A Day in the Life
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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
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
Posted by Twilya
@ 10:25 PM CDT
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
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
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!
Posted by Twilya
@ 12:26 AM CDT
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.
Posted by Twilya
@ 11:45 PM CDT
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
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
Posted by Twilya
@ 04:45 PM CDT
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
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
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!
Posted by Twilya
@ 05:39 PM CDT
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
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
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.
Posted by Twilya
@ 10:19 PM CDT
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