L'Ecuyer Gardens

  (Morrowville, Kansas)
A Day in the Life
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The Summer's Rainbow

This week has been much calmer.  T-ball has ended for the summer and we have enjoyed a little more time at home.  Tom and I are both homebodies but I think we are raising two little socialites.  Finding the right balance is a trick at our house.  But we keep trying. 

Our big outing for the week is the county fair for Jefferson County Nebraska and last night was spent enjoying the rides.  This particular fair is good for us because most of the rides are for younger kids.  Each girl had their favorite.  Livie loved the hot air bounce so much she had to do it twice and my Autie loves the carousel but I think the flying elephant ride actually topped it a little bit last night.  We ran into their cousin Adam and he took the girls to the sheep barn where their family had several entries.  He girls would love to have some at our house but Tom is reluctant.  Honestly, so am I.  Animals are a lot of work and we already have our hands full in that department.  Today Livie has a birthday party and Tom and Autie are going to run some errands.   

On the farm we are trying to get caught up on weeding and watering.  I will soon be planting fall peas, fall green beans, fall cabbages and lettuces, spinach and some late tomatoes.  This week I think is the tomato bumper crop.  Last night we held our first Fresh and Fabulous Friday patio grillers.  The turnout was low, butt he food was awesome.  Tom grilled burgers, sweet potatoes, onions and zuchinni.  I sliced a big plate of tomatoes and yes we enjoyed a rainbow platter.  Last year Autie would not even try a tomato.  This year she gobbles them up faster than anyone.  She likes it when I offer her the different colors. 

I have spent the last two days getting ready for tomorrow.  I will be at the Old Cheney Road Farmers Market in Lincoln, Nebraska from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  In tow will be a huge assortment of fresh from the farm goodness that I hope you will let us help you complete your dinner table for the week ahead. 

This week the colors, textures and flavors continue to change.  I have an entire rainbow of cherry tomatoes AND slicers.  You name it I have it... the shooting star, yellow pear, red fig, juliette red, chocolate cherry, snowberry, white rabbit, and the Stupice in the cherry and plum division.  In the slicer division I will feature the Nebraska wedding tomato, the Great White, orange and yellow ox heart, yellow beefsteak, Black from Tula, Black Krim, Japanese Black Trieffle, Paul Robeson, the Raspberry Lyanna, Juane Flemme’ and several others.  I will also have Jet Star.  I will also have some canning tomatoes with me for those lookign for a larger volume. 

Other items this week will feature a nice selection of peppers.  I have some beautiful yellow bells and Italian peppers.  In the smaller range I will have green and yellow bells, gypsy, and chili and jalapeno peppers.  Later on I will have some pimento peppers and both large and small red bell peppers.  I also have a nice selection of eggplant – little fingers in green and black, black beauty, and a smaller variety of the black beauty. 

I will also have two types of crabapples, potatoes, okra, onions, leeks, collard greens, Swiss chard, parsley bunches, mint, bunches, cucumbers, zucchini and several types of summer squash.  Throw in  some hard red winter wheat berries, Tabouli kits, sweet corn and farm fresh eggs. 

There are scores of possible decisions to make, but you could easily fix an entire week of meals from fresh.  I hope you will stop by and discover how beautiful a week of fresh from the garden flavors can be.  Have a fresh and fabulous weekend! 
 
 

Fresh & Fabulous Monday!

It is Monday Morning and the rain missed us!  Neighboring counties to the east received way too much and we received barely a sprinkle.  It is cooler and for that I am grateful.  Yesterday was a very good day at the market for me and everyone seemed to enjoy the cooler temperatures. 

T-ball has come to an end for the summer and now we begin preparing for the first day of kindergarten.  The eye exam is scheduled for next week. 

This week the garden is full bloom and WOW do we have a great selection.  Beautiful peppers of all shapes, sizes and colors.  We also have black beauty, and miniature eggplant in green and black.  Despite the heat our green beans don’t look too bad.  For those wanting to SAVE some money talk to me about our u-pick opportunities to where you can get your beans for as low as a $1.00 a pound.  We also have sweet corn and touchstone gold beets this week.  If you love greens then you will also need to check out our Swiss chard and collard greens.  The okra is starting to kick in and then there is the entire rainbow of tomatoes.  We also have some onions and a few potatoes and sweet potatoes left too! 

This week we are also featuring a new food option.  We call is fresh – fabulous & FAST.  Each week we will offer a take and bake item that will be fully cooked and only needing reheated.  This week we are using a terrific dish straight from the test kitchens of Taste of Home called yellow squash quiche.  It is a great one-dish meal that is perfect for a late night or a good hot meal in a hurry.  Starting this week we are also adding some easy and time-saving recipes to our website to give you some ideas on how to fully take advantage of summer’s goodness. 

In the garden this week we are busy weeding our bean patch and our fall squash bed.  I also hope to start planting some of my fall tomato plants, dykon radishes and turnips.  I also and order seeds for my fall and winter garden.  This year we plan to harvest something ALL 12 months.  Our big expansion for next year will include a nice assortment of raspberries, black berries, gooseberries and currants.  Most will be in production for the spring.  I need determine how many of each and select my varieties.  I am also going to add some June-bearing strawberries this fall and hopefully will have a crop in April and then again in June. 

At home the girls and I are getting back into our routine. We hope to end the week with a visit to the pool on Friday.  To earn this reward they will have to keep their rooms clean and complete their chore chart posted on our refrigerator.  The chores are simple and appropriate for their age, but also useful to running a busy house and farm.    Tom and I are also getting back into another rhythm.  Starting this Friday we are reopening our back yard Friday night for a taste of Fresh from the grill.  You will be able to try things like grilled eggplant, okra kabobs, and so much more.  You are welcome to stop by and sample.  I will let you know later in the week as to the full featured menu but for Father’s Day the girls and I gave Tom some new heavy duty skewers and I am guessing he will start with kabobs.  Why not? The produce will suit them perfectly.  Our Friday night grills are open to anyone and our FAMILY friendly.  We only ask you let us know are stopping by!    We are pretty laid back and only suggest that you may want to bring your own lawn chair. 

