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Snow What

Well, that was an interesting week to be away from the farm now wasn’t it! Didn’t see that coming – there wasn’t a lick of snow in the forecast when we left the day before Thanksgiving. I was totally on top of prepping for the trip so that I could spend a stress free holiday away from the farm with our families in Ohio. Or so I thought. The forecast swung the day after we got there, and I anxiously watched the storm move West and the estimated snow totals continually rise. I managed to stay present (I think) throughout the extended family time as it was hard not to enjoy Paddy Rose and Nora adoring their grandparents so thoroughly. But the anxiety and snow totals continued to build over the weekend. Fortunately a friend was staying at our house to take care of the chickens (and those gorgeous greens in the tunnel), and he stayed up all night roof raking the not-yet-winterized greenhouse. In the end, the greenhouse roof only bowed a little and everything else fared just fine. It’s good to be back. Sort of – there was lots of snow to move. Like, a lot. The drifts up against the high tunnel were halfway up it , and it’s over 20 feet at its peak (drifts pictured below were after clearing most of it). But at least I can personally deal with nature’s curveballs, rather than some poor unsuspecting soul!

And yet, throughout the drama, the rugged Potter Hill veggies simply shrugged and moved on. You know you’re eating the good stuff when a low of 14 degrees and a foot and a half of snow don’t even bother them. The greens in the tunnel look great and are bountiful, so fuel up! Those snow covered baby carrots that were proclaimed the “best carrots ever” by our local carrot connoisseur? Pulled right up out of the UNfrozen ground yesterday after I cleared the snow from a patch. And somehow even tastier than before I left. The snow is actually an insulator and is welcomed by this farmer, at least until I have to try to find the carrots in said snow. But my half-baked plan to harvest them Monday is to clear most of the snow from a row Sunday afternoon so that the rain/big thaw on Monday reveals those precious orange sugar sticks. Then somehow harvest, bunch, and wash them in the pouring rain. Worth it!

I didn’t really plan to sell into December, so I ran out of some of my fall favorites. Rockstar farm friend Brittany from Upswing Farm in Ashland to the rescue! I stocked up from her so we are back to abundant watermelon radishes (!), sweet potatoes (!), storage carrots, purple top turnips, butternut squash, and celeriac. In fact, the list actually expanded this week to include beets and rutabaga – two crops I totally whiffed on this fall. Add in the fresh greens and eggs and it’s almost looking like a list worthy of the summer. Minus the snow. Order away!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie and egg orders in online before 6am Monday. The website has been a little buggy so if you don’t see a wide variety of items or you see items out of stock, try refreshing your browser. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 3-6pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Gone Fishing

No harvest this week! We’re in snowless Ohio, spending lots of quality time with the grandparents. We still have lots left in storage, and should have greens galore from the tunnel when we get back, but the snow should make things interesting for those baby carrots left out in the field. Stay warm, dry and thankful y’all!

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Full of Thanks

There are so many things to be thankful for right now. Most immediately, I am thankful that our two bundles of joy slept all night for the first time in as long as either of us can remember Friday night. Combined with sunshine and warm (relative) weather yesterday, and a return to normal temperatures lately, I feel like I a million bucks. Even better, Monday’s forecast sure looks better than last Monday’s forecast – my hands are still thawing out! The last couple weeks made me rethink the wisdom (craziness?) of trying to grow great food for y’all right up until Thanksgiving. Crazy or not, we accomplished it this year and I am excited to share the wealth to show our appreciation for your season-long dedication to the farm. Some veggies will be straight from the fields, some will be straight from the tunnel, and some will be straight out of storage. All will be delicious and I hope will brighten up your holiday meals. Thank you for your support!

Greens for Thanksgiving? If it’s not already a staple in your Thanksgiving spread, it’s time to make it one! Many items are limited, especially the fresh stuff, so don’t delay if you want to assure yourself of a gorgeous light salad to balance out the heaviness of the rest of the meal. The lettuce heads are not nearly as big as I would have liked – next year! To give you some perspective for ordering, I’d say a head of the baby lettuce properly topped should provide enough salad for 2-3 adults. Fewer if they eat salad like this farmer 🙂

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie and egg orders in online before 6am Monday. The website has been a little buggy so if you don’t see a wide variety of items or you see items out of stock, try refreshing your browser. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 3-6pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Tunnelicious

Happy Novembuary y’all! My weather app says it hit 12 degrees the other morning. Before I start rambling, Jeff from Short Creek Farm and mastermind/found of Potter Hill Farm will be bringing meat down to add to the mix. Inventory of what he has here – email him directly at info@shortcreeknh.com with your order.

