Dispatches from the house

PEAS! Enough said.

The kids are 6 and 9 now, old enough to play by themselves for long periods of time with minimal parental intervention (which, by the way, still feels like a miracle after those long early years). This shift in family life has opened up more opportunities for both Casey and me to get work done in ways we just couldn’t a few years ago. These are, after all, ages at which town kids might start taking off on bikes alone to visit a neighbor friend or walking themselves to and from school — safe opportunities to begin the long process of more and more autonomy as they grow older.

However, even if they’re fairly independent and can make themselves snacks, etc, they’re still kids. And they like knowing an adult is available to help if needed. They like being able to ask us simple questions.

Last year, when they were becoming more independent, we’d get them set up somewhere in the yard or nearby us in the fields and try to get some work done. Which worked reasonably well, but not being able to access us easily could sometimes create stress for them (and consequently us too).

I know, from experience with trying to communicate with Casey, that it can be stressful to have a simple question to ask a person who is 700 ft away from the house, at the other end of the fields. This was a big reason why we went from having one cell phone that we shared to each having our own phone soon after Rusty was born. I’d be sitting in the house, nursing little Rusty, with some kind of urgent question (but not an emergency) to ask Casey, and he’d be in the far orchard pruning apple trees! My, that feeling of not being able to easily reach someone can be frustrating!

This recent Christmas, my mom gave Rusty a set of two-way radios (aka “walkie-talkies”) as a present, and they have given us all a new freedom to be together on the farm — in easy contact — but not as physically nearby. So, now if I go out to do a farm chore and the kids don’t want to join me, we each take a radio in case anything comes up. Mostly, things don’t really come up, but at least once or twice, one of them will check in with the usual kind of kid questions: “Can I have a snack?” “When will you be done?” etc.

Casey and I have rarely had opportunities to talk to our kids on the phone, and we both have really enjoyed having this new relationship with them where we can hear their voices in a different way. Even though these radios represent a new kind of maturity for all of us, they all sound younger over the airwaves than in person — which is a nice reminder that this growing up thing is not linear but is more of a push and pull: they take two steps away from us and then one step back. They don’t need us, and then they do.

I’ve also enjoyed hearing what they find to be important enough to reach out. Usually it’s just checking in about logistics. They keep us abreast of what they’re doing:

“I’m back from doing the animals chores with Mimi!”
“I’m going to go pick a bouquet now!”
“I’m going to go ride my bike!”

But, sometimes it’s just one of those random kid questions that seems to come out of nowhere but needs to answered NOW, such as when Rusty called me to ask, “How do you spell ‘squirrel’?”

More often than not, one or both kids still wander out to say hi or help (especially when we’re picking something yummy like sugar snap peas!), but we love that we all have the freedom now to choose our activities a little more freely from each other during the flex parts of our daily rhythm of life and learning on the farm. We’ve grown a long way from those early days of me cradling a little one in my arms for hours while Casey works in the fields! I even got on the tractor again for the first time in years and years, which was exciting for me and really deserves its own newsletter.

… Oh, and also, did you see that picture (and mention) of peas!? This is also an exciting part of the week: the first, quite abundant, harvest of the year’s sugar snap peas. More good new spring treats to come in future weeks too, thanks to all this wonderful warming sunlight!!!! Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

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Potato planting party coming soon!

Join us next Wednesday, May 15. Come out at 5 pm to help us plant our year’s potatoes. This is relatively easy work, but please note that the footing in our fields is uneven! After we’re done, stay for a potluck dinner! Let us know at pick-up if you plan to join us, so that we can plan food and work accordingly!

Directions to the farm: Take HWY-18 to the Dayton exit. Drive straight south through Dayton and stay on Wallace Rd for about seven miles. Turn LEFT onto Grand Island Rd. After the bridge, turn RIGHT onto SE Upper Island Rd. Our driveway is the first on your LEFT. We share the driveway, and our house is the 2-story brown one toward the back-right. If anything comes up, Katie’s cell number is 503-474-7661.

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Big Green Salad season!

We have lots of salad mix for this share, so we invite you to make yourself a Big Green Salad (BGS) for a meal this week! A Big Green Salad is a salad that’s the main course, usually made so by the abundance of the greens on the plate (fill it!), a good dressing (creamy and filling can be great), and profusion of toppings. Some toppings that we enjoy (although perhaps not all at the same time): dried fruit, cubed or crumbled cheese, diced salad turnips, chopped sugar snap peas, chunks of meat (cold chicken or tuna), and/or nuts. If you need a little more to fill you up, a nice slice of bread can round it out. Big Green Salads are a staple meal for us when the weather gets warm and eating something slightly lighter (that doesn’t heat the kitchen) sounds perfect. Maybe this weekend?

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Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Sugar snap peas! – As a reminder, this style of pea is intended to be eaten whole (rather than shelled for the inner peas). The varieties we grow have been bred to have sweet, tender pods as well as tasty peas. We usually just eat them as is, putting a bowl out for a snack or at a meal time. If I can get my hands on a creamy cheese, I enjoy dipping them in that (hummus is good too). If you want to include them in a cooked dish, they’re delicious roasted or chopped and sauteed.
  • Apples
  • Salad turnips — These white, spring-grown turnips have very little in common with the big storage turnips of the winter! They have been bred to be very tender, juicy, and sweet. Much like the peas, we often just slice these and eat them raw on their own or with a meal. They also make great salad toppings, which is how they got their name!
  • Radishes
  • Seasonal salad mix
  • Kale
  • Chard
  • Potatoes
  • Leeks
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