L'Ecuyer Gardens

  (Morrowville, Kansas)
A Day in the Life
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Memorial Day

Memorial Day weekend was nice.  I did not go to my markets.  The crowds are usually low and my produce was not quite there.  This was our chance to have a little calm before the summer madness. 

Livie’s big news we have now lost our second tooth on the bottom and she whistles a little when she talks.  The second tooth broke a little as it came out and the Tooth Fairy missed the broken piece? And yes Livie was just fine with that because she figured out all she had to do was put it under her pillow and enjoy a two for one!!!  I am proud of my daughter’s entrepreneurial instincts but I need to have a chat with the Tooth Fairy.  ;) The two new teeth are coming through and she has been a little crabby lately.  I am reminded of when her first set came in.  That was rough on everyone!  This time a little crabby is much easier. 

For lunch we enjoyed a meal from our own efforts…  steak with creamed peas and potatoes, salad and yes we enjoyed it with vine ripened tomatoes, radishes, green onions.  I love it when I can put a meal in front of my family knowing exactly where it came from - US.  Love it!  We even enjoyed a few fresh strawberries for dessert.  It is a strange year.  I am serving the first of our peas and potatoes AND the first of our garden fresh, vine ripened tomatoes of the season in the same meal.  I did not know that was possible.  We tried a new radish last night called a Zlata radish.  It is pale yellow and do not let that fool you.  It was HOT.  Yumo!

Autie had her first blast ball practice last night and she LOVED it.  All the way there she said over and over, “now you can watch me!”  If Livie knocked the snot out of her first ball then my Autie will be crowned Chief Knock a Homer!  That ball flew.  If you ever want to thoroughly enjoy youth sports and giggle shamelessly you should watch 3 and 4 year olds play t-ball…The tears, the running, the shrieks of joy.  I the parents had a blast.  Tom and I sure did.

We came home last night and did something a little overdue.  We cleaned.  Tom tackled the kitchen, the girls worked on their rooms and then volunteered to vacuum the living room (like I am going to say no) and I battled both bathrooms and put laundry away.  We have brown carpeting – who knew?  Livie and Autie promised to keep it clean (we will see) and we celebrated with some popcorn I bought from by vendor neighbor at the Old Cheney Farmers Market.  It was red kernel corn and tasty! 

Today was spent putting in a second row each of zucchini and yellow squash and sweet potatoes.  I am trying something new this year in an effort to reduce the presence of the squash beetle I am planting sweet potatoes with my squash plants.  I figure if it works this could be a really good deal since it will yield two different crops throughout the season.  The girls spent the day with their Grandma Betty so Tom and I had a date for lunch.  It was nice to be able to have an entire conversation.  J  Tonight I will lay down another couple of rows of mulch and either plant honey dew melon or leeks.  In the morning I begin preparing for my Wednesday deliveries and the farmers market in Manhattan, Kansas.  My deliveries are starting to pick up and I am very happy about that.  In a perfect world I could have enough deliveries lined up between Wednesday and Thursday that I can go to Livie’s t-ball game.  If it does not work out I will be at the Friday game with bells on. 

If you are thinking about giving us a try, you should.  Call, email, or find me on Facebook and if you are along one of my delivery routes I will gladly stop by.  If you are a little out of route call anyway because you never know… otherwise I hope to see you either Wednesday night at the Manhattan City Farmers Market at Cico Park, Manhattan, KS or on Sunday at the Old Cheney Road Farmers Market in Lincoln, NE.  We also have on-farm hours and make ourselves available at other times by appointment so we are pretty convenient.  We have great produce and great prices.  The standard for quality… I raise it for you and package it for you as if I will actually feed it to my family and that is a VERY high standard. 

My thoughts of gratitude today... are of first thankfulness that the hot dry winds seem to have dwindled.  We are still in great need of rain but the week to come promises cooler weather is greatly appreciated.  I am also grateful for the kind words some of my customers have taken time to write on my Facebook business page.  Gratitude!

