Greenings and Saladations!
It's week 23, just 2 more weeks for the people who have bought 4 week shares (you guys are getting a bonus week as there are 5 weeks in Sept and you paid for 4 of them) and 4 more weeks for the 3 month and full season members. Last year we would have had another 8 weeks to go which, considering the growing conditions, would not have been a great thing and I noticed by about the beginning of October most of our members were getting really burned out, as were we). But last year we had great growing conditions in the fall (and summer-2009 was a great growing season overall) and so had a lot of food both in shear amounts and diversity. This year not so much, though I gotta say, even with the dry conditions hitting us hard (we ate not officially in a drought yet and may never get there if we are fortunate) we still have a lot of food to distribute to you guys. We don't have a lot of food to sell at the farmers market which is a concern as this is the time of year we should make the most money so we can get through winter and have enough money to pay mortgage, utilities, property taxes, state and federal income taxes, insurances, etc.. Yes, just like the rest of you, we farmers have a whole passel of bills and debt that must be paid. Unlike you, we don't get a weekly (regular) paycheck in the winter so we must make enough money during the main season to put into savings in order to get through the winter. And in addition to the laundry list of debts we also have to buy seed, fertilizers, row covers, irrigation supplies, etc., over the winter so we will be pretty broke by the time farmers market season comes around in 2011 (even with selling FSI shares). It happens and we will weather the storm as we are fiscally very conservative, i.e. we know how to live very cheaply.
Doing the winter farm shares will help some and getting many early FSI sign-ups for 2011 will help (yes, that is a hint). So, yes, we are going to do the winter share program. If you are interested (and I know two of you are) consider yourself in the program. If anyone else wants to continue to eat local food November through January contact me ASAP as I have to severely limit who can be in this this winter. I was hoping to do 15 to 20 members this season but will be able to do only half that number
As you know, I have been on the fence about doing the winter shares but decided that the crops we are hand watering are doing pretty well and the stuff Eugene plants does germinate so it looks like we will have plenty of food (not as much as past years but enough). Yes, the fall cropping season appears right now the be far better than expected. Granted, it is taking twice as much work to keep things alive and happy but that is a part of farming-some years are relatively easy and very bountiful some years are really hard and not very bountiful. This is a hard year.
The last time we experienced such a dry and hot year was 14 years ago, the year we got married. That year we used the excuse of our wedding to stop farming and marketing in early September (our wedding was the 14th). As we were newbies to the farming biz back than, we had not yet gotten into major season extension or CSA's. Having a CSA means you are committed to providing food for the duration (unless you get an act of God like a tornado ripping through the farm) so cannot capriciously take off from work and just stop for no good reason. Season extension is kinda the same thing. You get crops started to go through winter and you have to care for them through the fall/winter/spring. Okay, it's not like caring for livestock, which needs care daily, as the crops can be ignored for days on end especially during Jan/Feb. I believe we had started fooling with row covers and may have even had a small hoop house but nothing on the level we do today (5+ hoop houses and miles of row cover used). So taking off from farming in mid September was doable for us (we also paid little to no rent, heated with wood so the utility bills were always under $70 a month, put up and root cellared most of the food we ate (still do), paid no land taxes, etc., so we lived really cheaply). That is no longer an option as we have embroiled ourselves into farm ownership and deeply into season extension of crops and now cannot fathom not growing and marketing through the winter. And I gotta say since we eat this food also, there is little better than eating a freshly harvested salad or mess of green in late fall/winter (and again in late winter/early spring) when your body is screaming for such foods. I am hoping, like the dry summer of 1996, we start getting rain in the next week or so. It is my memory that the rains came while we were on our honey moon and stayed around most of the fall and winter. And it looks like we will get rain tomorrow, which will be nice if it happens (and it is more than a couple of tenths of an inch). If we get decent precip over winter we will be in fine shape for next spring. If we do not than we will likely have issues concerning dry conditions, wells and irrigation, not to mention doing 2x to 4x the normal amount of work to get things started and to keep things going.
These are the things we think about and worry over.
We will have some new items showing up in your shares in the remaining weeks. Look for sweet potatoes, radishes, spring mix, possibly kale and head lettuce (by head lettuce I do not mean iceberg lettuce but rather whole lettuce plants as opposed to cut leaves as in spring mix). Right now we don't have much in the way of greens but hopefully next week we will have baby arugula (as opposed to much more mature arugula we have been cutting since July)
The shares will be ready after 4pm today. Any shares not picked up by 6am Saturday morning will be donated to the Oxford Choice Pantry. Last week we donated two shares which were very appreciated.
What's in the Shares
Garlic-this week 2 corms of Music, our best garlic
Onions-a couple of medium Copra onions. These are yellow onions and great for cooking but should not be eaten raw unless you enjoy stomach upset (they are hot and strong)
Watermelon-yes we still have some water melon and you will either get 1 medium melon or two small melons. They will either be red or yellow
Tomatoes-a couple of some of the last maters of the season
Sweet peppers-several ripening bell peppers
Hot Peppers-around 10 jalapeno and cayenne peppers
Keiffer Pears-6 pears. These are not quite ripe but should ripen up if kept out of the fridge. The yellower they are the riper they are.
Apples-6 Dr Matthew's apples. These are a nice eating apple sweet and tart.
Winter Squash-a couple of pounds of squash, probably delicata and acorn. All of these are cooked the same-cut in half, scoop out the seeds and bake face down in a 350F oven for about 1/2 hour or until soft.