Pooh Talks: Fall on the farm

That summer went by pretty quickly. A personal first for me: I didn’t know the stand was closing for the season until 10 days before it happened. Usually I have it on my calendar by Labor Day and start praying for a frost alternately to break up  the grind. This year has just gone by so quickly and it is not just the old guy in the room, all the help is kind of in shock. Is it really the middle of October already??

The weather contributed to the illusion. The first half of September was brutally hot, with temperatures that made us think that mid July had returned with a vengeance. The drought returned and the static level of the Connecticut River was as low as I have ever seen it in my lifetime here. I had been vigilant to keep the fungicides on the fall vines and tomatoes so we picked cucumbers up until frost and kept the blights off the tomatoes and cherry tomatoes, so things remained healthy. We rather out did ourselves, but the warm late fall has certainly helped.

So the leaves are changing and dropping, looks like we will loose our leaves quickly and foliage might be a bit muted this year. We are reminded that even though our work days are comfortable, they are getting dramatically shorter and soon things could get cold. Our ancient potato harvester (digger) has been a bit uncooperative, so there are still  many hundreds of bushels still in the ground, and our carrots, beets and turnips are still out there as well. So we have our hands full, and while the farmstand crew will embark on cleaning and buttoning up the farmstand and gardens, the fall CSA will soon start, and the field crew will marshall on even after our Jamaican friends heads back to the warmth of the Caribbean.  I suspect that part of the reason the time has gone by so quickly this year is that our field crew has been on a dead run all summer and short personnel. We hired five local folks for the field crew over the winter to start in early May. Not one of them showed up for the first day of work and only two individuals out of the five actually called us to tell us. So essentially the field crew operated at 66% capacity for the whole summer. That is like having one out of three employees sick every day of the summer. So lots of things didn’t get done. Other things got done, but not done particularly well. Despite that, there were more positives than negatives. The crew that was here was dependable, amiable and marshaled on with a sense of humor. That is worth everything. All our Jamaican workers are 59 or over, but meshed well with younger local employees. We have much to be pleased about.

Our new barn in which we wash, pack and store produce has worked out very well, although Mike has lamented that we didn’t build it twice the size. The saving in terms of human ergonomics has been more than we could of hoped for, and the facility will also propel us towards compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

The pictures below are of the field tomatoes, cover crops and fall cleanup. I guess you have to be a farmer to be interested in the muted greens, blue greens, browns and grays of fall to think of these as pretty pictures. I like to think of it as a refined eye for the subtler colors of fall….who needs red maples when you can feast your eyes on this?