coyotes and bears and other things that go thump in the night

Last night around nine I remembered I’d forgot to pick up the mail and on top of that I still needed another 3000 steps to get my self-imposed 12,000 a day so bundling up and grabbing my i-pod (I’m listening to Gibson’s latest novel) I sat out on the mile to the mailbox. On the way back a truck came bouncing out the driveway – the son of one of our long term neighbors. He saw my light and stopped.

 “It’s not smart to be out this time of night,” he told me, “There are coyotes on the loose.” 

“Not that many,” was my answer ( The picture is of the only coyote to ever walk in front of one of our wildlife cameras, and while bears are a little more common its seldom that I see or get a wildlife camera photo or more than one or two a year) “and besides, since when are coyotes a threat to people?” 

He answered. ‘A coyotes killed a person last year and I stopped getting exercise except in the gym now. Right here I saw momma bear and her cubs. I saw them twice. Once here and once at the turn off to your place. And you know how dangerous they are.”

 Beginning rather unpolitical I told him I didn’t and from there launched in to several personal stories of bears running away when they saw people.  I told him the story of the night I chased the bear away from the day’s left over vegetables by chasing him/her down the driveway and everytime she slowed I would pelt her with an apple. I was wound up and going to tell him more stories but saw he had stopped listening and anyway he had decided that wild animals were dangerous and there was nothing I could say to change his mind.  I stopped talking to my self   “The truth of the matter,” I closed up by saying “about the only thing that’s going to get you in the woods at night is your own imagination.”

I don’t think he heard that either.

How and why you might want to cure your sweet potatoes

The best conditions for curing sweet potatoes are:

Upon taking your sweet potatoes from the ground remove the excess dirt without washing. Sweet potatoes, before curing, are tender and subject to bruising.  Its best to just shake off the excess dirt because washing might bruise the tubars.

Lay the sweet potatoes out on a flat surface where they can be placed without touching each other.

Maintain the air temperature at between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

The humidity  should approach 95%

Keep the air continuously circulating. (a small fan works.                                                                                                                               

Maintain these conditions for seven to fourteen days.

What results do you achieve by curing?  Cured sweet potatoes are much sweeter and  not as easily subject to bruising as their uncured counterparts.

The day before the first hard frost

Baby Arugula

Giant Red Mustard surrounded by lettuce

Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce

Oak Leaf Lettuce

Baby Broccoli

These are some of the greens  that are thriving out in our fields as of Friday afternoon.  The forecast for tonight calls for a low of around 22 F.  That’s cold enough to damage many of the greens.  What really determines whether the plants die or not is how deep the frost goes.  If there is enough frost in the ground to damage the roots the plants usually die.  To bad the hard frost couldn’t wait until Saturday night.  If that were the case our CSA members could come out and harvest all the greens they could carry home.

Fall Leaves 2014

November 9

November 7

November 2

October 30

October 29

October 28

October 27

October 27

October 26

October 25

October 24

End of Season news

Greetings shareholders (and non-shareholders reading our blog)

Here it is the middle of Saturday night and the temperature is already down to 39 degrees.  By the time you read this you’ll know the answer but here I am worrying,  “is there going to be a frost tonight? Does this mean that our eggplants, bell and hot peppers, tomatillos, tomatoes and basil will all die tonight and the only thing we’ll have for our final two weeks is lettuce?

The weather forecast. earlier today said a low of 40, however when I was driving out in the country, past the farm of another CSA, this one out in the mountains of Rappahannock County, I saw they had gone to the labor and expense of covering large section of their farm with row covers, a white woven material that you can put over crops to protect against a light frost.

It’s now fifteen minutes past midnight and the temperature has dropped to 38.

I guess there’s not that much I can do.  We don’t have that much row cover and besides I don’t see our Great Pyreness as much help putting out the row cover and its definitely a two person job.

So, instead of worrying about it,  here’s the end of season farm news.

First is the cheese.  I’m going to put in a cheese order with Farmstead Fresh this coming Tuesday.  Do you want any?
For more information about the cheeses available go to their webpage To simplify the order I’m taking orders for 5 lb blocks only. Email me with your choice by Monday evening.

There will be a discount on the price listed.  The larger the order the bigger the discount so I don’t know yet.I do know that by putting in a group order we won’t be paying the shipping cost, so there will be, at least, that much of a price discount.

Apple cider
I have an apple press to make apple cider and I’ve been inviting shareholders out to make their own cider.  This is a real family friendly type of activity.

