“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.” Henry David Thoreau

Hi Friends & Farm-ily,

Welcome March!  Spring is certainly in the air and March has definitely lived up to the whole ‘coming in like a lion.’  Hopefully the ‘out like a lamb’ rings true too.  The 10-day is looking awfully soggy and we keep crossing our fingers for a dry stretch at the end of it.  There are strawberries and onions to plant in the next few weeks followed by our first crops for the Spring/Summer CSA season.  The soil has to be dry enough to plant so keep your fingers crossed and say a little prayer to the sun gods above!

In between the rainstorms we continue to push things forward in the field. The cover crops have been mowed and disc-ed. Brian spent a few solid days drop spreading lime and compost. We picked up our custom fertilizer blend yesterday from Marion Ag.   Step by step, now, we wait for the sun so the soil can dry out and become workable (and practice patience!)  If we work the soil when it is too wet it will become cloddy and more difficult to transplant, cultivate and weed.  But some years you have no choice otherwise it will push back the start date of the CSA too far! Fingers crossed for 3-4 days of solid sunshine!!!

Besides getting our ducks in a row with our fertilizer order we’ve also been busy researching pasture grasses to seed in the lower area of the farm.  With all the flooding and rain this year most of the bottom pasture was under water for 2+ months – December and January.  We’ve talked to a handful of farmers near by and our local forage land specialist at OSU extension and have come up with a mix that we hope will thrive in wetter conditions.  Now we just gotta wait until the sky clears and the rains wane so we can get out there to seed!  Everything seems to be waiting on the sun…


In the meantime, we will be turning up soil in our 100ft high tunnel/greenhouse and transplanting a few crops and seeding in a few things. We are on week 12 of the Winter CSA which means we have 6 more weeks to go (18 total).   We didn’t know what to expect back in December when it started but are so pleased that all the planning turned out even with the ups and downs and slog that the winter weather brought our way. It’s given us a whole new perspective on farming and like we’ve said before… we’ve never ate so good through the winter!

The true test of a winter CSA.  The winter CSA has been filled with new challenges that we have faced for the first time and it has also been filled with incredible unforeseen successes.  This period in the season will prove to put your farmers through the ultimate test!   We are coming up on a challenging time for harvest.  The hunger gap.  It’s very much an in-between time where the crops that were planted last fall are beginning to bolt (i.e. rapini) and go to flower.  The soil is still too wet and cool for things to really germinate quickly which is why high tunnel/greenhouse space is so valuable this time of year.  Many of the storage crops are on their last hurrah (onions, garlic etc) who are all starting to sprout as the longer/warmer day are upon us  (they say, let us grow!)  This part of the season is the true test of a winter CSA.  Thank you for being willing to experiment with us over the course of this inaugural winter CSA.


New life!  The propagation house is really filling up with Spring and Summer starts. We have eggplant and peppers on the heat mats waiting for germination (they like the soil to be hot, hot, hot) and in the next few days we’ll be seeding tomatoes, leeks, onions, etc..   The fun never stops.. whoop whoop! It’s crazy to think that in 4+ months we will be enjoying the bounty of summer – tomatoes, peppers, eggplant etc…

The trials and tribulations of garlic!  Every Fall we plant a significant amount of garlic (this year we planted 3,000 ft/6,000 cloves) that over winters and gets harvested June-July.  As past members might remember, our 2015 crop of garlic was hit with the awful Rust fungus which lead to significantly smaller bulbs, smaller yields, less storability and buying all new garlic seed since ours didn’t size up enough.  80lbs of garlic seed x $20/lb adds up quick but we love garlic and are hopeful that this years yield will be better (we buy all our organic garlic seed from a local Pacific NW company – Filaree Garlic Farm)!  There’s so much to learn all the time especially with the changes in weather and seasons.  


Beds are prepped and ready to irrigate (before flaming!), planting garlic and mulching with straw 

Garlic can be a tricky crop to grow.  It seems easy for the first few years but after that your weed seed bank gets churned up and you have way more competition to deal with from weeds come Spring.  They are also in the garden growing for 8 months which is a pretty long time!  We usually plant in October and this year we wanted to do better so we decided we would prepare the beds in August (compost, fertilize, till 2 months before planting) and lay irrigation to germinate weeds and put our trusty new flame weeder to good use.  After a few weeks (once the weeds were established) farmer Brian went through all 10 beds and flame weeded the germinating weeds.  It takes about 15-30 minutes per bed to flame them.  Once flamed we watered them again.  Waited a few weeks and flamed them again.  By October we were looking at some pretty weed free and perfect stale seed beds for planting garlic into.  We were hoping all that pre emergence flame weeding would really cut down or eliminate or need to hand weed it in the Spring (ouch my back!)  In October, after we dibbled the beds (made holes for the cloves to go into) Brian flamed the beds again while I planted behind him… ensuring once and for all (3 times a charm) that weed issues of the past would be a distant memory.  To top off all our hard work we put a nice thick layer of organic straw ontop of the beds.  This is where things get hairy….


