Saturday, May 28, 2011

From the Field to Your Table

Greetings Shareholders and Friends of the Farm,

Another market day has arrived! We work hard as a family ALL of Friday to make it happen and I thought maybe you'd like to read about how your vegetables went from our field to your table....

Friday, May 27 dawned with a ground fog rising from the fields...another harvest day had begun. I wished that I could linger on my bedroom porch swing listening to the birds praise God for a new day and consider His goodness as the mist rolled off the pond...for like the birds that were flittering here and there gathering breakfast for their young, I too had 9 children and a husband that would soon want their large farm breakfast. We've been enjoying the "Green Eggs and Ham" recipe that can be found under recipes on this site...it's a great way to give your body a boost naturally first thing in the morning!

Before harvest can be accomplished right we have our normal morning chores...bathrooms need cleaning, burning of trash paper, dishwasher emptied, tables set, floors swept, and MUCH MORE. Once the basics are done we are more able to go on with our day without the stress of disorganization. After lingering over breakfast around our 12' farm table Farmer Steve taught our daily Bible lesson...we have sooooooooo much to learn to honor Jesus Christ as a family.

"DIVIDE AND CONQUER!" Boys head in all directions with harvest knives and black bus tubs....some are cutting kale, others are cutting our beautiful spinach, still others are cutting red lettuce and Romaine. Standing on our wrap around porch I praise God for the privilege of working together as a family.

In the farm kitchen I am busy grinding fresh wheat for bread. I'm only baking for bread shares at this point as our kitchen is in process still...getting closer to time of inspection each week. I can't wait! Soon granola, breads, cinnamon rolls, strawberry and strawberry rhubarb jam will be sold at each market!

I'm done pretty quick as I started baking before breakfast...up to the packing shed I go! It is fun to pack alongside my boys. :) I'm teaching Faith Anne how to pack also this year. It's amazing to watch them grow up and take on more and more responsibility. As I work packing 113 shares of spinach, kale, then large shares of lettuce, and eventually herbs I get my pony tail pulled, silly pictures taken, stories told, songs sang, and of coarse jokes that go over my head....all in a day in the packing shed on Colvin Family Farm.

Levi (5) is growing up, and has been given the privilege a few times to ride his bike to the mail box which is a quarter of a mile or more away by himself. We have VERY LITTLE traffic on our narrow dirt road to worry about, but it is still a big deal for him...and me. :) When he road his little green bike up to get the mail there was a 5 foot long black snake blocking the road. Noah (12) and Titus (14) went to his rescue. From where I stood in the packing shed, all I could see is that he stood in the gate of our farm for a long time just looking...then his brothers running up there....I guessed the rest before he even returned...on foot! The mail had come early and it was actually there. ...little boyhood is being left behind, but I still get glimpses of it and enjoy each one....picture a sandy haired little chap dressed in overalls running down a long path between snap peas in bloom with an armload of mail (including a box) with a big smile of triumph on his face....with a perfect explanation about his missing bike and a huge black snake! He's my last little boy in a loooooooong line of little Colvin boys. As he ran back up to get his bike I knew my years of motherhood to little ones were numbered.

I love the shed as it is now. (They plan on enclosing it.) I enjoy looking out over the field and watching the children come and go with wheel barrows of lettuce or bok choi. I love to watch the children picking together, hunched in the rows of vegetables making memories that will linger with them all of their lives. Charity (3) sat on a stack of seed potatoes beside my work area with her Dolly Rose and "sewing" a new dress for her. She isn't demanding, which is a blessing but chatters and sings with me. As lunch time came and went she got tired and I lifted her up on the table by the scales where she sat "Indian style" watching. By including her in my work, she'll be part of the excitement of providing the tastiest, healthiest, freshest vegetables available in our area one day. When we hit a stopping spot, she and I go to prepare lunch. Everyone is in need of a break as it's around 2 p.m.


When I had the farmhouse table loaded down with a huge fresh salad, fresh bread and warmed up leftovers I range the bell for the crew to head in. Eager, but tired children scrambled for the sinks to clean up. A collective sigh could almost be heard as we hold hands to pray...we continually give praise to God for the bountiful harvest He provides AND the strength to harvest it each week.

