Posted on

Reasonable

One word to describe the last four days: reasonable. If you push me for two words: completely reasonable. Mid 80s Thursday and Friday, and then this weekend! Sorry it’s not beach weather, but y’all have had plenty of beach weather this summer – this farmer weather is long overdue. It’s still not what I would choose after 1.5 months of drought (that would be 75 and a steady rain from morning till 5pm…oh how we need some rain), but I can work with and in this. But last week? Cruel and unusual. It was hilarious how the crew marveled at how comfortable it was on Thursday with a high of 85 – one of them said it felt like spring. I imagine if we had more days like these sprinkled through the summer, I wouldn’t be on my own in September….I felt like quitting a million times the last month myself. But the collective crew minds are made up at this point – I have a few leads on help, but please spread the word for me I need a farm(h)er to help me finish off the season! 

Lots of great veggies are coming in, though it’s not our typical August abundance with the lack of rain. Here is the link to order.

If you think I’m being dramatic about the drought, check out the copy and pasted intro to UMass Extension’s weekly VegNotes. Sounds a lot like my complaints, but the striking part is that these reports are aggregated are from the well-equipped huge farms in our state that have been in business forever, and are accustomed to the typical challenges of farming.

The prolonged hot and dry conditions are really starting to take a toll on plants and people alike. We are hearing reports from around the region of poor crop growth, dropping flowers and wilting leaves, and slow ripening of fruit, all leading to lower yields. Corn ears are not filling properly leading to shortages. There are also widespread reports of irrigation disasters like broken pumps, pumps pulling mud in low ponds, empty ponds not refilling, and acres of crops being tilled in because they cannot be adequately watered. On top of everything else we’ve gone through already this season, the drought feels like another heavy burden to carry.

Sorry to leave you on a sour note, but with it being so reasonable out there, I need to get some long overdue work done before the girls wake up. Oops, and now they’re up – there goes that thought!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie orders in online before 8pm Sunday. The website is 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. Also confirm on checkout that you have the correct number of each item in your cart. The two pickup windows are working well, so we’ll keep it going. Choose your pickup window while checking out online: 1230-2pm and 4-5pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the beat up tan and red barn at the crest of the hill.

Posted on
Posted on

Cracks

This week sure was a roller coaster – it started out with so much promise and a very happy farmer here! A surprise rain storm brought over an inch of desperately needed rain, and that was BEFORE the tropical storm that was supposed to double our previous month’s rainfall. But y’all know how that went – buckets of wind but essentially no water. The little bit that did fall surely evaporated before the sun went down from all the wind. To put into context how much rain we have to make up, instead of 20% of our typical rainfall for the last couple months, we’re now at 25%. And no appreciable rain in the forecast. Bah humbug. I guess I should be happy that we seemed to be the only ones in Grafton who didn’t lose power, but it’s hard to crack a smile when cracks are spreading in the fields.

Despite the cracks in the field and in this farmer’s psyche, the garden is pumping out lots of great food. Tomatoes are starting to come in, we still have some great cut lettuce despite the heat, the carrots are getting monstrous, the next round of beets look absolutely fabulous, and I have a serious onion problem. Can you help? It involves eating loads of delicious red and sweet yellow onions! Not only do you benefit, but so do my poor shishito pepper plants that got blown over in the storm. I had this genius idea of interplanting a third (!) succession of fresh onions between the shishito peppers, not taking into account a tropical storm blowing them over. Now the onions stand in the way of the peppers being trellised back up, so be sure to add a few bunches of onions to your order….for the shishitos!

Another Monday, another heat wave. How many in a row is this? With highs in the 90s again, I’d like to encourage everyone to pick up their veggies early. We’ll have your orders binned up by noon, so bring bags to pack up your veggies (though we have plenty of brown bags if you forget). That said, there will still be a 4-6pm pickup window when I’ll be present – your veggies will be bagged up and kept in the fridge until pickup. Choose your pickup window on checkout (fancy!)