Speaking of Jeff….he questioned whether any greens would survive the deep freeze, even in the tunnel. I overconfidently dismissed those concerns and told him I didn’t get a bit of cold damage all winter long last year in the tunnel. That’s not to say winter #1 in the tunnel was a success. Far from it! Nothing grew last winter because of how late I put it in and how wet and gloomy it was. In fact, I don’t think I sold a single bunch of overwintered greens despite religiously uncovering them every morning and covering them back up every night. Although I again put everything in (less) late this season, fall (winter?) has been much more forgiving this time around. Loads of sun, and cool but not COLD. We were rolling right along, confident that we’d get a good harvest despite the tardiness. Until 12 degrees happened.

That was a lot of overshadowing, so don’t be too alarmed. Just about everything still looks great, but I do have to admit that Jeff was right, as usual. My gorgeous mustard greens were frozen solid and the outer leaves wilted when they thawed. This despite being covered in the tunnel and having the same greens experience negative temperatures last winter without any damage. My only explanation is that they must not have been acclimated to such a precipitous drop! Live and learn, guess I’ll need to double cover them next year ahead of any arctic blasts. The damage itself is not as much of a concern as the shock to the plant. Fingers crossed the plants don’t hunker down and stop growing.

To my amazement, some (double covered) greens out in the field actually survived so this week’s greens will be a mix of gorgeous, pampered, and tender tunnel greens and weathered, hardy, “I’ve seen some things” greens from the field. I also stocked up from Upswing Farm in Ashland on some of the fall favorites that we ran out of, so you’ll be well vegetabled to go along with the best pastured pork around. RIP to the triple washed lettuce – I sure enjoyed it this season, but it’s just too cold to subject our hands to that anymore. Instead there will be a limited amount of juvenile (adolescent?) lettuce heads from the tunnel. Get it while the getting’s good!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie and egg orders in online before 6am Monday. The website has been a little buggy so if you don’t see a wide variety of items or you see items out of stock, try refreshing your browser. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 3-6pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Proper New Englanders

Brrr was it cold the other day! And colder yet to come next week. The veggies left standing are the plant-world equivalent to true New Englanders. That 22 degree night put an end to all the pretenders, so we’re left with mainly roots and some fresh greens sprinkled in here and there. The covered swiss chard and lettuce look great, and then there’s the spinach. I went out one cold night and realized I forgot to re-cover it! It was frozen solid but I decided to cover it anyway. The next day…100% fine and delicious. A true New Englander, that spinach.

On the other hand, a proper New Englander I am not (yet). I did wear shorts one day last week, so I’m getting there but I understand you don’t earn the title of New Englander until at least a decade here. I’m still a year out from that honorable distinction. Fortunately, we stayed on top of the fall clean-up so that I can now choose which days I want to work. The great news is that the next two Mondays look like my type of weather, and we still have a ton of great stuff left – expect to be able to get your goodies for at least two more pickups. And then there’s the tunnel, which looks fantastic though still a bit behind. I’m trying to resist the urge to start harvesting from it in order to maximize its bounty. I got my eye on some Christmas greens to cheer up your holiday plates! Expect next week to get your hands on the first of the tunnel lettuce pictured above.

I’m keeping the same earlier hours as last week (3-6pm) for Veterans Day. This is week 1 with a shortened list, but lots of veggies to choose from. Get ’em while they last!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie and egg orders in online before 6am Monday. The website has been a little buggy so if you don’t see a wide variety of items or you see items out of stock, try refreshing your browser. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 3-6pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Boo!

Wow, what a spooky Halloween night up here on the hill, and I’m not talking about the zombies, wolves, witches and native pollinators going from door to door. That wind! We somehow only ended up with one child in our bed, but it kept the three of us up all night. Only the littlest one somehow slept through it all and was in wonderful spirits the next day.

I went out to assess the damage the next morning and almost got KO’d by a harvest bin flying across the street. Then I watched one of the covers flapping wildly and fly away as I thought ‘I should probably go put some more rocks on that one’. Of the 10 covers we diligently set out and pinned down on Wednesday, only 3 were where they were supposed to be. After the close call with the harvest bin, I defeatedly decided it was best to stay in, let nature take its course, and we’d clean up the aftermath after things calmed down. Did I mention wind freaks me out ever since we moved to the top of the hill? Seems to be a constant theme!

