Farm News

2015 CSA Week 22

Chicken with chicks

Farm Inspiration – Part II

Dear CSA Family,

Community-centered farms like ours are inherently, joyfully and fascinatingly complex. Such farms are never the same, they grow and change and fall back on themselves and grow again.

Just like humans.

Whatever place I find myself in, whatever quandary of modern life has befallen me, given patience, given open heartedness, time at the farm is a good prescription. Farm life mends and heals by helping sift through thick layers of debris to distill uncomplicated truths. Mother Nature doesn’t mince words or hide behind a big ego. Free of charge, out here in the fields are illustrations of patience, frugality, beauty, fragility… just tell me what you are looking for and I will show you how to look. Filling the farm skies, trickling down in the creek bed, and hidden among the tall stands of fir trees are role models aplenty.

Thus, working farms are loved by their farmers not singly because they feed humans. Such farmers, for hundreds of years, have witnessed the extraordinary work ethic of bees, cringed at the despair of a doe missing her dead fawn, encouraged the healthy interdependence of soil microorganisms, and understood precisely the curt words of a sow with her piglets. Those of us tending land have honored grief as we buried our favorite animals beneath the grandest tree at the farm. We have knelt down on tired knees in acceptance to frost or winds or pests we could not stop. We have felt intensely the unbreakable loyalty of donkeys to their kin. If you can sit with nature on her own terms, what you will discover is extraordinary.

***

Swallows are aptly named because they spend their days in joyous darting, swooping flight patterns. For hours at a time, with mouths open ear to ear, they fly while collecting insects inside their cheeks until they have enough to swallow into a meal. They expend tremendous amounts of energy to overcome the drag of flight with an open mouth. But every day, they start again, in their socially gregarious way, playing tag and chase in the air. Every day, one, by one by one, each swallow gathers upwards of 850 mosquitos, all while dancing cheerfully in the sky.

In the late afternoon, our pigs take long naps, then the dusk comes and they bark, chase, loop, run, and wrestle. The swallows overhead play tag and by some coincidence, the pigs join in and play tag too. For a brief time each evening, light hearted mischievousness and delight are mirrored in sky and soil. There seems to be no over thinking anything: if I want to revel in a simple kind of joy, this is place and time to find it.

***

Weed seeds sprout, grow, seemingly like magic, with little water, no fertility, and in the driest, hottest parts of our year. Absolute determination spreads their leaves and pushes their tips forward, toward the hot, brilliant sun that bakes the soil dry. I realize my fields need the power and energy of the weeds to cycle nutrients and protect fragile topsoil. I realize how awful it would be find my fields without weeds. If even the weeds have given up, what would remain?

***

A violent windstorm drops sunflowers to the ground, leaving roots half exposed at the peak of flowering. The sunflowers don’t die, but reorient themselves to their unexpected relocation. These hardy plants find the sun and shift their blooms, more profusely than ever, on half the root system they grew up on. Honeybees coat the flower tops, hungry and focused. Resilience feeds our friends in ways we cannot imagine.

***

Hens, with a special kind of determination, sit 21 days on little nests to hatch eggs, in heat or chilly weather. Minimally, they stretch their legs, eat and drink. In their countenance, I can uncover no frustration, no anxiety, and no impatience. When chicks hatch, pride clearly shines in all their maternal, ruffled up feathers. An authoritarian peace resonates in their clucks and coos and their strut. The hens saunter outside and watch their chicks explore to the edge of just-born curiosity. I think of my mother, her absolute refusal to endorse any sort of self-limiting attitude or behavior. I watch a hen, her body settles down and without words, the chicks come home. We can be whomever it is we long to become.

***

Our hands plant seeds that weigh less than a sixteenth of an ounce and our hands, phenomenally, carry out of the field 30-pound winter squash. Nature feeds us; the humility of interdependence is revealed.

***

Farms like ours are celebrants of miracles everyone takes for granted. These so-called ‘ordinary’ miracles are actually the only reason any of us have food day, after day, after day. A relationship with a farm deepens our capacity to understand hard and good things; a rightful appreciation develops for what Mother Nature does on our behalf so we may eat.

Yes, the farm fills dinner plates, and then fills us with inspiration on navigating life as a human. No matter where you are, there is something to be discovered or uncovered. There is some way you can relate to foggy skies or the tender, profuse pigweed or the softness of a rabbit’s fur. Some place on a diversified farm, you will come face to face with your story, you will laugh or be amazed or wonder why. Some place on a patch of ground that is loved, your curiosity will lead you to better questions. A truth will reveal itself. That shiny apple will reflect an insight. You might arrive angry or sad or confused. You might come worried or heartsick or failing. A farm does not care, and thus you receive an invitation to step outside your song, to step finally, outside yourself. Here, in the deep violet blossom of an eggplant, or the sweet tang of a gluttonous wall of dead-ripe cherry tomatoes, in the evocative music of the Swainson’s Thrush, or the ring of your axe splitting firewood, you accept the invitation. You rest for a time in this precious, uncluttered space. What does not matter falls away.

Arrive with a humble, open mind; you will never leave a farm hungry.

Your Farmer,
April


Bon Appetite Test Kitchen’s Squash Recipes

Winter Luxury Pumpkin

Winter Luxury Pumpkin

I found this resource for “How to Use all that Pumpkin, Butternut and Delicata Squash” included some very creative and simple recipes like puréed squash dips.

The writer gushes: “Puréed squash mixed with tahini, lemon, and a little maple syrup? Out of this world.”

 

 


Canadian farmer and author Brenda Schoepp writes, “My grandfather used to say that once in your life you need a doctor, a lawyer, a policeman, and a preacher, but every day, three times a day, you need a Farmer.”

Farmer April knows: Every day, three times a day, you need healthy farmland.

 

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