L'Ecuyer Gardens

  (Morrowville, Kansas)
A Day in the Life
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Fall Has Arrived

So tomorrow is Veg Fest in Lincoln, Ne and I am VERY excited.  I have been told to expect a lot of people so as I prepare, I am making some change that I hope will simplify tomorrow.  I am pre-weighing things like onions, tomatoes, spinach, lettuce and greens to avoid using my scale.  I am not sure how to price my sweet potatoes but we will figure it out by 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.  J

This week was a little calmer and the girls have enjoyed more time at home.  They were able to enjoy the last few warm days we may likely see for some time with a romp on the trampoline.  We also had time to discover that Mamma Kitty has been hiding a few things from us.. four fat and sassy baby kitties that surprisingly enough are not too terribly wild.  This time the kittens have been hidden REALLY well so with a little luck they will make it.  Reba our red heeler who is a bit rough on kittens even seems to be willing to leave these kittens be.  The girls are thrilled.  This year has been a rough one for baby kitties on our farm. 

If you have not been to Veg Fest, maybe you can check it out tomorrow from 2:00 to 5:30 at Holmes Road Lake Park.  I am not familiar with that part of Lincoln, so before I go to bed I need to spend a little time with MapQuest.  I finally upgraded to a Smart Phone and I have been told there is a turn by turn feature.  I will have to check it out before I leave. 

Despite nearly two months preparation for Veg Fest sadly my snap peas are not ready, and I fear tonight’s wintery blast will end their season along with a lot of BOK Choy that I simply do not have room for.  This has been a rough one to say the least.  Despite that I will have a huge selection of squash, greens, watermelon, pumpkins, birdhouse gourds, my last 8 bars of soap and A LOT MORE.  I hope you will come by and see me.  I will be in D6…. IF THAT HELPS.  Tomorrow you will not find me behind our Husker Red family sedan… I borrowed my father-in-law’s truck!!!!  I have A LOT of stuff… all of it needs good homes.

My thoughts of gratitude are focused on the looks on my girl’s faces when the baby kitties were discovered.  My girls have prayed nightly for a baby cousin who is going through a very rough time and for some new baby kitties.  We are still praying for our cousin, but we were so thankful last night that the other prayer had been answered.   We were so thankful that we decided to pray for our cousin two times.  Not too long ago Livie asked me why we pray for other people, I think this made it easier to understand. 

 

I need to confess.  I did something this week I really wish I hadn’t.  The details are not necessary, but to say that I allowed hurt feelings to cloud my better judgment is probably the most accurate summary I can offer.  I have been there and done that many times in my life and I am sure many of you can relate.  The “shoulda,”” woulda,”” coulda”  will be deviling me for quite some time.  I am still working on some unresolved anger with that particular and tonight I need to focus on this weakness as I pray. 

I need to confess.  I did something this week I really wish I hadn’t.  The details are not necessary, but to say that I allowed hurt feelings to cloud my better judgment is probably the most accurate summary I can offer.  I have been there and done that many times in my life and I am sure many of you can relate.  The “shoulda,”” woulda,”” coulda”  will be deviling me for quite some time.  I am still working on some unresolved anger with that particular and tonight I need to focus on this weakness as I pray.  

Have a fresh and fabulous Saturday and I hope to see you at VEG FEST!!!!

 
 

It is Now September

The weeks are rolling by and our summer is nearly over.  This week Livie came home from school each day excited but tired.  Autie waited eagerly each day for her big sister and best friend to come play with her.  Autie finally asked if she could start school soon.  Tom and I both want to send her to preschool, but at the moment it’s not in our budget.  We are working with her on the things she needs to learn, but she misses having friends to play with.  We are trying to figure this part out as we speak.  Autie’s personality is changing so much right now.  She is a crazy kid.  Last Sunday while I was at market Daddy took the girls to Orshleans (our favorite store in the whole wide world!!!!!!).  The girls came home with some new rain/work boots.  Autie’s had horses on them and she wears them EVERYWHERE we will allow her to wear them… including the bathtub and bed.  Livie likes hers, but not with same intensity. 

