has broken down. I’ve been on the phone with my John Deere sales rep and the manager of his service department, making sure that the tractor isn’t the cause of the problem, and I’ve spoken with Jim Watson, the man from whom I purchased the harvester, but to no avail. The problem has to do with the hydraulic motor that powers the vacuum that separates the leaves from the beans.
Jim, who is from Ontario, is one of two men (the other is in Kansas) who seem to control most of the secondary market for green bean harvesters in North America. The biggest names in harvesters had been Byron, Pixall and Oxbo, but now, because they have purchased the other two, there is only Oxbo. A new one-row unit sells for just under $50,000. Mine is a 20-year old Byron 105, and I purchased it for $17,000, which I imagine is several thousand dollars more than it sold for new. But that is how it is in agriculture: farmers make their equipment last, and it’s value –new or used – relates closely to the market value of the work it can perform regardless of age.
Two sets of hydraulic motors power the unit: one turns a gang of fingers that rip the beans and leaves off the plant and deposit them on a belt that delivers them to the top of the harvest bin. The other sits atop the harvest bin and powers a fan that sucks the leaves upward and blows them out the back, allowing the heavier beans to drop into the bin. I was on the first row of beans when hydraulic fluid began to rain down on the beans in the harvest bin. The overhead fan motor sprang a leak. Back in the barnyard, and with the assistance of an ice-cold Hair Raiser, I removed the motor and began ripping the seal apart. It will take a couple of days to get new parts here.
Salvador, who has worked on the farm for over 10 years, questions if the purchase makes sense. He knows the machine’s cost, he knows his own wage, and he knows how fast he and the members of his family can harvest beans. For this week, at least, the question is academic. We’ll have no choice but to harvest by hand. Replacing people with machinery (a long-time trend in agriculture) has never been a goal of ours. We’d simply like our work to be easier, our time well spent, and to earn enough of a profit to be sustainable.
Have a great week, Ted