Friday, October 17, 2008

Final Week CSA - 16 Weeks

We got in 16 weeks of CSA shares this year our first! Actually it was a little less than we anticipated. We had based our calculations on a 2o week season. We might have made it had our spring not been so cool and drawn out this year. But, that's "life in the north woods baby" as someone once said to me.

With the heavy frosts and cold night time temps, even with coverings, the gardens took a big hit in quality and production so we figured we'd better quit on a good note. Even the tomatoes we had growing in the green house seemed to be coming to the end of their life cycle and began shutting down. Perhaps it has more to do with length of daylight than actual temperatures, since frost and cold wasn't a factor for the stuff in there. We are still getting ripe tomatoes however, but not near enough to keep the CSA people supplied.

Here's a list of what we had in the last bin:

* Butternut Squash
* Acorn Squash
* Carrots
* Hot Pepper(s)
* Bunch of Beets
* Parsnip
* Bag of salad greens & lettuces
* Rutabaga
* Yellow pear and Cherry tomatoes
* Tomatoes
* Baking apples
* Eating apples
* Purple Cabbage
* Pineapple Sage
* 4 oz. jar Honey
* jar of Pure Maple Syrup
* Sample bar of Goat Milk Soap

We provided gift samples of honey, maple syrup, and goat milk soap, which I think was a nice finale for the last bin of the season. These items came from the other growers. The goat milk soap came from our friend Christine who has her own herd of dairy goats. The honey came from a brother in law of another grower. And the maple syrup of course came from our friends Phil and Diane who have the maple syrup business, the folks with the 6000 tap operation I've talked about in the past.

We've gotten a good amount of positive feed back from CSA members and as far as I know most folks are signing up again next year, plus 4 new ones to date. Today we just got an encouraging card in the mail from a lady who was a member. She happens to be a good friend but, it was typical of what we've been hearing.
Here's what she said,
"Thanks to all in your group for the wonderful produce - it was awesome & I plan to buy in next year also, Thanks!" Very encouraging words indeed!

There were times this year when we weren't entirely sure we were going to pull it off. From getting everything planted to keeping up with the eventual weeds. Actually in the end, with our personal gardens ( not the other growers) , the weeds won. Fortunately we finally conceded defeat once the weeds themselves started shutting down too. I mean they we're still there, you know, but that all consuming vitality they had in the middle of the season actually slowed way down. Otherwise they would have choked out most of the stuff. Mostly it just became unsightly and we had to wade through it to harvest the crops. So it wasn't to the point where the production suffered I don't think.

Now, the beds that were heavily mulched did well. It just happened that we were never able to get everything mulched, is all. Just ran out of time. That fact in it's self is something we have to address for next year so that we can keep up with all that we are going to need to do with even more share holders.

I'm reluctant to do the "traditional" row crops. But, I may have to resort to that some, just to get the volume we need. Then at least I can cultivate the weeds. The square foot method is great for getting alot in a small space but, mulching and cultivating is hard to do with everything so close together. Maybe there are some tricks I haven't learned about yet. I know it is critical to get the weeds when they are tiny no matter what method of planting you use.

But, all in all it was a great learning experience. From growing food for all those people I have loads more confidence that in the end we can grow enough to supply all of our own personal food needs. Without a doubt.

We've had the blessing and opportunity, thanks to our friend Marge, to acquire 3 more green houses from a Rhinelander florist that went out of business. They're all 17' x 96'. Actually we are getting two and other CSA growers John and Scarlet are getting one.

Marge struck up a conversation with a man who manages a landscaping supply business and it so happened he had these green houses he'd sell cheap. $200 a piece for them. Even cheaper than the ones we got in IL before we moved here. But, they're alot more work to take apart. Alot more! Almost to the point where I wonder if maybe he should have paid us to take them down. Well, not that bad but, it is a big job as these are more of permanent structures unlike the portable ones we originally obtained, the ones we are using now.

So every chance I get I've been down there dismantling these. Not just me but, our friend John, Marge's husband and the other John, Scarlets husband. John and Scarlet have alot of friends and they've been a big help too.

Even with all the help it is still a slow process. But, it is well worth it. You can't buy much as far as any kind of structure for $200. We spent more than that putting together our raised beds this year. So we have alot to work with here.

And we don't even have to keep with the same dimensions. We can put together smaller units and get two or three structures from one. I'm hoping to build a movable chicken house for our laying hens. That way we can move our laying operation from where it is currently. It's been in that spot for a good 8 years which is exactly the wrong thing to do if you heed the advice of the likes of Joel Salatin. Actually I had hoped to get them moved this year but, again we ran out of time. If I can get something put together before the snows come then next year it will become reality.

I hope everyone is paying attention to this financial crisis and all it's ramifications. If you just look at the surface it might not seem like that big a deal, life goes on. The changes being brought about now are every bit as monumental as what took place after 911. Our world has changed. The whole system is undergoing unprecedented change. The New World Order is being forged right before our eyes. What that means to our personal freedom remains to be seen.

On a brighter note, in closing here's some cute pictures of some kittens that were recently born here on the farm.

Until Next Time


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