L'Ecuyer Gardens

  (Morrowville, Kansas)
A Day in the Life
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The Sweetest Rain!!

It has been a very busy week and as I prepare for tomorrow at the Old Cheney Road Farmers Market from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in Lincoln, Nebraska to say I am a motivated seller is an understatement.  The colors and textures are changing a little this week.  I have A LOT of tomatoes and cucumbers. 

New offerings will include two items I am especially proud of:  The first is my edamame soy beans and the second is my little finger eggplant…  I have had a few each week but this week I am finally starting to get some volume. I will also have 1 honey dew melon and sadly I think it will be the only one I have this season. I will also have an entire rainbow of tomatoes.  You really owe it to yourself to try our Great White Beefsteak or maybe a Nebraska Wedding Tomato. There is also my Black Krim, my orange Moon Glow, and my pink Raspberry Lyeanna and a few Japanese Black Trieffle.  The cherry tomatoes are still going strong, but I see the end of the road ahead… at the most I will have three more weeks.  Other items will include large and small black beauty eggplant, green bell peppers, dulche peppers, jalapeno peppers, chili peppers, okra, Tabouli kits, mint, parsley, sweet corn and a few cantaloupes.  I will also have red and yellow onions and I am down to about 10 pounds of potatoes.  I almost forgot the cucumbers, and a few assorted summer squash and eggs.   I had someone stop by last Sunday looking for cucumbers to pickle.  If you are still looking, please visit me tomorrow. 

I am trying something new this week.  I will bring with me a recipe card for a one-skillet dish my family enjoys that goes from fresh to Yum in about 30 minutes.  It is called Cowboy Stir-fry.   It is one that is great as a vegetarian dish.  It also jumps to life with about any meat option.  It will feature many of the items I will have for sale.  If I have time I will put together a second dish we like a lot that has more of an Italian flair.  I have lots of 30 minute meal options so when you visit me me ask and I will offer how this busy mom finds time to cook fresh and please the hungry natives at my house! :)  

The water ban was put into effect and since God has given us 4 inches of rain.  If you ever wonder who you should put your faith in … government or God… I have unmistakable evidence to support the later.  We are a long way from the drought being over but we will take what has been given and say THANK YOU.   

I still have some big decisions to make regarding my fall and winter gardens and we are also setting up our game plan for 2013.  We need to make some big changes for next yearand we hope we will learn what you would like to have available. In order for my business to ever get to a point that it provides income for my family it has to have MORE customers so we are pretty willing to consider your needs as we make our decisions.

I have some huge news...  The week of August 14, my produce will be featured on the menu of one of the most upscale restaurants in all of Lincoln.  I will share more about this in the near future.  The Lincoln Journal Star has also talked about my produce in one of their feature stories covering the Lincoln farmers markets.  Both have made that decision based upon my quality, my selection and my price… despite what has been an extremely difficult growing year.  The North Central Kansas Regional Planning Commission featured me in their newsletter this summer and I have heard from several of my customers that I provided them with their BEST tomato plants AND that I sell the BEST tomatoes at OCFM. I have had visitors to my farm from Salina, Colby and Missouri because they have been told I am a MUST visit farm.  I am thrilled, honored, PROUD, and GREATEFUL but in order for my business to survive I need YOU!  

Livie is now riding her bike without training wheels.  She actually removed them herself.  My Autie has decided she wants to learn how to tie her shoes.  She is not yet 4, but she does not want to be outdone by her sister.  We also spent the week getting Livie’s immunization records up to date for kindergarten and getting some of the necessary doctor visits out of the way. 

Next week we have a few fun days planned.  We have back to school shopping and a trip to the Lincoln Zoo and the Lincoln Children’s Museum scheduled.  Because we are making the back to school scramble we WILL NOT DELIVER THIS week and the following week Livie starts Kindergarten.  I have decided that week will be devoted to my girls and getting our house ready for back to school.  We will be available for on-farm sales by appointment.  You will also find us covering our Sunday market at Old Cheney.   I hope everyone can understand the Mom in me needs to invest in my girls as this summer draws to a close. 

My thoughts of gratitude for the week are focused on the sweet rain and the cooler temperatures.  We will be headed to church in a few hours and I will generously offer my prayers of gratitude.  I am grateful for my farmer hubby who to date is my best handy man, and best customer.  I am also grateful for my two giggly girls who stole what few strawberries I had to pick and put them in their PLAY refrigerator.  I am also grateful that I was able to find the amusement offered by the discovery of the mess created.  Finally I am grateful for my loyal customers who visit or order from me each week.  I have two gentlemen whose tomatoes will be waiting for them tomorrow morning because I know they will be there first thing!  GRATITUDE.  J

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We Are Packed and Ready to GO!!!!

This week has been yet another whirlwind.  We have been very busy selling sweet corn, meeting with potential wholesale customers and picking cantaloupe, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and so much more.  My nephew Lane from Missouri came to spend a few days.  He is not 17 and in so many ways he is a grown man.  I still remember him as a baby and have enjoyed catching up with him.  He will come with me tomorrow to the Old Cheney Road Farmers Market in Lincoln, NE from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

This week I have begun working on my newest project.  I am working on a line of take and bake family dinners made from mostly fresh ingredients.  I have several recipes that I am taste testing. This project is more for this fall and then if it works out I would like to offer each week through my online store and farmers markets.  If you have a good recipe that you think would make a great take and bake, I would love to give it a try. 

This week we will have a nice selection of tomatoes red and yellow slicing tomatoes as well as some beautiful heirlooms.  I have several nice beefsteak and my great whites look wonderful.  We will also have sweet corn, leeks, mint, parsley, and Tabouli kits. 

I hope to see you in the morning at Old Cheney!

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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

 
 

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. 

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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 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
 
 

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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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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The Blessings of an Early Spring!

My board room is my kitchen table and my shareholders go by Honey, Livie and Autie.  Doing business with L'Ecuyer Gardens is an investment in gallons of milk, t-ball gloves and the hope opf a college education for our girls.  We love growing food and we love feeding you!  We hope we can share our passion with your family.   [Read More]
 
 
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