 
 

The Mind Wonders at the Mulberry Tree

So this week I have busied myself picking mulberries, picking peas, and enjoying Olivia’s first t-ball game.  With the exception of t-ball, there is a fair amount of time to think.  When my hands are busy, but my mind free to wonder… all sorts of things are possible.  The thoughts are random and usually grand.  In those moments I see a crystal clear path for my business’ success. It is not until I am trying to clean my mulberry-stained hands that reality kicks in.  I keep dreaming though because one of these times I can’t help but think it will all come together. 

As much as my business is struggling at the moment it is better than where I was one year ago.  One year ago I was employed full time in a job I knew was coming to an end, trying to grow my business in the hopes of a soft landing…and fighting everyone connected to both.  I spent so much energy in the name of helping others… even as it was hurting me and my family and my business…only to have those I was helping betray me.  It left me angry and resentful, distrusting, and emotionally exhausted.   I am unafraid to say it…. seriously depressed.  I am still working on the forgiveness I need to extend others and the only way I will ever get there is on my knees.  For those of who are of faith, I could seriously use your prayers to help me find my forgiving heart.  The outcome of everything, I now work for L’Ecuyer Gardens/ Farms.  The clarity is amazing.   The dreams are big.  The need is huge… given that, how can this possibly fail? 

My garden is in a lull and all I can do is wait for things to begin to ripen.  As I wait… I worry.  It has not rained in quite some time and the hot dry wind we have experienced also has my husband worried.  His crops are not like mine, they cannot be easily watered.  Young plants emerging from the ground fail to flourish in the face of these strong, hot dry winds.  There is not much he can do.  Even with my crops, it has been too windy to effectively water and that is a problem.  All of the tender, young plants I planted last week are struggling.  We have had chances of rain for several nights and the rains keep skirting up around us. 

For many, I know the weather is of little interest, but to a farmer it is both your best friend and your enemy.  We have not had anything that resembles normal weather this calendar year and it makes it hard to know what to do.  This is clearly one of those give it God and move on scenarios.  My Autie has prayed for rain so sweetly the past few nights.  As she put it…”God we need some rain.  It did not rain today, and it did not rain yesterday or on the third day.  We need some rain.  Can you send us some?”  My prayer is a little different…”Lord please hear my Autie’s prayer.”

I have picked a bunch of mulberries this week and my girls and I will be back at it tomorrow.  My hands are stained and so is at least one shirt.  You should never pick mulberries wearing white. J I knew better so I can’t complain.  Believe it or not my mulberries are a top seller and I know some of you are mystified by that statement.  I think it is a simple pleasure.  Many of us fondly remember the childhood mulberry tree that was nearby.  We were not to go there… but we did every chance we got.  The mulberries remind my customers of a time when sneaking mulberries was fun and buying my baskets provides my customers with the simple pleasures of a fond memory and a sweet treat that is actually good for you.  I am indulged with a few dollars of income and time as a pick to try and figure out how to create a business that will be a blessing to my family. 

Today I have several deliveries and I am trying to decide if an email newsletter would be good for my business.  My ability to grow my business depends on more weekly deliveries.  As the farmer, marketer and delivery person my time is so seriously divided that I need to find ways to work smarter and not harder.  I am interested in your thoughts as to how to make my business easier to connect with.    

Part of making this work is making it work for everyone in my house and things like t-ball are as important as anything.  I think that is the constant guilt of all mothers.  We need/want to work, but we need/want to be there for the important things…like watching my Livie draw figure eights in the dirt at the catchers’ mound last night.  She said she feels mean tagging the other girls as they come home.  That’s my Livie…a heart of pure gold. 

