Farm update: October 18

And in the space of a few days, our season went from lush abundance to a frozen wasteland. Such is the nature of growing food at over six thousand feet in a high-plains desert.

Our first hard frost arrived this past week, and with it a few light dustings of early snow. Up on the mesa we were thrilled to see a solid fifteen inches show up on the Sno-Tel! All of our irrigation water, of course, comes directly from the mesa, so we are always in favor of as much winter moisture as possible to boost next year’s irrigation allotment.

Our sunroom looks like an unusual farmers’ market!

Temperatures dropped into the high 20s overnight, which is far too cold for summer crops like tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers. (Don’t worry, the kale is fine. The kale is always fine.) Prior to the freeze we harvested everything we could – nearly four hundred pounds on Monday alone; now comes the task of preserving all of that food to enjoy through winter and spring. The cruel irony, of course, is that once the storm passed we quickly returned to bright bluebird skies and comfortable daytime temperatures in the mid-60s, which likely means we would have gotten at least another two or three weeks in the growing season. But when a hard freeze announces that you’re done, then you’re done – and there’s not much arguing.

One of our gated pipes with the season’s final run.

Our irrigation season runs through the end of October, but we balanced our account this year to fortuitously end just before the cold snap arrived. Running irrigation later in the season is already a chilly task; combine that with a hard freeze and it can be downright miserable. We were very pleased with how we managed our irrigation in a drought year and though of course we hope for higher water shares next year, we know that with smart planning we can make even a low allotment work for our land. It’s incredible how much we’ve learned in only three short years here.

A friend’s trial orchard, where new apple varieties are tested.

Prior to the hard freeze we’d picked nearly two hundred pounds of local apples for winter storage. One box has already been transformed into applesauce; the remainder will stay reasonably fresh in one of our insulated but unheated sheds. This delicious fruit will provide snacks all throughout the winter; I’ll also bake with the apples as well as dehydrate a few pounds for adding to granola. As always, the bounty of incredible local fruit is one of the greatest benefits of living where we do.

Adelaide, Paris, Paihia and Fiji contemplating the change in seasons.

Although the damp, freezing weather makes the corral a bit of a sloppy mess, the animals are entirely unfazed by the cooler weather. They’ve put on quite a bit of fleece since their shearing, so they’re ready for winter, too.

And with that, we’re off to sort produce for canning. Wishing you a calm and peaceful week, friends.

7 thoughts on “Farm update: October 18

  1. Hello Elizabeth,
    You always have such an interesting and informative article about your life at Quiet Farm. Thank you as it is always a joy to read as we cityfolks would say about life on the farm. Your hard work always shows through in your photos of the veggies and livestock you raise.

    We missed you at the Farmer’s Market this year but still have one more, maybe 2 if the weather holds out. Our little store is doing well with help from many locals and visitors to our small town. Applefest was probably the craziest day in my business career, thank goodness my daughter and grandson who came from Denver area to help.

    Thanks again for your articles, they are awesome.


  2. Wow, 15 inches already? That is great. Your harvest looks amazing and hope you are both proud of what you have learned and accomplished since starting your farm. We were so pleased to see it this fall. We are still enjoying our apples daily!


    • Hello! I do dry the serranos and cayennes – they’re simply spread on a tray in my sunroom, and they dry perfectly there. I snip them into tiny pieces with kitchen shears, and my husband sprinkles them on just about everything! Once they’re dry, I also grind them into chile powder – but do this outside, so the fine powder doesn’t get everywhere in the kitchen. They can be used for hot sauce, too. And don’t forget to save some seeds for next year’s garden. We had a terrific crop this year.


  3. Pingback: Farm update: November 22 | Finding Quiet Farm

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