James Graves at Full and By Farm in Essex, NY.
We’ve enjoyed some much needed rain in the last few days. It’s refreshing to look out and see dark soil again. We hope it’s a little relief to the stressed fields of vegetables and pasture. The second cutting of hay seems oh so far away still, though the dark mornings are creeping in and the crisp night air makes it clear that autumn isn’t far away.
Despite the hot, dry summer our old friend Late Blight has managed to make it’s rounds up north again this year. This is the blight that wiped out the tomato crop the year before last. The deadly spores spread like wildfire, traveling miles on a single storm, and staking claim on wet plants of the tomato family (eggplants and potatoes included). They wipe out a plant within days, as dark lesions quickly spread on the stems, leaves and fruits. The latest sightings have been in Maine and as close as Burlington. It was earlier reported in Connecticut, Massachusetts and on Long Island. In other words we’re surrounded. Please be extra vigilant if you have home crops, and be nosy if your neighbors do. You must destroy plants immediately by placing them in trash bags and taking them to the dump. Infected crops, especially potatoes can over-winter in the ground and come back up nice and early to infect next year’s crop, burning spreads the spores even faster. We have taken the precaution once again of spraying our tomatoes with copper. This is a certified organic spray, but still a last resort for us. It does mean that you must wash your tomatoes off before eating them, including the sungolds. You can borrow a sink here if you need to snack on the way home.
Their is a natural seasonality to all things on the farm, some less obvious than others. The warmth of summer make it the perfect time to raise broilers. Since the young birds live on the ground rather than perching and don’t develop the full plumage of laying hens they don’t do well in chilly or damp weather. Likewise every spring we welcome in a new batch of piglets to the farm. They’re here for about 6 months, until they reach their prime weight for meat. Pigs don’t really enjoy winter, they have very thin coats and walk around like they are on toe-shoes, slipping and sliding on icy ground. Raising them over the winter would also mean they would need to eat more expensive and labor-intensive grains and not spend their time rooting around in the pasture and wallowing in mud, their favorite activities. The beef steers are with us a bit longer, usually just over two years until they reach their best weight. The prime season for butchering a steer is at the end of summer, after they have been feasting on good fresh grass and legumes in the pasture. Most of you have probably noticed that the selection in the freezer has been getting lower each week. First the beef went, then the sausage and bacon. Finally we’re down to pork chops, a few roasts and chickens (as well as a fine selection of organs). We’ll have another fresh batch of broilers next Thursday, then James plans to butcher a beef in the beginning of September, and the first pork will follow shortly after. Remember to savor your fresh chicken now.
In the veggie share this week: Green beans, celery, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, green cabbage, garlic, onions, bunching onions, carrots, beets, kale, chard, broccoli, basil, dill, cilantro, black and white beans. And lettuce is back! Tomatoes are still straggling in, we seem to be past the pest issue of the early season, but some hungry raccoons have been raiding the biggest, plumpest fruits this week. Taking a bite off each before moving to the next juicy one. Coming soon: melons and peppers.
In the meat share: chops and chickens
See you all tonight between 4 and 6,
PS: Almost forgot….The flower rows are really blooming now. Don’t forget time to come up to the garden and cut some beautiful flowers and pick your sungolds.