Thursday, February 28, 2013

2007---Our Fourth CSA Season

In 2007 we reached our 5-year goal of 100 members. It was an accomplishment we were proud of, and it established a good economic base for the future. The next step...was figuring out the next step.
A rare chance to skate on the old pond in February
Exterior work on the farmhouse before the season starts
Pre-season Core Goup meeting at Kelly and Rick's
We decided to approach the season as if we were starting fresh. We pretended that all the work in the previous years had been done by a different couple we called Rachel (a common misnomer for Rebecca) and Joseph (my middle name). For all the good things we saw on the farm we thanked them, and for all the things that broke or had to be redone we sighed and assigned them the blame.

St. Patricks Day was spent working on the barn, fixing the east loafing shed roof and walls with the help of fellow farmer Tom Parker and members Jim Markley and Victoria Wert. Working on a barn with the farm community is always fun.

Jim Markley, Tom Parker and Rebecca
Weather again played a unique role in the season, as it was the year of the "Easter freeze." After the third warmest March on record with literally everything blooming, the buds of Spring were killed off by two overnights of record low temperatures in the upper teens.

We fulfilled our contractual obligation to the CSA, doing everything in our power to protect the many beds of plants we had out in the fields by covering them with up to 3 layers of row cover. All the while we were battling high winds and the urge to take a shortcut or two. Our efforts paid off, as by June much of the broccoli we had protected headed up beautifully.

Row cover mid-April

Spring broccoli
The combination of high winds and temperatures in the teens made keeping the row cover on a never-ending chore for us and Libby Negus, who started her apprenticeship with us that week.  Working hard at the farm, moonlighting at Green Acres Market, and going to school to become a Montessori teacher kept her busy that year.

Picking peas with Libby (photo by Lorne Carroll)
April was also when we planted the strawberry patch. Members had voiced their opinion in our yearly survey that they wanted us to add berries to the shares. We felt that strawberries were the best choice, as they are sturdier than bramble fruit and, based on earlier trials, seemed to grow well here.

Strawberry patch humble beginnings 4/19/07
In general, 2007 was a good year for the crops. The tomato harvest topped 5,000 lbs and we picked over 5,000 individual summer squash. We planted some of the potatoes where we had run the chickens the year before and had our best yields to date. Beans, carrots, and the Fall brassicas were standouts.

Happy lettuce harvest led by 2013 apprentice-to-be Lorne Carroll and long-time member Betty Marcus
Picking summer squash
Members with the harvest
Thanks to the scarcity of wild fruit after the Easter freeze, the raccoons and opossums feasted on our successes in the field. We used a live trap to catch more than 30 racoons that summer, sometimes catching two at a time. They seem cute, but I will tell you that picking up a metal cage with a snarling wild animal in it at sunrise wakes you up for the day, and gets you thinking of alternative methods of predator control.
One of many
In June my Mother passed away. She was a grand lady, the source of my German blood, and a role model like no other. I'm glad Rebecca had a chance to make her aquaintance.
Mom would have been thrilled that August, as we were honored as the Clay County Farm Family of the Year. We have the local University of Missouri Extension Council to thank for nominating us for the award, and recogznizing a sustainable farming operation for the honor. They won us a free trip to the State Fair to pick up the award, where the orators noted that "farmers are the backbone of democracy." That's us! Love that quote.
We had a great Fall harvest with little to no frost until late in November. 

Fall cauliflower
The year ended with more home remodeling before heading to Italy in December.  We visited Rome, then took the train to the southern tip of the continent, Calabria, the ancestral home of the Ruggieri's.
Working on the back porch
In Calabria...the land of Persephone
Next up...electrifying the G, strawberry bonanza, Rocky, solar irrigation, adding mulch, and toooooo wettttt!

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