If you were to come visit our farm this weekend, you would see my girls in their cutoff shorts, tank tops that do not match, a headband with a big bow for a little style, and their boots.  They will be working a 'project" that will require at least three visits to daddy’s junk pile and will have two chairs  and a small wrought iron patio table they have cabbaged onto on the stoop of our front steps.  I have finally found all of the plant markers that disappeared this spring… they are tools, credit cards, and othe essential items for their “project.”  If they happen to have a pair of their daddy’s gloves on … not to worry they have switched “projets” and will be trying to catch our only remaining kitten and he is WILD.  The gloves are for a little protection from the scratches.  The kitten is so WILD I think they actually need hazmat suits so the entire body is protected.  You may also find them on their trampoline where they may be jumping, but they may also be playing school with our red heeler Reba.  Reba is a very good student.  My girls are wild, crazy and scream with pure excitement whenever there is a visitor!!!!  If you are looking for yellow green beans, Romano-style flat green beans or a good deal on canning tomatoes you will find not only great produce but also quality entertainment offered by my girls. 

This week we made another delivery to Wilderness Lodge and while at our market last week met an independent chef who does quite a bit of catering.  I hope to be working on with him on an up-coming event.  We also have been very busy selling apples, a last batch of sweet corn and lots of jalapeno peppers. 

Next week we will rip out all but one row of tomatoes in the high tunnel so we can begin planting pole beans, more zucchini, broccoli, three types of cabbage and a whole LOT more!!!!  In the weeks to come we will have pumpkins, yellow moon & star watermelons, patty pan squash, spinach, salad greens, more cherry tomatoes, broccoli, and a huge assortment of fall greens, cabbages, beets.  Summer may be coming to an end, but in many ways the garden is just getting primed for the second half of the growing season.  We are also making some changes for next year.  This fall we are adding a bed of fennel and we are re-sowing our beds of parsley and cilantro.  I am also looking for a good place to add a bed of fern dill and a bed of sage.  We are making some big changes for next year.  Just you wait and see!!!!    

Tomorrow, you need to stop by.  We will have a huge supply of yellow green beans, a few Romano-style beans, edamame soybeans, summer apples, Jonathon apples, a few pears, patty pan squash, butternut squash, some gorgeous red slicing tomatoes, a few cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, and okra.  We will also have beet greens, collard greens and baby Swiss chard.  We will be at the Old Cheney Road Farmers Market in Lincoln, NE from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  The produce will be very fresh, the conversation friendly, and my thankfulness overflowing! 

My thoughts of gratitude for the week is focused on the gift of a happy marriage.  This summer has been rough for most of us.  The lack of rain and intense heat is wearing on everyone.  It is summers like these that bring out the worst in everyone and I have not been at my best.   My hubby faces it all  with an easy smile, a reassuring “I love you,” and a drive to keep going in the hopes of a better day.  There are a LOT of single women in my county most of whom never gave my husband a second look and yet wonder why they are still single.  To them I smile and say THANK YOU.  Depending on the weather, Tom hopes to start fall harvest this next week as well.  Fall harvest has a tendency to drag on a bit but due to the drought this year will be fairly short, but lacking the light-hearted banter that tends to come with it.  This year is a hard one and harvest will not end on a positive note.  I hope Tom will lean on me the way I have leaned on him all summer.  Hopefully my reassuring “I love you and gentle kiss will encourage a smile that I know he will struggle to find.  This is farming and years like these are to be expected, but expecting them and living them are two different realities. 

This next week is also a BIG week for us in other ways.  I cannot go into details, but to say the least it has the potential to be life-changing for my family... in a good way.  If you are a person of faith, please pray that the changes offered are real, and will bring my family the type of blessing we are able to pay forward 10 times over.  