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie orders in online before midnight Sunday. 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. Also confirm on checkout that you have the correct number of each item in your cart. New this year, we’ll have your order binned or bagged up and available for you to pick up after 12 or between 4-6pm on Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the beat up tan and red barn at the crest of the hill.

Posted on
Posted on

Double or Nothing

Happy anniversary to my wonderful wife, who not only has to endure my constant complaints about the weather, but now has to put up with my 4 year old’s rumblings who has taken up the habit. I can’t imagine navigating this crazy world with anyone else. 11 years!

Ok, good news first: we’re FINALLY getting some rain. The bad news: it’s coming via hurricane Isaias (not a typo). A hurricane isn’t exactly the way you want a dry spell broken….but I guess I’ll take what I can get?

Our neighbor (thanks Bruce!) has a rain gauge that’s automatically uploaded online, which makes for some fun (or not so fun in this case) comparisons. For the ENTIRE month of July, we got 1.4″ of rain including an Ofer streak the last 10 days. (To give you some context, last year we got a hair under 5″, which is just about right.) It’s been so bad that we have trees, perennial bushes, invasive vines, and summer loving weeds wilting!!

But it all ends Tuesday. We’re supposed to double July’s rainfall in one day, although I showed my 4 year old daughter the forecast and she literally just said “is that really going to happen? NO!” And even though my weather app says 90% chance of rain, she very well could be right as they’re saying the hurricane’s potential path is 200 some miles wide. So yea, double or nothing I guess.

With the irrigation running every day, the garden is hanging in there. The only crop that appreciates this dry weather as far as I can tell are the tomatoes. I’ve never seen a no spray green from head to toe tomato plant in the field in August, until this year. If nothing else, maybe we’ll have a massive tomato haul! Oh and onions somehow, since onions love the water. I have enough onions to feed all of Grafton I think, and now the third succession is coming on and never looked better. Peak tomato time is still a couple weeks off, but peak onion is now!

Not only are there tons of veggies available, but there are a number of delicious add-ons this week that you’ll just have to check out on the website because this newsletter is long enough!

Another Monday, another heat wave. With highs in the 90s again, I’d like encourage everyone to pick up their veggies early. We’ll have your orders binned up by noon, so bring bags to pack up your veggies (though we have plenty of brown bags if you forget). That said, there will still be a 4-6pm pickup window when I’ll be present – your veggies will be bagged up and kept in the fridge until pickup. Choose your pickup window on checkout (fancy!)

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie orders in online before 8pm Sunday. The website is 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. Also confirm on checkout that you have the correct number of each item in your cart. The two pickup windows are working well, so we’ll keep it going. Choose your pickup window while checking out online: 1230-2pm and 4-5pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the beat up tan and red barn at the crest of the hill.

Posted on
Posted on

Cooked

Ugh y’all! I’m still recovering from the last heat wave and another one’s coming right at us! 98 degrees on Monday? No thanks. This season (year?) has been one to forget. I’ve managed to keep the garden irrigated just enough that it’s still cranking out deliciousness…but who knows for how long, so get it while the getting’s good.

Sorry for the short newsletter this week but I fell asleep on the floor while putting the girls down for bed (and at nap), and I’ll have to be up at 430 to get anything done before being chased into the shade of our giant maple tree. It may be my favorite thing about this 1770 house (it also may be the ONLY thing I like about this 1770 house!). Without air conditioning, we’ve been spending pretty much all day lately under it. There and the neighbor’s pool while they’re away ha!

With high-90s in the forecast again for Monday, I’d like encourage everyone to pick up their veggies early. We’ll have your orders binned up by noon, so bring bags to pack up your veggies (though we have plenty of brown bags if you forget). That said, there will still be a 4-6pm pickup window when I’ll be present. If you know you won’t be here till later, let me know and we’ll bag up your veggies and stick as many as we can in the fridge.

