Winter Farm Update & 2018 CSA Info

. . . Jan 24, 2018 | posted by Josephine
Winter Farm Update & 2018 CSA Info

2018 CSA Registration is Now Open

Happy New Year!  We are now accepting CSA registrations for 2018.  We will again be offering weekly boxes of local, Certified Naturally Grown vegetables in two different sizes from mid-April to mid-November.  We will NOT be offering broiler chicken shares this year, and there are some changes to our Wednesday CSA pick-up locations (please see the website for more information).  We look forward to being your family farmers in 2018!

For information on our 2018 CSA and to access the registration form CLICK HERE.

Winter Farm Update

 Snow falling in our pasture early Jan   Now that we are a month past the solstice, the days are already getting noticeably longer in the evening.  We have been trying to keep warm as 2018 gets off to an exceptionally cold start.  The goats, chickens and dogs are fine in the cold as long as they have plenty to eat and shelter from the wind.  It just takes a little more effort on my part to keep their water from freezing.  We still have crops in the field but with so many nights in the single digits everything has frozen solid and the garden season is officially over.  I hope the cold has helped kill some of our overwintering insect pests, too.   
    Believe it or not, planting for spring is already underway in the greenhouse.  The first round of cabbage, kohlrabi, beets, lettuce, and bok choy have been planted and are just now peaking through the soil.
    Now that he is not needed out in the field every day, Randy has been enjoying spending more time with Cooper, who at nine-months old is crawling all around the house and playing tug-o-war with the dog.  Cooper is so excited about his new skill he even tries to crawl in his sleep.  He is standing with support and is just starting to cruise around.   
Cooper enjoying some beet soup    When its not too cold, Cooper has been helping me with daily chores, too.  We bring food and water to the chickens, goats and dogs, and collect eggs in the evening.  Maggie and Winston, our livestock guardian dogs, are by far his favorite animals on the farm, eliciting squeals of excitement and alarming wheezy gasps.  As no parent on the planet will be surprised to hear, I cannot seem to find time to truly focus on anything, and even simple tasks can take multiple days to complete.  Still, I am grateful every day for the opportunity to spend this time with my son and raise him in this environment.  Even if it means seriously redefining my expectations of what gets done in a day. 
    It is nice to have a break from field work and the relentless hustle of CSA season to reflect and re calibrate.  This includes the practical reflections of what varieties of heirloom tomato performed well enough and whether we had the right number of row feet of pickling cucumbers in each succession, for example, but also reflecting on our way of life and our long term goals for our family and the land.  How do we measure up, now that we are seven years in?  Are we where we thought we would be?  Are we where we want to be?  Like the Roman god Janus, we endeavor to look both ahead and behind as the earth prepares to grant us a new beginning in the coming spring.   A new chance, every year.  What could possibly be better than that?

Fall Farm Party Postponed to Oct 29th

. . . Oct 22, 2017 | posted by Josephine
Fall Farm Party Postponed to Oct 29th

Sunday Oct 29 4pm to 8pm
As we near the end of our sixth year at Tubby Creek Farm it is time to celebrate, relax and spend time with family and friends.

We will be cooking up some of our chicken and pork. You bring sides and dessert (southpaws bring dessert). Dinner will be very casual and available as sides show up.

-We will have a jug of tea, adult beverages are welcome but BYOB.
-Dogs welcome but MUST stay on leash at all times. Campers welcome but please let us know.
-Please RSVP by emailing Randy
-This is a shine or rain event

Please RSVP email randy so we have idea how much meat to cook.

Greens, Greens and More Greens!

. . . May 14, 2017 | posted by Josephine
Red Russian kale in the chill tank

Two of the mustards we grow,a red and a green harvested and in cratesThis week there are a lot of green and leafy things in the shares.  Now is the time to enjoy lots of fresh, crisp salads.  I know that the season for greens can seem to stretch on and on.  Once lettuce falls to the heat, it wont be back until October.  The next couple weeks will likely include lots more leafy things!  But soon we will also have onions, new potatoes and carrots to add to the shares.  Cabbage wont be far behind, either.  After all, being part of a CSA is all about eating locally, and that is all about eating what is in season when it is in season.  We are accustomed to the convenience of the grocery store where the produce section represents every season in any latitude.  Basing your weekly menu on what is coming out of the field at any given time of year can be a big adjustment to our pallets.  But we find the quality of seasonal produce makes it well worth the wait. 

This week is a busy one for getting ready for planting.  We have 2,000 sweet potato slips to go in the ground.  For the past two weeks, rain has kept us from preparing beds for the sweet potatoes, but finally it has been dry enough to prepare the soil, shape beds, lay irrigation, and cover the beds with biodegradable black plastic mulch.  Sweet potatoes are typically planted from vine cuttings called slips.  In addition, we have tomatoes and eggplant in the greenhouse waiting to get transplanted, and it is time to seed the okra.

Baby Cooper being help by Randy with Josephine and Randy's mom ConnieMr Cooper hangin with his Grammy CSome folks were disappointed that last week’s newsletter did not include an update on baby Cooper.   Now five weeks old, Cooper is eating well and growing like a weed.  He loves to be outdoors and enjoys hanging out in the wash-pack shed while the crew is preparing your CSA shares. 

Kohlrabi is closely related to cabbage.  Its firm flesh is sweet, crisp and mild.  At first glance you may think that it is a root vegetable but in fact it is a bulbous stem.  This is one of the only vegetables, along with beets, that must be peeled, as the skin is very fibrous.  Kohlrabi is delicious raw.   I can often be caught peeling and eating one like an apple when I need a snack out in the field.  It is also excellent cooked and can be roasted, sauteed or steamed.  Some folks like to mash it like potatoes (or with potatoes) and it is also wonderful in soup.

