Welcome!

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The farm family in 2016

Welcome to our farm’s blog and website! Oakhill Organics is a family-run farm located on Grand Island. We grow everything we sell right here on our farm, and everything that we grow is sold directly to customers here in Yamhill County! We sell primarily through our unique 40-week long Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, which offers customizable share sizes and contents. You can find out more information about what and how we grow by following the links above; or, scroll down to read our latest farm news on our blog!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

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Summer is hot

Casey moving irrigation pipe — a daily farm task this time of year

Yes, summer is finally hot! This week brought on the first [moderate] heat wave of the year, marked by the installation of the kids’ window AC unit (usually it’s in their window in May or June!). Temperatures have risen into the upper 90°s, definitely warm enough for folks to sweat and feel uncomfortable and feel like it is indeed summer!

Even though the temperatures have been mild this year, that hasn’t translated into reduced fire danger in Oregon. Low snow packs and rainfall combined to make an early start to the wildfire season, and we’re well into it now, as folks in other parts of the state can attest to.

Closer to home, we witnessed a brush fire in a field earlier this week, driving past it on our way to pick Rusty up from farm school and then arriving home later that afternoon to see the smoke plume from our farm. Thankfully this one was put out quickly, but it is still startling to realize how vulnerable we can be in our region in this dry season.

We’ve been looking around our place this summer and pondering our own fire safety — what are the risks here and what can we do to mitigate them? Having lots of irrigation water around helps, but we’re still surrounded by fields that get extremely dry in the summer. A few years ago, a tree fell across the power lines at the north end of the property, starting a brush fire when the lines landed on the ground. Again, thankfully that one was extinguished quickly as well, but it still demonstrated that we live with kindling on the ground this time of year.

Just something we’re thinking about around here on the farm as we continue the never-ending process of refining our systems and improving our work and home.

The heat is also bringing on that wave of summer produce! Our table has been heaped with the first fruits of the warmest season. You’ll get to share in that abundance this week as well. Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Figs
  • Plums — Yellow and red/purple types
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Basil
  • Lettuce
  • Salad mix
  • Chard
  • Carrots
  • New potatoes — One of potato varieties this year features a beautiful swirl of creamy and purple skin!
  • Zucchini
  • Onions
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Ambience

Looking up through our enormous walnut tree

One of many things I love about summer is that it offers me experiences that, for me, are very close to pure bliss.  Yes, really! I have thought about this particular language, and I think it is the most accurate choice I can use to describe certain kinds of sensory experiences.

It all begins outside. Of course! Our native habitat as people! The nests we build for ourselves are cozy too of course, but our nests (i.e. homes and offices and cars) these days are so full of sensory deadening experiences. Especially when it comes to our sense of hearing.

How many little, often not pleasant, sounds fill your daily life? The hum of the refrigerator. The almost silent, but present nonetheless, buzz of all kinds of electronics. The agitation of the washing machine. The exhaust fan over the stove. These sounds are ones that our minds have to tune out in order to hear the things we want to hear inside our homes: conversations we are having with others, music we’ve chosen to listen to, perhaps even the quiet crackle of wood in the fireplace.

Outside, we are also often exposed to this kind of persistent noise pollution, usually in the form of engines and machinery: passing vehicles, airplanes, lawnmowers, and (worst of all!) leaf blowers!

Our brains actually have to work hard to allow us to function without constantly being aware of such noises. And some of us have a hard time ever tuning them out, having to make a conscious effort to pay attention with such noises in the background. Rusty and I are both in that category — I could never study with music playing and still prefer to read and write in [relative] silence. Rusty needs as quiet a space as possible if he is going to concentrate and learn something new, especially with math.

But, for the most part, most of us do effectively tune out all those unpleasant ambient noises that have come with modern humanity’s presence on the earth — especially the human-created sounds that are of the purring, roaring white-noise variety. If we actively heard and listened to all of these sounds, we would be constantly over-stimulated, and so we unconsciously tune them out.

But, not without a cost. To keep our focus on what is important, we have to deaden our senses a bit (or a lot in the case of people who live in very noise polluted environments). In some ways, we walk through the world with ear mufflers on, not hearing with awareness the annoying sounds but also missing out on a multitude of other beautiful, even (dare I say it?) blissful, sounds.