Have a fresh and fabulous holiday weekend and I ave hhhhhhhhhhhhhope to see you in the morning!!!!

v
 
 

I Love a Rainy Night

I love a rainy night and since last night we have received a little over three inches.  It has been the slow soaking kind for the most part and WOW is it muddy.  So muddy in fact tonight when I was picking green beans I got so stuck I could not move my legs.  My mucks had suctioned around my feet so tight I could not even pull my feet out.  I fell and landed in the mud.  It took two showers to get rid of all the mud.  They say mud is good for your skin.  I do not know about that, but my husband and I had a good laugh.  Normally, I hate picking in the rain, but I did not mid today.  The rain is simply too late to help Tom and his fall crops, but the timing was perfect for me. 

This week was the first full week of kindergarten and my Livie is pleased to report she received a green dot each day.  We celebrated with some ice cream.  Little sister Autie still misses her sister but she is starting to realize that for the first time in her life she has her parents all to herself quite a bit of the time.  She likes it… at least for now. 

This week we have several new items.  We have bartlet pears, summer apples and Jonathan apples.  We also have lots of peter pan squash and the first of our butternut squash.  We will have more collard greens, baby Swiss chard.  We have a bag of mint, okra, yellow green beans, edamame soybeans, flat Italian style green beans, and tomatoes.  I fear the tomatoes come to an end either this week or next.  My cherry tomatoes are starting to blossom again so who knows.  I hope you will come see me tomorrow at the Old Cheney Road Farmers market in Lincoln, NE from 10:00 a.m. – to 2:00 p.m.

Due to the muddy conditions I was unable to pick all of the beans that are ready.  If you live nearby and are interested, give me a call this week. 

I spent Thursday helping Tom.  We sold his calves this week and Autie and I helped him and my brother-in-law Joe round everybody up.  I love this time of year.  The light filters through the trees differently.  It makes me think of stained glass. The beauty is incredibly simple, but it is magnificent. I know it is still August but autumn is in the air.  The day my Livie came home from the hospital we had newly weaned calves bawling.  She woke up as I carried her into the house and she looked around.  I told her, those cows were hers and that they would take very good care of her.  She closed her eyes and went back to sleep.  To this day when she hears bawling calves she has a tendency to doze off.  To this day I have a tendency to remember the day I brought my first baby home.  My babies are now little girls and before I realize it, I will be bawling as they leave in search of their life paths in this world.  I need to remind myself of that fact when my patience run thin. 

This week was a busy one in the garden.  I planted more beets, and snap peas.  I also planted a few more rows of lettuce.  I wish I would have worked a little harder in getting a few more things in the ground, but as soon as things dry out a little we will get to work.  Off the farm I finally stole enough time away from the farm to get my hair cut and colored.  I am no longer a blonde, which was not an easy decision to make, but I think I like it.  I will turn 44 this December and at the moment I am struggling with that fact.  I would not go back and relive my twenties for anything in the world, but I wouldn’t mind giving my early thirties another go.  Oh well, age is a number and I am on a mission to defy time.  Wish me luck. 

My thoughts of gratitude focus on friendship… both old and new.  I did something today that I have only done one other time before.  I went shopping with a friend.  I also heard from an old friend.  Good friends are like diamonds.  Their true beauty is in the fact that most precious are rare beyond compare. 

v
 
 

The August Rushes in Big Changes For Our Home

My Livie started kindergarten Friday.  I was supposed to take her, but the bus pulled up in our yard and she was so excited.  My baby girl tolerated her picture being taken and then waved goodbye.  Tom and I both had tears in our eyes.  It was a half day so when she came home we had a picnic lunch in the back yard.  Everyone is excited about her teacher and Livie cheerfully announced she knew most of her classmates.  She is SO excited about the promise of music class.  She also thought an awful lot of the school assembly where the principal spoke to all of the kids.  He made a very strong impression.  My Autie missed her sister.  There was nobody to play with and both Tom and I were busy with work.  She really missed her big sister.  while I fixed lunch we got out her new preschool readyness book and worked on a few pages.  She was a little happier.  All weekend she wanted Livie to play school with her. 

