Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Newsletter June 28th 2011

As I was walking the farm on Monday morning observing the two sizable piles of round bales, neatly covered in plastic to protect them from the rain. I marveled that in this the wettest of Springs we were able to get over 210 round bales made, 50 bales of straw and 700 square bales for the horses. Last year we did not make more than 200 bales over the course of the whole season…every year is different.

First Cucumbers mulched with Straw

Nearly Completed Mulchig
 My reflection continued towards thinking about farming. Specifically the varying careers that people have who are called “farmers”. There are Dairy farmers, sheep farmers, goat farmers, beef farmers, horse farmers….then there are vegetable farmers, crop farmers, hay farmers, grass farmers, flower farmers and often even friends of ours in the perennial greenhouse business are farmers.

Though we are all harvesting the bounty of the natural world and are often intimately connected to the rulings of Mother Nature and the animal rhythms, our day to day work is quite different.

It is fascinating to think that in one life time of work a grain farmer may only have 50 harvests. There is not much room for error there…a few bad years are hard to absorb for a small farm. It is easy to see why many of those farmers sold out to larger farmers…spread out over varying terrain and now even countries.
In contrast we seed lettuce every week during the growing season here at Miller’s Crossing. We are able to experience well over 30 harvests per year of that one crop. Lettuce, however, is one of many crops that we grow here. Tomatoes, cucumbers and summer squash are more similar to the grain farmers in that they are planted 2 times per year, three if you are lucky.

First Planting of Zucchini & Summer Squash

The contrast in those two crops is not without a lot of thought behind it…as a matter of fact the farm that we have today is the result of millions of decisions made over the course of our careers as farmers; decisions about fields, soils, customers, and family.

The decision to be a highly diversified vegetable farm is directly related to small farm economics. The diversity that keeps your meals interesting is directly related to the diversity that keeps this farm economically viable.

Growing so many different crops allows us to spread the risk out over many different types of soils, seasons, and customer preferences. You have all weathered the tomato disaster of 2009 and reaped the bounty of tomatoes in 2010. When the Kale gets hit by hot weather you eat Swiss Chard!!! For this we are thankful.

Many times the diversity feels inefficient. How much faster we could get things done if we only grew three things. How we could ease the human labor, if we only grew carrots and bought a carrot harvesting machine…..but how much carrot soup and cake and loaf can any one family eat?

The details are endless, the rewards great!

Enjoy this week’s harvest, Katie


End of the First Summer Ockawamic Creek Run

Playing in the Wash area Drain

Is that an Organically Grown Rubber Band  around my snout?

1 comment:

  1. I would like to see more pictures of the kiddos on the farm!!!!...thank you...love your sister ( Lizzy) :-)