I am sharing my worries with you because many of us are facing similar stresses.  Many of us are trying to figure things out as we try to re-find our prosperity.  Personally, I think our path back to prosperity is for more of us to get back to what really matters.  We need to simplify our lives and take pleasure in simple things...Neighbors who pop in unannounced ... sneaking a fresh picked strawberry from the garden ... or concentrating our energy on how to make ourselves more of a blessing to those who are in our lives.  We are ALL going to have to dig deep and blaze new trails, but we can get there.  So I have to ask… in what way can I be a blessing to you? 

v
 
 

The Lost Tooth and Fresh Produce

So my Livie lost her tooth and now we must all wait to see if the Toothy Fairy lives up to her promise.  Tomorrow she goes for kindergarten round-up.  It does not seem possible that my baby will start school this fall.  Her birthday is just eight short days past the start deadline and last year I was so convinced she should GO NOW.  Now that the time is drawing close, I just want more time.  Autie is looking forward to having Grandma all to herself in the morning.  Next year Autie will be in preschool without herself.  It will be interesting to see how much they miss each other. 

Today was a pretty good day at the market, but I sure would love for the produce to kick in!  So far it is limping along, but it is on its way.  I had a friend of mine stop by for a visit and it was a very nice surprise.  She showed me her newest creation.  It was a handbag she had made and it was cool.  You should have seen the pockets!!!!  Sandi Johnson in Beatrice will soon offer sewing classes and it is time Tom and I dust off the sewing machine we bought when first married and actually learn how to use it.  If you are interested in learning more about her classes, let me know and I will give you her contact information.  I always admire someone who can turn unemployment into a new business venture!!!  Go Sandi!

Tonight we are having and odd dinner perhaps, but YUMO.  Some of our farm market left-overs will be featured… leeks and yellow snow peas with sweet potato fries and alligator.  No the gator was not local and it is a very long story, but YUMO! We will also enjoy tomatoes numbered two and three!  I am very close to having tomatoes for sale.  :)

Tomorrow I will finally get the artichokes in the ground along with starting about a dozen different summer squash, tomatillos, red okra plants and etc.  Tom spent the day staking my tomatoes and at some point, we will have vines app 10 feet in the air.  It will be a sight to be seen for sure. 

I am also going to work on my new compost pile.  Have I mentioned that at L’Ecuyer Gardens we make our own compost?  We are working hard to be more environmentally responsible and it takes a lot of highly fertile soil to keep L’Ecuyer Gardens going. 

The rest of the night will be spent hanging out with Tom and the girls.  Mulberry season is here and this week we will have to sneak in not just one but two mulberry picking parties.  We LOVE picking mulberries.  Stay tuned!

 

Late Nights & Early Mornings

here is to busy days, late nights and early mornings! See you at the market in the morning!!!!   [Read More]
 
 

An Anticipated Visit From the Tooth Fairy and Great Produce Too!

Great produce at great prices and yes we still have bedding plants and hanging baskets.   [Read More]
 
 

The Connectedness of Wheat and Blackberries

I know you are probably wondering what I am drinking, but the two have beautiful relationship on our farm.  We are usually offering predictions for the first day of wheat harvest beginning in early June and don’t start cutting until the end of the month.  If we are lucky we are finished in time to enjoy the Fourth of July.  The black berries begin to flower about the same time we are making our first predictions and usually have ripened and run their course by the end of harvest.  This holds true not only for the berries we raise commercially but also the berries we find in the wild.  Every year wheat harvest may be off by a week or more one way or the other and every year the blackberries seem to know. 

This year is no exception and it is one worth pausing for, you see it is May 13 and we have been offering wheat harvest predictions for nearly three weeks and my bushes are loaded with flowers and green berries.  Today I noticed some of them are slightly red.  I will be picking blackberries in two weeks.  The fields of wheat have been beautiful seas of green and last night on my way to my pasture picnic, I noticed it is starting to turn a light golden color.  I predict we will start harvest on or before June 1 (almost an entire month early).  Even this year the wheat and blackberries have synchronized their internal clocks. 

Blackberry cobbler is heavenly and my reasoning is because they are so closely connected and to me this relationship is the story of hubby and me.  Other than a short stint in college, Tom has lived his entire life on this farm.  He is a true country boy in every way.  Tom farms conventionally.  He is the type of farmer too many try to cast in an ugly light because he has worked hard and figured out how make farming his career.  He raises cattle and corn, wheat and soy beans.  He is an honest man and if you were ever stranded in a dark alley late at night he is the guy you hope will come by.  He has a gentle smile and a voice that always manages to calm my inner worries.  He knows who he his only want is for a happy and healthy family.  It is very easy to please him. 

