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Archive for the ‘Fall’ Category

Ahhh, fall

We just love fall around here for so many reasons. The farm starts to slow. The weather shifts. The trees change colors and our valley is full of oranges, yellows and reds. We are canning and putting away fruit and veggies for the winter. All of the storage crops are harvested for the year including potatoes, winter squash and onions. Farmers’ markets come to an end, which gives us a needed break from waking up at 4am twice a week for 8 months! Stew hens and meat chickens are butchered and thrown in the freezer. Firewood is delivered. Tea consumption goes up. And we are allowed more free time to reflect on the past season — our successes, challenges, goals for 2010 — and we are freed up to spend more time pursuing other interests, which is a nice respite from the mania of the growing season. We are continuing through the winter this year with our winter CSA program (already full — wow!) and we will continue to provide produce to stores and restaurants as availability allows. We are excited about the winter CSA program this year and hope this is something that can grow in the coming years. Once again, we offer all of you Barking Moon Farm faithful friends and customers our deepest gratitude and thanks for your support of our farm this year.

Pumpkins and various winter squash.

Pumpkins and various winter squash.

I love rutabaga -- a stalwart vegetable!

I love rutabaga -- a stalwart vegetable!

Red & yellow storage onions curing in the barn.

Red & yellow storage onions curing in the barn.

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Where did September go?

It has been awhile since I’ve posted. The busyness of life got a hold of me. So, what’s new at Barking Moon Farm?

Let’s recap:

1. We just ventured into the last 5 weeks of our CSA program for 2009.

2. Traveled to Springfield, Illinois to present at the national Small Farms conference (this is for my other job as an Extension agent). Interns successfully ran the farm and Josh telecommuted for the first time ever! Met a ton of southern US extension agents and farmers. Very cool.

3. Finished the last greenhouse seeding for 2009! Woohoo!

4. Harvested hundreds and hundreds of pounds of winter squash. Pumpkins are next.

5. Began harvesting the first of the fall crops — cauliflower, broccoli, kale, napa cabbage.

6. Prayed for rain a couple of times. It is way too dry here!

7. Started promoting our 2009- 2010 winter CSA program. A blog post to come on that.

8. Hit our highest ever monthly gross sales in August.

9. Talked to 114 folks about our farm at the 2009 Eat Local dinner at Roxy Ann Winery, while they ate our salad greens.

10. Josh gave a tour to 25 enthusiastic folks on the Ashland Food Cooperative farm tour.

11. Got really excited about winter!

12. Broilers are growing fast and doing well. They are grazing on old spring kale beds. Should be ready for slaughter in 2 weeks. No predator losses yet.

13. Survived the first power outage of 2009 on an extremely hot day. It was quick and the cooler and water started working promptly after about 2 hours.

14. Discovered that recordkeeping is key for success.

15. Finally, amazed at the amount of food we have produced on this farm in such a short period of time. Next year’s goal: weigh every single harvested crop for a total weight of food harvested and sold.

That’s about all I can remember from the last few weeks. Here are some pictures taken at our leased property the other day.

View of zinnias and fall cabbage.

View of zinnias and fall cabbage.

Everett eating daikon straight from the field!

Everett eating daikon straight from the field!

Tender fall kale ready to harvest!

Tender fall kale and rutabaga.

Farmer Josh sampling daikon.

Farmer Josh sampling daikon.

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New Pup

I’m at the computer while also looking out at an almost full moon half shrouded in clouds and a silhouette of pine trees. It is beautiful!

The season is winding down quite nicely for us. Josh actually has time now to be a normal person–a person that has leisure time. It takes some getting used to–we didn’t know what to do at first, but we are pretty happy about late mornings and slow living. We have one more farmers’ market and then we will just be down to a few more harvests for restaurants and grocery stores (although Josh has plans for an Ashland winter buying club).

As if we couldn’t rest for just a minute, we took home a three month old pup the other night–a purebred yellow lab we named Barley. Here’s a pic. He’s sweet, cute and mellow. We like him a lot. Everett seems to be taking a liking to him too, especially when they go outside and play together. Luna, our farm’s namesake, is being a good sport…slowly warming up to him. Right now, he is a nuisance to her, but she’s an old curmudgeon of a dog, so I think she’ll find a warm spot in her heart for him.

barley

Here’s a nice pic of the spot behind the barn where Josh recently moved our laying hens (we’ve got 150 new laying hen chicks in the brooder right now, but that’s for another post! :))

chickenhouse

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Frost!

I know. I know. I’m a bad blogger! Almost a month without an update. I hope that tells you how busy we’ve been!