Our nice thick lawn of straw popping up in the garlic (center) and (on the R & L)removing all the mulch and cleaning it up last month!

In October & November, the rains came back which was great because the garden loves the rain.  A few weeks after we planted the garlic and mulched we noticed there was a lawn growing – a nice even layer of grass coming up in the whole garlic patch.  Our hearts sank.  We did not know that the straw was full of viable seed as we bought it from a trusted local source who failed to inform us that the ‘straw’ we purchased was in fact not ‘straw’ at all as it was full of seed (that the grains had been lodged while being harvested.. so they knew, they just didn’t tell us).  We had a perfect stand of straw growing where we had just invested so much time, labor, resources and energy into. Would we be able to save the crop?  How many hours of labor would it take to remove all the straw and weed the new thicket of rye we had growing (not including all the labor we already put into it).  It was crazy.  So, for the past month Brian and I have each spent about 40 hours each removing all the straw and pulling out the grass/weeds.  It was such a bummer but after all the hard work we have successfully rescued the garlic.   We have also decided to go sans-mulch on the garlic this coming Fall.   It’s really hard to find an organic local source of straw (especially straw that isn’t full of seed apparently…) so we’re gonna try not using any after seeing the success other fellow farmers have had without mulching.  We’re hoping that the worst is over and that any weeding needing to be done from here on out can be done with our Allis Chalmers G cultivating tractor.  Onward and upward!


Spring Piglets!  Tami decided to celebrate #nationalpigday on Tuesday by having her first litter of piglets and she did great! She had seven piglets in the wee hours of the morning.  This is her first litter and she’s showing a strong maternal instinct and is keeping her little ones close.   We are amazed at how different our two mama sows are – as Rosie (Tami’s mom) has a much more relaxed mothering approach.  Tami who is 300+ lbs moves slowly and carefully around her 1-lb piglets – lifting a single leg if she hears a squeal or grunts until everyone is on one side of her before she lays down.  She has also positioned her body in such a way to keep the piglets in their house so she can easily watch them.  Rosie lets you come in and give her a pet and observe the piglets – no problem.. Tami on the other hand seems to like it better when no one else (including other pigs) is around.  Her litter is a cross of a few different heritage breeds – LargeBlack/Tamworth/Berkshire x Duroc.

This year’s newest layers arrived last week so there’s a lot of peeping going on in Chateau Poulet They grow so fast and in 20-24 weeks (4.5-5months) they will be integrated with the rest of the flock and laying their very first eggs. It’s amazing though how quickly they imprint and discover how to eat and drink for the first time. Watching them scratch and dust and fan and do all those chicken things right off the bat is amazing.



2016 CSA Spring & Summer CSA!  Thank you to all of our amazing CSA members both new and old who have signed up for the 2016 Spring and Summer CSA season!   There are less than a dozen shares available for the 2016 season so be sure to sign up quickly!  We are really excited and are waiting patiently for the CSA to fill up this year, more so than ever, as a full CSA and a tight finanical projection means we will be able to hire our first employee! Help us get there by spreading the good word because it makes all the difference. As a farm-ily member once said, “keep your friends close and you farmers closer.”

3 Steps to Signing Up:

1  Read all about the 2016 CSA season

2  Fill out the CSA Sign Up Form & Member Agreement

3  Mail or drop off a Check or Make a Payment Online to reserve your share

We can’t wait for the 2016 growing season to start!


So send some dry and sunny wishes our way… as we are eager to get our hands dirty.  Thankfully there are always things to do on the farm so we will be keeping plenty busy in the mean time.

p.s. Has anyone watched the Cooked series on netflix with Michael Pollan?  Check out the trailer here.    We’ve begun it this week and encourage you all to watch it too (as Farmer Brian said, “finally, something worth watching!)  Here is the write up:  “Explored through the lenses of the four natural elements – fire, water, air and earth – COOKED is an enlightening and compelling look at the evolution of what food means to us through the history of food preparation and its universal ability to connect us. Highlighting our primal human need to cook, the series urges a return to the kitchen to reclaim our lost traditions and to forge a deeper, more meaningful connection to the ingredients and cooking techniques that we use to nourish ourselves.”  Check out the book too!  

With kind regards,

your farmers

Jess & Brian

dirty hands, clean hearts