Monday, June 18, 2007

On the farm -- Days 2 and 3

It's Monday and I'm still in pain. Friday was a killer day on the farm. Not only was it something like 90 degrees without a cloud in the sky, but we spent most of our time doing squats while weeding and transplanting. We also went back on Saturday in lieu of this coming Friday. My quads are very upset with me, and so are a number of other leg muscles I never knew existed.


So, we weeded more garlic crops. It's a good thing, too, because the weeds were so thick in some areas that the particular plants in the vicinity were obviously stunted. And, remember those nitrogen-fixing flowers we removed last time? Turns out that they were part of the thickness problem in some areas, and we were asked to pick 'em this time so that they don't keep reseeding and become serious weeds themselves.

Then we moved onto transplanting a couple varieties of french crisp head lettuce. It's Farmer Mark's favorite kind of lettuce. They were seeded earlier in the season, and at about 2-4 inches tall they were ready to go in the earth. Mark prepared the bed of soil with his biodiesel-fueled tractor; then we rolled this nifty homemade-looking barrel-like contraption over the area to put divots in the soil that would serve as home base for each plant. I couldn't even tell you how many transplants we did (my thighs say, "lots"), but it was a great experience actually putting our food in the earth by hand. The process consisted of taking the seedling--which was rooted in a "plug" of soil--putting it in the divot, gathering the surrounding soil with our hands to cover the plug, and pushing the plant into the soil so that it would make good contact with the earth. Each plant was thus in its own crater of earth, where any water would readily collect and efficiently hydrate the lettuce (this system of planting is especially important, I assume, with all the hot, dry days we've been having recently in central Wisconsin). Running my hands through the warm, nutrient-rich soil was a peaceful, warming endeavor. I naturally feel connected to the earth, but this was a new type of connection for me; despite dripping with sweat and being inundated by the sun's powerful rays, I felt as if I were sitting lakeside amidst a cool breeze, underneath a thick canopy of trees.

Our remaining time was spent watering the transplants and hoeing. We took home radishes, turnips, some sort of green leaf lettuce, swiss chard, salad mix, and strawberries.


I was already hurting Saturday morning, but it was back to the farm for another three hours. It rained moderately, so we spent almost all of our time rehabbing a long-overgrown greenhouse. Let me tell you, it was like a rain forest of wild plants and remnant oregano in there. And some of those plants had deep roots. And it was so humid. And I'm such a cry baby. But I did end up soaked in my own sweat from head to toe; so, so much for staying dry in the greenhouse.

A couple interesting encounters: we ran into some either thistle or nettle that fucking killed. Grabbing this plant is like grabbing onto thousands of tiny needles that stay in your hand for most of the rest of the day. Also, while digging out the oregano we encountered little bugs that would toss little particles of stuff at us. I don't know if it was a a defense mechanism, but I've never seen anything like it.

Anyway, after about 2.5 hours or so, we succeeded in turning the "weed" rain forest into earth that is almost ready for crops (the soil is well-compacted from being trampled for so long). It was quite a transformation. Wish I had my camera.

We've subsequently used our crops in several salads and sandwiches. It was my first-ever taste of swiss chard, which is so yummy I can't recommend it enough. It has a very earthy, crispy, hearty flavor unlike any other leafy green I've had, and apparently it is much more nutritious than spinach even. It works good raw (especially when its young, but if not, just remove the stems for cooking at a later time), sauteed (I cooked it with fresh garlic, olive oil, and onions), and steamed.

Today, I'm trying for the second day to recover from the farm work (I could barely walk straight yesterday). I thought my legs were strong, but I guess I fooled myself. Tonight I'm making stir-fry with turnips, radishes, turnip greens, chard, onions and tofu, all over a brown-rice/wild-rice mix. Not sure what the sauce is gonna be yet.

Possibly Related Posts

Widget by Jack Book


Post a Comment