The online store is now open.  Please go to http://lecuyergardens.locallygrown.net. To place your order by 5:00 p.m. Wednesday and you order will be delivered Thursday.  Remember when you buy local and support a business like MINE you are buying from a business houses their purchasing power in YOUR community.  Whether it is a tank of gas, a new pair of shoes or a refrigerator we buy from our customers first, our collection of communities second and then elsewhere as needed.  Have a fresh and fabulous week!
 
 

The Wee Hours Update

It is already 1:00 a.m. and I have to get up extra early in the morning so this will be short and sweet.  Tonight was our last t-ball game of the year.  We did not win, but we worked pretty well as a team throughout the game.  My Livie will miss her favorite part which is the line where everyone shakes everyone’s hand.  I love that kid.  My Autie will miss her new friends (the younger siblings of other teammates) too.  Tom and I are exhausted, relieved and already talking about next year.  We work all of the time and t-ball while at times difficult to juggle in terms of scheduling, gave us an escape.  We need to find a new one.  As a family we spend a lot of time together already, but with t-ball we spent a portion of that time socializing with other families and making new friends... something we do not do enough of. 


In the morning I hope to see you at the Old Cheney Road Farmers Market in Lincoln, NE from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  The weather should be much cooler and I think that is worth a celebration in itself.  I will have a ton of stuff available:  SWEET CORN, green beans, snap peas, okra, slicing tomatoes, cherry tomatoes and an entire rainbow of heirloom slicers.  I will also have some eggplant, peppers, onions, Tabouli kits, potatoes and lots of cucumbers, zucchini, and yellow squash.  I will also have a few blackberries. 

If you have not yet said your prayers, pray for rain.  As much as I am counting on selling what I bring, we need the rain MORE. 

The produce is fresh and ready for you.  I hope to see you there!!!  Good night...Good morning

 
 

Uncle Sam & Apple Pie

It was a nail biter clear to the final out and we won!  This game was so much fun to watch.  At one point I thought I was going to have a heart attack.  The other team was really good so this one made all of us walk a little taller.   Livie was so awesome.  She hit that ball and she ran.  At our last game she had a tough one.  She was tagged out at third twice and then struck out.  We shed lots of tears.  Daddy worked with her at home some and then she started practicing her batting here at home.  It showed.  All of the girls did a really good job.  Our team will begin tournament play Thursday and we are really starting the gel as a team. 

This week  I have been busy canning.  I have made sweet spear pickles, bread & butter pickles, sweet relish, dilly beans and pickled beets and I am nowhere near finished.   Still have dill pickles and dill relish to go. I am also planning to make ketchup and chili sauce.  I love canning.  That may sound strange, but I do.  It is a lot of work, but I love bringing the textures and flavors of summer together in a way that can be enjoyed all winter long.    

This week on farm I have sweet corn, slicing, cherry and beefsteak tomatoes.  I also have green beans, onions, black berries, and the very first of my Japanese eggplant. 

We are still using our online ordering system, but I have been told by a few customers it is not working.  I am trying to figure out the problem.  If you are interested in sweet corn for the fourth, please give me a call at 785-265-3345.  Until Friday everything is available on farm only. 

Tomorrow is a day worth celebrating.  It is our nation’s birthday.  As we celebrate let us be thankful we live in a country where our individual liberties are protected more than most.  That is a gift that we need to protect.  Happy Fourth of July and enjoy your festivities the fresh and fabulous way.v
 
 

See You at Old Cheney!!

It is just past midnight and everything except for a few very last minute picks everything has been picked, washed, bagged tagged and packed.  I don’t think my car has ever been fuller.  We are still looking for a van that is within our price range so for now our family mid-sized car remains part family car and part truck.  I am still unsure how I managed to get everything in but TA DAA!!!  It fit.  I have always enjoyed puzzles and in school I struggled in math but found geometry easy.  Who knew that I would put the skills developed to use in my mid-life career change!!!  LOL

Seriously¸ tomorrow I will be at the Old Cheney Road Farmer’s Market in Lincoln, NE from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  I will have with me sugar snap peas, green beans, peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, cucumbers, cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes, blackberries, parsley bunches, mint bunches, Tabouli kits ,onions, hard red winter wheat berries and the farm market queen SWEET CORN!!!  I almost forgot I will also have a few crabapples. 

Tom is in charge of the sweet corn and I am not sure I have shared this with you before but when it comes to his crops Tom is a perfectionist.  He was born a farmer and growing the best possible crop is deep within his DNA.  He babies our sweet corn from seed selection to harvest.  The end result is a beautiful, bug-free ear of corn with tender sweet kernels that all but melt in your mouth.  We do not grow A LOT of sweet corn, but I have never had better… please do not share that part with my grandma.  After church we took the girls out for a bite to eat and made it home by 8:00 p.m.  Tom picked it, cleaned it and packed it in coolers so that tomorrow you will have the opportunity to enjoy his absolute best.

On the rest I tried something new this week in attempt to bring a better product to you with the rest of my availability.  With my berries, cherry tomatoes, green beans and peas instead of just rinsing them in water as normal, I mixed a water and vinegar solution as a final rinse.  The rinse should not distort the taste but should help the produce hold up better in the heat of the day.  My friend Sandi Johnson from Filley, NE shared this tip with me.  Tom is not the only person on a farm who works hard to bring you our very best. 