I am a city gal and as a young child and again later in my early adult years I moved a lot.  My dad hit the bricks when I was young and I was in my teens before there was an adult man in my life who treated me as a daughter.  That gap created an insecure person.  I always assume that there is something about me that is repulsive to the world.  I have always had major trust issues with all people, but men especially.  I know at times I am a difficult person to want to love, but Tom makes it look easy.  For that I am grateful.  I used to live in an urban/ suburban area and enjoyed a career and a life that did not involve dirt, cows, or the late night four-legged visitor.  I enjoyed the frequent purchase of new clothes and new shoes and my idea of farming was 5 tomato plants and a honeysuckle bush.  Since moving to Kansas I have tried to be a farmer.  I love playing in the dirt but must confess I don’t always know what I am doing.  Tom is the one who helps me figure things out and at times does the work I am physically unable to do.    He makes it look easy. 

At first glance you could assume that Tom and I could not possibly have any common ground and yet the only thing that has made since in my life since we first met was making sure I am next to him.  There has been a connectedness between us that is hard to put into words, but somehow belongs together.  We are wheat and blackberries.  For that I am grateful. 

Today I cleaned all bedding plants from my tunnel and I hope within the next few weeks most will find new homes.  If not, they will end up in my compost pile.  Today we put down mulch eight new rows and tomorrow I will begin planting… bell peppers, chili peppers, eggplant, artichokes, Asian cucumbers, okra, cabbage, and lettuce.  Tom also planted a few rows of cannellini beans.  Wednesday is t-ball practice for Livie, grocery store and drop box deliveries and my farmer’s market night in Manhattan.  Thursday, I will make deliveries to Beatrice and will help my girl’s preschool plant their summer garden.   Friday the girls and I will go check for mulberries and hopefully will SCORE.  There is lots of good stuff that will come from L’Ecuyer Gardens.  Check back with us to find out what type of goodness is waiting for you. 

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Mother's Day

Mother’s Day

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day and while we have had several beautiful baskets and planters leave, we have many more still available.  Tomorrow we will be at the Old Cheney Road Farmers Market in Lincoln, NE from 10:00 until 2:00 p.m.  We also have several different smaller plants that you can use to design your own planters, planters and homemade soaps that are an olive oil and lye base. 

Fresh herbs from curry leaf and orange mint plants to sage and cilantro and several types of basil, fern dill will all be in tow.  We still have beefsteak and lemon boy tomato plants.  I will also have two baby silver maple trees that are for sale.  As far as fresh produce I will have a few bags of loose leaf lettuce, Romaine lettuce, radicchio, and arugula.  I also have one bag of odds and ends that will taste good and give the wallet a break.  WE will also have beet greens and Swiss Chard for sale.  Fresh herbs including tarragon, chamomile, chocolate mint, cilantro, parsley and sage will also be available.  I also have two nice tower pots… one filled with strawberries and flowers and the other a nice assortment of herbs.  One of the herb pot has a unique Asian flair and will be somebody’s pride and joy. 

We had a very full day but we got most of it in.  For me the day started at 4:00 a.m. and an hour and half drive to Manhattan, KS where I battled wind in rain AGAIN for the first hour or so of the market.  Toward the end it was better and the customers swooped in at the end which was nice.  I got home in time to unload the car and get ready for church and my niece Katie’s graduation party.  She will be off to college next year.  She is a beautiful and very sweet girl and I know she will do wonderful things in time. 

