“Now constantly there is the sound,
quieter than rain,
of the leaves falling.
Under their loosening bright
gold, the sycamore limbs
Now the only flowers
are beeweed and aster, spray
of their white and lavender
over the brown leaves.
The calling of a crow sounds
that the life of summer falls
silent, and the nights grow.”
– Wendell Berry, October 10
Hi Friends & Farm-ily,
We hope no one floated away & stayed safe in last weekend’s big rain and wind storm. We battened down the hatches at the end of last week in anticipation of the ‘storm of the century’. Thankfully, it wasn’t the worst-case scenario that the meteorologists were predicting. We’ve had almost 5 inches of rain off and on for the last 7 days. We did experience 44mph wind gusts on Saturday afternoon and tried our best to ignore the newly constructed high tunnels and the loud flapping sounds of the plastic by cooking up a storm in the kitchen.
We love this time of year and it’s starting to really feel like Fall in Oregon. The colors, the crispy nights, the dewey/foggy mornings, the shorter days… it’s such an incredibly beautiful time to be outside and enjoying the true feeling of fall before ol’ winter comes knocking on our door.
We actually got pretty close to our first frost last week (a low of 35) but managed to skirt it just barely. We heeded with precaution though and covered some of our tender fall crops with agribon (aka floating row cover that provides frost protection up to 2-4 degrees) only to take them off before the big wind storm. Looks like we have another 10 days or more before we’re in the 30’s again at night. A frost makes the Fall veggies sweeter because in order protect their cells from bursting they convert their complex carbohydrates (bonded sugars) into simple sugars! Kale, carrots, turnips, kohlrabi etc… all those veggies sweeten up with colder temps!
We began planting our garlic last week and managed to get in 1,200 ft before the big rains. We hope to make another big push on planting today (Friday). We’re planting 3,600 ft of garlic this winter and are pretty excited about all the varieties we’re growing! We’re even trying our hand at some elephant garlic this season (the cloves we planted were huge!) Elephant garlic is actually related to leeks and are resistant to rust (unlike garlic). Rust is a fungus that has been plaguing the Pacific NW (especially the last few years) and can leave plants/bulbs stunted with less storability. We’re also planting a few early Asiatic varieties that some of our fellow farmers have had great success with. They are ready to harvest a month earlier than other varieties and because of that often escape any real damage from rust. Feels good to have some insurance in a business that keeps you on your toes everyday. This will be our 6th season planting garlic together. And as Farmer Brian says.. garlic should be the foundation of any good relationship. And weeding it in the spring should be the test of that relationship. Here’s to many more years planting garlic together and to the first crop of the 2017 CSA season!
We had a chance to harvest our sweet potatoes before the big rains and it was as we expected – not a very fruitful harvest. We believe there were a few contributing factors… the much cooler summer (they are a hot weather/warm soil loving kind of plant) and the weeds. Last year, we planted them the exact same way and they were so prolific with the hot summer that they out competed weeds and took over the place. This year they didn’t thrive in the mild summer temps so we battled the weeds all season long. We have a plan to use landscape fabric next season to both warm the soil (if we have another mild summer) and the weed suppression. We may also try planting two lines of sweet potato per bed instead of our usual one line per bed. We planted two different varieties this year (one for Fall and one for Winter distribution) so we will have a little to distribute to our Winter CSA this year. Always looking forward and always looking for ways to improve how we grow, harvest, work the land etc.
The end of October/early November can be a sprint for the two of us as we near the end of our long lists of to-dos (while the weather is still somewhat decent) and to get ready for our Winter CSA. We have 1,000’s of lbs of storage crops that need to be harvested, washed and stored in the cooler. Onions and garlic will be trimmed and bagged. Some crops will need to be covered and protected from the cold. We will be planting our last crops in the high tunnels in November for harvest through the winter and early Spring months. We also need to take on the big project of removing the deep bedding from the big wood barn so that we can get it all cozy for the cows to have some dry space this winter! So send some sunny – dry weather thoughts are way as we take on the end of the year to-dos!–
The longer nights have given us a moment to take pause and write down all the things we’d like to work on next season to grow the business more thoughtfully. Working Hands Farm will be in it’s 8th season of operation next year and we’re really excited to keep growing better as a business, individuals and a partnership. Our bodies and minds are looking forward to the change of pace the late Fall and winter will bring. Until then, we will hope for some sun on the horizon to finish up our season sprint!
A friendly reminder: We have just 4 more CSA pick up weeks left in the Spring/Summer/Fall season. As a reminder to all our wonderful CSA-ers: the last CSA pick ups will be November 15th, 16th, 17th and on that week, our Weekly CSA Members will receive a double share (shares 27 & 28) to better prepare you for the Thanksgiving holiday. ALL Bi-Weekly Share members will pick up on that week as well (either Share 27 or 28 depending on your assigned weeks)!
We are very excited to offer our 100% Grass Fed/Grass Finished Beef Shares beginning this week! We keep a small herd of British White and Black Angus cross cows that produce incredibly flavorful and tender beef.
-Are raised and finished on grass and clover at 24 months of age
-Are raised on an rotational grazing system that helps to build our soils and improve the biodiversity of our grasses.
-And are raised by Jess and I with respect and love
-Are USDA inspected and certified
-Are never fed grain
-Are never given supplemental antibiotics or hormones
WHF Grass Fed Beef Shares (27-28lbs) A 27-28 lb share of our grass fed beef is $325 and includes a mix of: Ground beef (12-13 lbs) Premium steaks (6-8 lbs/2steaks per package) i.e Rib eye, New York, etc… Roasts (2.5-4lbs) i.e. Cross Rib, Brisket, Chuck, etc… Package of our amazing beef stock bones! (2-3lbs).
To order please email us and let us know the number of shares you are interested or visit http://workinghandsfarmstore.com/products/grass-fed-beef to place an order!
Fall Pork! We have our Fall Pork just back from the processor and have some awesome new items to try (chorizo!). We expect to have our freezers stocked with pork through the winter so please check back on the site periodically as we will be keeping our inventory updated! Tis’ the season for soups, stews, braising, roasting and more so keep us in mind for the holiday season! Thank you in advance for your support!
Winter CSA! We had quite a few members ask about the Winter CSA during WHF farm day – thank you so much for your interest! The 2016-2017 Winter CSA is sold out/full for the season. If you are interested in the Winter CSA please fill out the waiting list form here: https://workinghandsfarm.com/winter-csa-sign-up/ so that we can get a better idea of how many households are interested in joining in the future to better suit the needs of our community!
Cheers to you all, enjoy the week and we’ll see you soon!
With kind regards,
Jess & Brian
dirty hands, clean hearts