Here is my own personal experience of bliss. Being in an outdoor space separated enough from modern noise pollution that I can start to open my ears again … take off those mental mufflers and let my ears truly take in all the auditory information surrounding me. To hear the ambient noise of other living creatures and natural phenomena that normally get buried under the constant roar of humanity’s influence. Here are some of the things my ears take in:

Wind rustling leaves

Swainson’s thrushes calling

Water trickling over rocks

Quiet buzzing and clicks from insects

Red-winged blackbird calls

Bird songs. Bird calls. Bird songs. And more bird calls.

Yes, bird calls and songs. That’s my blissful place. The feel of the air against my skin. The earth beneath my feet. Dappled shade from trees. And bird songs.

It’s pretty simple, really. All that big bliss from stuff that just exists in our world, without anyone having to build it or buy it or make it. The Swainson’s thrushes don’t need me to do anything in order to engage in their magical swirl of song. We use the word “ambience” most often to refer to constructed human spaces, and yet the original ambience was just this free world around us.

And, yet. This bliss seems to be hard to come by these days, as those quiet places become fewer and far between. Looking back, I see clearly that it was this particular blissful experience that led me to farming as a career. The farm we trained on was definitely one of those rare places where the only sounds around were the ones we made ourselves (plus the ambience of the natural world and the occasional airplane), as those fields were set well away from any road.

Here on Grand Island, we can find that experience in the field too, especially as we are often serenaded by Song Sparrows that like to build nests amidst trellised peas and in orchard trees. But, the island is also a bustling place of business too, and some days the air is filled with human-created sounds: the rumble of a sprinkler engine, the roar of a tractor or sprayer, the chatter of people working in fields nearby. Thankfully, the presence of the natural world here is strong, so it feels as though we get both sets of sounds in our ambient environment: Swainson’s thrushes in the trees by the creek, wind blowing through the walnut tree outside our window, and a bit of distant tractor roar.

The ambient sounds of our country life are a big part of what I love about our rural home, in spite of the many inconveniences and isolation of life farther from town. Especially in summer, I cherish the mix of sounds I can hear through our open windows. It is part of why I can never imagine having air conditioning in our house! I would miss the sound of birds during the day and crickets at night! (The crickets haven’t started singing yet, but I imagine it is soon!) We like to keep our house quiet to better appreciate these gifts, keeping laundry to as few days as possible and only playing music when we want to actively listen to it. I am also scheming about replacing our fridge with a silent type someday (i.e. a dual gas and electric model), but that would be an investment to plan for.

But, even with our happy ambient sounds here at home, I crave at least a weekly trip to those even deeper experiences of bliss, where human sounds are far, far away and I can let my ears go wide open. When surrounded by the natural world, I feel my senses let down their default guard and I can see, hear, smell, and feel everything in such a profoundly joyful way. As Wendell Berry famously wrote, there is peace in wild things. For me that peace comes especially in the quiet places. Thankfully we are blessed with a few such spots in our area: Miller Woods, Baskett Slough, and Willamette Mission are some of my favorites.

There’s actually a word now for this particular kind of bliss. I knew I was not at all unique in my experience, given that really I’m just seeking out the feeling of truly being home in the world. The word being used to describe it now is: “forest bathing.” There’s even at least one book on the topic! (Which I haven’t read yet.) “Forest bathing” is more specifically linked to the experience of being near trees and the whole deep level sensory experience that provides (which has a multitude of documented mental and physical health “benefits”). It’s a big topic, one that relates so much to our biological history and our political actions for the present and future as well as our own personal lifestyle choices and habits.

Maybe someday I’ll read the book to learn more, but in the meantime I just keep seeking and appreciating those little blissful experiences of my own, enjoying small versions at home and seeking out the deeper ones when I can (usually with kids in tow — hoorah for weekly homeschooling hikes!). I also know that this human bliss is worth working for, worth speaking up for. Yes, for our own human purposes but also for the benefit of all those wild creatures and living things that exist in those spaces as well. When I am there, experiencing bliss just from sharing a space with tree, birds, fungi, algae, rodents, ferns … I realize how connected we all are. I think maybe that’s even what the bliss is, that opening up of the senses to be with the world in a way that makes us more conscious of we are part of the world.

