Farm update: January 25

Hello there, and how are things in your world? We’re still in the slower season here at Quiet Farm, but we’re starting to think about spring planting and other farm tasks on our to-do list. The biggest issue on our minds right now is definitely water, or lack thereof – it’s been far too warm and dry this winter, with very little snow. We need about twenty feet of snowpack on the Grand Mesa in order to have decent irrigation run-off in spring and summer, and right now we have two feet – or ten percent of what we need. We are hoping for an exceptionally wet spring, but to be honest it’s looking as though our “extraordinary drought conditions” will persist, which likely means more wildfires, too. With that concern front and center, we’re always thinking of ways we can use the water we do have more efficiently.

We love our local library’s seed bank!

We are huge fans of the Delta County Library system, which does yeoman’s work on a painfully limited budget. In years past we’ve attended “seed-sorting parties” in late winter to help the library prepare its extensive seed bank for the spring growing season. Obviously we cannot gather in person at the moment, so the library managed a perfect pivot and created take-home kits for volunteers. Each kit contained donated seeds (we received bolita beans, marigolds and pink hollyhock) and we sorted and packaged the seeds into individual labeled envelopes. Local gardeners are encouraged to “check out” seeds in spring, grow out the crop, then collect and return seeds to the library in autumn to share with other gardeners. The seed library has been going strong in Delta County since 2013; this program not only encourages seed-saving, but also provides an incredible wealth of locally-adapted seeds and helps build our foodshed’s sovereignty. A task like this is well worth our time.

Most of this delicious meal is proudly homemade and homegrown.

Speaking of beans, a few weeks ago we enjoyed our New Year’s Day supper of traditional good luck foods, which typically include pork, black-eyed peas and greens of some type. Instead of black-eyed peas, we cooked our own homegrown ‘Peregion’ beans from last year for the first time – and they were spectacular. Rich, creamy and flavorful, they were perfect with spicy sausage and chilies. We are definitely expanding our dry bean production this year; eventually I’d love to launch a Colorado bean club, modeled after this wonderful company. Let us know, readers: would you join a bean club to receive semi-regular shipments of interesting dried beans, plus recipes and stories? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Rosemary starts in the sunroom.

I love rosemary, but it’s a bit finicky and I have always struggled to grow it, especially through the winter (it cannot overwinter outside in Colorado). Late last fall I purchased a big rosemary plant from a local farm friend up in Boulder County; it’s sitting comfortably in our dry, cool sunroom. I snipped off stalks, dipped each in rooting hormone, and replanted into smaller pots. The ten I started seem to be doing well, which is a delight as I’d love to offer hardier plant starts, like rosemary and lavender, at our spring plant sale. I only have to prevent myself from killing with kindness, i.e. overwatering. Rosemary is a sturdy Mediterranean shrub, and doesn’t need nearly as much water as I seem to think it does.

A fascinating detail shot of one of our water heater’s thermostats.

Things break. That’s just simple fact. As longtime readers of Finding Quiet Farm know, N and I are intent on repairing everything we can ourselves, usually with welcome assistance from the University of YouTube. Two recent achievements have given us even more confidence in our repair skills: we successfully fixed both our water heater (problem: the water turned dangerously scalding hot, then the heater shut off to prevent overload) and our dishwasher (problem: the machine turned on, but didn’t do its one job, which is to wash dishes). Neither of these successes came easily, and there was quite a lot of trial-and-error on each with various parts shipped back and forth, but ultimately both appliances are back in good working order. And every time we manage to do something ourselves, we gain even more faith in our ability to do it again. Self-sufficiency breeds self-sufficiency – plus we saved hundreds if not thousands of dollars by not hiring repair technicians or immediately buying new appliances. Next up: replacing the snap disc on our gas fireplace.

No more 1850s farming for us!

And last but certainly not least, we are thrilled to announce that we can finally call ourselves real farmers – because we are now the proud owners of a secondhand tractor. We are so excited to use this tidy, compact machine for all manner of tasks around the farm this year, including marking our pastures for better irrigation, moving soil and compost and manure, plowing rows to expand our food crops, and possibly relocating a rock or two. As our farming mentor said recently, “Buying a tractor was the best farm decision I ever made. I only wish I’d done it sooner.” We’re looking forward to a productive season and hoping for lots of snow over the coming weeks.

Stay safe and healthy out there, dear friends, and thanks as always for reading.

9 thoughts on “Farm update: January 25

  1. Yes to a bean club! I would love that, as the pandemic was the catalyst for me to switch to using dry beans almost always. I rarely buy canned anymore and love cooking the beans in my slow cooker. So easy!

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    • Thanks, Sara! So glad to hear that you’ve discovered the magical land of dry beans. I think they taste lots better and so many more varieties are available dry rather than canned, too!

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  2. Good morning Chef Elizabeth.

    How are YOU!

    I love your blog. I’m excited about your ranch and feel like I’m living vicariously through your experience as a rancher.

    I’d love to join your bean club.

    And I am so excited to tell you that because of your advice and thoughtful conversation several years ago, I did attend Nutrition Therapy Institute and graduated a couple of years ago. I am now a practicing board certified holistic nutritionist and certified natural food chef. It’s been a life-altering experience and I feel so blessed!

    So thank you, thank you very much!

    Cheers to ranching, cooking and good health!

    Alison

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  3. Hello Elizabeth! A fresh Bean club sounds wonderful! We tried some Bob’s Red Mill Adzuki beans for
    the first time and they were quite tasty. My only problem would be we are moving to MO in about 2 years. Any idea if you’ll be mailing bean packages? Asking for the future. 😉

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    • Hi Susan! Thanks for your comment. If we do launch the bean club we’ll likely start small and local here, but yes, shipping would be part of the long-term expansion plan! Excited to hear about your move – you can grow A LOT of food in that lovely rich Midwestern soil! And you might even get rain!

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  4. Pingback: Farm update: March 1 | Finding Quiet Farm

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