Thodoris and Junichi, our brave and wonderful first WWOOFers, working with Cara to harvest head lettuce before the rising sun can sap its delicious fresh snap.
Well, it feels like summer. Despite a frustrating frost advisory that had Cara and me covering all of our sensitive head lettuce and salad with remay (the veggie version of pulling an extra blanket from the closet), temperatures have finally swung back into the warm zone here at Quincy Farm. While the very dry weeks have had an unfortunate impact on the germination of some of our direct seeded crops, the tranplanted stuff is looking GREAT. Though we're later than we wish on tomatoes and peppers, our little zucchinis and summer squashes are already zucch'ing and squishing! A true sign of summer.
We're also just finishing up our first week of hosting WWOOFers. WWOOF is an organization that pairs workers with host farms; we farmers offer room, board, and the opportunity for some interesting work on a farm in exchange for a half day's work. In the best cases, it's really a win/win situation, and I think Jun and Thodoris would agree it worked out pretty well. With their help we harvested great products for our first market, got on top of some hoeing, and transplanted the bejeezus out of some lettuce, broccoli, peppers, eggplants, and more. I've heard some farmers complain about jealously seeing their WWOOF volunteer workers lounging around in the afternoon while the farmers toil in the fields, but I quite enjoyed seeing these guys relaxing... It made me grateful to have such hard-working help, and hopeful that one day I, too, could sit on the porch and play guitar for the dog. I will admit, though, that I WAS jealous that Junichi took the dog swimming at our neighbor's "beach"... But only a little.
The joys of working half days.
WWOOFers aside, it's amazing to me to watch our over wintered cover crops really come into their own. It's sort of a funny thing, but in some ways it's almost like the income from the veggies enables us to grow cover crops, rather than the cover crops enabling us to successfully grow veggies. I mean, I love a BLT with a juicy flavorful farm tomato, but there's something so deeply satisfying about a crop grown just to strengthen the soil and fields... It's sort of like the BLT--it's great, but there's something inexplicable about the smell of healthy growing tomato PLANTS that you simply can't get elsewhere. Maybe it's just me.
Cara, ears-deep in rye and vetch. The rye builds the soil while the legume hairy vetch grabs nitrogen from the atmosphere for the following crop. Soon our chest-high field of mixed red and yellow clover will flower, too!
We've also made some rushed headway on a few projects--a great neighbor helped us spread some shale to fill in muddy spots in our farm road, and I gave myself a crash course in oxy acetyl welding to fix the huge hole in our van... That actually went alright, despite a brief scare when I learned an obvious, if uncommon, lesson: if you've previously used 4x4s to shore up your floor, keep it in mind before firing up a gas torch and welding said floor, or you'll have a campfire in your market van! But all's well that ends well, right?
The view from the tractor as our friend Rob deftly unloads a dump trailer of shale. We had a bit of a SNAFU with a blown hydraulic line crippling the dump trailer's dumper, but careful use of the backhoe saved the day.
Other than that, things go as planned. It's summer.
Last night Cara and I came inside at 8pm, after I'd gotten up at 5 to start an irrigation pump, put in a couple hours digging a trench for a drain line before breakfast, then generally burned the wick at three ends all day, knowing I had to get up at a luxurious 4am the next morning (to commute 200 miles to work a 12 hour day laying cable in New York City?!). We came in at 8pm, an unusual hour before dark, and Jun asked, "You're coming in early?"