How do you describe what is happening.  How do you describe what has happened.  How do you describe what is to come.  It starts with the warnings, there’s a storm, a big one, it’s coming.  At first you think okay we’ve had storms before, I’ve lived through hurricanes here before we’ll hang on and deal with it like we always do.  The warnings escalate, this is a big one, category 1, no 2 no 3 the projected path has us in the line of fire.  The weekend is coming when we have all of our markets and csa deliveries, maybe it’ll go out to sea, maybe we’ll be on the fringes and just get a few inches of rain.  Just in case let’s start harvesting.   Calculate how much I think we can sell, how many deliveries we have scheduled, what can we store the best.   Strip all the tomatoes, cut greens, pick the peas.  Check the weather reports, this is not good, how far out can we harvest and hold product.  Winter squashes, we’re just beginning to harvest them.  I just pick some pumpkins, get watermelons, *$! here comes the rain and there are still acres to harvest.  Work faster, harder, how much can we pull.  Stuff the refrigeration units.  The produce has never looked more beautiful than right now.  It sparkles.  I wish you could be here to see it, inhale the perfume of the herbs and on the horizon like a beast in a horror movie it comes.   The sky darkens, the heavens open up and there’s no stopping it.  I keep taking pictures so I can share what once was, what is.  To remind myself in a month why we are so limited in produce.

Planting time

The weather has finally sided in our favor and the activity on the farm is rapidly escalating.  A friend of mine once likened his orchard to a giant engine getting ready to roar.  If  that could be said of our farm then we are now in the process of warming our engine up.  The vegetables are putting on size and color.  Seed orders are still arriving and the farmers are planting like mad.  Down in the back section of the farm on field mk1 the farmers were laying plastic mulch today.  This field is just under a mile in length and there were five beds made each covered with a layer of black plastic.  So that puts us at about 5 miles of plastic laid on the farm this year and we’ve only begun.    I really don’t like to put this out there but it means a tremendous labor saving issue and healthier plants that won’t have to fight the weeds to grow.  It also helps to heat the soil so plants like watermelon, whose root systems need the extra boost of heat, will survive and grow in our climate here.

Think back to not that long ago, March, three months in fact. Rain, rain, rain and more rain. Then the flood waters came thankfully not the flood waters of biblical proportions but enough to set our region back on its’ heels. Enough to set the farmers behind a month in their planting cycles. Enough to allow time for other projects to become a higher priority while we waited for the water to recede and the soil to dry and the earth to warm.  Enough that we have seen the farmers markets a little bit emptier, the baskets a little bit liter as we start off a little bit softer this year.  A couple of weeks ago a major hail storm hit the Hudson Valley Region, luckily for us the hail was north in the valley, not so lucky the farmers whose farms were significantly damaged by the storm.  Last week the ovens of all creation were turned on to full throttle and we watched as the plants withered and wilted from the heat as the seed heads rose majestically above the plants, bolting we call it in our version of farmville.   Last night the moon was so full and the air temperature was steadily dropping – almost cold enough that the thought of frost crept into the fringes of my mind.   I think to myself what will this bring and watch as the morning dawns.  Put on a sweatshirt, watch the potato plants shimmy off the night time dew and stretch for the sun.  See the new seeds fall from the hands that feed us into the rich fertile soil, watch as the soil gently covers the seeds with a light blanket.   Breathe and sigh with anticipation and relief of the coming harvest and begin the days work anew.   So while we have a slow start due to the rainy days of March we all look forward to the bountiful harvest coming on as the cucumbers and squashes begin to vine out, the beans are planted and the tomatoes and peppers get ready to start setting blossoms for the bees to pollinate and the farm gets ready to burst into full throttle of growing for the coming harvest.

Pine Island Farmers Market

We are so excited here at the farm.  For the first time ever there will be a farmers market in Pine Island and it will be hosted at our farm.  We’re starting off small with an indoor winter market that will be held on the last Saturday of the months of January, February and March 2011.   Mark your calendars to come and partake in the wonderful veggies, fruits, baked goods, jams jellies and stop by our farm kitchen for a farm fresh breakfast.  Ed has been lining up musicians, Wendy has been reviewing vendor applications and everyone’s else has been lining up chef demos and workshops.  Check out our facebook page for updates and schedule of workshops and musicians.

Tuesday night I had the honor of being a panelist at Alfred University as part of their Women’s Leadership Center Fall Events. The topic for our panel was “Grow Your Own: Women in Agricultural, Ecological and Green Careers” I was joined by Dr. Michelle Hluchy of AU‟s Geology Department, Ms. Karen Baker (AU „85) of NYS Department of Conservation, Ms. Amanda Vizcarra (AU „04) of Vizcarra Vineyards at Becker Farms and was co-sponsored by The College of Business. The audience was not limited to just women and included students and the general public as well. It was so great to hear what other folks have experienced in their careers. and the advise to the college student of today.  I was very impressed with what Professor Julia and her secretary Cheryl have been able to accomplish in a short period of time.

Rainy autumn day on the farm

It’s autumn on the farm now, the mountain is beginning to wear it’s beautiful tapestry of burgundies and golds. The farm is in full glory of harvest time, the greens are exploding, the winter squashes and pumpkins are rolling in, the jerusalem artichokes are in full blossom.  Everywhere you look is an abundance of the harvest.  The rain is falling softly at times, harder at others.  It is the rain of fall, it sounds and feels different or maybe it’s just the innate sense one possesses when you live by nature.  For with the autumn wind and rain softly on it’s breath you feel a sense of urgency of the things yet to be accomplished before winter bears down on us.   There is so much to do and the day light grows ever shorter.

You know it’s close when everyone keeps asking is it here yet.  My first clues were just over a month ago way back in February if you can still remember that far back.  I could smell it, the air had an “earthiness” to it, spring was here, she had arrived, I knew it, how do you describe the perfume of sweet spring?  Earthy, fresh, green, damp, warm.  How do you describe the feel of spring’s first breath?  Soft, delicate, a whisper on the wind, you tilt your head to let it wash over you, raise your face to the sky and feel the heat from the sun bathe your face.  Even this is warmer, more golden somehow.  You start watching the birds, did I see it yes there it is the flash of the robin’s red breast, the burst of red from the red winged black bird.  Then there are the sounds of spring – wha’ts that banging???  Oh it’s the neighbors banging on the fertilizer drill, the sounds of tractors fill the air, suddenly flatbeds are everywhere filled with fertilizer, excavators cleaning ditches dot the landscape throughout the valley looking much like our modern day version of  dinosaurs, reminding us of the behemoths that once roamed this region.