A Day in the Life
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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
Posted by Twilya
@ 09:10 PM CDT
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.
Posted by Twilya
@ 12:19 AM CDT
I am frustrated this afternoon. I have found a handy and inexpensive way to
create an online ordering system and the system does not like my name. I understand, but it is still my name. I have sent my questions and or comments and
I am waiting. Frustrated! Technology is a blessing and at the moment I
want to throw my computer out the window.
There are more ways than ever to communicate to people and I am trying
to use all of them and I cannot afford a smart phone which have been told will simplify
my life. I was told that about email
too. Frustrated. J
Yesterday was a BIG day and today I am tired. It started with my market at the Old Cheney
Road Farmers Market in Lincoln, NE and my tobouli kits were popular. I sold out and I even sold extra parsley and mint
which are typically not easy to sell. I
came very close to selling out of everything which is a good feeling. Now I just need to bring more.
My friend Sandi from Filley, NE. I asked Sandi to design and make a pick apron
for me. She delivered it to the market
on Sunday and it is so cool. It has a
set of three pockets that will allow for large picks and prevent crushing. It also has a wide and padded neck. I am still fighting my cameras and will post
pictures soon, but to my fellow growers who want something that will simply the
harvest you will be more than interested.
She also designs purses and is a true whiz at the sewing machine. She is now offering sewing classes too!
Tom and his brother Joe have been attempting to cut wheat…a
little each day but my blackberries simply insist it is not time. I have one berry starting to slightly turn purple. My prediction is they will be able to begin
cutting Thursday and I will likely begin picking berries the same day. Tom is amused by my predictions but not
convinced. That’s okay. I will remind him of my prediction on
Autie had her second blast ball game and she was a little
timid and unsure of herself this time.
Usually her big sister is right there bossing her around and she is figuring
things out on her own. She is doing just
fine. Livie had a makeup game and we did
not skip around the base line last night, but we casually jogged. I think some things were said by her team
mates because as she fell asleep last night she said she was sorry and would
run faster next time. My heart hurt a
little for her. I know being the big
sister hard. You have to figure out
everything yourself. Livie is like me in
that she has to mess it up before she figures things out. I need to remember how hard that was for me at
times. I will say she has an awesome
swing and she knows how to keep the shortstop VERY busy. That
ball is fast and JUST barely inside the line.
She is doing just fine.
Today I watered everything and began planting a new round of
onion sets. I have sold a lot of onions
and would have sold a lot more at this point if more were in the ground. I also need to find time to get some basil
plants in the ground.
The tomatoes are still taking their time, but I am now
picking my new red fig which is a cherry-sized heirloom that resembles to yellow
pear. I also see some chocolate cherry cherries
starting to blush a little. My Italian
tree tomatoes are starting to ripen too and those are looking like nice
tomatoes. They are bigger than my Stupica
tomatoes but still not huge. I
personally think smaller tomatoes have more flavor. I also see my beefsteak tomatoes are getting
close to size and will soon start to blush.
I have gobs of yellow beefsteak, but no signs of ripening so whenever
they hit I will have A LOT. My white,
orange, pink and black tomatoes will take a little longer, but will be for sale
before you know it. I also notice my chili peppers are starting to
fruit and with a little luck will be ready for Father’s Day weekend. YEAH!!!!
I will have bell peppers soon after that. My colored bells, and other peppers will take
a little longer.
If I do not have squash and cucumbers for sale by Wednesday
I will definitely have some for sale next Sunday and I am ready. The green beans are about to flower and my
leeks are huge.
Tonight I will plant a few more strawberry plants for fall
fruit and some more leeks, and the last of the eggplant for the season. I have a short row that at this point is
empty and I am looking for some fun new things to try. I am still looking.
Wheat harvest is all but here so I plan to cut a few bundles
of wheat in its stalks to sell as dried flowers for my markets this week. I love wheat.
It is so pretty when it is green but as it ripens it is breathtaking. The colors range from like gold/ almost white
to dark bronze. I fell in love with Tom and
the life he offered me as a farm wife during wheat harvest. Nearly nine years later I still love wheat
harvest… and Tom. We have brothers,
cousins, friends, sometimes strangers… they all want to pitch in. Some take vacation time to come work for
free. We are talking some seriously long hours. There is something truly romantic about this
time of the year. I think it is partly the beauty but also the camaraderie. The banter and yes sometimes the episodes of
Tom and Joe rolling around in the parking lot biting each other’s ear because
neither has slept much in days and are a little crabby. I am not making any of that up. At 42 and 45 they still fight like kid
brothers. Anybody who has ever worked closely
with family instinctively understands how animated these fights can be. They also understand there is only one
rule. Be mad if you like but get over it
because you will sit across from that ugly mug at the next family gathering.