If this kind of experience is not a part of your regular routine, or not even something you recognize from my sharing of it, I recommend you stretch yourself and give it a try sometime. Try “forest bathing” (or perhaps to be closer to my version: “bird song listening”). Many of us live with such deadened senses from over-stimulation that at first it’s hard to find bliss in ambient natural sounds. What is there to hear when the loud music and podcasts and roars all slip away? It takes time to re-sensitize ourselves to these natural gifts — the orchestra of beauty that is just the gift of existence in this amazing world. It’s worth it.

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Plums
  • Green beans
  • Zucchini
  • Salad mix
  • Head lettuce
  • Basil
  • Chard & kale
  • Napa cabbage
  • New potatoes
  • Onions
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Happy 4th!

Independence Day flowers!

It’s the afternoon of the Fourth right now, and our family is taking a quiet pause between holiday activities while it drizzles gently over Oregon. So far today, Casey has harvested and then we all joined friends at the river for kayaking, canoeing, swimming, hot dog roasting, and general summer outdoor merriment (before the rain began!). More to come, hopefully dry enough to enjoy!

I’m going to keep this newsletter short to better savor the holiday while it lasts (and I imagine that you all are too busy to read a long newsletter tonight anyway, so I’ll save my rambling meditations for next week), but I wanted to say hello and let you know that CSA harvest and pick-up are on as usual this week.

We hope that you too are having a fun and safe celebration with friends and family! Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Cherries
  • Plums — The first of the year’s plums! These are called “Methley” plums, and they are always the first of the year. They’re a cling-stone type with lots of flavor and juice (we always end up with plum juice running down our chin with these ones!).
  • Tomatoes — VERY limited this week! They’ve just begun! But we’re so excited they have!
  • Basil
  • Green beans
  • Head lettuce
  • Salad mix
  • Kale & chard
  • Zucchini
  • Carrots — Limited this week
  • New potatoes
  • Onions

 

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Farm family at play

Hiking into the Darrow Bar woods

Summer on the farm is, of course, the high season for our work. Planting! Followed soon behind by weeding! (Lots of that this week.) And then harvesting and harvesting! And all of that at the same time, all through these warm, growth-filled weeks!

It’s good. It really is! And the farm work can also creep into every daylight hour (of which there are many!) if allowed.

Since starting the farm over a decade ago, Casey and I have always had a policy of working hard and then making sure we have time to also rest and play hard too, even in the summer. But still, before we had kids, the summer work hours were long and the play was tucked in here and there (mostly limited to much needed trips to the river on hot days).

But kids change everything. Our life right now is also their childhood, and it has been a [challenging] pleasure to realize that we need to fit in more play for them, which means at times more play for us too. And, summer is a peak season for outdoor play.

KICK!

Hikes are a longtime play staple for us, but this summer we’ve added two new adventures: first, Casey decided to give one portion of a scheduled cover crop field a new purpose by working it smooth and sowing perennial grass. Voila: we have a small playing field just past our yard now! It’s the perfect place (albeit with gopher and mole holes, of course) for our kids to grow up a bit in their playing skills: beyond just running around to throwing and catching (frisbee) and kicking (soccer ball) — just in time for the World Cup!

Rusty also graduated this week out of the tandem kayak with Mama and into his own very little youth-sized kayak (on sale!). He’d practiced paddling plenty with us — I often let him do most of the paddling when we’re in the tandem together — so he was definitely ready for the work of motoring and steering himself around the river on his own. The kayak is light enough that he can even haul it to the river himself, making it a new privilege as well as a new responsibility. A milestone for our family!

Kid-sized kayak!

And, of course, there’s still plenty of fun and hilarity in the farm work itself — especially with kids in tow! We finally finished up the apple thinning the weekend, with just a few “apple bombs” lobbed our way by the kids (when they weren’t distracted by looking for early ripe plums and building castles with chunks of dry dirt in a nearby field). As we neared the end, both kids joined in to help finish faster, hands flying high and low in the final apple trees, followed by a ride back to the house in the bed of the Gator.

Done with the thinning!

It’s definitely not all fun and games out here, but summer days do bring a special kind of joy to much of what we do. How are you playing this summer? Share your favorite activities with us at pick-up!

