Annual Friday Night Skunking

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Our colleague Lindsay declared the month of August to be the time of farmer-grumpies, but Mary and I think it's really this time of year. As the light ebbs, and I wake up, sometimes before the chickens, we look to the rooflines of our hightunnels for signs of frost. As we start the coffee, and listen to our country's divisiveness on NPR, we look at our task list, and like a Senate committee arguing, make hard choices about what vision of the day to cut: what valuable repairs that need to wait. And we put off the conversation, for another day, about how to get a better packshed, and build the farm so it's a well-oiled machine, a place for all of us. And then all of you. And then it's tonight. I'm harvesting cherry tomatoes, and grumbling about the additional transplants to add to some of the rows, and bits of tools not where they should be, Mary calls me on the phone.

"Malaya's been skunked!" she murmed. This wasn't the first time this has happened on a friday, and while I gathered buckets of warm water, Mary mixed our recipe of baking soda, dish soap, and hyrodgen peroxide. Our dog whines in protest, then vomits and then, everything was fine. We smile. We eat second dinner. First dinner, I'll confess, was fruit, crackers, and ice cream bars.

I wish as I write, I could say all the harvest was in. But it's not, and we'll be up early, gathering the last things.  Our salad greens are in full swing. Our summer squash is all in, and this is the very last of it (the last beds will be mowed on Sunday). Some fall crops, like turnips and kale and radishes and leeks are in abundance. We have more peppers than is possible to bring to market; so if you can't see us at market, you can always visit the farm store.  And those potatoes in the cooler that froze last week were cooked and fed to chickens, along with hundreds of pounds of radishes that got too big. The eggs should have the best flavor of the season yet.  Some come out and load up. We've been perfecting our hot sauce recipe all week too -- Mary has got it down to a science, and that will be our featured meal kit this week. Our hot sauce is very hot, but it's good on absolutly everything, and we have good ways to make it mild too. If Mary and I agree on a good transport method, we'll be bringing some of the first gourds to market, too, part of the winter squash wave, that's been curing and sweetening, to come.

And finally, thanks for all the replies about our newsletter last week. They meant a lot; during these final series of markets (I think there are 5), all the income counts for us.  On Sunday we must finish the fall plantings for the last November farm member pickups and our early winter plantings -- which mean we can stock the farmstore nearly all winter, so we are bracing for that. And in the background, I've been doing the last, um, painful carpentry on the new chicken barn and growing pains of managing two flocks with overlapping ages. The new barn is 40' long, dwarfes the 20' long three season coop (housing the older flock). It's nearly perfect and it's been moved several times, each move successful, easy, and to new pasture. But there's the small matter of making some painful and expensive final adjustments to make sure the moveable barn makes an ideal home for our new flock and  and it's rock solid, not only all winter, but for future generations of Sweetroot Hens. I'll be writing about it when it's all done. Our primary irrigation will shut off in just two weeks, so we are working on a very important, time sensitive project to get fall irrigation to crops: it's part of making the home farm future ready, and it's a big learning curve, more than we want to take on at this point in the season, but we are digging in deep.

So come see us. Share a joke, coffee (I don't think we'll be bringing any, sorry, it had to get cut from the list), pick up our hot sauce kit, and all else you can handle.