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Here’s the link to put your veggie orders in online before 8pm Sunday. 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. Also confirm on checkout that you have the correct number of each item in your cart. Pick up on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Your veggies will be in the long white garage on the left across from the beat up tan and red barn at the crest of the hill.

Posted on
Posted on

Cursed

Hey y’all – your favorite parched farmer here. Parched you say? But we’ve had some rain lately you say? You must not live in Grafton, or at least what I call middle Grafton because we seem to have a force field blocking precipitation. I’ve seen it raining just to the north, south, east or west of us on multiple occasions. One time I literally saw it raining in all directions but blue skies overhead.

I’ve been showing anyone who will humor me the video I took of the weather radar from the other day. I could see and hear storm clouds approaching, so I went inside and checked the radar. ‘Oh good, looks like 30 minutes of solid rain and I’ll head back out to the fields.’ I twiddled my thumbs for a while and got lost in thought and before too long I realize it’s not actually raining. So I look at the radar again only to find out that there was this big system heading directly at us…and poof! It disappears immediately before Grafton. And then pops back up in Upton!

I happen to be on the newsletter list of another Massachusetts farm and laughed out loud when I read this: “With all the recent rain, sun, and heat, many crops are in a very vigorous and beautiful stage of growth right now”. What planet are they living on? Clearly not planet middle Grafton.

All griping aside, the garden actually looks fantastic right now, though the crops would be more accurately described as scrappy fighters than “very vigorous and beautiful”. The positive side of it never raining is that you can do something about it (irrigate), whereas if you’re getting too much rain, you can’t put a force field up. The negative side of it never raining is also that you can do something about it…meaning I’m back to my every 30 minute sprinkler dance on top of everything else and it’s exhausting. Hopefully it’s all worth it in the end. So far, the extra scrambling around seems to be paying off, but we’ll see if an extended drought combined with 96 degrees turns into a knockout punch for my some of my less scrappy fighters.

With mid-90s in the forecast for Monday, I’d like encourage everyone to get their veggies early. New this week, we’ll have your orders binned up by noon, so bring bags to pack up your veggies (though we have plenty of brown bags if you forget). That said, there will still be a 4-6pm pickup window when I’ll be present. If you know you won’t be here till then, let me know and we’ll bag up your veggies and stick as many as we can in the fridge. Here’s the link, order away!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie orders in online before midnight Sunday. 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. Also confirm on checkout that you have the correct number of each item in your cart. With mid-90s in the forecast, I’d like to encourage everyone to get their veggies starting at noon. If you can’t make it till later in the day, let me know and we’ll bag it up for you and it will be available for you to pick up from 4-6pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the beat up tan and red barn at the crest of the hill.

Posted on
Posted on

The Ninety Nines

Welp, it’s the middle of July and it feels like it…if you live in Florida. It’s been hard to complain since that previous heat wave though – until Thursday it had been down right reasonable. This balmy tropical air was at least supposed to bring us the thorough soaking we desperately needed. It’s funny because I spent all day Friday preparing for the big rains, and I’m not sure we even got half an inch. Not funny in the haha way, funny in the ‘I want to strangle my weather app’ way. Sometimes I wonder if weather forecasters have the best job. They have absolutely no pressure to be accurate – there couldn’t possibly be a lower bar for our expectations of them right? It’s kind of like reading your horoscope – well that could happen today. Or not!

-Pitch lettuce

This heat has turned my brain to jello, although to be fair it was already starting to melt before the heat due to the crazy week. I started a Wednesday CSA (few spots left) last week for pickup at the farmers market – Week 1 went great because the market was canceled and pickup was on farm. Week 2, not so great. All the little logistical challenges of packing and getting shares to market that my little brain didn’t think through made for an unnecessarily frustrating day. Add a huge order for the Uxlocale into the mix and my organic inspection the day before, and I was D-U-N done by the end of the day.

