“This pandemic feels like a relay race and if that means that every once in a while, you need to break down and freak out, that’s fine. We can carry the baton for each other while we lose it, gather strength, and then carry on. The world seems out of control, but we can control our kitchens and the good things that come out of them. That’s something.”
-Steve Sando, Rancho Gordo
A daily harvest last week.
It’s reaching that point in the season when all of our hard work starts to pay off in abundance. Harvests now happen daily, rather than weekly or every few days, and a small bucket is required. Although the stars of summer – tomatoes and peppers – haven’t really come on yet, we’re swimming in greens, carrots, beets, onions, zucchini, fennel, kale and fresh herbs. It’s not going to be a great year for either winter squash or sweet peppers, much to our disappointment, and we fear that the squirrels have pre-harvested many of our potatoes. But we’re looking forward to cucumbers and fresh beans along with a (hopefully strong) tomato crop.
Left, from our massive Brahma hen, the queen of the roost; right, from one of our new Rhode Island Reds.
Some of our now-grown chicks have started laying, which is exciting. Most hens start laying at between eighteen and twenty-two weeks of age; ours are about twenty-one weeks so they’re right on schedule. When hens first start laying their eggs tend to be quite small; the size increases as the hen ages. Egg size is also determined somewhat by breed; smaller breeds lay smaller eggs. Like humans, hens are born with all the eggs they’ll ever produce. Once we’re up to full production we expect between five and nine eggs per day, depending on the season; between baking and quiches and salads and fried eggs on sourdough, we never have trouble using up eggs.
The before-and-after of N’s shadowbox art piece.
We have an incredible arts center in our tiny town, and earlier this spring they developed a unique fundraiser: an upcycled art show. Volunteers collected all sorts of interesting donations from area residents and businesses, including old chairs and tables, vintage housewares, building materials, tree trunks, clothing and much more. Participants were invited to choose a piece for repurposing; the artworks would then be sold at a community festival, with proceeds going to the arts center. N selected an old wooden shadowbox and filled it with gorgeous photos of our area, including peaches, aspens and a landscape of Fruitgrowers’ Reservoir.
The before-and-after of the beaded dress I chose.
I selected a sparkly sequined dress and recreated it into this wall hanging. Like so many of my sewing projects, this turned out to be much more challenging than I had anticipated. The dress fabric was unbelievably tricky to work with; I redesigned the project more than once and only just finished before the deadline. But we were so proud to participate in an innovative fundraiser benefiting our community, and it was amazing to see all of the incredible trash-into-treasure creations made by other local artists. (In other sewing news, we found a neglected non-working Singer 603e at a garage sale this weekend and snapped it up for $10! We cleaned it, oiled it and repaired it and now I have a back-up machine for my beloved Singer 600. The 603e was released in 1963, the last Singer with metal gears; they’re durable workhorses, made in the U.S. and much better than today’s cheap, disposable plastic sewing machines.)
One of the most valuable crops we grow.
All of our garlic was harvested a few weeks ago; it’s been curing on a wire shelf in the tractor shed. We got about seventy decent heads this season, which is good but never enough. As I do each year, I’ll select the largest cloves for replanting and get those in the ground in mid-October. Each year I try to double the amount of garlic we plant – we’ve never once grown enough garlic for our needs, since it goes into just about every single thing I cook. Garlic adapts to its growing environment more than many other crops, so each year we replant our own we’re building a stronger varietal unique to Quiet Farm.
How are you doing out there, friends? We know that we are in the midst of impossibly challenging times. We know that many are agonizing over difficult school-related decisions. We know that many are struggling, for a variety of reasons. We know that we don’t have control over much right now, but we do have control over what we cook and how we choose to eat. Please, cook something delicious and nourishing for yourself and for others this week. Stay healthy and well.