Email me when you want to come out
Sunday, October 5th between 11-2
Saturday October 11th  11-1
Sunday Octover 12th  11-1
Saturday, October 18th.  11-1

The cost for using the cider press is free. Part of being a member of our CSA.  You do have to have apples though. Either bring your own or use the ones I’ve bought.  These are cider apples,  seconds  (more likely thirds).  $15 a bushel.

You also need to bring containers for the cider.  A bushel of apples produces 3 to 3.4 gallons of cider.

Apples for making apple sauce (or eating).  If you are the energetic type and also have space to put  canned apple sauce (while its called canning you’re going to be putting it in jars) one of the easiest things you can do with an excess of apples is to can them.

A bushel of top quality apples cost $25.  My next trip to the country for apples is Tuesday.  If you want some send me an email.  Include the variety of apples you would like.

the act of collecting leftover crops from farmers’ fields after they have been commercially harvested or on fields where it is not economically profitable to harvest.

While most gleaning is a way of finding food for those that don’t have enough  (In the DC area there are several organizations whose members glean and then give what they’ve collected to feeding programs).  we let our shareholders have first crack at our fields after our season is over.  In fact, gleaning, for some of our shareholders is the highlight of the season.
Gleaning, this year, is  on Saturday,  October 18th, from 11 until 2 pm  You don’t have to tell me you are going to attend or not.  What you do need, though, are some shoes fit for walking through uneven fields, maybe a pair of gloves and something like our tote bag to put your found vegetables in.

Winter eggs.
Even though our delivery season is over on October 18th our chickens will continue to lay eggs.  These eggs go to our renewing shareholders who don’t mind driving out to the farm.  Over the winter, if you want to come out and get eggs, email me first so I can check to make sure there are eggs available.

And finally renewing.

every week I’ve been sending out with the vegetable list  the discounts you get if you renew now and pay at least half now.  Even if you haven’t written a check yet if you are going to renew send me an email  telling me what size vegetable share you are going to want.  Also next year, the scarce egg shares go first to early sign up shareholders.

It’s now 12:45, and the reading from my temperature gauge  is now back up at 39.  I hope that means no frost tonight.


Vegetable share Week 9

Week Nine’s Vegetables  (August 4, 2014)  The share varied somewhat from day to day, but on Monday the two person share consisted of at least 12 tomatoes, two kale plants, several Asian eggplants, a dozen tomatillos, a large bell peppers, ten hot peppers, all you can eat Italian basil, two or three garlic bulbs, a cushaw pumpkin, an herb plant and some stuffing peppers.                                                                                        

Week Seven vegetables and fruit.

Week Seven  Vegetable and Fruit Share  (white and yellow peaches — Spaghetti Squash, summer squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, hot peppers, garlic, eggplant, Italian basil, and a thyme or sage plant).                                                    

 Week Seven’s vegetable share.

Week Seven we picked over 3000 tomatoes.

A Rainbow over Washington

Did you see Tuesday’s rainbow?

This picture is taken from behind the Uptown theater looking east.

After taking the picture I got in the van and began the trip back to the farm, driving down Connecticut Ave.

At the same time the rainbow followed the road. As I stopped at that light in front of the zoo I looked and could see the one end, the end you see in the picture, had come to earth, very dramatically, up to the North East, near Takoma Park.

As the light changed I drove south towards Virginia, following Rock Creek, the other end of the rainbow (not the one coming to earth in the picture but the other end, the end to the piece in the picture arching skyward) appeared clearly curving back down toward earth.

And there, as I turned by the Watergate and up around the Kennedy Center, crossing the Potomac on the Roosevelt Bridge I glanced down river and almost stopped right there in the middle of traffic.

The other end of the rainbow, for a moment, I swear, had come to earth..

Even with the traffic, I should have stopped the van right there in the middle of the river and taken a picture of it. But look at the picture I did take. In your mind can’t you see it curving up through the sky and then coming down again, this time on the dome of Jefferson’s Memorial?

As I crossed the river and looked again the rainbow had moved on. It was no longer shinning on Jefferson’s Memorial but in the last few moments had moved further down the river.

Tuesday’s vegetable share (7-8-2014)

This is what today’s share will look like:
A couple small cauliflowers
a patty pan squash
bell peppers
handful of cherry tomatoes (later today we might instead pick tomatoes)
garlic scapes  (probably the last ones)
Thai basil
Italian basil
a red cabbage
stevia plant