Saturday, August 14, 2010

Peach Season Is Starting

So many people are interested in what farming is all about, I get asked about it all the time. Having spent 27 years working inside an office; believe me, being outside digging, weeding and picking is not work, but a pleasure. Our days are scheduled as to what has to be done to keep the vegetables, fruit trees and farming equipment growing, producing and working properly. Frank and I talk at night about what needs to be done the following day, scheduling our time. If it is the day before a CSA delivery, we spend the day picking, sorting, washing and packing the baskets. If it is the delivery day, I get up very early and pick all the leaf produce, such as Swiss Chard, Kale, Basil + herbs, lettuce if it is available, pick flowers for the floral arrangements, wash the produce and sort. Put my newsletter into each CSA basket, eggs if my customer ordered them, the greens I picked, flowers if they ordered them and then I load the van and do my deliveries. When I return home, I unload the van of the empty baskets, put away all the packaging, and containers to be ready for the next delivery day.
If it is not a CSA prep or delivery day, Frank tends the orchards with his tractor either weed-eating, disking or rotatilling a new section of planting for me. He repairs broken drip systems (I unfortunately have a tendency to hit them either with my hoe or my small hand hoer). We water the back pomegranate and small fruit trees using ditch water so that requires a great deal of preparing the fields for the water and changing the water for the different sections after one section is finished.
Yesterday, I raked up all the fallen fruit under the trees into piles. I sorted the fallen fruit to see if some it it could be used for canning or cooking. I hate seeing a waste of fruit but it is a natural event. The apples drop as they plump up, self thinning. I believe the same is true of the stone fruits. We have had the trees thinned in the past, but the last few years we have decided to leave them alone. We may have smaller fruit but they seem to be a good size for eating, taste wonderful and are not the "show" fruit but they are still great fruit.
As I was finished sorting and raking, Frank came around with the tractor and we loaded it up with all the fallen fruit. This helps in keeping down the rodents, flies and nats that come around if fruit is left on the ground to rot. The dropped bad fruit is put in the compost pile.
Once a week, I clean out the hen house, change their bedding, make sure their automatic watering system is working and clean up around it. The nesting shavings go into my Gator and I spread it out on the newly rotatiled fields for mulch and fertilizer.
At least once every 2-3 weeks, I try and start another planting area of something so that we will continually have new produce to have available to our CSA members, for the roadside stand and for us to eat. I recently planted some beets and turnips and next week I hope to be able to plant some lettuce so we will have some in the early fall cool weather.
And at least twice a week, I spend the entire days weeding. I have loved, loved using the straw in between my planting rows, that has really helped with the weeds, but where there is water, they will be weeds. And if you don't keep up with them, pretty soon, you will have a lovely field of weeds and you won't be able to find your vegetable plants!!
Many days, I never even have time to brush my hair but once in the morning. Many days, I have to take an Advil before I go to bed because my hands and back hurt so bad.
Hard to believe that when I was in the business world, I had a manicure every Tuesday; had my hair done every 4 weeks; went to the chiropractor once a month for muscle strain in my neck and shoulders due to sitting and doing computer work; and I was planning out million dollar budgets and grants instead of planning what to plant next!!! Give me this way of life any day of the week-
That corporate way of life is over and Frank and I wouldn't trade our lives now of hard farm work for anything. When we are asked, our advise to people is:
Follow your dreams, trust in God and you will forever be happy and grateful for where it leads you. Our dream lead us to Windmill Farm and we are loving every minute here and wish we had done this farming full time, 20 years ago.
Happy gardening!