We did not get home in time to go to our neighbor’s fish fry and I hated that.  I sure hope they had a nice turnout.  The one thing I dislike the most about being a farm marketer is that we miss a lot of things like this during the summer, but that is part of it.  I spent the evening picking strawberries and arugula.  I also saved some rhubarb seeds that will become future plants.  Some will be for sale and some will be used to expand my current bed.  Tom planted watermelon and put some finishing touches on my irrigation system.  I cannot put into words how much time that system will save.  Most of our garden will be self-watering AND mulched in to prevent weed growth.  All I will have to do is turn the water on and walk away…. But must remember to come back. J

Tom planted four types of watermelon and tomorrow will plant Crenshaw melons, cannallini beans and two types of pole beans.  He is also laying the ground work for what will eventually be my fall pumpkin patch and winter squash bed.  Today he was my FTD guy and tomorrow he is my “hired man.”  Have I mentioned before he is a real keeper?    

While in Manhattan today I had a customer buy some fresh chocolate mint for a pickled relish she is making.  Lucky for me she kindly sent me the recipe.  I will try it and let you know what my family thinks.  I have A LOT of chocolate mint so this one is one I hope turns out really well. 

After picking strawberries I sorted and cleaned.  I have one variety called the mignonette.  It is a small pastry berry and it is the ugliest berry I have ever seen, but WOW they are sweet.  I cannot bring myself to pack them along but WOW are they sweet.  Last year all of them ended up in my jelly and while they look a LOT better this year, I fear they are destined for jelly again this year.  We eat a lot of ugly things at our house. We enjoy the less than perfectly beautifuls.  We know they still taste great, but like us have some warts and wrinkles we hope those who love us look past. 

I hope you will come see us tomorrow at the market.  If you would prefer to check out the baskets at the farm that I could not fit into the car, give Tom a call.   I posted his cell phone number on my L’Ecuyer Gardens Facebook page. He will be around but not necessarily at the house so a call would be appreciated.  Otherwise, bring your mom to the market tomorrow.  A mom’s greatest gift received is simple time.  Time with you  We let the girls stay up later than normal tonight and right at dark we had to take a break from the prep work and play a game of family freeze tag… in the dark and yes girls it is date.  Tomorrow night you are both IT.  I can’t wait!!! e will be runniHe he wilH

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Saturday - Mother's Day is One Day Away

Tomorrow is a very busy day for us and hopefully we are on your list of must visit places. Hubby is proudly stating that he is the FTD man for the day and will greet on-farm visitors with a warm smile. Be gentle though because all of the different items, sizes and prices is already stressing him out a little. I do have a list so he seems a little flustered just ask to see it. He does not know the difference between a marigold and a zinnia. I WILL HAVE MY CELL PHONE WITH ME. ;)

While you are here check out the load of rocks in the front yard. It is my Mother's Day gift from Tom and the girls. It is the first installment of my new landscaping project for the front of our house. As Tom put it how do you buy flowers for someone who literally has thousands of them on hand? I love my rocks. This particular load has great color and shape.

While hubby and the girls are greeting people at the farm I will be at the farmers market in Manhattan from 8:00 a.m. to Noon. I will hang around a little later if the crowd holds. I tried to bring a little of everything and hopefully what I brought will NOT come home. I have A LOT of purple flowers in the car... GO WILDCATS.

We had another t-ball practice and today my Livie knocked the snot out of the ball. Go Livie!!!! Autie seeing how pleased I was with my load of rocks busied herself colleting gravel. I tried very hard to be just as excited about the gravel as I was the limestone. I think the other mom's might have thought I was nuts. Sitting next to me was a fellow farm marketer and at least she understood that for some women there will never be a diamond that is big enough to rival a truckload of limestone. If you come tomorrow ask Autie about the nail polish she has all over her leg. It is a nice color BUT....

Please come visit us this weekend. We would love to see you.

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Mother's Day Sale - Come Check Us Out!

It is a beautiful day! You need to come see us. The birds are singing and the sky is blue. The weather promises a mild day. The flowers are freshly watered and the tomato, pepper, eggplant and Swiss chard plants are all needing new homes. Your mother if like me has always loved growing things...that is why she took such good care of you over the years. Treat her to a bar of hand-crafted soap, a beautiful hanging basket or a nice supply of bedding plants. While you are here find something for yourself too! Tom has been busy planting a few more rows of green beans and I think there are plans for a few early watermelons.