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Cherries — These cherries are from the two acres of “Lambert” cherries on my parents’ property next door to ours. They are an older style cherry, not really planted anymore, growing on super old style trees: full size cherry trees! This means that ladders or lifts of some kind are needed to pick them, something that contemporary orchardists avoid (because standard-sized trees take longer to come into production and picking from ladders is slower and much less safe). This orchard was planted over 70 years ago. We’ve watched neighboring farmers slowly remove their similar-aged trees and plant the newer, smaller cherry trees with newer varieties. Those trees are certainly easier to care for and harvest, but they won’t live as long as the standard full-sized trees. And while the newer varieties are delicious, we’re fond of this dark purple, plump, sweet, old style cherry.
  • Zucchini & new potatoes — The first of these staple summer crops — still limited as we wait for full production to get into swing (soon!).
  • Basil — Basil! Limits still this week until it gets into full production.
  • Green beans — The first of the green beans! Limits this week!
  • Salad mix
  • Head lettuce
  • Rainbow chard
  • Napa cabbage
  • Fava beans
  • Fresh onions
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Summer’s eve

Lavender is blooming in our garden!

Tomorrow is the summer solstice! Of all the seasonal shifts, this one always feels the most like an afterthought to the season itself. By which I mean it feels as if summer is already upon us in many ways, but tomorrow makes it “official.”

It also means that tomorrow will be the longest day of the year. This is it, friends! The most daylight we’ll have in one day! Last night as I went to bed just after dark finally settled over the farm I stood at a screen window and listened to the sounds of the night. In the summer, night is rarely quiet around here. Last night I heard the sound of people in the distance visiting, the chick-chick of a sprinkler running in a field, the dull roar of a motor (probably the motor on the big sprinkler itself), and the “night birds.” That’s what we call the birds that gather in trees near our house and make quiet calls and rustling sounds all through the dark.

Even though days will now begin to shorten (as we turn again in this great spin around the sun!), those night sounds will continue for months to come. This is such an alive time of year, not containable in even the many hours of the day. Here on the farm, we can see the wave of summer produce and fruit forming.

It’s such a fabulous time of year, especially here in Oregon. Happy Summer! Enjoy this week’s vegetables and all that are to come!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Cherries
  • Basil — When we move new basil starts around in the greenhouse in early spring, we might brush a plant gently and suddenly be transported directly to summer. Smell is like that, and the smell of basil is summer for us. This is the first of the season! More to come, along with other summer delights.
  • Cilantro
  • Salad mix
  • Head lettuce
  • Napa cabbage
  • Regular cabbage
  • Fava beans
  • Chard or kale
  • Zucchini
  • Spring onions
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Technology works … ’til it doesn’t

Perfectly thinned apples growing big for later this year!

It’s been one of those weeks. Thanks for rolling with our lack of newsletter last week — I believe that was a first in our entire 12.5 years of operating our CSA that I didn’t publish a newsletter! The reason being: our website got hacked!

So, rather than enjoying writing about our week I spent Wednesday evening trying to figure out how to get our website back up and running. It still “read” mostly like normal, but I couldn’t log in and publish or make other changes to the WordPress site. Since I have other commitments in my week, I could only work on it in spurts and it ended up taking several days, finally being up and running at the end of Saturday (after many hours of my tinkering plus extra money paid to our server for their services). Yikes!

In the process, I realized that most of the digital technology we rely on for farm operations is pretty overdue for updating. My cell phone (a relic “messenger” style phone with a QWERTY keyboard) was on the fritz, and our old laptop and slow internet combine to fill every work session with unnecessary (and sometimes long) p … a … u … s … e … s … And, for campaign work (such as posting to Instagram), we were relying on a clunky combination of a older, borrowed device, an older digital camera, lots of cords, and a slow process overall.

So, the unexpected and unwelcome hack has begun what will probably be a summer-long process of updating and/or replacing such things. Such work is not my favorite (we are farmers after all — we both prefer the tangible outdoors world!), but I’m finally accepting that it’s definitely an inevitable part of operating a small business (not to mention running a campaign and homeschooling!). I started by buying a smartphone — the first between the two of us! Next we’re going to look into finally burying a phone line to our house so that we can upgrade our internet to DSL (from a cell-based source right now). Then, eventually we’ll update the laptop. All as finances and time allow, of course, but we’re starting down that road. It’s inevitable, even though I feel like I would be happy to keep using the same old everything for the rest of my life (but unfortunately it doesn’t work that way!).

Around all this technology research, we’ve also been working on the annual apple thinning — a lovely process that we usually break up over several days. Casey scythes the long grass around each tree, and then we circle them together, removing apples in order to provide more room and air flow for the remaining ones. This simple task increases apple size and quality tremendously, and it also gives us a good opportunity to check in with each tree and assess its health. Our orchards overall are doing great, but this year we decided that there are a few trees that consistently seem to look and perform poorly compared to the rest, so we’ll be removing those to make more room for the thriving trees.

