Thursday, June 2, 2011

oh. hi!

Well, I officially failed at blogging about my farm summer last year. It was hot. It was full of magical produce. It was full of inside jokes with my fellow interns. Overall, it was great.

After a few stints on the Arctic Sunrise, hanging another banner, going through a yoga teacher training, and working in a couple of restaurants, I've somehow landed on another farm. The farming community in this town is so damn appealing. I can't deny it.

Chance/luck/fate/whathaveyou led me to meeting a lovely woman at a fine Carrboro establishment one night, who then put my in touch with her multi-talented roommate who happened to be leaving her job as garden manager. A few emails and volunteer work days later, it looked like I would be taking over for her at Spence's Farm as the new garden manager.

In addition to taking care of about 3/4 acre of crops and teaching kids all about it, I also have to help out with the chickens, goats, and rabbits. I've never dealt with farm animals before, so this is all new to me. I now have a decent understanding of how to feed and water all of the animals, as well as collect the hen's eggs. Last week, I learned how to trim the goat's hooves, which is slightly terrifying. Fortunately, I am being well-trained to do all of these things and don't have to learn from youtube videos like the manager before me. In case you were wondering though, this is how you trim goat hooves:

Sunday, June 6, 2010

beets beets, the magical root!

A lot of new crops have appeared since I last updated this blog. The strawberries have finally finished (hooray!) and we have a variety of summer crops popping up. My newest favorite crop is the beets. They're easy to harvest and delicious, although kind of a pain to clean and prepare for the customers.

I've been doing more and more with the flowers lately too. I resisted it at first, but they're so pretty and it's actually a lot of fun to harvest them. I scoff at the flowers in grocery stores now (ha!), as they seem so bland and boring compared to what we have. If you've never seen or experienced floxgloves, zinnias, hydrangea, or goosenecks, you're missing out. I've got photos of some of them and will try to remember and take more later.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

the farmer on the dell

Okay, okay. I know I've been slacking on this whole "blog posting" thing lately. I've been busy! But, I'll try and be better about it - at least for a little while.

One of the reasons I haven't updated in so long is because I was out of town and off the farm for a week and a half. I found myself in the glorious states of Oklahoma and Texas for some Greenpeace-related reasons.

Long story short, I ended up rappelling down the front of a building, which happened to be the Dell headquarters, and unfurling a rather large banner. Dell has lots of lame toxic chemicals in their products and they've promised to phase them out - which they haven't done. Michael Dell, the CEO, just so happened to be in the building when we hung the banner. Yeah! I'm the silly person on the right side of the photo. Hi ho the dairy oh!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Farm life and feminism

Pitchforks, dirt, weed-whackers, bugs, speed, gravel, Schlitz, tractors.

Shade, flowers, craft time, herbs, tea, conversation, bouquets, care.

Currently on the farm, I am the only full-time female intern (although this will change in just a few days). The other women on the farm are the wife of the farmer and a part-time intern who focuses primarily on the flowers. The majority of the work that has needed to be done thus far on the farm as been super labor intensive - planting, harvesting, mulching, weeding, repeat repeat repeat. It's generally me and the boys when these things are taking place and I feel fine about it. I pull my weight and can work just as fast as they can.

But, from time to time, the women of the farm pull me over to "their" side of things and have me work in the shaded, cooler flower garden. Lately, I've been helping to cut and arrange flowers in bouquets and even paint tin cans to put flowers in for sale at market. I came to work on a farm to learn how to grow vegetables, so part of me feels guilty when I partake in these other tasks. I mean, really - do I need to learn how to paint tin cans? Also, I feel like the guys on the farm secretly resent me when I leave them out in the sweltering field to go play with flowers in the cool kitchen.

Seriously though - when it's 95 degrees outside, I would much rather help arrange flowers than go plant leeks or set up trellises for tomatoes. And, I have driven the tractor, but I'd much rather use a wheelbarrow.

I guess it's okay to be one of the guys and a lady at the same time... right? Right.

End rambling train of thought.

Monday, May 3, 2010

It's official: I'm a farm hand

This is post-hand washing and post-shower scrubbing. I'm stained for the summer. And calloused. Hooray!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I'll bet you didn't know

...lots of the random information that I'm about to share with you.

1. Lots of people learn in elementary school that lady bugs (which are actually beetles, not bugs) are good because they eat aphids. But, did you know that lady bug larvae look like alligators?! Seriously, they're awesome and crawling all over our crops right now.

2. Harlequin bugs (Murgantia histrionica) are not our friends, as they like to eat cabbage, kale, collards, etc. - but they look pretty cool, and their eggs are even cooler. Check it out.

har·le·quin: a comic character in commedia dell'arte and the harlequinade, usually masked, dressed in multicolored, diamond-patterned tights, and carrying a wooden sword or magic wand.

los huevos del bug harlequin

3. There are a multitude of weeds out there that are not only edible, but more nutritional than most "conventional" greens. This evening, my salad consisted of some volunteer lettuce, violet leaves, and lamb's quarters. Yes, those pretty little purple (roses are red, violets are...?) flowers are a weed. I've pulled up more of them in the past three weeks than I'd like to remember. But, they're also pretty high in vitamin C. Lamb's quarters (Chenopodium album, for you science-folks) are a summer weed that are COVERING the farm right now (hooray for weeding... ugh), but have lots of vitamin A, C, iron, and even some protein.

go eat some lamb's quarters!

4. Picking strawberries suckssss. I am 100% over strawberries now. We're picking about 60 pounds every other day and it's back-breaking work. They're delicious and beautiful, but I'm over it.

5. The town that has become my new stomping ground (when not on the farm) is the coolest. This video proves and explains it:

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

It's spring, just in case you haven't noticed

Everyone seems to love spring. I think spring is pretty nice, but frankly, I've always been more of a summer person. This is continuing to provide true in my farm-world, as my impatience for new crops to be ready for harvest is growing. Why why why aren't peppers and onions and beans and squash ready for my consumption right now?! Oh right, it's just spring.

But! There is hope. This week, we transplanted all of our little eggplants and even gotten some of the tomatoes in the ground. Some of the crops are starting to look lovely and delicious (although anything besides kale, collards, or swiss chard sounds pretty fantastic right now - even lettuce).

a few of our little tomato plants in rows

I had a special treat today for dinner - asparagus from the garden. Now, I say "garden" rather than "farm" here because we only grow enough for ourselves to eat. I am 100% okay with not sharing our asparagus with the CSA members or farmer's market customers, as it is one of my favorites. Now, if you're one of those people who only thinks about that thing when it comes to asparagus, just read the wikipedia article and keep to yourself.

Tofu scramble with a side of asparagus! Everything seen here, minus the tofu and carrots, came from the farm (asparagus, swiss chard, garlic scapes, green onions). If you haven't tried asparagus fresh from the field, you've never tasted asparagus. Seriously.

Finally, a glimpse of some of the exciting things to come.

beautiful lettuces

more beautiful lettuces

...y mas lechuga bonita

Happy Spring!