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!!!!

 
 

The First Day of Fall

It has been awhile since I posted.  To say the least September is a very busy month.  Earlier in the month Livie turned six and today my Autie turned four.  She was born on the first day of fall.  Somewhere in the middle Tom and I celebrated our eighth anniversary.  Tom rounded up and sold his fall calves AND also began fall harvest.  As of Friday we are finished with our corn.  It was not pretty…the drought’s impact was severe… but at least that part is OVER.  This next week Joe will begin cutting soybeans and Tom will start drilling wheat.  Our soybeans should do better and so at least there is a rainbow of hope. 

I have also been very busy.  I took a business trip to Reading, PA and also ripped out most of my tomatoes and began planting my fall and winter high tunnel.  I have been busy planting cherry tomatoes, basil, sorrel, micro greens; rattle snake beans, yard beans, fennel, arugula, and broccoli, red and green cabbage.  Before too much longer I will also plant Red Russian and winterboro kale and several types of head and loose leaf lettuce.  I continue to make weekly deliveries to the Wilderness Ridge Lodge and am busy making some decisions for next spring.  We are planning for some big changes for next year and most of the decisions need to be made now so we can focus our energy properly in the weeks to come. 

Today is a busy day.  I spent the morning focused on picking everything for tomorrow and as soon as I finish this post, I will begin prepping.  My girls who helped carry of the squash to the house demanded I I pay them back by jumping on the trampoline for a little bit.  Tom was so relieved to not be drafted that he announced he would fix lunch and BOLTED into the house.  So yes I did jump on the trampoline and yes it is still standing AND I have all of my bones intact… I may have swallowed my tongue.   Tonight after church we will go out to eat at Autie’s place of choice... probably Chinese and then we will go over to a neighbor’s house for smores!!!!    Tomorrow night after return from Old Cheney we will have everyone over a birthday party.  The meatballs have already been made and the tomato salad will be finished before I go to bed tonight.  I hope I sell A LOT of patty pan squash tomorrow, otherwise I may give them away as party favors!!!! 

After being gone for a few weeks I will be back at the Old Cheney Road Farmers market in Lincoln, NE from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  The only change is that for at least this next week, I will be in a different stall.  I will be beside the Parthenon, which is up in the main part of the market.   I will have an odd combination of items tomorrow, but they should ALL be really yummy.  I will have my patty pan squash as well as acorn and butternut squash.  I will also have mini orange, white and spotted mini pumpkins as well as bird house gourds.  I will have a nice selection of eggplant, peppers, cherry and beefsteak tomatoes, hard red winter wheat berries, sage, red-veined sorrel, chocolate mint, and sage.  We will also have red and yellow onions, ornamental okra, and moon and stars yellow watermelons.  The yellow is a beautiful melon that tastes wonderful.  I need to check but I think we will also have a few honey dew melons.  Finally our greens have kicked in.  Tomorrow we will have spinach, red and purple Bok Choy, red sails lettuce, Chinese cabbage, miniature purple cabbage, beet greens and baby Swiss Chard.  I have no idea how I am going to get all of this into my car. 

I hope to see you the Old Cheney Road Farmers market tomorrow in Lincoln, NE.  I promise to have fresh and fabulous produce at terrific prices and a fair amount of light banter.  My thoughts of gratitude today are focused on cooler temperatures and two little girls who still manage to con their mom into bouncing around on their trampoline as if I were also a little girl. 

 
 

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
 
 

A Week Focused on the Family

The past week has been action packed!  I am exhausted but also excited.  On Monday we took Livie into Washington and registered her for Kindergarten.  She is very excited about her teacher, her classroom and especially the promise of music class.  Tom and voted with advanced ballots for our county primaries, delivered some produce and headed out of town for a few days…. Nothing too exciting just some back-to-school shopping and a few nights at a hotel with a swimming pool.  I will not give you the day-by-day, but we had a blast, the Lincoln Children’s Museum , the Lincoln Zoo, Ice Age III and the ultimate lunch at Chucky Cheese… “Where a Kid Can Be a Kid.” 