This week was yet another whirlwind.  This was the last week of swim lessons and both girls passed to the next level.  We had a t-ball practice Wednesday and a game Friday night.  Grandma Carol from St. Joseph came to the game and then we all went out for pizza.  My girls enjoyed their visit so much they are now planning their next trip to go see her!!!  Thursday deliveries increased a bunch this week and I am really glad about that!  I meet so many interesting a nd wonderful people on my route and at the market.  I enjoy gardening but I have to admit I enjoy visiting with everyone MORE. 

When I get home tomorrow night we are taking the girls to go see BRAVE.  I hope this is a good one.  It is not very often you find shows featuring princesses with red hard.  As the mother of two princesses with red hair IT IS ABOUT TIME!!!! 

I hope you will come by tomorrow.  We have a lot of great produce and I think you will find our prices are reasonable.   See you in the morning!

v
 
 

The Bounty

We ENJOYED our first beefsteak tomato of the season.  It was big enough one tomato was all we needed.  It was good, full of flavor and just the right amount of acidity.  I have several more that are available now and several more that will be ready by the weekend.  If you are one who has lost a little faith in the flavor of tomatoes – this one will give you hope.    

Also available this week … the sweetest snap peas I think I have ever eaten and I have A LOT of them.  If you have not had a chance to make creamed peas and potatoes, I have everything you need.  My green beans are also starting to kick in and the beans are tender, stingless and full of flavor.  Of course the zucchini and yellow squash are coming on in full force and my cucumbers while only starting are off to a prolific start.  I have a few heads of cabbage and am patiently waiting for the next round.  This week I have touchstone gold beets and they are beautiful.  I love the touchstone because they are so sweet and yet don’t taste like dirt.  I have a few red baby beets and am hoping to roast some one night this week. By the weekend I will have the first of the sweet corn and the peppers are starting to go to town.   There are more things on their way so the colors, flavors and textures will continue to change.   The produce has kicked in.  You could shop me for a new and very different flavor for every night this week.  This is my favorite time of the year, when there are so many tasty options that making a decision can prove impossible.  We work so hard for this brief moment when the garden becomes our grocery store and we would just love it, if our garden could become yours.  I also have canning tomatoes available.  If you want these, please call me directly.  They will not be listed in our online store. 

There is still time to reserve your order for Thursday delivery.  The store will close tomorrow at 5:00 p.m.  Simply go to http://lecuyergardens.locallygrown.net/ and select your favorites.   The online store is easy to use and helps both of us keep track of availability.  I hope you will give us a try. 

Autie had her last blast ball game of the season Sunday and Livie has practice tomorrow and her last regular game Friday.  We are hoping Grandma Carol will be able to come watch it.  This week has been a busy one with the second week of swim lessons and a feeble attempt to get caught up on weeding. 

Yesterday we had some visitors from Salina stop by to tour the farm and my girls loved it.  While I visited with the adults, the girls gave their son the full tour which included baby kitties, snake skins and a little hide-n-seek.  We love on farm visitors and from now until the end of the season we are opening our doors by appointment on Mondays and Tuesday for those who want to save some money.  Farm market leftovers from Sunday will be half price to ALL on-farm visitors.  The produce is just as good as it was the day before, but we need to make room for the bounty for the week ahead.   We are adult and kid friendly and so make it a family outing.  We promise are more than a little weedy, but the produce is fresh and fabulous.  The view is breathtaking and we offer you a chance to enjoy a little simplicity in the midst of a hectic world.  That is what our farm is for us anyway… a small oasis from the world’s insanity. 

 In the morning I am going to go out to see what wild fruit is still available and I will spend part of the day picking peas and green beans for my Thursday deliveries.  v
 
 

See You in the Morning at the Old Cheney!!!!

The past few days have been busy at L’Ecuyer Gardens.  Keeping up is proving difficult.  This week the girls have kept me running with t-ball games and swimming lessons and I have kept busy planting, picking and WEEDING.  We have had several decent rains lately and with the rains have come the weeds!!!!  I did manage to find enough time to get a VERY long overdue haircut. 

This Sunday you will find me at the Old Cheney Road Farmers Market from 10:00am to 2:00pm and my car will be very full!!!  I have some beautiful slicing tomatoes, lots and lots of cherry tomatoes of every color, chili peppers, potatoes and blackberries.  Tonight I also picked my first pick of green beans and they are beautiful.   Also in tow zucchini, yellow squash, Swiss chard, collard greens, onions, cabbage, and kale.  I will also have Tabouli kits, hard red winter wheat berries and wheat bouquets.  I will also have eggs.  This week will likely be the last week I will bring bedding plants and I still have several lovely sweet potato vines in all three colors. 

When you stop by you will have to ask me about my laundry soap box.  The box is filled with a very pretty moss that for me holds a lot of history.  I do not know its name but it traces back within my family to my great grandpa’s farm nestled in the Ozark Mountains not too far from Caboul Missouri.  When my great grandparents moved to town they took a little with them and planted it at their home in town.  My grandma has that vine in her flower beds and my mother has it in hers.  I now have it at my farm.  For me the vine is so much more than effective way to carpet an area within a garden.  It is also a way for me to think of people whom I love but are too far way to hug.  It also serves as a gentle reminder that while I do now call the Kansas prairie home at my core I am still a Missouri Hillbilly.  My great grandma was the type of person who always gave you a small gift of some sort when you left her home.  T is very hardy and easy to transplant.  For me this is one way of keeping that tradition alive.  If you would like a cutting just ask. 

I hope you will come by and see me tomorrow.  I have some very nice produce.    If you cannot make remember you can also request a midweek delivery by going to http://lecuyergardens.locallygrown.net/ to place yours. The store closes at 5:00 p.m. today and I will begin my deliveries first thing in the morning.v
 
 

Caught in a Whirlwind!