We were also grateful for the rain that fell over the last week! The spring has overall been very dry, which has made planting simpler and more straightforward, but it didn’t feel like the world was ready for the hot, dry season just yet. So we were relieved when the clouds rolled in and rain drenched the fields several times (conveniently irrigating many summer crops for us!). We’ll see if that was the end of the June rains or not!

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Strawberries
  • Cherries — The first of the cherries! LIMITED this week so everyone can have a taste!
  • Salad mix
  • Head lettuce
  • Fava beans — The fava beans are definitely big enough to warrant shucking and peeling now, in the traditional Italian fashion. The bright green beans are so sweet and tender and delicious!
  • CarrotsLIMITED this week!
  • Napa cabbage
  • Cabbage
  • Chard
  • Kale
  • Zucchini — The first of the zucchini! LIMITED this week (but I’m sure not for long!).
  • Spring onions
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | Leave a comment

The newsletter that wasn’t

Our website was hacked, so I didn’t post a newsletter as normal. For posterity’s sake, here is the email I sent out to our members instead:

I am having technical difficulties with the farm website this evening. I am hoping to have it sorted out ASAP, but in the meantime I wanted to get out an email to folks with important information about the week:

1. Reminder that we are returning to our original CSA pick-up window of 3:30-6:30 pm, beginning tomorrow!

2. Your next CSA payment is due tomorrow if you haven’t paid it yet! Let me know if you have any questions about your balance due!

3. Here’s a list of this week’s veggies:

  • Strawberries
  • Salad mix & head lettuce
  • Cilantro
  • Fava beans
  • Cabbage
  • Kohlrabi
  • Fennel bulb
  • Spring onions
  • Garlic scapes

Hopefully you’ll be hearing from me again soon with a newsletter, but either way we’ll see you tomorrow at CSA pick-up! 3:30-6:30!!!!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

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Kids and gardening

Rusty was planting so fast that it was hard to get a photo of him!

We’re a farming family. But I imagine what that means differs a lot from what people might think it means. I know that it certainly looks different than how I imagined once upon a time, before the farm and kids were both an actual reality.

Before having kids, Casey and I both worked full-time on the farm, both doing the physical hands-on work. We didn’t even have employees the first three years, although we had some regular CSA member helpers (who were awesome!).

But when Rusty was born eight years ago, we had to figure out the farm dynamics all over again. During pregnancy, I contemplated our work a lot and watched my friends with their babies and pondered how (and if) the two were compatible. Our work on the farm is fast, focused, and very physical. Part of how Casey and I have been able to make our small farm profitable and thriving is because we are both incredibly driven, task-oriented workers. Before kids, we raced around the farm — not sprinting, but walking quickly from task-to-task. We loved our work, and we knew how to do it, and so there was little stress in our days. We just decided what to do and then did it, with few distractions.

The energy of pregnancy, and then early motherhood, felt very different. Much, much, much slower. Much slower. The energy felt less task-oriented and more presence-oriented. Pregnancy was so much about waiting and just being — even as I continued to work on the farm (up until the day I went into labor!), I could feel my inner drive shifting to a new pace. And certainly, caring for a newborn and baby was so much about just being. Being a lap, being arms to hold someone else, being with this new little creature who needed me so intensely — not necessarily to do anything physical, but just to be with him.

The shift from moving all day to sitting most of the day was a big one, to say the least! But motherhood brings useful shifting hormones too, so I didn’t begrudge the shift. But I did recognize that it felt wholly inconsistent with the sharp focused way I previously moved through my days. I could no longer expect to finish any task uninterrupted — or finish at all! And, in spite of many people’s fantasies about farm life, it turns out that babies don’t really love being on a mother’s back while she does farm work. Somehow Rusty could always tell when my attention was focused elsewhere, and that was not what he needed or wanted.

Thankfully, I had seen this coming. I had seen it in watching other babies, and I also observed in myself that I really don’t enjoy multi-tasking. I loved having that single-focus of farming, and I was ready to be single-focused on mothering now. I didn’t want to begrudge the farm for taking my attention away from my baby, and I didn’t want to begrudge my baby for taking my attention away from the farm.