We had a very, very hard frost this past weekend. It was 25 here at the farm on Saturday morning. The truck almost didn’t start for market. Well, it didn’t start, but after an hour of frustrated trying, it gave in and started up. This was in Josh’s absence (of course, our head farmer leaves and everything goes awry) who had to be away for the weekend. On top of the frost and truck not starting, I lost my precious wedding ring at some point in the morning at 5am between the house and barn. I still haven’t found it although the great people at Pacific Survey have let me borrow a metal detector to try to find it. No success yet. But, that is besides the point.

Nonetheless, the damage was severe, some things we didn’t expect were killed off, others did just fine. We were mostly prepared and threw remay on all the tender lettuces and mustards out in the field. A few things didn’t make it, like our beautiful celery. It was so close to going to market, but Josh cut into it this morning and it had gone pithy and bad, so no celery for market. It was a red tinted variety from Wild Garden Seed that had so much flavor. I’m definitely mourning the loss of this celery. We also lost the fennel greens, although the bulbs are still nice and of course, all the summer vegetables are kaput including our strawberries. At least Patrick and I did one last pick on Friday morning, so those were quite popular at Saturday’s market. Dandelion greens fared well without being covered as did all the escarole and frisee. The carrots and radishes and turnips have better flavor now, which we are excited about. It all seems like it happened so fast, this transition into fall. And now, the weather reports call for 75 this week. This strange, unpredictable southern Oregon weather!

We’ve planted garlic–a number of varieties from a local organic seed grower. We are excited about all the varieities and to watch and test which do best here at our site. This week, we plant overwintering leeks and onions and start working on putting up our hoophouse to overwinter greens. It is a bit late on that front, but we are going to push it and see what happens. We’ve learned quite a bit about timing on seeding and planting fall vegetables this year. Some things we have hit right on the button like cauliflower, broccoli, collards, kale and napa cabbages, but some other things we were a bit late on like head cabbage and head lettuces, but alas, we are happy with what is available out there now as the harvests slow down and many of our markets come to a close. It doesn’t seem possible, really. Putting our first real farming season to bed.

We’ve been doing quite a bit of preserving as well. Tomato sauce, plum butter, applesauce, peaches, frozen peppers, beans and peaches, kimchee just to name a few. We’ve stocked the freezer with Thompson Creek Organic apple cider and yummy organic ground beef and this weekend, we will be slaughtering our 15 meat birds (the ones that made it through the heavy predator pressure) and around 30 old laying hens. Yum! The meat birds are weighing in live at 6 pounds right now, so I think we will have some nice roasters for the winter. I’m so happy about that. I love chicken, but don’t love buying it from the store.

Well, I think I’ll charge the camera up to take some pictures of the chicken processing this weekend and make sure I get those up on the blog.

Happy October!

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The Arrival of Fall

I haven’t had any time to write a post lately and I fear now, that I don’t have much to write.

Fall is emerging on the farm. Cold nights, the equinox just around the corner, storage onion harvest, pumpkin and winter squash harvest and potato pulling are all some of the indicators that the farm is on the slow decline to winter. We’ve been pulling remay off some of the fall crops and were quite surprised at the growth and vigor of some of our vegetables. We have gorgeous collards, so much broccoli that is growing  nicely although it is multi-branching, so we’ll see what happens with that. We are also trying an open-pollinated Italian variety of broccoli called De Cicco, so I’m curious to see how that matures.  Most of the broccoli we grow are hybrid varieties, which mature uniformly and perform outstanding in the field, but we were curious about this variety, so I’m interested to see how it does. Spinach, cauliflower, napa cabbage, turnips, radishes, celery and fall carrots are all doing nicely as well. We have six beds of overwintered brussel sprouts (what were we thinking?), but they are growing well too. I’m curious again to see how that goes. Our CSA ends in three weeks and we have five more weeks of the Siskiyou CSA so by the end of October, we will just be down to restaurants and a few more farmers’ markets. And then rest.

The next few weeks will be busy. We are going to put up the first of our hoophouses so we can grow winter greens and early tomatoes.  We are preparing some ground to go into cover crops in the next few weeks, where are potatoes and onions were grown. We will be planting overwintered onions, leeks and garlic in just a few weeks as well. Our tomatoes are still bearing quite nicely, so we should have those until an early frost hits us. We have stacks and stacks of flats of tomatoes just sitting in the dining room waiting for me to sauce and can them. When do I have time? Most of the other summer crops are petering out with beans, zucchini and eggplant slowing their growth. Our crew is okay with that.

I’m feeling very optimistic about the farm and our success this year and looking forward to sitting down this winter and really doing some solid planning for next year’s season. It looks like we are going to make it through this season relatively unscathed and be back for more! I didn’t think that was possible back in July.

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