Unfortunately this weekend isn’t looking much better because…taxes.Anyway! I know this is the second week in a row I’ve said this, but I still maintain we’re on the verge of abundance, as long as this heat doesn’t cook everything. Paddy Rose has eaten the first three husk cherries of the season, the cherry tomatoes in the tunnel just started turning color, and I’ve been tempted to dig up the potatoes because they’ve graduated from plants to bushes!

Speaking of bushes, the lettuce is getting ahead of us and starting to look a little like a bush. Lettuce is also the perfect food for this heat so turn off those grills and ovens and fire up the salads! And we’re bringing back the triple washed “salad in a bag” lettuce because it’s pretty much my favorite thing ever. That and the carrots we’re pulling out of the ground right now! Plus lots more great stuff, ordering link below.

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie orders in online before 8pm Sunday. The website is 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. Also confirm on checkout that you have the correct number of each item in your cart. The two pickup windows are working well, so we’ll keep it going. Choose your pickup window while checking out online: 1230-2pm and 4-5pm Monday on the farm at 64 Potter Hill Rd in Grafton. Pickups are in the long white garage on the left across from the beat up tan and red barn at the crest of the hill.

Posted on
Posted on

When it Rains…

Thanks y’all, but you can stop doing your rain dances now! I’m sure we’re in a rain deficit, but 5 straight days of rain is enough for me. At least for the next two days until I start complaining about how dry it is out there! It’s funny all the basic rain complications I forgot about during that stretch where it just wouldn’t rain. Like having to put tools away. Or my waterproof boots – the first couple days I was wearing my normal farm gear and was bewildered by my feet being constantly wet. Took me a few days to remember there was a solution for that! Also, I actually have to wash eggs again as those little chicken feet are kicking around in mud now rather than dust. And we have to go back to limiting daily laundry loads again due to our high water table up on top of the hill and our aging (generous) septic system. But I digress…
We were very fortunate to just get an excessive amount of rain the other day and not the hail that plagued other local farms. I saw quite a few shredded lettuce heads in my Instagram feed this week (yes, I finally had a minute to at least glance through it this week – things are looking up! Maybe I’ll even start posting on it again). I swear some of the buckets I left out had a good 5 inches of rain in them.
We’re on the brink of abundance already, as long as I can keep the deer from eating everything. They chomped the tops of 10 tomato plants the other night. Tomatoes! Why?! I think I actually disturbed them doing my nightly chores as I happened to walk by the plants and the tops were still wet, otherwise they probably would have taken out the whole row. There is now an electric line attached to their trellising so hopefully they get the idea. Deer also love carrot tops, beets, beans, and lettuce…same as us humans. Hopefully we get them and not the deer!

Loads of great stuff to be had before the deer get it. Here’s the link: ready, set, order!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie and egg orders in online before midnight Sunday. 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. Also confirm on checkout that you have the correct number in your cart. New this year, we’ll have your order bagged up and available for you to pick-up from 4-7pm 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.

Posted on
Posted on

Dancing

Listen…did you hear that? I did – it was a collective sigh of relief from Massachusetts farmers. Rain! And in the forecast – rain, rain, rain, and RAIN! Five straight days of rain may not sound like a lovely week to you, but it sure does to me. I’m dancing with joy up here on the top of the hill!

Even before the rain, I was marveling at how well the garden looked. Onions and potatoes up to my hips, picture perfect lettuce, peas aplenty, perfect carrots, greens galore, and those curiously odd yet delicious garlic scapes are curling. Can’t wait to see how everything pops after the rain! Lots of good eating to be had, and the season is just getting started. Here’s the link: ready, set, order!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie and egg orders in online before midnight Sunday. 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. Also confirm on checkout that you have the correct number in your cart. New this year, we’ll have your order bagged up and available for you to pick-up from 4-7pm 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.

