L'Ecuyer Gardens

  (Morrowville, Kansas)
A Day in the Life
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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 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. 

 
 

It is Now June

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

Mother's Day

Mother’s Day

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day and while we have had several beautiful baskets and planters leave, we have many more still available.  Tomorrow we will be at the Old Cheney Road Farmers Market in Lincoln, NE from 10:00 until 2:00 p.m.  We also have several different smaller plants that you can use to design your own planters, planters and homemade soaps that are an olive oil and lye base. 

Fresh herbs from curry leaf and orange mint plants to sage and cilantro and several types of basil, fern dill will all be in tow.  We still have beefsteak and lemon boy tomato plants.  I will also have two baby silver maple trees that are for sale.  As far as fresh produce I will have a few bags of loose leaf lettuce, Romaine lettuce, radicchio, and arugula.  I also have one bag of odds and ends that will taste good and give the wallet a break.  WE will also have beet greens and Swiss Chard for sale.  Fresh herbs including tarragon, chamomile, chocolate mint, cilantro, parsley and sage will also be available.  I also have two nice tower pots… one filled with strawberries and flowers and the other a nice assortment of herbs.  One of the herb pot has a unique Asian flair and will be somebody’s pride and joy. 

We had a very full day but we got most of it in.  For me the day started at 4:00 a.m. and an hour and half drive to Manhattan, KS where I battled wind in rain AGAIN for the first hour or so of the market.  Toward the end it was better and the customers swooped in at the end which was nice.  I got home in time to unload the car and get ready for church and my niece Katie’s graduation party.  She will be off to college next year.  She is a beautiful and very sweet girl and I know she will do wonderful things in time. 

We did not get home in time to go to our neighbor’s fish fry and I hated that.  I sure hope they had a nice turnout.  The one thing I dislike the most about being a farm marketer is that we miss a lot of things like this during the summer, but that is part of it.  I spent the evening picking strawberries and arugula.  I also saved some rhubarb seeds that will become future plants.  Some will be for sale and some will be used to expand my current bed.  Tom planted watermelon and put some finishing touches on my irrigation system.  I cannot put into words how much time that system will save.  Most of our garden will be self-watering AND mulched in to prevent weed growth.  All I will have to do is turn the water on and walk away…. But must remember to come back. J

Tom planted four types of watermelon and tomorrow will plant Crenshaw melons, cannallini beans and two types of pole beans.  He is also laying the ground work for what will eventually be my fall pumpkin patch and winter squash bed.  Today he was my FTD guy and tomorrow he is my “hired man.”  Have I mentioned before he is a real keeper?    

While in Manhattan today I had a customer buy some fresh chocolate mint for a pickled relish she is making.  Lucky for me she kindly sent me the recipe.  I will try it and let you know what my family thinks.  I have A LOT of chocolate mint so this one is one I hope turns out really well. 

After picking strawberries I sorted and cleaned.  I have one variety called the mignonette.  It is a small pastry berry and it is the ugliest berry I have ever seen, but WOW they are sweet.  I cannot bring myself to pack them along but WOW are they sweet.  Last year all of them ended up in my jelly and while they look a LOT better this year, I fear they are destined for jelly again this year.  We eat a lot of ugly things at our house. We enjoy the less than perfectly beautifuls.  We know they still taste great, but like us have some warts and wrinkles we hope those who love us look past. 

I hope you will come see us tomorrow at the market.  If you would prefer to check out the baskets at the farm that I could not fit into the car, give Tom a call.   I posted his cell phone number on my L’Ecuyer Gardens Facebook page. He will be around but not necessarily at the house so a call would be appreciated.  Otherwise, bring your mom to the market tomorrow.  A mom’s greatest gift received is simple time.  Time with you  We let the girls stay up later than normal tonight and right at dark we had to take a break from the prep work and play a game of family freeze tag… in the dark and yes girls it is date.  Tomorrow night you are both IT.  I can’t wait!!! e will be runniHe he wilH

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Saturday - Mother's Day is One Day Away

Tomorrow is a very busy day for us and hopefully we are on your list of must visit places. Hubby is proudly stating that he is the FTD man for the day and will greet on-farm visitors with a warm smile. Be gentle though because all of the different items, sizes and prices is already stressing him out a little. I do have a list so he seems a little flustered just ask to see it. He does not know the difference between a marigold and a zinnia. I WILL HAVE MY CELL PHONE WITH ME. ;)

While you are here check out the load of rocks in the front yard. It is my Mother's Day gift from Tom and the girls. It is the first installment of my new landscaping project for the front of our house. As Tom put it how do you buy flowers for someone who literally has thousands of them on hand? I love my rocks. This particular load has great color and shape.

While hubby and the girls are greeting people at the farm I will be at the farmers market in Manhattan from 8:00 a.m. to Noon. I will hang around a little later if the crowd holds. I tried to bring a little of everything and hopefully what I brought will NOT come home. I have A LOT of purple flowers in the car... GO WILDCATS.

We had another t-ball practice and today my Livie knocked the snot out of the ball. Go Livie!!!! Autie seeing how pleased I was with my load of rocks busied herself colleting gravel. I tried very hard to be just as excited about the gravel as I was the limestone. I think the other mom's might have thought I was nuts. Sitting next to me was a fellow farm marketer and at least she understood that for some women there will never be a diamond that is big enough to rival a truckload of limestone. If you come tomorrow ask Autie about the nail polish she has all over her leg. It is a nice color BUT....

Please come visit us this weekend. We would love to see you.

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