Growing in every direction

Carrots are a welcome sight to have in our cooler again this year!

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • New potatoes — What great excitement on the farm when we pulled out our first of the season’s potatoes! Given our year-round harvesting habits, we only have a brief window when we are completely without potatoes, and it’s amazing how we manage to miss them (even after months of eating tons!). And, of course, new potatoes are a real treat. You’ll notice that the skins are still soft and may be rubbed off some from handling and washing, but this means the flesh is still super soft too — they cook up fast, are super tender, and have great flavor! This week’s variety is called “Reddale.”
  • Cabbage — Cabbage is another item that we eat all winter and yet are delighted to see return. This time of year we are more likely to make a slaw than to fry or cook the cabbage. I love experimenting with different slaw flavors — creamy with chopped anchovies thrown in; gingery with sesame oil and seeds; or just old fashioned!
  • Carrots — And, oh yes, the other root crop we are very happy to welcome back: CARROTS! No instruction necessary, I’m sure.
  • Beets — We’ve discovered that beets are among Rusty’s favorite foods (for now, at least). He and I make a regular habit of walking to one of the beet patches (relatively close to the house) to pull out a “few” beets. A “few” usually ends up being an arm full, but Casey and I don’t mind. We adults eat the greens cooked, and then I steam/boil up all the beets, slice them, and keep them in the fridge for quick snacks or an extra item with a future meal.
  • Salad turnips
  • Lettuce
  • Kale OR chard
  • Summer squash & zucchini

This week, a big question on our mind has been: “Where’s July?” It’s beginning to get old, this thing where we expect warmer and drier weather than what arrives in reality. We’ve heard rumblings that we’re at the beginning of a longer (10 years or so) cool climactic cycle, so I suppose we should just get used to the “new” weather for now, even if it does feel “off” to us after living in the Willamette Valley since 2006. I still expect blistering heat in July, which is a good excuse to go swimming in the river. Oh well!

Nonetheless, the crops on the farm are growing. As has been our experience in past year’s, the perennials all seem to love the milder weather. We just started picking the first of the blackberries in our hedgerows, and once again the mild weather seems to be producing berries of enormous size, juiciness and sweetness. Yum!

But the annual crops (including the weeds) are growing too. The winter squash have sent out runners; the corn is lush and tall; and the beets have reached our favored baseball size (as you can see in this week’s share). We’ve been diligently weeding the onions in spurts (there’s a lot to weed, so it’s best to do it in spurts) and are excited to see them begin to bulb up nicely too. The season progresses.

The farm is growing in other ways too. In fact, growth just might be the theme of the year, which is saying something on a farm. Our milk supply has grown as we seem to have finally reached a (mostly) stable routine with the cows (fingers crossed!). Cows, much like toddlers, thrive on consistency and predictability, and now that we’ve got a good routine going (and our milker is working again), we can see the results. We’re still figuring out what exactly to do with all this milk right now, since this year the intent was to “learn a lot” about small-scale dairying — the milk is a delicious by product of that learning, and I am enjoying finally having abundance with which to experiment with more yogurt and cheese making for our family. The chickens and pigs are enjoying the milk too.

Of course, the reason we wanted to “learn a lot” about small-scale dairying is because of our big, terrific, radical plans to start up our “Full Diet CSA” in 2013 — another big kind of growth. We hosted our first CSA meeting in Mac last Thursday to unveil the details of this new direction, and a thoughtful group of people showed up. They seemed excited about the new enterprises and left in very thoughtful modes. We have another such meeting this Sunday in Newberg — hopefully you can make it!

Our son Rusty seems to be growing by leaps and bounds lately too. Casey and I both are experiencing a sort of parental whiplash as he makes big developmental jumps in a short time — so much has changed in his habits and abilities lately (sleeping, pottying, eating, communicating) that he suddenly seems like a very big boy indeed.

I’m sure that when baby #2 arrives at the end of next month, Rusty will suddenly seem really old to us, but I am trying to appreciate the little bits of “babyhood” left in his person (such as those lovely pads of fat on the back of his hands and the way he still needs to be held at so many occasions).

The arrival of our second child will be another huge growth for our family (and the farm). As the date approaches, I am trying my best to keep up with my farm duties while simultaneously preparing our family and house for such a significant new arrival. We only have five or so more weeks, so I’m trying to be realistic about priorities — the baby probably won’t mind a few cobwebs in the corners of our rooms, but it’s probably also a really good idea for me to be 100% caught up on bookkeeping (for my own sanity but also for the farm’s benefit).

There’s no question that we have days when all this growth — the annual veggies, the weeds, the animals, our child(ren), the farmscape — feels like a little much for one year. But this is life — this is our one life, and ultimately this feels like the time. The vision for all of it is here in our souls, and it is such a joy to see the minor and major kinds of growth in our life.

There is no question that we are blessed on every count, and we love that we can share those blessings with so many other people in our life (our friends, employees, family, CSA members).

On that note, I want to leave you with a very favorite poem of ours — one that is aptly titled for the season, and inspiring for the moment:

The Summer Day
Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla
… and the rest of the farm crew

~ ~ ~

CSA meeting this Sunday in Newberg!

Our second CSA meeting is coming up this Sunday, July 29 at 3 pm at Impact Performance Training Gym in Newberg (720 E 1st St).

We will be going over our new “Full Diet CSA” plans, which we will begin implementing in 2013. They represent some major changes to our offerings, so we hope you can come and hear the details in person and ask questions.

Next payment due July 30!

I emailed out statement reminders to everyone who still has a balance due for this year’s CSA program. Please pay half of your remainder by July 30 — you can bring a check to pick up or mail it to us: Oakhill Organics, P.O. Box 1698, McMinnville, OR 97128.

Also, I accidentally set the date on the statement to mid-June rather than mid-July, so if you made a payment after mid-June this year and it doesn’t show up, that’s why. Email me to check on your balance if you have any doubt:

Next week’s veggies (probably!):

Fennel • Chard • Lettuce  • Summer squash • Carrots • Potatoes • Sweet onions

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