On the Farm- September 7th
Each year the farm systems become more fine tuned. The first season was marked by a lot of well educated guesses and cobbled together systems. My living room was my greenhouse- plastic lined the walls and floor, lights were rigged to the ceiling, and my space was filled with plants. Now, fans and louvers control the temperature in the greenhouse and plants germinate and grow reliably- there is enough warm space in the spring without moving plants out onto the porch in the day.
For over a year, I would drag my cart down into the creek ditch and back up and out, several times a day- when water was running, when the cart was laden with heavy crops. Now my cart glides back and forth over the culvert, the truck passes easily into the field. Simple changes, improvements, or tools, can make a big difference in the ease and flow of work. I can pound in many more stakes with the post driver I know own then with a sledge hammer.
Today I hauled the butternut squash out of the field- to be cured in the heat of the greenhouse. I backed my truck up to piles of the dense winter squash, filled lugs and lifted them into the vehicle. A week ago, I hauled the Delacata and Acorn squash- but the truck was spending some time at the mechanic’s. I loaded up bins, and walked them to the cart, careful not to load the cart beyond my strength and the strength of the tires. I took many trips, feeling first a pleasant tug on my muscles, then sweat and strain as the day went on. I felt the defense in my back and legs and shoulders today, the ease of using the truck. It takes me back to my first winter squash harvest. My sister and I loaded winter squash into the truck, carrying heavy bins together and driving them across the road to cure in the hot stable attic, since the greenhouse was still a distant dream. When we reached the stable we discovered a problem- we could only fit up the stairs single file and we couldn’t carry the laden bins alone without injuring ourselves. In typical first year farming fashion, we came up with a low-tech solution.
We went across the road and each put on a flowing skirt over our pants. We took squash out of the bins, and filled our skirts, and in this way marched up and down the stairs, leaving behind organized racks of squash to develop their flavor and rind. I am glad for the skirt solution and the memory of it. But I am also glad to have moved beyond it to a curing processes that doesn’t involve stairs!