This week has been a whirlwind.  We forgot that swim lessons started this week so there has been a mad dash to modify our schedule.  I nearly drowned when I was Autie’s age so for me swim lessons are mandatory.  At the pool I was able to make about a dozen phone calls and visit with some of the other moms.  We all had stories that I am sure you can relate to too about how we want our kids to be involved BUT they/ we are also overloaded.  None of us know how to navigate that water.  I for one am of the opinion that time at home working on family priorities NEEDS to be inked into the schedule.  I say that and admit this week is not proof of that belief.  We are ALL overloaded.  Despite that we owe it to ourselves to find ways to bring back some simple pleasure and in my opinion a nice meal made from fresh ingredients is a GREAT way to start. 

We enjoyed BLTs last night with zucchini chips and coleslaw.  After dinner, Livie went to plant soybeans with Tom last night and Autie spent the evening with me.  We took a bubble bath, cleaned the kitchen and washed our game uniforms.  Liv was so tired that she curled up with our puppy Reba and they both napped in the tractor.  Autie was so tired she couldn’t sleep and talked like a freight train ALL night.  She has the gift of gab!!!  

It was so windy it was too hard to work outside so I decided it was time to focus on things inside.  We have enjoyed very strong, hot, dry winds for several days and everyone is crabby and exhausted.  Kansas is upholding its reputation.  For those who are not close the feeling of this wind is like a blow dryer powered by a jet engine blowing straight into your face… non-stop.  Every so often the blow dryer blows sand or dirt into your face and you only hope you were not smiling or yawning in that moment.  I do not enjoy being sand blasted.    

After I dropped the girls off I made a mad dash to the grocery store and then came home with a full to do list.  I spent the morning picking blackberries and tomatoes and my surprises for the day are that my YELLOW beefsteak and my WHITE slicing tomatoes are starting to turn.  I also found a few more Juane Flemme’ orange plum tomatoes and my NEW Indigo Rose tomato is nearly ready to pick.  The Indigo Rose is a blue tomato and I will keep you posted.  BLUE!!!

I had a customer ask why I grew so many weird tomatoes/ things.  I LOVE tomatoes.  I love them so much that I am a SNOB.  I want them MY way and will do without unless that can be.  I also know there are a LOT of tomato snobs out there and they want them THEIR way.  I UNDERSTAND and I try to accommodate everyone.   My girls are young and most kids their age will not eat fresh veggies, BUT mine do willingly… most of the time.  Livie can’t decide if her favorite veggie is kale or broccoli and I am just so happy to know that I willingly fix both so she can continue to fine tune her list of favorites.  Autie is pickier and I have to work harder.  For HER I grow a lot of things that are ORANGE because it is her favorite color.  SHE always likes it when she can eat her favorite color.  She also likes yellow.  My girls eat eggplant not the big black ugly ones as Livie puts it but the little purple ones.  She eats the others too, but only after trying the others.  They also eat okra, cabbage, spinach, Swiss chard, beets, beet greens, zucchini and squash.  Sometimes it is all in the marketing.  When you buy from me you will find an awful lot of kid friendly choices.   My kids also know the difference between fresh and store bought and they prefer fresh.  It will be interesting to see how many times Livie wants to pack her lunch next year.   

Here in a bit I will pick squash, peas and maybe some green beans and then we will begin the mad dash for tonight.  Livie has t-ball tonight and we are expecting rain.  We do not look forward to rescheduling another game BUT bring it on!!!!  We have another game Friday night and I have A LOT to get ready for Sunday’s market.  We could all handle a night watching our current favorite movie Chestnut and a big bowl of popcorn.  Bring on the rain!!!!  J

Swim lessons are forcing me to alter my schedule slightly for the next two weeks.  I will make ALL of my deliveries on Thursday.  Hopefully that will work for everyone.  The plus side is that I was able to give everyone more time to place their orders.  Please go to http://lecuyergardens.locallygrown.net/ to place yours. The store closes at 5:00 p.m. today and I will begin my deliveries first thing in the morning.  I still have plenty of squash, cucumbers, zucchini, slicing and cherry tomatoes.  I also have cabbage, Swiss chard, Tabouli kits, potatoes, black berries and collard greens.

My statement of gratitude is focused on the promise of rain and an end to our wind storm. 

v
 
 

Saturday

It rained and they say more is coming.  Tom is relieved … so am I.  It came softly and the clouds moved in and so most of it is soaking in.  We still need more but this was as close to a perfect rain as it probably gets.  For now the stress over our fall crops has subsided. 

The last few days have been busy.  Wednesday and Thursday was spent making deliveries and on my way home Thursday I bought a whicker desk from a customer having a moving sale.  Livie is starting kindergarten this fall and I thought it was a perfect gift.  She had a small one and she gave it to Autie.  Livie has filled the drawer with crayons and paper and moved her lamp to the desk.  She has a place to work on her drawings and in time her homework.  She is very smart and I want her to WANT to do well.  Her life path is her own, but experience has taught me very well you never really know when you will need to reinvent yourself.  A solid education and a love for learning are more than a little helpful in that situation.

I have a young man helping me this summer who came out for the first time Friday.  He is taking Drivers Ed at school and in a few weeks will have his learners permit.  In past years he has walked milo fields for Tom so I know he will work hard.  He spent the day helping me trim back my tomato plants and fertilize them.  I picked blackberries, tomatoes, cucumbers and squash. 

Last night the girls and I took Tom to see Madagascar III.  WE ALL LOVED IT.  As an early Father’s Day we also gave him his new BBQ U guide and some new grill tools then celebrated with Chinese food.  Sunday the girls will grill hot dogs and take Tom fishing while I am at the Old Cheney Farmers Market in Lincoln, NE from 10:0 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. 