Patrick driving Rosie our 1949 Farmall CubHello fellow Tubby Creek fans! Allow me to introduce myself (many months late, but such is often the fate of administrative matters on a working farm). My name is Patrick; I am Josephine's cousin. I moved here back in November to learn what it's like to live off the land, to live on the land – to live with the land. I've always loved nature, and I believe being outdoors is important, and so is eating good food and learning about good food and doing physical work and being close to the earth and treading softly upon her. So this opportunity, to be part of a small working farm for a year or so, is just about perfect. I really cannot thank Jo and Randy enough. And of course I hope to be of service what with an expanding family, an expanding CSA, with life and growth in general. So I'll be here, learning about planting and cultivating and harvesting, just being part of the amazing project that is feeding hundreds of people with little more than good earth and hard work. Phenomenal stuff.

    A little bit about me: I am an avid (more than avid, really) cyclist. I have traveled approximately 30 000 miles by bicycle, including a trip from the top of Alaska to the bottom of South America. I speak Spanish, would love to learn French, and basically enjoy new experiences to no end. When I'm not cycling I like to work with food. Well here on the farm I get to experience the entire life cycle of food, from soil and seed to plant and then plate and back to soil again. It is truly a beautiful thing. Richly rewarding, satisfying, and delicious.

    I'm looking forward to a great year here on Tubby Creek Farm!

The Baby is Here, Farm Update and More!

. . . Apr 14, 2017 | posted by Josephine
Cooper asleep, one of the things he can be good at, at times

Cooper Patrick Alexander rapped in a white blanket with frogs, snails, bugs and other critters onitOn Thursday, April 6th at 12:54 in the morning we welcomed our baby earthside.  Our baby boy weighed 8 lbs and 5 ounces at birth and was 21 inches long from his adorably kissable head to his long monkey toes.  His name is Cooper Patrick Alexander and now just days old he is already running the show.  Many thanks to everyone who has showered us with gifts and food and support and help.  We are so grateful for our community of support.  Our “village” is already played a huge part in raising this child. 

Even with a newborn baby on the scene, farm work must go on.  May and the beginning of the CSA season is fast approaching.  Even though the start of the CSA is still a few weeks away, Patrick will be at the Farmers Market throughout April selling our earliest produce, raw honey, pasture raised eggs, and goat meat.  Spring crops are growing by leaps and bounds as the days continue to get longer and the weather warmer. 

Sarah Laves and Patrick Gridley planting lettuce with row cover onthe leftThis year we succeeded in covering nearly all our spring crops in floating row cover to protect them from the dry and roaring south winds of March that turn our soil into concrete.  The row cover also keeps the soil soft, friable and moist.  The result is that the spring garden is wrapped up like a present.  We have to peek under all the wrappers to see how our plants are growing and check for pest damage or disease problems.  The fire ants also like it under the row cover, but I guess we just have to live with that. 

Josephine holding up a hail stone that is alomst baseball sizeMarch was in like a lion and out like a lion.  No gentle lambs here.  We were lucky enough to get two hail storms last month.  While the first one left us without any damage, the second was another story.  It swiss-cheesed all our floating row cover, punched zillions of hole in the silage tarps we use to cover the beds, and peppered the high tunnel plastic which will need to be replaced before winter.  The hail tore up some leafy greens and even squashed whole plants where it made a direct hit.  Still, it could have been much worse.  Where the hail was the worst, just a mile or so away, it was breaking car windows!   

Sevenbeds finished and mulched with bio plastic just before darkWe farm at the mercy of the weather and the rain has been relentless all winter and spring.  The field finally dried out enough for some marathon tractor work over the weekend and all day Monday.  The team finished just as darkness was falling Monday night and ahead of Tuesday’s rain.  Now we can start planting all our “summer season” crops.  Kudos to Randy for pulling out all the stops to get all that work done while battling new-dad fatigue!

February 2017 Kick Off

. . . Feb 06, 2017 | posted by Josephine

Pulling the plastic over our new greenhouseWhile the occasional frosty night reminds us that it is still winter, we are itching for spring.  Good thing spring isn’t quite here yet as we still have a little time to make headway on our Winter Projects list.  Last week on a warm and windless day, we stretched the plastic on the new greenhouse.  It was surprisingly easy, no doubt because Randy and Patrick did such a thorough and professional job assembling the structure.  We still have to put on the roll-up doors and side (for cooling and ventilation), but for now the greenhouse is functional and full of tiny vegetable seedlings and freshly planted seed trays. 

Out in the new orchard, we have planted 38 more blueberry bushes and nearly 150 38 blueberries and 146 blackberries just plantedblackberry canes.  The blackberries will produce a small amount of fruit in 2018, but we’ll have to wait until 2019 or 2020 for the new bushes to produce a blueberry crop.  A thousand asparagus crowns have been ordered and are next on the list for planting.  Eventually we will be planting something that will be ready this year!  Onions are the first crop to go into the ground in late February.

What do all these winter time activities have in common?  They are expensive!  The list of preseason expenses can be daunting.   Each year we buy organic fertilizer, irrigation supplies, mulch, and wax boxes before the season begins.  This year we need a new air conditioner for the cold room, a disk harrow (we’ve been borrowing a friend’s for the past year!) and an enclosed trailer so that we can bring more produce to market.  All this on top of our regular monthly expenses at a time of the year when we are not harvesting and selling any produce.  That’s one reason why the CSA is so important to our business.  All the CSA deposits, and especially those members who pay for their share up front, allow us to get what we need to get the growing season started.  A big thanks to all our 2017 CSA members.  What would we do without you?