Abbe Hills Farm CSA

  (Mt. Vernon, Iowa)
[ Member listing ]

beef, bread, and eggs this week, getting really cold one night

Greetings shareholders,
I was in such a hurry to get outside Monday morning when I sent the newsletter, I forgot some key elements.  So here is the rest of this week's news. 
Veggie pickup is Saturday, 10:00 until 2:00.  If you can't get here by 2:00, let me know by Friday afternoon and we'll figure out what to do about it.
There are A LOT of eggs coming out of these new hens!!!  Bring your egg money on Saturday, or stop by nearly any time to get as many as you need out of the walkin cooler in the big shed.  $3 per dozen.  Free range, brown eggs, no hormones or antibiotics, lots of home grown, chemical free corn in their diet.  (It would be illegal for me to claim organic because I am not third-party inspected and certified, but I use 99% organic practices in the gardens and fields.)
Of course, Charlotte will be bringing lovely bread on Saturday, but you could also get bread from her nearly any time during the week if you need it for something special.  Her phone number is 513-659-0694.
Dan Specht is bringing more beef this Saturday.  Here is his note:   Hi Laura and CSA members, I will be attending the Sat., Oct. 6 CSA pick-up, and will be offering 20 lb bundles of assorted cuts for $5/lb to those who notify me in advance.   I will also have hamburger for $5/lb.  I am also now making a list of folks wanting to purchase half or quarter animals for $2.25/lb plus processing fees.  Harvest date is set for Mon., Oct. 29 in Arlington IA at Edgewood Locker West. Send me an E-mail or call me on my cell phone for more details or an order.  563-516-1007
Finally, I think some people still owe a little money for this season's share.  I just haven't had the time or mental energy to go through all the paperwork and figure out who you are, so maybe you'll all think it through for me.  The full share price this year is $420.  Would you please look back in your checkbook to see if you gave me that much money for your 20-week share?  I'll have the files with me on Saturday so we can compare notes when I can take a minute away from keeping the veggies stocked.  Thanks. 
We're starting to harvest for Saturday this afternoon, so I'll be able to let you know Friday morning what we will have this weekend.  We're also getting ready for big cold Saturday night - 26 degrees according to Channel 9, 28 degrees according to my buddy Schnackenberg, and 29 degrees according to the National Weather Service.  It's the Channel 9 one that's got me worried.  We're going to be hustling to get the winter squash all brought inside before it could be potentially damaged Saturday night.  The stuff is so precious this year - we can't afford to lose any of it!
See you Saturday,

Frost and drought slowing growth, we change schedule next week

Greetings shareholders,
This week, we'll have some combination of potatoes, onions, garlic, tomatoes, sweet peppers, chilies, cucumbers, summer squash, kale and collards, swiss chard, leaf lettuce, watermelon, cantaloupe, and herbs.  It could turn out to be a sort of skimpy week, with not everything on the list, or not much of some things.   We have to wait a couple more days to see just how much damage the cold did and to know how it will affect the Thursday people. 
Between cold nights and the drought, it's been hard to get the fall crops growing.  I started irrigating again late last week and will continue this week.  If it stays sunny and if I can get enough water in the ground, we should have some nice crops starting next week or the week after.  There are kohlrabi, beets, carrots, and lots of greens trying to grow.  The winter squash has more maturing to do, so I'm going to wait at least a week, maybe two, before we start to cut it.  Might as well have it be as tasty as possible!  There's going to be good eating the middle of October.
Remember that this is the last week that you pickup in the evenings.  Starting next week, everybody picks up on Saturdays, 10:00 until 2:00.  So, come tonight or Thursday, then the next time you come is Saturday, October 6.  It's a long time between Monday and the following Saturday, I know, but the extra week will give the crops time to catch up to you, and you to catch up with what you've got piling up in the frig!
The young hens are laying lots of eggs, all the time, so it's finally time to eat more eggs!   I'm trying to make sure that there are always a few in the walkin cooler in the big shed.  I think you should be able to stop nearly any time most days this fall and find the big doors open.  If in doubt, zap me a note to make sure you can get to them when you want.  And remember to keep eating eggs after the CSA ends in October.  Not sure what I'm going to do with 65 dozen eggs a week in November!
I've just finished a new book, "Turn Here Sweet Corn", by Atina Diffley, that I think many of you would enjoy.  It's the story of her family's relationship with their farm, Gardens of Egan, near the Twin Cities.  Quite a good book for both farmers and consumers.  Atina was in Iowa City last week on a book tour and was a guest on "Talk of Iowa" on Thursday.
Sorry for the lateness of the newsletter.  We had family things early this morning.
See you this week,

melons and lopes this week, getting cold for a few days, neighbors have apples

Greetings shareholders,

This week, we have potatoes, onions, garlic, beans, sweet peppers, tomatoes, kale and collards, herbs, chili peppers, summer squash, watermelon, and cantaloupe.  I think I'll also be able to find some cucumbers, swiss chard, and the last of the edamame.  After today, we're expecting an uncharacteristically cold week, so I don't know what's going to happen with the garden between now and Thursday, but I think we'll still have most things.  The week after that, who knows? 