This morning Tom and the girls planted the last of my fall squash and pumpkins and I cleaned out my lettuce bed and planted strawberries, leeks, lavender, basil and sorrel.  I also weeded my strawberry beds and picked beets and radishes for tomorrow.  After lunch I will sow another cilantro bed and plant some late tomatoes.  I will also check on my peppers to see if anything is ready.  We are at least close.  Tonight is church followed by a frenzied last dash until dark to pick what I can… likely the kale, Swiss chard, onions and possibly strawberries.  With the rain has come WEEDS and next week promises to keep us all very busy.  For the first time in several weeks we will need to mow.  We mowed three times and April and not once in May.  Strange year…

With the rain came what is likely the end of the wild fruit.  Most of my best roads will not be passable in our car for several days and by then will likely over ripened.  That is the ecstasy and agony of wild fruit.  The fruit is free to those who crave it, but it sometimes it can be just out of reach.  Don’t worry as soon as the roads are good I will at least go check.  On some of my roads I found another truly coveted find… elderberries.  I love it all, but I do not have ANY picked and I am compelled to at least try.  If we miss the elderberries we still need to come back for sand plums later this fall and then there is always the possibility of wild grapes. 

The good news is this week will likely be my bumper crop of blackberries here at the farm.  I have picked a bunch and they will be waiting for you along with cabbage, hopefully some green beans, potatoes, tabouli kits, tomatoes, kale, collard greens and still some more things yet to be found.  It will be a late night I am sure, but I am glad there is finally enough to pick.  Come by and visit my booth tomorrow and let me know what you think.   For those who cannot make to Old Cheney tomorrow, you also have the option for a mid-week delivery by using my online store at http://lecuyergardens.locallygrown.net/.  The store will be update Monday and in the weeks to come there will be lots of changes and additions to the store.   

My statement of gratitude is for the wonderful rain and for a husband who in my opinion is the WORLD’S BEST DADDY. 

v
 
 

Sweet Rain!!!

It rained last night.  It is still raining.  For those who offered a a prayer for rain, THANK YOU. 
 
 

New Roads Bring Change

Today is Wednesday and I will be headed to Manhattan to deliver to my drop customers, including People’s Grocery.  I will also hang around at Peoples for the farmers market from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.  With me I will have an abundance of summer squash, zucchini, cucumbers, broccoli, potatoes, peas, pole beans, kale, and collard greens and then there are my berries… some sour cherries, choke cherries, gooseberries, wild raspberries, regular and wild black berries and mulberries.  I may have forgotten to mention the tomatoes.  I will have some nice salad tomatoes, orange parchute and I hope to have one full basket of red cherries.  The cherry tomatoes are on their way.  Next week I should have the first of my European Snowberry tomatoes and you have no idea how good a tomato can be until you try one. 

If there is something on this list that sounds really yummy reserving yours is now very easy to do.  You can go to http://lecuyergardens.locallygrown.net/ and place your order.  Orders are filled in the order they are received.  My new online ordering system will help you and me keep up on availability.  In time I will be able to accept debit and credit cards and will always willingly collect at the time of delivery.  It is a really easy system to use, so go ahead give it a try.    

Tuesday was spent picking berries and I found another new road.  It is a pretty good road and most things are fairly easy to get to.  There are a lot of raspberries and blackberries. The girls and I headed out again Tuesday evening and yes we returned to the sand road.  The girls love that road and tonight busied themselves my making Big Foot tracks in the sand.  It was a little windy and so everything rustled and while we enjoyed our visit we were all ready to leave.  We were all feeling a little vulnerable.

Tom now expects to be finished with wheat harvest today.  This is a very crazy week and between markets and t-ball games Father’s Day is more than full.  The girls and I need to find an opportunity to celebrate before then.   Tom is an awesome daddy and that is something worth celebrating.

My thoughts of gratitude focus on the thankfulness for the road less taken.  Had I not been willing to go down an entirely new road, I never would have met Tom, or would have had my girls.   The woman I was 10 years ago and the woman I am today look similar but I no longer see her in me.  Then I rarely wore jeans or any type of denim, today I rarely wear anything else.  My nails used to be perfect and they are always a wreck anymore.  Then you saw a big smile hiding an incredibly lonely and lost person.  The loneliness has been filled with Tom and the girls and a business that gives me an opportunity to meet so many new people each week.  The road has been bumpy and at times very difficult, but in the end it was the road worth taking and what a difference it has made.  Gratitude!
 
 

Monday

Sunday morning Autie woke up at 2:30 a.m. (as I was hoping to finally go to bed) with a fever and throwing up.  With Tom in the midst of wheat harvest I was unable to make it to the Old Cheney Road Farmers Market in Lincoln, NE.  Normally Tom would have the girls spend the day with him in the combine and playing in the fields, but that was not going to work for Autie.  I hate missing my markets, but Autie needed me.  She barely ate anything until 4:00 a.m. this morning when she woke up demanding breakfast.  L So you can imagine I have not had very much sleep the past two days.  On the plus side, for those who live nearby, I have a lot of produce available on farm at really good prices, so stop by. 

Autie is feeling better, but her germs were passed to me.  I can only hope to rebound as quickly as she did. Despite feeling under the weather I did manage to get a few things done today. 

I cleaned up some of my seed trays and added the dead plant material to my current compost pile.  The pile is really growing which is good. We are learning as we go about compost, but are finding the effort to be worthwhile.  We are fairly remote and buying compost is expensive, especially when you factor in transportation.  When you really think about it, there is no need for us to go off farm.  We just need to learn what we need to know.  Who knows in time we may get to the point we have compost for sale.  Building up organic matter is important for produce farms... especially if you are trying to use organic growing practices.  Organic matter provides nutrients; helps retain moisture within the soil, and can also help minimize weeding.  