I was as prepared as I could have been for that storm. I saw the high winds coming a few days in advance followed by the first real cold of the season, so we covered all the tender veggies and used extra heavy rocks to secure the covers. Even after a fantastic season, it’s nights/days like those that I question the sanity of trying to farm up here. It’s such a picturesque and magical place…on a still day. But Mother Nature is so unforgiving and powerful – I feel so helpless at times like these! What I wouldn’t give for a flat protected garden area with a diversity of wet and dry soils! Doesn’t exist in this area? Grumble grumble.

We waited and waited for the opportune time to fight back against Her fury. There was a 45 minute window after the wind calmed down before dusk when we went for it full speed. We were able to put the covers back on just in the nick of time before the cold really set in Friday night, and it seems to have paid off as the lettuce underneath the cover looks great. We have at least one more week of abundance – all bets are off after the temperature nosedive forecast for Friday. Get all those green things while you still can! And please note, due to setting the clocks back, I am moving the pickup to 3-6pm. If this is an obstacle to getting your veggies, please let me know and we will work around it.

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie and egg orders in online before 6am Monday. The website has been a little buggy so if you don’t see a wide variety of items or you see items out of stock, try refreshing your browser. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 3-6pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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No Rest for the Farmer

Although things slowed down a bit with the end of market season last week, I’ve chosen not to shift down a gear – when the weather is this nice at the end of October and you’re a farmer in the Massachusetts, you take advantage of it! I know I’ll be patting myself on the back when that cold pummeling wind finally settles in for the winter and I’m NOT out pulling tomato plants, taking down their trellising, futilely putting down cover crop, etc etc etc. No no, we are way ahead of the cleanup game this season. 

We spent Thursday morning yanking tomato plants out of the ground even though they were still quite green and loaded with fruit. Tomatoes don’t really like moisture, and they certainly don’t like uneven moisture. They do ok with consistent moisture or none, but not sporadic. Add on the cold, which makes their skin super fragile, and the already thin skin of an heirloom (all I grow outside the tunnel), and their skins will split with the first passing dark cloud. That 3″ of rain preceded by a long period of drought? Split those potential November gems wide open! We salvaged what we could and will let them ripen up slowly over the next week or two, but it’s a huge bummer to be composting a few hundred pounds of potential deliciousness!

But summer is over anyway and it’s long past time to move on to the fall stuff right? Fortunately the aforementioned perfect weather has been very forgiving to this farmer. Much of what I thought was planted too late has actually thrived. Really the only black cloud over the season is that it was such a great fall that I’m kicking myself for not putting in more hail mary crops that would have done great! Instead of mere abundance, we could have been absolutely swimming in veggies right now. Generally the list continues narrowing this time of year, but I actually added a bunch of yum yum this week so now you have 36 items to choose from! That might be a season high…and the last week of October? Not too shabby, but nothing this good lasts forever so get it while the getting’s good!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie and egg orders in online before 6am Monday. The website has been a little buggy so if you don’t see a wide variety of items or you see items out of stock, try refreshing your browser. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 3-6pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Rockin’

Yikes! Was your house rocking like ours was Wednesday night? We ended up with 2 little ones in our bed. The wind was WILD. Fun fact: when Mass Save inspected our farmhouse (from 1770) that we rent, the guy was using his thermal gun to confirm how awful our insulation was (not good) and noticed that we had hurricane bracing in the house. In one of the histories I read about this farm, it mentioned the original farmhouse on the hill from 1745 blew down in the 1815 hurricane. Live and learn! The extra support doesn’t help with keeping the draft out, but at least the house is still standing after a bomb cyclone.

I went out to inspect the damage to the garden the next morning and was impressed that the tunnel was also still standing even though the power had been cut to it, presumably from water tripping the GFCI outlet. There is an inflater that constantly blows air in between two layers of plastic…except when it doesn’t have power! Being inflated makes the plastic nice and taut so it doesn’t catch in the wind – I went to great lengths this winter to ensure it kept power during the outages. Seems like maybe I didn’t have to, but better safe than sorry I guess.

Anyway, the tunnel was still standing, but all the cover crop work we had foolishly done (in hindsight) the day before was undone. The 2.95″ of rain (according to our neighbor’s rain gauge) we had in about 8 hours had completely uncovered the seed and washed some of it away. That and one of the tomato rows blew down. Again. We get a lot of wind up here. All things considered, I can live with a few less tomatoes in mid-October and a day of deja vu re-raking our beds to cover the cover crop seed!