So, our farm family shifted into new roles: Casey as the primary physical operator on the farm (and definitely more than part-time parent), and me Katie as the primary parent (and part-time farm administrator).

Over the years, as the children have grown, we’ve tried integrating me and them into the farm work in meaningful ways. It’s worked at times and not at others. That integration has always had to be “extra” labor, because it’s never “worked” for us to rely on me (and certainly not them!) to complete tasks. There’d always be interruptions — a classic one being one of the kids needing to go poop while I am helping Casey harvest! This is not a interruption that Mama can ignore! And so, I’d pause working and take whichever child up to the house and sit while they take their time and help them clean up and then eventually make it back out to the fields to harvest … until the other one had to poop! (At least they have healthy digestion systems!)

Again, perhaps we could have done more integrating, but Casey and I have both never wanted to feel cranky with the kids or with the farm, and in that regard it has always felt best to raise the kids on the farm but not force a relationship between them and the farm. If they want to help, then they are welcome, for as long as they want. Two falls ago, Rusty chipped in when we were filling our Thanksgiving Holiday Harvests. He couldn’t read yet, but he understood about numbers and weighing things, so he genuinely helped weigh out potatoes and carrots and pick out the right number of bunches of kale. But most times one of them weeds or plants for a 15 minutes and then runs off to play.

So, so far the farm has not been a major source of occupation of their time or work. It will be interesting to watch how their relationship with the farm continues to grow over the years. Will they eventually want to step up and help us more with the actual sustained work? Or, will they mostly view the farm as their home rather than their occupation?

They certainly interact with it daily. It is the entire context for their outdoor play life. We have a good sized yard, but it is not fenced and they wander to and from the grass outside our house into the orchard and the cover cropped fields and beyond. Rusty especially ventures far from the house daily as he engages in elaborate, ongoing imagination games (often reenacting historical events). They both love seeking out new fruits and enjoy being kept up-to-date on which crop is coming in next so they can be the first to taste a ripe strawberry or plum or whatever it is. And, it is very clear in how they give their friends tours that the farm is a place of pride for them. They seem to enjoy knowing this place so well and having ideas of cool things to show to other kids, which vary from season to season. They want to share tasty treats and show off hidden nooks under special trees.

Why NOT plant your garden in pajamas?

But, each year their dedication to their own little garden grows. We keep a little patch of ground between our yard and the fields that used to be the “family” garden but has morphed into the kids’ garden exclusively. In recent years, we’ve given them free creative reign over what they plant and how. They’ve purchased and planted tress of their own choosing (Rusty has a crab apple and Dottie has a plum). Each year they pick out a few items from our many seed catalogs, and they sow those seeds themselves and then plant the starts themselves. Dottie always chooses lots of flowers, and they both love growing melons.

This weekend, the kids took the initiative to plan out this year’s set of starts. Casey tilled up some of the garden (some in bed shapes, some in random between-the-trees shapes), and the kids planted their starts with the skill of someone who has grown up on a farm: efficiently and effectively both. This year they even put their plants in rows! They know now that this really is easier to tend.

They still need help at many points in their garden, of course. Although they could fill the flats with soil on their own this year, they still needed my help to sort out all the seeds and label the flats. Casey and I end up doing a fair amount of weeding and watering, but the kids keep a close eye on things, taking the initiative to trellis tomatoes and harvest when appropriate. And, each year, they seem to naturally take on more of the work as their enthusiasm for the project continues to grow. I think their ownership over it is key. This is truly their garden, the result of their imaginations and desires. This is an aspect of raising our family on a farm that I didn’t imagine ahead of time. Call me short-sighted, but long ago if you’d asked me to picture our future family farm, I would have pictured children helping us with our project. Instead, where the kids meet the farm is us helping them with their farming project.

Nelson asks, “What are the kids planting THIS year?”

Many years from now, I look forward to hearing about how the kids remember this time in our life. Already it’s clear that Rusty has memories that Dottie doesn’t, simply because she was a baby during particular phases of our farm’s life (such as when we were farming 100 acres and milking cows and raising chickens and all that!). So far, those memories seem to be sticking with Rusty, even though he was relatively young too. But certainly, they both will remember this place as the foundational context for so much of their lives: their home, their place of learning, their playground.

Like all parents, Casey and I have moments of doubt about our choices and can sometimes focus on the experiences and things we haven’t provided our children. Balancing our work here with raising children hasn’t always been easy. But the land itself … it is like another parent and a teacher and a friend and so much more. What lessons are they learning that we’ll never even know, because they won’t even know to name or share those experiences with us? We are so grateful.