I checked on my tomatoes and my Orange Parchute and red fig tomatoes are starting to ripen like crazy.  That is GREAT news.  Usually once cherry tomatoes start they fruit like gang busters.  I also expect to have a few red beefsteaks by the weekend.  I see some others that are also starting to ripen as well.  Bring them on.  I also checked on some other things and my green beans have flowers and tiny bean pods on and I will have beans within the next week to 10 days.  The zucchini, yellow squash and cucumbers have also kicked into gear.  The sweet corn is tasseling and now it is just a matter of time.  My chili peppers and bell peppers are still growing and I hope to have some by the weekend.  It may or may not happen. 

I also finished my online store and made my updates for the first part of the week.  Now you can go to http://lecuyergardens.locallygrown.net/ and place your order.  This will make it a lot easier to keep up on availability and help my customers track what they have spent.  In time I will have the ability to accept debit and credit cards and will always willingly collect at the time of delivery.  My online store will work for my mid-week deliveries and for my farm market customers.  A few customers have already placed their weekly order and there is still time for both my Wednesday and Thursday deliveries.  Some items ship very well and now my attention is focusing on how that could work for those who live outside the area. 

Tonight the girls had a slumber party with their Grandma Betty and I am working on paper work and laundry. I also need to clean my kitchen.  I made a batch of tabouli using our hard red winter wheat and yum!  Bulgur wheat is good, but our wheat adds a nutty flavor and since it is our wheat I am a little biased.  I need to check the rules to see if this is something I am able to bring already prepared.  It is good and on a hot day fills you up without the heavy feeling.  The flavor improves the longer it sets in the fridge.  If you make a batch and are not totally impressed you may be astounded to learn what the tiniest amount of salt can do to balance the flavors.  It does not need very much.  I future batches I will add the salt to the water as I cook the wheat berries.

In the morning I hope to feel well enough to go pick wild raspberries, mulberries and gooseberries.  I also need to plant a few more things.  I hope plant the first of my fall squash this week.  Livie has t-ball s Wednesday and Friday and Grandma Carol is planning to come out here to see her game Friday night.  We hope to be able to take her out for supper afterwards.  She is driving more than two hours just to see a t-ball game!!!!  My girls will be thrilled. 

Tom expects to be finished with wheat harvest by Thursday and I can tell he is ready.  Normally wheat harvest is followed by a frenzied period where he plants either soybeans or milo in the wheat fields.  We have fields we planted a few weeks ago when we were expecting rain that has not come up.   We have not received the rain needed.  If it is not going to rain there really is no point.  This is all part of farming, but… we need it to rain.

My thoughts of gratitude focus on finding a few ways to work smarter and not harder.  I am hopeful the online store will make ordering easier for you.  I also hope it will make it easier to keep track of each individual order.  Technology can be frustrating but it is a good thing.v
 
 

The Preparation continues

It is approximately midnight and in seven hours I will be on my way to the Old Cheney Road Farmers Market in Lincoln, NE.  In tow is a lot of hard work and if I don’t day some great produce. 

The girls and I spent the last two days picking wild berries and so the items I am most proud of include gooseberries, wild raspberries and choke cherries.  I will also have the very last of this year’s sour cherries, the first of this year’s blackberries and some mulberries.  This may not sound like a lot, but believe me it felt like a lot.  Yesterday I took the girls down my sand road for the first time.  Tom not sure it was a good idea allowed me to have the pick up for the morning and demanded I take along our dogs Fatty and Reba and my cell phone power cord.  Everyone except Fatty enjoyed the field trip and the girls loved the sand road so much they are demanding we go back but with shovels and buckets next time. 

Livie is taking this all in.  I am so pleased with my gooseberries and wild raspberries and she has cooed and clucked over all of them.  As a sign of support she decided the sand in the road was “wild” sand.  As she put it, “it’s so much softer than our sand.”  She is right it is very soft.  Spotting a locust tree she immediately announced we have also found Meer cat food and we had to pick some.  I am not up on my Meer cats but I am not as convinced as she is that this is proof of their presence in North Central Kansas.  Tom is doing his best to hold his tongue on the fact that the locust trees are an unwelcomed addition to our farm. 

For the entire outing, Autumn was still tormented by the bird that sounds like a kitten crying, but was more accepting that yellow kitty was not in the weeds.  While on our field trip today everyone had to stop and allow the box turtle to safely cross the road.  It was in a hurry but you know how turtles are.  Tonight Autie is not feeling very well and I hope a good night’s rest will help. 

It is days like today when my girls and I are able to share something we all love… exploring the untamed, that fills me with intense joy.   I am blessed to have girls who not only indulge my passion, but who also seem to enjoy it.  They busy themselves with their own searches and as a result have developed some of the wildest imaginations you will ever find.  I cannot help but wonder… Will they remember days like these when it is their turn to be the Mommy?   What will be their special times be like?  Will they call me to tell me about it?  While out we talked a lot about babies and each girl wanted to hear their story of what life was like for them when the lived in my tummy.  We also faced some tough questions about the birds and the bees.  Yes girls the order is high school, college, job/ business, MARRIAGE then babies.  We practiced this part together OUT LOUD. 

I know I have talked a lot about wild fruit lately, but the produce is also starting to kick in.   I will bring the first of my summer squash and cucumbers, mint and parsley, potatoes, peas, kale, broccoli, collard greens, some tomatoes, bags of hard red winter wheat berries and more tabouli kits.  This week’s kit will not use bulgur, but the hard red winter wheat.  I will also have a few onions and radishes and of course eggs.  I almost forgot the rhubarb and wheat bouquets.   I do not have a lot of anyone thing, but hopefully enough different things to make everything work. 