Posted on
Posted on

Powerless

Those aren’t tan lines – it’s that dusty out there! If you own a pool or beach house, I’m sure you’re enjoying this weather. Me? Not so much. 12 hours of 80s and nothing but sun are brutal for this fair skinned farmer. At this point, I’d settle for a cloudy day! I’ve spent the last week bulking up my irrigation for this rough stretch. With our heavy wet soil, I’ve never really had to irrigate. A few sprinklers here and there always got me through dry stretches, no problem (other than that epic drought a few years ago). But we’re a month into a super dry stretch and the forecast is high 80s and 90s with no appreciable rain in sight. If y’all could do some rain dances for me, it would be much appreciated!

Welp, yesterday was a day I can’t wait to forget. It was supposed to be a great day – the first CSA pickup of the year coincided with my first born’s birthday! I spent days prepping so that I could be free to enjoy the birthday by pickup at 10am. Despite a few expected hiccups in our first big harvest/wash/pack, things were going well. Just before the pickup started though, my easy day blew up – literally…the transformer right in front of the house on the street blew. National Grid was on the scene in an impressively short period of time, but when he replaced the fuse it blew again and he had to call for backup. Power’s out, not a big deal right? We can’t run the AC units (which aren’t installed yet anyway) but otherwise? 

Turns out, yes when the greenhouse hasn’t been watered yet and is kept from cooking by an exhaust fan and the thirsty cows run out of water, it becomes a big deal. I got an inverter out and had to keep cycling through my electric fence batteries to keep the fan powered, but I really felt powerless when the cows ran out of water around noon and I got an email from National Grid that the power wasn’t expected to be restored till 430.

Fortunately a generous friend/CSA member offered his generator to power the well to water the cows. We ran down the hill to pick it up and as we were unloading it off his truck back at the farm, I saw a beautiful sight. Literally as the tractor bucket with the generator touched down to unload it, the cavalry (3 National Grid trucks) crested the hill. After confirming power was imminent, we put the generator right back up on the truck and all animals and plants were watered as soon it was restored. Other than some agitated animals, the only casualty was one tray of pea shoots that got cooked in the greenhouse.

With great watering effort, the garden looks fantastic. This is my first year growing peas, and they’re sooo good. I actually seeded them back at the start of March when it seemed like we were going to have a decent spring. They then sat in the cold ground for months and finally took off last week. Who knows how long they’ll last with this heat, so get them while you can. And those onions! Their tops (eat like scallions) are literally up to my hip, and the bulbs have just started bulking up. And there’s so much more good stuff. Here’s the link: ready, set, order!

Veggie Ordering and Pickup Procedures: Put your veggie and egg orders in online before midnight Sunday. 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. Also confirm on checkout that you have the correct number in your cart. New this year, we’ll have your order bagged up and available for you to pick-up from 4-7pm 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.

Posted on
Posted on

Opening Day!

Wow, what a start to the season. By far the most challenging of my brief five year tenure (for a variety of reasons). I’m sure I’m not the only one wishing for a reset on 2020 though! Anyway, I’m taking a quick break between setting up and moving irrigation around to let you know that the Grafton Market opens tomorrow 2-6pm! Unfortunately, I’ll be stuck on the farm putting the final touches (hopefully) on my crude irrigation system before the heat really sets in, but I am making $20 veggie bags available for pickup at the market. I hate to miss the market, especially Opening Day, and I’ve never actually missed one before but if I don’t get this nailed down there will be no rest of the season. Fortunately the market added a special designated pickup area for online orders. Orders will be bagged with your name on it will be waiting for you at the market. Want to claim one? Here’s the link. Order deadline is until they’re sold out, but no later than 10am tomorrow! (And yes, if you’re trying to avoid crowds you can pick up at the farm.) Even if you don’t want a bag, please go support your local vendors! It has been a rough time for many small businesses.

If y’all could do a rain dance for me, I would appreciate it. Not only do the plants desperately need it, but I need a break from the constant irrigation dance. Other than said dancing, we’re otherwise ahead of things. If it rained even just a little, I’d be sitting around twiddling my thumbs watching the plants thrive (and thrive they, but with great effort) instead of these 18 hour days I’m pulling. So please get dancing so I can stop dancing!

Posted on