We came home Thursday and I spent the afternoon and evening preparing for my first produce delivery at Wilderness Ridge Lodge in South Lincoln.  I was so nervous delivering mky produce.  I hope they liked... I only wish I had more tome left on my tomatoes.  I have spent my time since getting ready for tomorrow.  This week is going to be a difficult week, but I think all of us are in a similar boat.  My tomatoes are on the verge konking out.  My yellow slicers are all but finished and my red slicers will not be too far behind.  Most of my heirlooms will go again, but there will not be very many for several weeks.  My cherry tomatoes are re-blooming as our most of my heirlooms and I am trying to decide if ripping out and moving on into fall crops is a better alternative to waiting the plants out.  I am in a similar situation with my cucumbers. My green beans are rejoicing with the cooler temperatures and I hope this time next week we will find green beans ready to pick.  In the morning I WILL have a few slicing tomatoes, several types of bell, sweet and spicy peppers; eggplant, edamame soybeans, hard red winter wheat berries, onions, potatoes, cantaloupe and eggs.  I have a lot that will be planted this week and I hope to be able to tread water for a few weeks until my fall garden starts producing.  I will also have Tabouli kits and some hedge apples. 

Tonight at church my girls clung to me… that doesn’t happen very often anymore.  At dinner they both told me I was the most beautiful mommy ever.  I know it isn’t true, but I love them for saying such a sweet thing to me.  After church Livie even cleaned her room without being told!  I am not sure what has gotten into them but whatever it is, it must be made of pure sugar. 

My thoughts of gratitude are focused those moments when people show their natural goodness.  Twice on our trip I managed to leave something in a restaurant.  The first was my camera at the McDonald’s on West O Street and the second was my purse at Ruby Tuesdays… Anybody who knows me will tell you I do this A LOT.  The gratitude is for the fact both items were found and waiting for me, completely intact.  Thank you to the individuals who not only helped me manage my personal items, but also helped me to remember the basic decency that is second nature in most of us!!!  Gratitude. 

I hope to see you tomorrow morning from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Old Cheney Road Farmers Market in Lincoln, NE.  Have a Fresh & Fabulous Sunday.  Goodnight! 

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 Dawn of a New Week

This past week was a rough one for L’Ecuyer Gardens.  On Thursday we received notification we are to no longer use rural water to water our garden.  This request is a result of the current drought conditions.  We do have a private well, but it will not meet our current needs and so some things will be touch and go.  Saturday night we did receive a surprise rain which was WONDERFUL, but at this point 1 inch will not change much.  I am tired and worried.   

I have lots of tomatoes and cantaloupe, zucchini and yellow squash.  I also have some beautiful leeks.  We have LOTS of canning tomatoes and we have now opened what is left of our sweet corn up for u-pick.  It you want to save big, jump in!!!!  while you are here, pick up some canning tomatoes, cucumbers and whatever else you cannot resist. 

I am also busy trying to make plans for our fall garden.  I am concerned about the water issue so I am trying to think through my options before I make decisions, but the time is upon us.  I am also trying to make plans for next summer.  For my loyal customer chance, s this is the time to offer you thoughts on what you want to have available.  I will start buying my seeds in November and so let me know.  MY garden is your garden!  It is my hope you will be able to find everything you need. 

Despite the heat in the near future I will have Brussels sprouts and possibly some green beans and cabbage. 

Tomorrow will be dedicated to dehydrating corn and freezing peppers and some other canning. 

For now we still have great selection.  If you are looking for canning tomatoes, let me know!!!!  I have a lot of tomatoes at the moment.  The online store is now open.  Please go to:  http://lecuyergardens.locallygrown.net/weblog and view our availability and make your selections by 5:00 p.m. Wednesday.  Give us a chance.  Our selection is good, our quality is very high and our prices are reasonable. 

v
 
 

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!

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!
 
 

Caught in a Whirlwind!