My girls and I will be her until 4:00 p.m. today when we leave for t-ball practice but Tom will be her, just give a call on his cell phone so he will be looking for you! 785-527-0178.

We will be open with Saturday with two locations. We will be open on farm from 9:00 am. - 2:00 p.m. Tom and the girls will show you what we have for sale and just ask Livie about our stevia plants!!! You will also find us are the Manhattan Farmers Market at 5th & Humboldt in Manhattan Kansas from 8:00 am. - Noon.

On Sunday you will find us at the Old Cheney Farmers Market in Lincoln, NE from 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. I bet if you called Tom he would meet you at the farm then too!

Regardless of the day you come out I will warn you that Autie's new fun thing is to wear two socks that do not match and she is an ace at finding the best dirt spots on the farm. She is a crazy little thing. Livie is now combing her own hair and it is a little wild. My girls are too funny!

I have to share one more thing.  Our wild Momma Cat had her kittens in the chicken coup in one of the nesters…everybody gets along.  They are up and walking now and my girls were concerned for the kittens’ safety.  Chickens can be quite aggressive.  They had to “save” them last night and put them in a pet carrier for their WILD mother to raise them in.  Last night when the girls went to bed I returned them to their mother and while she is still very wild she seems to know I am looking out for her girls too! She will not let me pet her, but she will bring her babies to me if she thinks they need help.  Good Momma Cat. 

My statement of gratitude for the day is for the sunshine and cool breeze. I am thankful for two little girls who are a little grumpy this morning but able to hang out with me today! I am thankful for the smiles I cannot hide every time I see Autie with her green boots, dirty face and miss matched socks. Livie makes me smile with her wild and crazy hair and her ability to look at the simplest of things on this farm with complete wonderment.

I am also thankful for the customers who will stop by this weekend and thankful for a mother who as we speak is on her way to Graceland. I trip I wish I could have made with her. Happy Mother's Day Mom.

 
 

Mother's Day Weekend Sale

L’Ecuyer Gardens is offering the special Mother’s Day Sale today through Saturday.  We have a huge selection of Mother’s Day baskets, containers and bedding plants.  While you are here finish your garden with a few tomato, pepper, eggplant, Swiss chard, fresh herb plants.  Perhaps you are looking for marigolds, or zinnias… well we have them.  While you are here check out the beautiful lettuce and ask about the summer of fresh produce still to come.  Hours are Th – 1:00 – 7:00 p.m., Fr – 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. & then by appointment after T-Ball practice and Saturday – 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.  Call for a special appointment if there is a better time for you.  We have unique styles, and great prices! 

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They Are Calling for Rain

In the morning I am headed to the Old Cheney Road Farmers Market and they are calling for rain.  It might rain all day and it might just rain for a little bit… 60%.  If it rains it could be torrential downpours.  It is moment s like these that can bedevil the farm marketer.  The lettuce is picked, prepped, bagged and tagged along with the cilantro, parsley, green onions and chocolate mint.  The worry none of it freezes and my family cannot possible eat it all before it turns… and then there are the Mother’s Day baskets that will keep, but… Mother’s Day is next Sunday.  Oh did I metioned it also rained through last week's market too.  I hope this is not the season's trend to come. 

I am not complaining so much a worrying out loud.  My only choices are A.) let the worry deprive me of what could be 5 whole hours of sleep before morning OR B.) I can give it to God.  I was up at 3:00 a.m. this morning headed for the farmers market in Manhattan and so I choose B.  The car is loaded with tables and plants, produce and display materials and as I doze off to sleep tonight my prayer will be that the rain subsides between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.  Let’s see what the morning brings. 

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Cinco De Mayo

Cinco De Mayo is a day to celebrate with L'Ecuyer Gardens.  Get your bedding plants and hanging baskets.  On farm visitors will SAVE BIG TIME!!!!!

 

 

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