We’re a week or two away from the beginning of what looks to be a bumper crop of tomatoes. In last year’s crazy wet, cold summer we lost nearly all of our tomatoes to blight. So it’s a relief to see them coming in so strong this year. I may have planted too many. We’ll see. If so, it’s not a bad problem to have.
Meanwhile, we’re finishing up the last of this year’s lettuce. Our spring lettuce this year was the best we’ve ever grown. Even though the lettuce gardens have now been plowed up (one is now covered in young sunflowers and the other in sweet potato plants), we’re still enjoying great salads every day as Cherie nurses along the last heads that we cut a couple of weeks ago. Last night she made a delicious soup featuring peas and Romaine lettuce.
But the lettuce will be gone by the time the tomatoes arrive. I wonder how many people realize how unnatural it is to have lettuce and tomato on a sandwich or in a salad. While I realize that it’s technically possible to grow lettuce and tomatoes at the same time, and some folks manage to do it, the fact is that lettuce is a cool weather crop and tomatoes are a hot weather crop. They don’t naturally go together. Seasonal eaters rarely eat them together. Anytime you have lettuce and tomato together, at least one (and probably both) came from a long ways away.
Even though the lettuce is gone till fall, that doesn’t mean we won’t be having salads any more. Instead it means that we now get to enjoy delicious tomato salads. Because that’s what summer is supposed to taste like.
Nature can outrun me in the summer. I could spend all my time doing nothing but mowing grass and weeding, and the weeds and grass would still grow faster than I can cut them down. Nature laughs at my pitiful attempts to tame her. I’m OK with that. I take comfort in my little victories.
We’ve had multiple days lately in the 90s with high humidity. In other words, it’s been steaming hot.
We will go for a long time with no rain, until everything is dusty and brown. Then it will rain torrentially and wash away the seeds and topsoil. When I replant, Nature chuckles and bakes the soil into bricks.
The winter squash didn’t come up in those conditions. So I replanted it and now it’s emerging. It seems we’ll have winter squash after all.
After planting the sweet potatoes I irrigated them well to make sure they would establish. That produced a blanket of grass in the garden, threatening to overwhelm the sweet potatoes. But after a morning with my hoe it looks fine now. The sweet potatoes seem grateful and I expect we’ll have lots of them.
And while all this was going on, a little chick has learned to ride on her mother’s back.
When you live this life you know stuff.
Stuff like when was the last time it rained. And how much it rained. And what phase the moon is in. And what’s blooming now. And what isn’t. And other stuff like that.
In my old life that kind of information wasn’t relevant to my life. If I knew it, it was just trivia to me.
It wasn’t that long ago that all humans knew that kind of stuff. Now the vast majority of us just don’t need to know it. In many ways we’re a lot smarter than we used to be. But in some important ways we aren’t.
A farmer friend of mine once joked that if you want to be a farmer you need two things: a weak mind and a strong back.
He’s wrong about the weak mind, but he’s definitely right about the strong back.
Saturday morning when we arrived at the farmer’s market I parked, opened the door and stepped out of the vehicle. When I did my back went out and I almost collapsed. I wasn’t lifting anything or doing anything that should put one’s back in jeopardy. All I did was take a step. I made it through the morning with my back hurting the whole time. The pain lessened in the evening and by yesterday morning I’d forgotten about it. I left the house early to do my chores. When I bent over to scoop out some chicken feed, my back went out again, this time worse than before.
This experience has me reflecting on how precarious this life is. Should my back give out on me, then I couldn’t farm. Everything I do requires a good back. I suppose in the distant past a bad back could be a death penalty. Hopefully whatever is ailing mine isn’t serious and I’ll be back to full speed soon. There is way too much work to be done this time of year for me to be hobbling around.
We’re taking a break from deliveries this week as we transition from spring gardens to summer gardens. Over the next couple of weeks our tomatoes, peppers, squash and green beans will start coming in. What a great time of year.
We have a couple of big events on the horizon for the following week. On the 26th Cherie and I will be speaking at the Wild Goose Festival, an event we look forward to every year. On the day before that Dorothy McAuliffe, the First Lady of Virginia, will be visiting and touring the farm. I’m pretty sure that will be a first for White Flint Farm.
Let’s hope my back is healed by then.
I’ve come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies:
1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
2. Anything that is invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
3. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.
I enjoy listening to music on my ipod sometimes when I’m outside, but not much and not for long. Most of the time lately I’ve been letting the birds provide the music.
They’re happy to oblige.
If I want lyrics, I have to provide them.
When I went out to do chores this morning before leaving for the market, the sky was just beginning to brighten with dawn. The full moon was hanging low in the western sky, shining brightly, while in the east the morning star held on defiantly. And the air was filled with a symphony of birdsongs, punctuated by a mourning dove and rooster crows.
It rang like jazz and like Motown.