This week has been a whirlwind.  We forgot that swim lessons started this week so there has been a mad dash to modify our schedule.  I nearly drowned when I was Autie’s age so for me swim lessons are mandatory.  At the pool I was able to make about a dozen phone calls and visit with some of the other moms.  We all had stories that I am sure you can relate to too about how we want our kids to be involved BUT they/ we are also overloaded.  None of us know how to navigate that water.  I for one am of the opinion that time at home working on family priorities NEEDS to be inked into the schedule.  I say that and admit this week is not proof of that belief.  We are ALL overloaded.  Despite that we owe it to ourselves to find ways to bring back some simple pleasure and in my opinion a nice meal made from fresh ingredients is a GREAT way to start. 

We enjoyed BLTs last night with zucchini chips and coleslaw.  After dinner, Livie went to plant soybeans with Tom last night and Autie spent the evening with me.  We took a bubble bath, cleaned the kitchen and washed our game uniforms.  Liv was so tired that she curled up with our puppy Reba and they both napped in the tractor.  Autie was so tired she couldn’t sleep and talked like a freight train ALL night.  She has the gift of gab!!!  

It was so windy it was too hard to work outside so I decided it was time to focus on things inside.  We have enjoyed very strong, hot, dry winds for several days and everyone is crabby and exhausted.  Kansas is upholding its reputation.  For those who are not close the feeling of this wind is like a blow dryer powered by a jet engine blowing straight into your face… non-stop.  Every so often the blow dryer blows sand or dirt into your face and you only hope you were not smiling or yawning in that moment.  I do not enjoy being sand blasted.    

After I dropped the girls off I made a mad dash to the grocery store and then came home with a full to do list.  I spent the morning picking blackberries and tomatoes and my surprises for the day are that my YELLOW beefsteak and my WHITE slicing tomatoes are starting to turn.  I also found a few more Juane Flemme’ orange plum tomatoes and my NEW Indigo Rose tomato is nearly ready to pick.  The Indigo Rose is a blue tomato and I will keep you posted.  BLUE!!!

I had a customer ask why I grew so many weird tomatoes/ things.  I LOVE tomatoes.  I love them so much that I am a SNOB.  I want them MY way and will do without unless that can be.  I also know there are a LOT of tomato snobs out there and they want them THEIR way.  I UNDERSTAND and I try to accommodate everyone.   My girls are young and most kids their age will not eat fresh veggies, BUT mine do willingly… most of the time.  Livie can’t decide if her favorite veggie is kale or broccoli and I am just so happy to know that I willingly fix both so she can continue to fine tune her list of favorites.  Autie is pickier and I have to work harder.  For HER I grow a lot of things that are ORANGE because it is her favorite color.  SHE always likes it when she can eat her favorite color.  She also likes yellow.  My girls eat eggplant not the big black ugly ones as Livie puts it but the little purple ones.  She eats the others too, but only after trying the others.  They also eat okra, cabbage, spinach, Swiss chard, beets, beet greens, zucchini and squash.  Sometimes it is all in the marketing.  When you buy from me you will find an awful lot of kid friendly choices.   My kids also know the difference between fresh and store bought and they prefer fresh.  It will be interesting to see how many times Livie wants to pack her lunch next year.   

Here in a bit I will pick squash, peas and maybe some green beans and then we will begin the mad dash for tonight.  Livie has t-ball tonight and we are expecting rain.  We do not look forward to rescheduling another game BUT bring it on!!!!  We have another game Friday night and I have A LOT to get ready for Sunday’s market.  We could all handle a night watching our current favorite movie Chestnut and a big bowl of popcorn.  Bring on the rain!!!!  J

Swim lessons are forcing me to alter my schedule slightly for the next two weeks.  I will make ALL of my deliveries on Thursday.  Hopefully that will work for everyone.  The plus side is that I was able to give everyone more time to place their orders.  Please go to http://lecuyergardens.locallygrown.net/ to place yours. The store closes at 5:00 p.m. today and I will begin my deliveries first thing in the morning.  I still have plenty of squash, cucumbers, zucchini, slicing and cherry tomatoes.  I also have cabbage, Swiss chard, Tabouli kits, potatoes, black berries and collard greens.

My statement of gratitude is focused on the promise of rain and an end to our wind storm. 

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 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. 

 
 

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
 
 
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