In the morning I will pick peas and mulberries and the girls
and I will likely pick more mulberries tomorrow night. I have several large orders to fill for the
week and it takes A LOT of mulberries to get anywhere. Mulberries remain a very popular item.
My words of gratitude focus on the importance of
family. My brother in law is a maddening
person to be around, but he has also pulled me out of a ditch, repaired
multiple flat tires and is good with my girls …so maybe he is not so bad. I am also grateful for patient customers who
are also waiting for the tomato bumper crop.v
Posted by Twilya
@ 04:45 PM CDT
This post is a little long, but it has beena good week. [Read More
Posted by Twilya
@ 01:31 PM CDT
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
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
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?
Posted by Twilya
@ 09:09 AM CDT
I know you are probably wondering what I am drinking, but
the two have beautiful relationship on our farm. We are usually offering predictions for the
first day of wheat harvest beginning in early June and don’t start cutting
until the end of the month. If we are
lucky we are finished in time to enjoy the Fourth of July. The black berries begin to flower about the
same time we are making our first predictions and usually have ripened and run their
course by the end of harvest. This holds
true not only for the berries we raise commercially but also the berries we
find in the wild. Every year wheat
harvest may be off by a week or more one way or the other and every year the
blackberries seem to know.
This year is no exception and it is one worth pausing for,
you see it is May 13 and we have been offering wheat harvest predictions for
nearly three weeks and my bushes are loaded with flowers and green berries. Today I noticed some of them are slightly
red. I will be picking blackberries in
two weeks. The fields of wheat have been
beautiful seas of green and last night on my way to my pasture picnic, I
noticed it is starting to turn a light golden color. I predict we will start harvest on or before
June 1 (almost an entire month early). Even
this year the wheat and blackberries have synchronized their internal
Blackberry cobbler is heavenly and my reasoning is because
they are so closely connected and to me this relationship is the story of hubby
and me. Other than a short stint in
college, Tom has lived his entire life on this farm. He is a true country boy in every way. Tom farms conventionally. He is the type of farmer too many try to cast
in an ugly light because he has worked hard and figured out how make farming
his career. He raises cattle and corn,
wheat and soy beans. He is an honest man
and if you were ever stranded in a dark alley late at night he is the guy you
hope will come by. He has a gentle smile
and a voice that always manages to calm my inner worries. He knows who he his only want is for a happy
and healthy family. It is very easy to
I am a city gal and as a young child and again later in my
early adult years I moved a lot. My dad
hit the bricks when I was young and I was in my teens before there was an adult
man in my life who treated me as a daughter.
That gap created an insecure person.
I always assume that there is something about me that is repulsive to
the world. I have always had major trust
issues with all people, but men especially.
I know at times I am a difficult person to want to love, but Tom makes
it look easy. For that I am grateful. I used to live in an urban/ suburban area and
enjoyed a career and a life that did not involve dirt, cows, or the late night
four-legged visitor. I enjoyed the
frequent purchase of new clothes and new shoes and my idea of farming was 5
tomato plants and a honeysuckle bush. Since
moving to Kansas I have tried to be a farmer.
I love playing in the dirt but must confess I don’t always know what I
am doing. Tom is the one who helps me
figure things out and at times does the work I am physically unable to do. He makes it look easy.
At first glance you could assume that Tom and I could not
possibly have any common ground and yet the only thing that has made since in
my life since we first met was making sure I am next to him. There has been a connectedness between us
that is hard to put into words, but somehow belongs together. We are wheat and blackberries. For that I am grateful.
Today I cleaned all bedding plants from my tunnel and I hope
within the next few weeks most will find new homes. If not, they will end up in my compost
pile. Today we put down mulch eight new rows
and tomorrow I will begin planting… bell peppers, chili peppers, eggplant,
artichokes, Asian cucumbers, okra, cabbage, and lettuce. Tom also planted a few rows of cannellini
beans. Wednesday is t-ball practice for
Livie, grocery store and drop box deliveries and my farmer’s market night in
Manhattan. Thursday, I will make
deliveries to Beatrice and will help my girl’s preschool plant their summer
garden. Friday the girls and I will go check for
mulberries and hopefully will SCORE.
There is lots of good stuff that will come from L’Ecuyer Gardens. Check back with us to find out what type of
goodness is waiting for you.
Posted by Twilya
@ 10:19 PM CDT
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