I made my second deliver to Wilderness Lodge this week and the news is out here at home. J   I am relieved to finally have an opportunity to work with a restaurant.  As I prepare for fall, I find myself making some little changes that will hopefully be more appealing to similar customers.  I spent quite a bit of time this week getting some things planted.  I planted around 50 broccoli plants and before long I will plant many, MANY more.  I also planted leeks, beets, lettuce, Pac Choy, spinach, snap peas.  I also started pulling out some of my tomatoes plant to make room for the next crop…. pole beans, squash and a last round of tomatoes and basil.  Next week I will continue cleaning out the old and planting the new.  I hope to have a really good fall garden.  While picking peter pan squash I inventoried my other plans and found several sugar pumpkins and Hubbard squash on the vine already.  There is a lot more still to come. We are still in great need of rain, but the cooler temperatures have been a welcome change. 

Tomorrow I will be at the Old Cheney Road Farmers Market in Lincoln, NE from 10:00 to 2:00.  With me is a LOT of great produce.  I will of course have tomatoes and eggplant, but I will also have Italian broad beans, yellow beans, okra, more edamame soybeans, onions, parsley, peter pan squash, hard red winter wheat berries.  My mint is bolting so I will also have my standard mint and parsley bundles, but I will also have bulk bags.  For the serious dessert maker you need to stop by.  I will also have LOTS of collard greens, some Swiss Chard and an entire rainbow of peppers.  I also have some dried chilies and of course eggs. 

I hope you will stop by and take advantage of what is to be a beautiful day. 

My thoughts of gratitude for the week are focused on the fine young women my little girls are becoming.  We have had lots of problems lately with our girls getting into things they shouldn’t.  My girls are unhappy with their parents at the moment, but I wouldn’t trade either girl for anything in the world.  Tonight my Autie learned a valuable lesson about asking before you help yourself.  I had a tray of newly picked peppers on the back porch and she decided to give one a try…jalapeno.  There were lots of tears.  But when she went to sleep tonight she told that next time she ask if the pepper was sweet.  I am grateful that his lesson was learned with a pepper instead of something far more dangerous. 

v
 
 

We Are Up and Running Again

It is Monday evening and I am finally updating my online store for the week.  I am sorry for being so tardy, but today was BUSY.  Livie and I both had eye exams and I am now at that point in my life where I need bifocals.  I am not excited… especially when you factor in the cost of the new lenses.  Better news Livie’s eyes are in great shape for the first day of Kindergarten.  Autie spent the afternoon with Grandma Betty and she enjoyed being the only one with Grandma. 

Yesterday I had a wonderful thing happen, I met the executive chef of an upscale restaurant in Lincoln and he was in love with MY tomatoes!  That is wonderful news.  I am estatic at the possibility of selling to them.  Today I also visited with the cook at a local café who will feature my produce in her weekly menu in the weeks to come.  She is one of two people today to take advantage of my fresh from the farm Mondays where I offer everyone a chance to buy Sunday leftovers at significantly reduced prices.  For those who love fresh produce but would like to save some money, you need to stop by on Mondays. 

This week I have plenty of peppers, eggplant, TOMATOES, sweet corn, peaches and crabapples.  I will double check on Wednesday but at the moment I will not have green beans, but more are coming.  

In the weeks to come I will have several types of watermelon, honey dew and Crenshaw melons. 

The heat has set in and it has been difficult to get very much done.  Before I plant much it really does need to cool down.  We are also in desperate need of rain and once again ask each of you to take a moment and offer a silent prayer.  The lack of rain is becoming serious and the high temps are making the situation worse.  Our pastures are running out of grass and the ponds and creeks and each are also starting to dry up.  Our corn crop is already gone and our soybeans are in trouble.  We have only out up a third of the hay that will be needed this fall and winter and that is scary.  Please pray for rain and pray for all farmers to receive the needed rain. 

My girls are busy enjoying their trampoline.  The temps are a little cooler and the sun has gone down enough to offer a little relief.  From my computer I can watch them play and I love watching them when they do not realize I am there.  My girls are crazy and a lot of fun to watch. 

The store will remain open until 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday.  Ordering is easy all you need to do is go to  http://lecuyergardens.locallygrown.net.  I will deliver to your home an office on Thursday.  v
 
 

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

 
 

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
 
 

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
 
 

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. 

 
 
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