L'Ecuyer Gardens

  (Morrowville, Kansas)
A Day in the Life
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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
 
 

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

v
 
 

The Blessings of the Week

I spent most of the day in the Masonic Temple Parking Lot in Marysville, KS and it was an okay day despite the heat.  Tom and the girls surprised me with a visit and yes I had both girls out waiving to cars for a short period of time.  Again I am running low on quarters, but that is a good problem to have.

This week has had many great moments.  My nephew Lane came to visit for a few days.  He will be a senior in high school this year and he is becoming a fine young man.  He was an awesome kid and I loved watching him play with my girls.  He has been gone for a day and a half and my girls REALLY MISS him. I do too.  My brother’s kids are pretty awesome too and would love it if they could come visit for a few days too!!!!!  I LOVE AND MISS YOU GUYS ALL THE TIME. 

I also learned I have a fan.  Tish introduced herself as someone who has been following me this season and today we met.  I never thought of my blog as something interesting enough to be worth following.  I only hope she enjoys the cantaloupe.  I am flattered. 

I still have several very nice cantaloupe ready to sell and there will be many more by the weekend.  I am also running long on cucumbers, squash and canning tomatoes.  My slicing tomatoes looked really good today.  The heat has been rough on everything so I am grateful to be able to still offer some nice big juicy slicing tomatoes.  My sweet corn is dwindling and the preorders I have in place may very well end my season.  We do have one batch that was planted quite a bit later, but we need the heat to ease up for it to have a chance. 

For Thursday, along with the cantaloupe, I will also have yellow slicing tomatoes and several really nice beefsteak, eggplant, okra and lots and lots of peppers.  If you are looking for something truly wonderful, you need to ask me about my strawberry crabapples.  They are golden with a slight blush.  Unlike most crabapples, these are tart but sweet apples are wonderful fresh.  They would make an outstanding cobbler or pie and just the thought of it sounds so good I may make one for Tom and the girls this weekend.  My peaches are starting to ripen and so I should have some with me at Old Cheney this weekend.  Before too much longer I will have Colorado peaches and apples. 

Don’t tell Livie and Autie but my friend Sandy from Filley, NE is making them princess costumes.  They will serve as the first installment to their dress up box and this year’s Halloween costumes.  Livie has never been able to wear the princess dress in the toy isle…they are just too small.  This dress will be made to fit her.  She loves to dress up and I hope this will be an extra special surprise for her.  I am now in search of long satin gloves, crowns and princess slippers.  I am also in search of a trunk to warehouse everything.  Livie’s will be pink and purple and will look a lot like Cinderella.  Autie’s is yellow and orange and will look a lot like Bell’s.  Sandi is also working on a custom handbag for me.  I have enjoyed the first bag so much that as I move into fall I want another.  She is working on a design that will also double as computer case for a laptop or tablet.  When finished I will have a one-of-a-kind bag that will be made to meet my specific needs.  In the end it will likely not cost much more than a better case from Staples.   The difference is that mine will make its own unique statement and will be mistakenly MINE. 

The weather remains difficult for us all and your prayers for rain are needed more than ever.  In addition to a prayer for rain, I also ask you petition for cooler temperatures.  We all need it.  As a farmer the weather is your friend and it is also your enemy, but there are an awful lot of people who are severely impacted by our current weather patterns.

The store is open until 5:00 p.m. tomorrow.  To order, please go to http://lecuyergardens.locallygrown.net/weblog and make your selections.  I hope you will give me a try.  The quality is very high.  The prices a reasonable and it will be delivered right to your door for you to enjoy. 

My thoughts of gratitude today are focused on people who find something worth following in the ramblings of a Kansas produce farmer.   Thank you Tish!!!!!   Have a fresh and fabulous rest of the week.  ave Ha

 
 

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

 
 

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
 
 

It is Now June

This post is a little long, but it has beena good week.   [Read More]
 
 

The Mind Wonders at the Mulberry Tree

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

v
 
 

Women as Farmers

I was in Wichita yesterday at the Women Managing the Farm Conference and it is always good to visit with other Agra Women.  I was invited as a speaker and shared some information about a I project I have worked in over the past three years that looked at local foods as a means to create rural economic development.  I had a blast sharing our story but also I was impressed with the number of Agra Women participating in other sessions on organics and small farm operations who understand our farm communities are healthiest with a nice balance of large and small farms.  I sincerely appreciated the interest and support offered by Frontier Farm Credit.  Their partnership was one I enjoyed when our project was forming and their desire to see Kansas find its opportunity to rebuild our rural communities through increased diversification in agriculture is impressive. I was also able to run into a friend Rhonda Junke with Kansas State Research and Extension.  She is a fountain of information related to organic methods.  Both of us added our first high tunnel in 2011 and it was nice to hear her experiences.  We both agree the creation of the high tunnel was a wonderful thing. 

In all of this I have come to realize that building coalitions dedicated to improving the economic outlook in rural areas is something many of us are trying to figure out.  I have also been asked by several groups to offer what we have learned through consulting opportunities! 

 

 
 
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