Hot Hot Heat

28 07 2009

Man, it is super hot here at the Mud Puddle (the car thermometer said 105 yesterday). No puddles to speak of right now. We are working hard to make sure that the plants and animals, and us, get enough shade and water throughout these long days of intense heat. Lucky for us, we can go and jump in the river to cool off. Not so for these poor plants…

Anyway, we weeded this morning around the brassicas that were planted a few weeks ago. In this particular row, we have a ton of volunteer tomatillos and peppers coming up, so they had to be pulled out gently enough not to disturb the kale and chard sprouts. While the adults worked on that, Sadie chased Cornelius ’round and ’round, and trampled some lettuce. We hope it grows stronger due to encountering some baby delivered adversity. God decided to lay in the shady patch of lettuce as well despite the “No dogs in the field” rule. What’re you gonna do? At least he didn’t tear it out of the ground, I guess.

I am done with my Saturday rotation at the winery, so I will be back to doing markets again, which I am excited about. I can’t wait to see how much stuff we have been producing recently, and to check in with all our CSA members and make sure everyone’s expectations are being met. We already have ideas on how to improve for next year, but I want to hear what the paying customers think, too.


First Day of Market

9 05 2009

Today was our first experience participating in the Grants Pass Growers’ Market. After some nervousness that none of us wanted to admit to, and harvesting at 5:30 in the morning, we got there on time, had the booth set-up in record time, and were ready to move some eggs and produce!
Market Stand

We settled into a nice routine of pass the baby, and take turns answering questions about our CSA. We had a great level of interest in us thanks to an awesome article about us that appeared in the local paper on Thursday night. And before anyone else asks: No, Chad and I did not get married and not tell you. I think the paper put us down as married to help us appeal to a wider range of people in the area. It is still a bit conservative here…

Anyway, we had a great time at market. We didn’t completely sell out of our stuff, but I think it was ideal for us to reinforce our community standing in person on the heels of the article. Hopefully from here on out, we have enough to be there every week!

This week we had:
Baby Bok Choy of a variety called Joi Choi
French Breakfast Radishes (these flew off our table. No one had ever seen anything like them before and were really intrigued to try them out!)
Mustard Greens
Yellow Raspberry starts
Tomato starts (Thai Pink Egg varietal, and Orange Pixie)

This is Sadie enjoying some Watermelon Lemonade with Kirby. She was drinking out of the end of the straw, eye-dropper style. Like she was a little baby bird!
Baby bird Sadie

Over the top.

14 04 2009

We got to peak around Runnymede Farms yesterday on our way to Ashland. It was good to compare what we are doing to another small farm in the area. Terry really has her shit together, I really aspired to be as prepared as she was. She always reiterates that her farm has been eight years in the making, the beginning of which was pittance.
Still, it would be nice to be at the level that she is at now. I have nothing right now, when i should be bringing early lettuce to market, along with overwintered vegetables. I should have starts ready to sell and hanging baskets of flowers. Tomatoes planted in the greenhouse would be nice, but we almost killed all of ours instead. And the list of what we should be doing goes on.
Our experience in small scale market farming matches how well planned we are. We are getting better at working the land. For those of you that were with us last year, we improved tremendously, and the quality and quantity of produce will represent that

Taking Time out.

9 11 2008

Lately, we are resting our bones.  We are still piled up to our necks with ideas, current projects, and prospects for next year.  Yet we need to simmer down a bit even before we start rethinking our strategies for the coming years.

Two weeks ago we wrapped up our 1st growing season here in Southern Oregon.  Hectic barely describes what we endured, but no pain no gain.  Between the annual growing of vegetables for sale to our CSA members, caring for new and old animals, working outside the house, moving into a new (used) home, and RAISING A NEWBORN CHILD time quickly evaded us.  Starting with limited experience in all these fields, we rolled with it.  Ben’s arrival proved invaluable, it could not have been accomplished without his hard work. Ben is currently on a vacation back to Chicago, and we are planning to return there after Thanksgiving.

Just because we are resting, we are not wasting a terrible amount of time.  Things that need to get accomplished are getting done, we just hindered the rate that they are getting done.  To start out with, we have been getting the property winterized.  As much as we do not have a winter around here compared to Chicago, it does freeze occasionally.  Therefore, we need to pull hoses and irrigation systems inside, as well as attempt to bring the greenhouse up to speed.  We have brought some of our potted plants into the greenhouse for protection.  We have layed down mulch around the trees and shrubs, and the chickens that were in the chicken tractor were moved into the nicest chicken shack this side of the  Cascades (thanks Tracy!).

For all our loyal customers, we can not express enough, our joy that you joined us in this experiment in farming.  We are excited to work with you in years to come and supplying the best (meaning better than this year), freshest produce to you.  We are also anticipating enlarging the community participation in our CSA next year.  We are struggling to get next year’s brochure out because there are some inconsistencies that need to be addressed. We are almost ready to release it, but there is an internal debate amongst ourselves here at Mud Puddle.  We are concerned over the method of pick up and delivery of vegetables for next year.

Last year, we gave everyone the option of where they could pick up.  Although having one of several options for pick up might have been more convenient for the customer, it complicated our situation here at the farm.  First, having multiple days for pick up complicated the efficiency of picking and delivering, as well as compromised the freshness of the vegetables.  Since we do not yet have large amounts of refrigerated storage space at our farm, the food is always freshest when it is just picked.  And since we only had enough time and labor to make one large pick once a week (before our first pick up on Fridays), the people that forgot, picked up the following days, or were delivered on a later day always seemed to have vegetables of a lesser quality.

Secondly, because we had options and not a set guideline on pick up and delivery, a break down of communication occasionally occured.  We therefore missed and were not always clear on where the food was going.  This food just sat around and diminished in quality till a new time was sorted out.  We just want to make sure that everyone gets the same great product.  We could only hope that freshness lasted for ever.

Lastly, we want to interact more with you, the customer.  Yes, many you have came to our parties, and we see your faces upon pick up and delivery.  But rarely enough to capture input since our minds are always on delivering food both cooked and fresh to you.  We know most of you, but closer association and even some dialogue with you would make our job more pleasant and resourceful.

This then leads us to our current problem of the best way to get produce to you.  We do not necessarily want to write it in stone on the brochure yet.  Not until we have a better grasp of the proper solution.  One solution we came up with for next year would be to go to Grants Pass Growers’ Market, and to possibly have a one day on farm pick up between selected hours.  These would hopefully solve the quality issue by having a more certain time frame to deliver the freshest vegetables from our hands to yours and then into your fridge.  Previously they just sat in the office, or at our house till they were taken away.  Giving you a window to retrieve you vegetables gives us a better opportunity to keep them the freshest.

The hours that market is open, and the unselected hours that our farm will be open for pick up will allow no room for confusion.  We will happily hand you your CSA box, with no sad looking veggies in it.  And seeing you at market for CSA pick up will provide the perfect backdrop to engage in conversation with you. At market we are also hoping to have extra and experimental vegetables for sale.  We want to meet more of the community that support locally grown foods.

So this is what we are dwelling on.  Input from everyone would be helpful to find a practical solution for all parties involved.  Then, without haste we will get the brochure out to everyone.

Other happenings on the farm are general maintenance, cleaning up our tool shed, doing our research, and we also completed our chicken shack.   Our new chicken shack is friggin sweet.  It can house many more chickens than we have in it, double as dry storage for feed and tools, and allow the chickens to free range among our vegetables and trees.

We are still recieving limited eggs from our chickens.  There are still some for sale at 4 dollars a dozen if anybody is still interested.