The rhythms of (almost) summer

One of the sweetest parts of early summer!

Summer is almost here, but here at the farm we’re slipping into the season’s rhythms already. In some ways, summer feels like an expansive season. The kids and I take a break from our daily school routine, giving us more time for working in the fields, swinging on rope swings, exploring new trails, and paddling on the river. The long summer days feel like they have so much space for life to happen!

And yet summer brings very steady rhythms in our farm weeks too. This time of year, we set aside most “project-based” work (such as infrastructure improvements) and really focus on the pressing seasonal work. Which falls into very regular patterns: plant, move water, weed, move water, harvest, move water, CSA pick-up, move water, mow, move water, work fields, move water, plant, move water, weed, move water, harvest … you get the idea!

In early June, those rhythms and patterns start to feel almost like a heartbeat in our week, with the steady beat of moving water (usually daily) and the pulse of harvesting (once per week).

Even though it adds up to a lot of physical work, there’s also something restful about settling into the farm’s heartbeat. There’s less need to think through each day, as the patterns mostly feel intuitive and steady. If the idea for a project or improvement arises, we add it to ever-growing list of “to do eventually” and continue keeping pace with the flow of planting and harvesting that is the growing season.

It seems fitting then that this summer, I’m also bringing rhythm into our lives in other ways, as kind of a personal/family/kid project. Both kids began taking piano lessons at the start of 2019, and they’re doing great. To me, music is its own kind of universal language (akin to math or physics), through which we can deepen and enrich our experience of the world and other people. I truly believe that what we call “music” (the patterns of pitch and rhythm) is so much bigger than any one culture or even humanity. I believe that when we make or listen to great music, we are moved because we are tapping into something cosmic. Plus, making music can be a form of personal meditation (the mind has to stop wandering when it is working hard to maintain rhythm and pitch!) and a way to connect with others through group music making. Making music can be worship or prayer. Music can be a way to process emotions or celebrate. Music is … enormous and rich and endlessly interesting and challenging. Amateur though I am, I love making music — and I want our children to grow up with basic musical literacy so that they can joyfully engage in the process of making music — alone or with others — throughout their life.

So, as we go into the rhythms of summer, I’m bringing more hands on rhythm into our lives too — pulling out the drums and percussion instruments that sit in a basket in our living room. Dottie, especially, could use some work on really feeling a steady pulse, and there are a million fun ways to work on that together even on our expansive summer days! I’m relearning all those fun playground hand clapping games (and learning some new ones), which are such a great place to start working on steady rhythm. Those games just don’t work if the partners aren’t in sync and holding a steady beat! But we’ll also be bringing our drums and shakers and things to hopefully many summer campfires, to accompany some singing. Perhaps we’ll shake an egg to one of the kids’ favorites: “Bringing home a baby bumblebee” (which is also a great ukulele tune). Our version of this campfire song involves some barfing references, so it’s definitely a favorite.

Since summer feels like a different season to many people (not just farmers and folks on school calendars), it is a great time for working on little fun projects like this one. Really, I’m not sure why people put so much emphasis on New Year’s Resolutions — perhaps we should all make Summer Resolutions instead! But, to fit with the feel of Summer in general, they should all be fun resolutions (involving perhaps your own personal equivalent of hand clapping games or songs with barfing references). As you slip into your own summer rhythms, what fun learning or growth could you layer into your days and weeks?

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

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About fava beans! If you’ve never eaten fava beans before, definitely read this before you prepare them the first time. Fava beans are the original European bean (in the small family of beans that existed in Europe pre-contact with the Americas). They are also called “Broadbeans,” and they require a different approach than, for example, green beans.

Begin by shucking the inner beans out of the big fluffy pods (check out all that white padding! I always think these are like cozy cradles for bean babies!). Next you have a choice: in Italian cooking, they would traditionally next remove the soft white outer skin to reveal the inner bright green bean. There are two ways to do this: 1. carefully peel the skin away from raw beans, or 2. blanche beans in boiling water, then “shock” them in cold water, and then pop the beans out of the skin. In the first scenario, the resulting beans will be raw (and you’ll want to lightly boil and then sauté them), and in the second, they’ll be mostly cooked.

A wonderful simple preparation is to mash the cooked green inner bean with some butter or olive oil (and maybe some garlic) and then spread it on small pieces of toast (like bruschetta). Or, you can throw the cooked beans into a pasta dish right as you are serving it. Or, use them as a salad topping.

If you don’t want to do all that work, you can just cook the beans and eat the outer skin. It’s totally okay! It just doesn’t create quite the same refined result, but the beans are delicious either way (again, toss them into pasta!).

If the beans aren’t too mature (I think these would still work), you can also roast fava beans whole (yes, in the pod!). This is honestly our favorite way to eat them, simply because of the ease. Make sure you put them in a single layer in a pan and then roast them at a high temperature until the insides are soft and the outside crispy. Use olive oil or butter and plenty of salt. These roasted fava beans can be kind of messy to eat. It’s definitely “finger” food (and probably not suitable for a first date, unless you think a big messy meal would be a good ice breaker!).

About once a year, we’ll take the time to prepare a dish with just the inner green beans, because it is such a treat. And then the rest of the season, we’ll roast ’em. Your choice!

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Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Strawberries
  • Apples
  • Fava beans — See note above for more about fava beans!
  • Sugar Snap peas
  • Lettuce
  • Summer squash OR cucumbers
  • Broccoli OR kohlrabi
  • Kale
  • Chard
  • Potatoes
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