The comment I get often when saying that I farm organically (we are transitioning to certified organic) goes something like this, “it’s amazing they can charge so much more for putting less into it.” Sometimes I try to correct this misconception sometimes I just shrug and walk away. What most people don’t see is the hours of work and love that go into wanting to do something the healthiest way possible. We are connected to our land, and our animals and unfortunately the animals that find us. We know that we can’t dissect the natural world and take some parts out to make our life easier though sometimes we really wish we could.
This year our plague has been grasshoppers. Allow me to set the scene. We have 21 tillable acres. Before we purchased our farm they were in corn and soybeans. Wanting to build up soil quality and not contribute to erosion we planted the majority of our field in a clover and grass mix leaving just 3 acres for vegetable and fruit production.
Last year we never harvested these grasses mostly because we didn’t have the equipment to do it ourselves or the funds to pay someone. But after having to buy hay for our goats we decided we needed to try. So we arranged with a local farmer to harvest for us and we would split the hay. So we will get enough hay for our goats and our field will be maintained. What we were not counting on is the countless number of grasshoppers living in our hay field that have now moved to our vegetables.
When Proeun was telling me about the problem and asking me to write about it I said I would try to get some pictures. I thought they would be elusive. Obviously they are not, and they are not afraid of me either even when I point a big camera at them. So we are weeding like mad, trying to keep the excessive vegetation down so hopefully they will move on, we do have woods you could have boys.
Proeun showing me some of the damage. Not only do they eat the plant but the stress causes them to grow slower. Our kale is struggling and after only giving it once will need a break to recover.
Our chard trying to recover. We haven’t even been able to use it once.
Oh well I guess they have to eat to. I just wish it wasn’t at our place. Laura Ingall’s writes in her books about great clouds of them that devour everything in their path, at least it is not that bad.
The comment that I get most often is “wow you are busy!” Often this comment comes with a tinge of pity, like why would you have so many children? Why would you farm? Why would you raise animals? Why would you cook from scratch, sew, knit, preserve your own food, etc, etc. But I am finding there is a satisfaction that comes from living a full, blessed life and it is nourishing in a way I never would have thought.
This week started a week ago when we defrosted our freezer. Then there was a trip to Ferndale Market to stock up on ground turkey for the winter. Then I picked up my 1/4 beef from a local meat processor. Then our annual large order of blueberries was in, so add that to the freezer. And yes I am still farming, and raising children but I also want to make sure we have good food. In addition to all the other things I do I think good food is one of the most important. It is literally a building block to health and hence life.
So I do try to cook and preserve as much as possible. But working that in a full life can be really hard. Over the years I have found some things that make it easier, for example don’t preserve the stuff your family won’t eat and focus on the things they really like. So here’s my wish list.
36 pints blueberries frozen–done
20 quarts strawberries–not quite but season is over.
50 pints salsa–I don’t can tomatoes because it is easy to find good quality canned tomatoes but a good salsa-pricelss!
50 quarts freezer tomato sauce–ditto on the above comment but we’ll see if I have room in the freezer
10 quarts sauerkraut
20 quarts nectarines frozen for smoothies
So yah it is pretty pared down. Each year I like to try some new things I am thinking I might make some dilly beans or try freezing some zucchini, we’ll see.
If you need help planning your pantry here is a post I found really helpful. Happy living.
I hope all of you had a great 4th. As part of our goals to live a healthier life I am realizing how important it is to take time to rest, relax and celebrate. So even though our CSA deliveries have just started the work began pretty heavily back in March so we are actually about mid-way through our heavy work season. So for the 4th we decided it was time to celebrate.
We had family and friends over for a 4th of July cookout, then on the 5th we headed up North to some of our favorite spots. I have always loved Duluth and the North Shore and last year I was so focused on work we didn’t take time to go. But this year we made it a priority.
A smoked fish and cheese curd picnic at our favorite beach just a little north of Two Harbors. Yes there are some extra children in the picture family and friends came with us.
Gooseberry Falls, another family favorite.
The first time we went to the falls we came in our normal street clothes and just expected a nice hike. Little did we know that Gooseberry is one of the few places I know to get up close and personal with a waterfall. All these people were swimming and splashing in the water and we felt pretty out of place. Since then we have come planning on joining them. Yes this hike involves swimsuits and towels now.
Two on Nature’s water slide.
Avril with some of our family and friends enjoying the spray.
And how did Pray like his first trip to Gooseberry. As you can see it was just like home.