Or I could call this post, “Where I've been all month.” The last time I wrote to you all was the very first day our customers came to pick up produce. And then it must have seemed to you all that I just disappeared.
I know several of my readers dream about opening a farm someday and others are actively working towards opening their own farms. So today and I am going to deviate from my usual style of blog post and just give you an update! Here is the genuine truth of what it's like to run a CSA… not prettied-up… no plot today… just what we've been doing all month. Ready for the ride? Ok, let's go!
Our baby chicks are about half-grown now. You may recall that I was less than ecstatic about this addition to the farm, but they're working out pretty well. They think the duck is their mother so they spend all day following him (yes, HIM!) around. Here you can see the guineas with their male-mallard-mother, but the chickens are there too, they're just tucked further back in the shrubs. We still have all 15 of our guineas, but we only have 3 of the chickens now. One day FarmGirl noticed that one of the chickens seemed to be ailing. She picked him up and he died in her arms. That was a very, very sad day here at the Good Old Days Farm. It was the children's first brush with death. Papa the Farmer buried the chicken and put up a marker for him.
As the guineas and the remaining chickens continue to grow, it has become necessary to take them out of the box they were living in and give them a bigger home. Papa the Farmer used scrap wood and an existing small chicken coop to build their new deluxe chicken-condo:
Moving them into their new home was the stinkiest, nastiest job we've had yet. Think about it: Chickens don't take baths. Plus it's 100 degrees outside. The stink bakes and permeates. The Little Farmhands thought watching me help carry the box to the new chicken condo was hilarious (Sure they thought so, since they weren't doing it!) and snapped this picture of me:
Thankfully that job was followed up by a job that I like much better: Harvesting Honey! The bees really outdid themselves this year. Here is the honey in its comb just waiting to be harvested:
Isn't that a beautiful sight? I must admit that every year I am newly amazed at the handiwork of those little honeybees!
In other news, the alpacas are getting used to us and us to them. The Brown alpaca (“Carob”) is still a bit skittish around grown ups, but he's starting to approach the children now. The white alpaca “Mr. Vanilla” is the friendlier of the two. He will come and gently bump heads with the Little Farmhands, which I guess is his way of saying “Let's be friends.”
One evening we were having dinner outside and Mr. Vanilla invited himself over for supper! The children laughed and laughed at our unusual dinner guests! (And then they laid the easel down to block him from coming around to the other side of the table and eating their dinner!) Mr. Vanilla had to content himself with sitting on the other side and watching.
Now I know the rule is that you should never allow a dog to beg at the table. But what is the rule for alpacas???
And of course there are the vegetables. Always, always the fruit and vegetables. Picking the produce, washing it, weighing it, keeping records, dividing it and packing it into boxes and delivering it completely consumes two days a week for me. It's a lot of work, but what fun it is to watch our customers receive their boxes and see the pictures they post on Facebook of all the delicious meals they are eating!
Here's what our customers see when they get home and open their box:
Of course the selection varies from week to week, but there is some seriously delicious produce in there! After everyone has picked up their produce, my job isn't over. I need to figure out what to do with the leftovers:
Squash, tomatoes, peppers, beans cantaloupe… I've decided that if there's a way to eat it, there's a way to preserve it for winter! So I've been busy preserving the harvest! You'll be seeing some posts in the near future about how I've been preserving everything… complete with tutorials, recipes and instructions!
You'd think, with a harvest where the picture above is the leftovers, we wouldn't need to expand our gardens, but we are collecting a lengthy waiting list and we plan to take take more members in the fall, so one day our friend came rolling up our driveway in this big tractor and ploughed up yet another garden for us to plant!
Expect good things this fall!
In other news, being FarmLady has given me some pretty neat opportunities! My favorite part of this new lifestyle of ours is the chance to interact with people and help them adopt healthier eating habits! A perfect opportunity for doing that came last spring when my friend Kelly Lester at EasyLunchboxes invited me to contribute to her new cookbook: Cooking With Trader Joe's: EasyLunchboxes! It won't be released until September, but I got a sneak peek at the inside last week and it is A-Maz-Ing! You all are going to just love it! Kelly has asked 30 of her best food blog friends to each contribute their favorite lunch recipes to the book. (You'll find me in the vegan section!) Then, what makes this cookbook really special is that we all contributed fun and inspiring stories about food, too! The design team created a fantastic layout and it is just such a fun, neat cookbook! I can't wait for you all to see it! In fact, I'm so excited that I'm going to give you a sneak peek, too! Check out this cover that Kelly sent me! I know they say “don't judge a book by its cover…” but this is one book that you definitely should judge by its cover!