Tom has been busy cutting wheat and it is a disappointing crop.  It is not yielding.  He is especially quiet  when he comes home and I am trying to keep things on an even keel in the name of moral support.  It is not enough that the wheat crop is doing poorly but we are to the point with our corn and beans that a good rain just will not be enough.  We are also not putting up as much hay as we should for this winter and that will prve to be a problem.    We have never had a year where we were looking at crop failure for EVERYTHING.  The only reason I have a garden to harvest from is because we have the well at our home and at some point we may have to choose my garden or the livestock.  We will choose the livestock. 

This is part of farming, but knowing that does little to reduce the stress level in my home at the moment.  We continue to pray for rain and we would love for you to pray on our behalf.  We are hardly the only farmers in need of it.  Praying for rain would be a meaningful and powerful show of support for thousands of farmers between Colorado and Indiana.  We all need rain.  This is your food we are raising and our livelihood all rolled into one interdependent ball of twine.  We ALL need rain. 

My statement of gratitude focuses on two giggly, red-headed little girls with brown eyes and beautiful smiles.  What would I do without you?  It has been a GREAT couple of days. 

 
 

The Birds, Bees and Hazards of Wild Fruit

This morning started with a visit to the pea patch.  The current rows are nearly finished.  I sold most of what was picked today already and will hopefully have some for Sunday.  I have two more rows that are just starting to flower and if everything works out, I will have peas for another three weeks. 

Afterwards I decided to go on the hunt for some new mulberry hot spots.  I need a lot of mulberries for tomorrow and it was unlikely my normal route would yield enough.  One of the very best parts of picking wild fruit are the unexpected surprises you will find.  It is still way too early for most of my finds, but this year’s weather is anything but normal.  I first found choke cherries.  I spent most of my life believing they were poisonous.  They are just really sour.  I use them to make pancake syrup and YUM!  The next find was a new mile long stretch of mulberries mixed in with a black berry bramble and an assortment of red and black raspberries.  SCORE!!  It gets better.  Since I moved to Kansas I have been in search of gooseberries.  I have seen evidence of their existence but could never find their window of ripeness.  Today, I hit the window perfectly.  For three years I have promised my grandpa I would make him a batch of mulberry/ gooseberry jam.  This year is the year.  He turned 90 in May so hopefully this will be the perfect late birthday gift.  I hope everyone understands why those berries are not for sale.   

While out I found one more treasure, wild cherries. I also found a few wild black berries.  Tom may be able to cut wheat tomorrow after all.  ;) I noticed the sand plums are out in full force and I found evidence of what may be wild grapes for later this summer.  Wild grapes are almost unheard of anymore so I am particularly interested in seeing if I have truly found Big Foot.  The past few years we have had late May freezes and a lot of the fruit has not materialized.  There is a lot of wild fruit this year.  My jelly making and pie baking customers will be so happy.   

Picking wild fruit is not for sissies.  It can be grueling, even dangerous at times, but I love it.  I wear my wounds with pride.  Things like wild cherries, mulberries and chokecherries offer hazards such as unhappy blue jays and bees protecting what they believe to be theirs.  Bees are a double-edged sword.  I need bees to pollenate my produce, but I am slightly allergic.  With bees the best defense is to walk away for a bit and then come back.  I also avoid wearing colors that are common to flowers and I do not wear perfumes or scented deodorant.  I always ask myself three questions when dealing with bees: 1.) how badly do I want the fruit; 2.) how persistent is the bee; and 3.) do I actually have my cell phone with me.  My dtermination is determined by the answers to those questions. 

Blackberries are thorny and usually in the wild will be along a steep embankments.  I fell today coming down one bank.  I was alone on a road nobody goes down.  Don’t worry I did not land on the fruit.  Gooseberries are more than thorny.  If you were to rake your arm across a gooseberry thorn you would likely walk away with a serious injury.  Black raspberries are a whole other matter…snakes.  I hate snakes but I have found the high pitched scream as you run in the opposite direction technique to work about as well as anything. 

The final hazards lie within the actual roads.  The best fruit can always be found on the worst roads and I am the insane woman traveling down these roads, usually in our sedan.  We are way over due for rain and I was on a SAND road.  Tom has received that call many times over the years.  He is to the point he just expects it.  At one point today my tire sank so deeply into the sand I was about to call.  God found favor on me and I decided after that to find a new road. 

The final rule to always remember ... even the most remote roads will turn into well travel highways at the worst possible moments.  Parking cars on the wrong side of a blind hill is danger waiting to happen.  I have also noticed when Mother Nature calls and I decide I can no longer wait, somebody will come by…Every time. 

This afternoon was spent picking a few tomatoes and what are likely the last of my sour cherries.  I also watered a few things.  While I fixed supper the girls discovered that my blueberry bushes are fruiting.  They looked like gerbils.  These bushes were planted last fall and I will not have any fruit to sell until next summer, but the blue berries are coming. 

When I am alone I pursue some of the more difficult areas and save the easy picks for when my girls are with me.  Tonight Autie went with me while Livie hung out with Tom.  I learn a lot about my girls in moments like these.  We brought our Minnie Mouse scooter with us and yes got it out every time we stopped.  There is a bird that when it sings it sounds remarkably like a kitten crying.  We have had very bad luck with our kittens this year and the yellow kitten has vanished.  We have prayed for yellow kitty's safe return the past few nights.  Autie swore that bird was yellow kitty and she was going to walk through neck high weeds to save it.  I am torn in moments like these.  Tom and I both know that kitten will never come home because it died.  The girls cried so hard when the first two past we could not bring ourselves admit it.  I still don’t know how I manage to coax Autie out of the weeds, but finally we moved on to a new set of trees. 

