Sunday, August 23, 2009

Blueberries laugh at the tractor

We spent part of the last two weekends picking wild blueberries on the Blue Ridge Parkway (Graveyard Fields--it ain't no secret). There were so many bushes to visit, and lots of ripe berries--much more than I expected. All told, we picked several pounds, stopping only because of my fatigue. They've gone good on cereal and pancakes. We froze a bunch of 'em for future sustenance.

It's enrapturing, this wild bounty. Earlier this year it was morels. We've had elderberries, strawberries (not really comparable to the domesticated crop, but edible nonetheless), and blackberries as well. All without cultivation of any sort.

Yeah, nature is pretty good at growing things. I try to remember this when I think about having our own farm in the near future. You can't really go wrong trying to emulate nature. Of course, as humans, we are a part of nature as well, and we've got some nice tools to enhance things.

We're learning lots these days, but, for me, the biggest lesson is in seeing anew how things move of their own accord. It may be good or bad for people, but when all is said and done, life continues in one way or another. Which is something to notice and appreciate.

The days are getting noticeably shorter as summer wanes. Ragweed and lamb's quarters are trying to make babies (sneezes are in full swing). Only the occasional optimistic mateless lightning bug still sparks just after dusk. Non-conformist locust and cicadas groan loudly in the heat of the afternoon. The swallows that successfully avoided the acrobatic black snake have moved out. The Perseids recently made their spectacular fireworks, even under the gaze of a persistent moon.

Though we generally anticipate what's coming up for us, it's hard to say what shape it will take. Transitions are tremendous. Not knowing is half the excitement.

I'm content with not knowing; I try to get a feel for the movement.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

It's August?

Time is certainly flying around here. You'll have to forgive me, friends, for not posting with any regularity. We've been busy. Those who farm and garden know that midsummer is about as hectic as it gets, with your heavy producers like tomatoes, squash and beans in full fruiting mode. And then there's the corn. Yeah, we're not in the greenhouse starting plants as much, or out in the fields putting in many new transplants, but we're picking like mad, and weeding, and dealing with the heavy harvests.

You'll be sad to know that our onions and garlic were devastated by all the spring rain, and we pretty much lost a good majority of the two crops. I mean, there's garlic and onions galore curing, but they look like little wrecked balls, most of which are unsuitable for selling. But it's a lesson learned. And hey, we're still providing plenty of other stuff for the CSA and making good sales at market. Gotta appreciate the crop diversity of small farms like ours.

On the other hand, our greenhouse-grown tomatoes are so prolific that we are having a hard time keeping up with them. Summer squash, which started out terribly in the wet weather is producing well. And green beans, the pain in the ass that they are to pick, love to fill up several bushel bins with each harvest. Our first crop of sweet corn was pretty damn good, too, despite the corn ear worm invasion. Luckily the folks at market mostly understand what it means to grow and eat things organically.

Elsewhere, we've been entertaining lots of visitors from out of state, which has been a pleasant surprise during our time here. We attended the fun Bele Chere in Asheville, where I drank plenty of local brews and enjoyed several bands I had never heard before. Spent some time exploring the Smokies, including a grueling hike up to the top of Mt. Sterling in my crappy sandals. We've visited several farms in the area, which has been a great educational experience. Started taking yoga once a week. And in our downtime we've been kicking back with some beers, enjoying these amazing mountains that surround our cove, watching the occasional movie, and reading some good books.

Yep. It looks to be busy for the next several weeks as well, with more visitors expected and the final big push to get fall crops in the ground and tended to. However, I'll try to be better about updating this thing.