Our house isn’t the only thing rocking up on the hill. The garden continues to pump out abundant deliciousness despite the few frosts we’ve had now. Even the tomatoes and peppers are still alive (as of Saturday evening, feeling like another cold one tonight). I know it won’t last forever, but it sure is fun while it lasts and the fun may last a little longer if I’m not too late planting these greens in the tunnel. With such a long list, it’s easy to overlook a few gems amongst the fall staples like butternut squash, potatoes, and all the frost sweetened greens. Specifically I’m talking about the fried green tomatoes and pea tendrils. Both of these items have a short window in which they’re available – don’t let that window close before getting some!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie and egg orders in online before 6am Monday. The website has been a little buggy so if you don’t see a wide variety of items or you see items out of stock, try refreshing your browser. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 3-6pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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All of Fall

Hey y’all – All of fall has arrived! Before I get too far into things…YES Monday is a holiday and YES the pickup will be the usual time. If you want to come early (after 1), mention it in the notes and I should be able to accommodate you.

I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before, but this has to be my favorite time of year. YES, I can say that with a straight face even after a week of 50s and feeling like Nora is constantly blowing raspberries in my face. Not that I particularly enjoy constantly being spat on but the forecast coming up is downright spectacular. I much prefer when the high and low ADD up to 100 instead of it being 100. 60s during the day, 40s at night…doesn’t get much better in my book.

Amongst the spitty weather, we had our last farmers market of the season last week. Unfortunately it kept with the market theme and was a dud (we moved indoors on account of the weather). I took a TON of stuff to the market, and brought a TON of stuff back. When it’s all said and done, missing 7 out of 16 markets (and might as well count last week as 8) will really hit the bottom line hard, but right now I’m thrilled to strike that obligation from the weekly list. The market committee dwindled down to myself and the market manager, who had as much time to dedicate to it as I did. If any of you want to see the market continue, let me know (because it won’t without you next year)! It really isn’t that big of a commitment…as long as we have more than one volunteer!

More importantly, last week was also Nora’s first birthday. She went from taking a few steps a few days ago to walking laps around the Municipal Center gym at the market on Wednesday . She is the goofiest one year old I know, and I love her to death. Hopefully she’ll join me out in the garage after nap to show off her walking skills.

The garden continues to impress, even this late in the season. However, I think for the first time since June, the list actually shrank a bit. While a few things came off the list, some of my favorites reappeared. #1 being pea tendrils. A delicacy that only comes around twice a year, just wait till the purple (edible) flowers open up! Next week perhaps? The list reflects the changing seasons, and yet somehow the tomatoes are still cranking. Get them while you can because this may be their last week! If I can strike up the nerve, I will be taking out the tunnel tomato plants in favor of planting greens in the remaining beds.

It’s a hard decision to take out a healthy, productive planting, but it’s a frequent decision I have to make this time of year. I have been selectively removing rows in the field with an eye on soil health for next year. There comes a point in the season when it’s too late to establish a cover crop to feed the soil and prevent it from eroding all winter long. We’re coming up on that date! But that’s a whole newsletter topic on its own and it’s getting late and I’ve rambled enough already. Cheers to those still reading, see you Monday!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie and egg orders in online before 6am Monday. The website has been a little buggy so if you don’t see a wide variety of items or you see items out of stock, try refreshing your browser. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 3-6pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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Last Gasp

Shh….quiet. Did you here that? I did, though I didn’t just hear it – I’ve been harvesting its bounty all week: summer’s last gasp! And very generous indeed this year. What a different feeling going into October this year than last. I was 100% defeated last year due to the constant onslaught of heat and rain. This fall’s been a constant onslaught of beautiful mild sunny days, capped off finally by perfect rain last week, and more predicted ahead. The garden is loaded and I’m so excited to share the abundance with you over the next few weeks.

Brrrrr! It was cold yesterday morning. My weather app said 30 when I woke up, then dropped to 29 by 7am. Saturday CSA harvest was far from a walk in the park, but we got through it, mitts intact. I expected to see more damage out in the field but all I found was some blackened basil – and not even all of the plants, so it might yet bounce back. It’s still on the list but don’t hold it against me if you show up and I don’t have it. It is October after all!

What else is on the list this week? Everything! What’s best? Everything! Special bonus to anyone who gets at least one of all 30 different veggies on the list. Get it (all) while the getting’s good!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie and egg orders in online before 6am Monday. The website has been a little buggy so if you don’t see a wide variety of items or you see items out of stock, try refreshing your browser. We’ll have your order available for you to pick-up from 3-6pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the big red barn at the crest of the hill.

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