Autie is so looking forward to mulberry cereal in the morning.  She worked hard and has earned a few berries.  The most boring of cheerios magically take on a new life with a few mulberries.  I love that kid.  We pulled into the driveway at bedtime and Livie was climbing out of the combine.  Everyone will be crabby in the morning. 

Most of the fruit picked today will delivered to my drop customers and to People’s in Manhattan, KS tomorrow.  I will hang around tomorrow night to sell a little more, plus some romaine lettuce, collard greens, fresh herbs, hanging baskets and bedding plants.  I hope you will stop by.  If you live in Nebraska, it is not too late to add yourself to my delivery list.  My prices are very reasonable and my quality is outstanding.  If you are thinking about it, go ahead and give us a try. 

 
 

The Waiting Game & The Frustrations of Modern Technology

I am frustrated this afternoon.  I have found a handy and inexpensive way to create an online ordering system and the system does not like my name.  I understand, but it is still my name.  I have sent my questions and or comments and I am waiting.  Frustrated!  Technology is a blessing and at the moment I want to throw my computer out the window.  There are more ways than ever to communicate to people and I am trying to use all of them and I cannot afford a smart phone which have been told will simplify my life.  I was told that about email too.  Frustrated.  J

Yesterday was a BIG day and today I am tired.  It started with my market at the Old Cheney Road Farmers Market in Lincoln, NE and my tobouli kits were popular.  I sold out and I even sold extra parsley and mint which are typically not easy to sell.  I came very close to selling out of everything which is a good feeling.  Now I just need to bring more. 

My friend Sandi from Filley, NE.  I asked Sandi to design and make a pick apron for me.  She delivered it to the market on Sunday and it is so cool.  It has a set of three pockets that will allow for large picks and prevent crushing.  It also has a wide and padded neck.  I am still fighting my cameras and will post pictures soon, but to my fellow growers who want something that will simply the harvest you will be more than interested.  She also designs purses and is a true whiz at the sewing machine.  She is now offering sewing classes too!

Tom and his brother Joe have been attempting to cut wheat…a little each day but my blackberries simply insist it is not time.  I have one berry starting to slightly turn purple.  My prediction is they will be able to begin cutting Thursday and I will likely begin picking berries the same day.  Tom is amused by my predictions but not convinced.  That’s okay.  I will remind him of my prediction on Thursday. 

Autie had her second blast ball game and she was a little timid and unsure of herself this time.  Usually her big sister is right there bossing her around and she is figuring things out on her own.  She is doing just fine.  Livie had a makeup game and we did not skip around the base line last night, but we casually jogged.  I think some things were said by her team mates because as she fell asleep last night she said she was sorry and would run faster next time.  My heart hurt a little for her.  I know being the big sister hard.  You have to figure out everything yourself.  Livie is like me in that she has to mess it up before she figures things out.  I need to remember how hard that was for me at times.  I will say she has an awesome swing and she knows how to keep the shortstop VERY busy.   That ball is fast and JUST barely inside the line.  She is doing just fine. 

Today I watered everything and began planting a new round of onion sets.  I have sold a lot of onions and would have sold a lot more at this point if more were in the ground.  I also need to find time to get some basil plants in the ground.

The tomatoes are still taking their time, but I am now picking my new red fig which is a cherry-sized heirloom that resembles to yellow pear.   I also see some chocolate cherry cherries starting to blush a little.  My Italian tree tomatoes are starting to ripen too and those are looking like nice tomatoes.  They are bigger than my Stupica tomatoes but still not huge.  I personally think smaller tomatoes have more flavor.  I also see my beefsteak tomatoes are getting close to size and will soon start to blush.  I have gobs of yellow beefsteak, but no signs of ripening so whenever they hit I will have A LOT.  My white, orange, pink and black tomatoes will take a little longer, but will be for sale before you know it.   I also notice my chili peppers are starting to fruit and with a little luck will be ready for Father’s Day weekend.  YEAH!!!!  I will have bell peppers soon after that.  My colored bells, and other peppers will take a little longer. 

If I do not have squash and cucumbers for sale by Wednesday I will definitely have some for sale next Sunday and I am ready.  The green beans are about to flower and my leeks are huge. 

Tonight I will plant a few more strawberry plants for fall fruit and some more leeks, and the last of the eggplant for the season.  I have a short row that at this point is empty and I am looking for some fun new things to try.  I am still looking. 

Wheat harvest is all but here so I plan to cut a few bundles of wheat in its stalks to sell as dried flowers for my markets this week.  I love wheat.  It is so pretty when it is green but as it ripens it is breathtaking.  The colors range from like gold/ almost white to dark bronze.  I fell in love with Tom and the life he offered me as a farm wife during wheat harvest.  Nearly nine years later I still love wheat harvest… and Tom.  We have brothers, cousins, friends, sometimes strangers… they all want to pitch in.  Some take vacation time to come work for free.   We are talking some seriously long hours.  There is something truly romantic about this time of the year.   I think it is partly the beauty but also the camaraderie.  The banter and yes sometimes the episodes of Tom and Joe rolling around in the parking lot biting each other’s ear because neither has slept much in days and are a little crabby.  I am not making any of that up.  At 42 and 45 they still fight like kid brothers.  Anybody who has ever worked closely with family instinctively understands how animated these fights can be.  They also understand there is only one rule.  Be mad if you like but get over it because you will sit across from that ugly mug at the next family gathering.    

In the morning I will pick peas and mulberries and the girls and I will likely pick more mulberries tomorrow night.  I have several large orders to fill for the week and it takes A LOT of mulberries to get anywhere.  Mulberries remain a very popular item. 

My words of gratitude focus on the importance of family.  My brother in law is a maddening person to be around, but he has also pulled me out of a ditch, repaired multiple flat tires and is good with my girls …so maybe he is not so bad.  I am also grateful for patient customers who are also waiting for the tomato bumper crop.v
 
 
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