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

CSA payment due next week! Reminder that your next CSA payment is due next Thursday, June 7! You can bring a check or cash to pick-up (or mail a check to Oakhill Organics, P.O. Box 1698, McMinnville OR 97128). I emailed statements over the weekend, but please let me know if you have any questions about your balance due! And, please check with me if you are unsure whether you have signed up for the second half of the season! There’s plenty of room for everyone.

CSA pick-up window changing to 3:30-6:30 too! Also starting next week, we return to our former pick-up time window of 3:30 to 6:30 on Thursdays!!!!

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Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Strawberries Limited again so that everyone can have a share of these delicious Hood berries!
  • Carrots — The first of this year’s spring planted carrots! Limited so that everyone can enjoy! These are “Mokum” carrots, a variety that we love so much we named one of our kittens after it 12 years ago (he’s now a sweet adult cat).
  • Fava beans
  • Fennel bulbs
  • Kohlrabi
  • Kale
  • Rainbow chard
  • Butternut and Marina di Chioggia winter squash
  • Spring onions
  • Garlic scapes
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Orange wheelbarrow

so much depends
upon

an orange wheel
barrow

tipped on its
side

beside the cover
crop.

~ Katie Kulla (a la William Carlos Williams)

In brief farm news, this week we took a break from spring farm work and campaign work to get away for two nights of cabin camping. It was a much needed step away from things and very restorative!

Looking ahead, the next CSA payment is coming up at the end of this month. I am emailing out statements later this week.

Have you signed up for the second half of the season yet, beginning in June? Check in with me if you are unsure.

Also, a reminder that beginning in June we will be shortening the CSA pick-up window back to our original window of 3:30-6:30! Thanks for your understanding, and please check in with us if the shift poses challenges for you.

The sun is shining and everything is growing rapidly on the farm! Hoorah! Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Strawberries — Woo hoo! The Hoods are here! Because these are the very first of the strawberries, they will be LIMITED this week!
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Fava beans
  • Kohlrabi
  • Napa cabbage
  • Butternut & Marina di Chioggia winter squash
  • Torpedo onions — These are some of our favorite onions ever. They are sweet enough to eat raw but have enough flavor that they are delicious when cooked too.
  • Green garlic
  • Garlic scapes
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A big news week

Tidy furrows in the fields …

It was big week around these parts, as I’m sure you can imagine.

Casey got the first of the potatoes planted!

Oh, wait … that wasn’t what you were expecting me to write about? That’s right, there was another big thing that happened this week too:

The primary election! Our family survived our first season of campaigning! Hoorah!

Casey on election night!

The results were positive too: Casey almost tied with the incumbent county commissioner and will be headed to the run-off general election in November!

We have a lot of work ahead of us, but we already laid most of the groundwork and we’re excited to see how the next steps go. In addition to the campaign work itself, we’ll also spend the next few months brainstorming different possibilities for next year (we’ll have to have Plan A and a Plan B, depending on possible election outcomes).

But, first, we celebrate! The next few weeks we’re going to take a bit of a break from too much campaign work and focus on enjoying the start of summer activities: kayaking, etc. Life is for the living!

Plus, there’s a lot more to plant too!

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Radishes
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Salad turnips
  • Fava beans — We’ve begun picking the fava beans! They are a little on the younger side still, but we like starting to harvest them at this stage because it offers a different potential eating opportunity than the later beans (which are bigger and great for shucking). When the fava beans are long but not yet full, we love to roast them whole and eat the whole bean (pod and all). It’s delicious! Be sure to put them in a single layer so that they actually roast rather than steaming, and use good oil/butter and salt. We love this spring treat!
  • Head lettuce
  • Fennel bulbs
  • Rainbow chard
  • Kale
  • Butternut squash
  • Marina di Chioggia squash
  • Garlic scapes — Garlic scapes are also sometimes called garlic “whistles” — they’re the green shoot that pops up out of the top of the plant as the bulbs begin to grows. Technically, the buds will open into a flower, so in a way you could think of these as garlic rapini! The entire length of the stalk is usually tender enough to cook with, so chop the whole thing up and use it as you would other garlic — toss it in the pan with butter before cooking greens or add it to salad dressing, etc.
  • Green garlic

 

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