I am wishing for a good rain today.  We're now back in the rut in which we found ourselves in May - small crops, lots of them, sitting there, waiting for a rain.  The problem with waiting now is that they are going to run out of time.  So I suppose it is time to start irrigating again, although I don't want to.  Next week, I'm quite sure we can cut some lettuce, and pretty soon after we get just a little more heat and moisture, we should have turnips, kohlrabi, lots more lettuce, a new crop of beans, beets, carrots, cabbage, and all the wonderful fall greens.  We will harvest winter squash starting in October.

I haven't grown cantaloupe in several years, and now I remember why.  While they are absolutely the most sweet and wonderful lopes you've ever tasted, they almost all have a spot on the side that was sitting on the ground.  The problem with cantaloupe (that aren't sprayed multiple times with fungicides and insecticides) is that they ripen, and then two seconds later, they start to rot.  So, pick the best one you can find, keep in the frig, cut off the spot, and enjoy them soon.  We should have more next week. 

Big thanks to a team from Cornell that came on Saturday and helped us get the last of the potatoes dug.  YIPPEE.  I LOVE crossing things off my list!!!   The potato harvest was disappointing this year, about 40% of what we expected, but still enough to get us through the fall.  And the quality has been good.

I've got flyers out on the table for "Landfall", a world music festival in Cedar Rapids this week.  Lots of great music to enjoy, and much of it is free. 

My neighbors about 3 miles away, Kevin and Marie Lynch, have too many APPLES and want to sell some to you.  I've tasted the apples; they are gorgeous, big and crisp, and unsprayed.  U-pick at their place, $.75 per pound.  Kevin and Marie will be here this week handing out samples in case you need more convincing.  Make arrangements to pick when you get your veggies, or call Kevin at 721-8218.  Kevin's email is above.

The email for Charlotte, our bread lady, is also above.  If you want to know her weekly offerings in advance, zap her a note, and tell her which night you pick up so she can get you on the right list.

See you this week,



First veggie pickups week of June 15/18

Greetings shareholders and others,

Well, I’ve washed and put away my spring chore coat two times now, but I had to get it out again this morning.  It is COLD out in the country.  Because of all the cold and wet, the vegetables are growing slowly, so I’m planning for our first veggie pickup to be the week of Monday, June 15th and -Thursday, June 18th.  Pickup is 4:30 -7:00 pm.   I’m not sure what we’ll have yet, but at least radishes and bok choi, probably head lettuce.  If you are getting this note by email, it means you are registered as a shareholder.  If you are reading the blog, maybe you haven’t registered yet, or maybe I got your paperwork misplaced somehow.  Please email or call me if you think this is you.  895-6924

The crops we planted early from transplants or tubers are doing well, things like broccoli, cabbage, bok choi, onions, potatoes, and kohlrabi.  Things planted from seed have had a tougher time.  For example, leaf lettuce planted May 4 (actually, a little later than I like), after 4 weeks, has leaves about the size of dimes.  I’m talking about a tough time if even lettuce is having trouble !  I know all you town people can’t believe that it is so much colder in the country, but there is a big difference.  I always am amazed at how much early produce there is at the farmers’ markets.  I’m not sure how they do it, but I think it has something to do with scale.  I do all the soil preparation with tractors and heavy(ish) equipment, so I can’t get on the soil as early as you can in a home garden, and then the soil seems to warm more slowly since the air is cooler, especially at night.  We also plant quite a bit with machines since we have to do such large plantings, so that sometimes delays us while we wait for the soil moisture to be (mostly) correct.  So all in all, I believe it takes heroic efforts to have vegetables ready this time of year.  I’m not that heroic.  Not to worry, we’ll still have 20 weeks of produce, but will run until October 31, long after all the sissy gardeners have given up!  I’m a way better farmer in the fall.

Except for the slow growing crops, the fast growing weeds, and the herd of ground squirrels who live and eat here, everything else seems to be falling into place for a productive and fun season.  The workers are efficient, the walk-in cooler is nearly restored, the hoophouse is marvelous, and the rains have been timely.   It’s going to be great.

I plan to write a weekly update about what’s happening at the farm to post to the web.  I should have it posted by Sunday night or Monday morning each week and should be able to tell you what vegetables to expect that week, and any other timely news.  I’m not yet able to publish it on my site (, so I’ll be using the blog provided by for a while.  You can get automatic emails when I post the weekly report if you go to the blog and click on the little orange square, then follow the short instructions.  I think this will cause my posts to be automatically emailed to you.  It should be handy and make it easy for you to think about other things Monday mornings, and won’t clog up my computer sending out to a massive email list.  (If you know how to install WordPress and would volunteer to put it on my computer for me, please let me know.  We think this will make it possible to have the blog on the Abbe Hills website, but the installation is a little complicated.)

Sorry I’ve kept you in the dark about the upcoming season this long.  Hope this note is helpful.  Attend a farmers’ market this week and next and get started on that great early produce.  See you in a couple of weeks.


(If I could figure out how to do it, this is where I would post a photo of the 87 kindergardeners who came to visit the farm this week.  Maybe I'll learn how to do it by next week's post.)


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