Charity (3) takes her nap on the porch on harvest days so we know when she wakes up. She loves to "camp" under a blanket tent that provides shade. I think most of the adults wish they too were young enough to have an excuse for a mid-day nap, but we don't, so off we go again to work. As the little ones get settled in for their naps Faith Anne and I work together to cut up some of the harvested vegetables to make a great pork stir fry for supper. (The recipe is listed on our website under "Recipes".) I love the convenience of stir fries. I can cut up all the vegetables ahead of time and place the tray of vegetables in my fridge hours before I need it. By the time I have the little ones down for their naps, and the men have regrouped in the field; we have supper planned and ready to cook. Time flies again as we wash, weigh, pack and generally have a good time. It's a beautiful day to be outside....

As afternoon turns to evening you will find us in the strawberry patch picking the dwindling harvest of berries. I sit on the edge of the field and the littlest children (that are now up from their naps) bring me quart after quart of berries to be sorted and packed for small shares. It's a tasty job, and I share the wealth of jamming berries with the little ones as they tote full quarts from the pickers in the patch to me. We all love a good strawberry, and Lord willing we plan on planting more this fall for next year. This was our first year of large scale berry production and we've learned a lot. Thank you for being our "guinea pigs". After the 65 small shares of strawberries are packed we pack large quarts for table sales since there isn't enough to pack for large shares. Charity (3) and I get a ride back to the house in the back of the truck with LOTS of yummy berries!

The smell of fresh cilantro and dill hit me as I arrive back in the packing shed to help with the final packing chores. It may be a challenge to use the cilantro right now without fresh tomatoes, so if it's still in your fridge by the middle of the week, consider drying it in a gas oven overnight with just the pilot light to keep them warm. Then you'll have cilantro even if we are not harvesting it when the tomatoes are ripe. Some folks like to snip it up into small pieces for their salads..."to each his own" as the saying goes! The dill's harvest couldn't be timed better with Memorial Day picnics on Monday. My recipe for using it in potato salad will be posted soon with my other summer recipes. Enjoy!

IT'S TIME TO PACK SHARES and it's not pitch dark yet!! This is everyone's favorite time of the packing day. The little ones and I don't usually get to help unless we're really making good time. Today we are praise God! Levi and Charity started to tote the boxes as the men assembled them from one end of the shed around the outside (we were still packing herbs) to the pile at the other end. It was fun to watch them. There aren't many jobs Charity can help with, but this is one of them. After a few trips she tired and got a two wheeled dolly to tote them. (Smart girl eh?) Eventually I'm boxed in on one side and we're ready to pack shares. I quickly ran down to the house to turn on the rice cooker. Back in the packing shed, long tables have been set up outside the walk in cooler and boxes of packed vegetables are being brought out and placed in a particular order on and under the tables. Only the adults are allowed to pack shares and the younger boys close boxes and stack them. First the farmers fill a few boxes and work out a packing system....then I'm taught how to. :) Then off we go! I had to pack quickly to keep the line going or there was good natured jostling among the packing crew! Since everyone else is 6' or taller I have to stretch quite a bit to get into boxes...they don't take that in account! It's fun though, and in no time at all we have the small shares packed. After a shuffling session we're ready to pack large shares, and the process is repeated. It felt like we had them all packed in well less than one half hour! Hours go into preparation, then the packing is done in a snap!

My part in the packing process is now over, so off I head to the farmhouse kitchen to finish supper. I have "servants" like the Proverbs 31 woman...only mine don't need feeding like hers did...only maintenance and electricity. My rice cooker is one of my servants. We use it a lot. The rice cooked automatically and is warming now as I stir fry the pork, green onions, oriental sliced organic carrots, our broccoli, bok choi, mushrooms, and pea greens. I used chicken bouillon in the water to make a yummy gravy and thickened it with cornstarch. This was the perfect supper for 9:30 in the evening...nice and light.

After a late supper the boys all head out to divide the leftover harvest of vegetables for table sales and pack the vehicles. By 10:30 boys were claiming showers, and readying the cash boxes for another day in the city marketing. Soon your vegetables will be waiting for you at your local farmer's market.

Now you know the story of this week's harvest...it ended MUCH EARLIER than most weeks. Even though I live and work on a farm; I stand in awe on how the Lord provides for all our needs. The seed is sown, the Lord waters (or we do) and after tending the harvest comes. Praise His name!

I hope you pray for us, your farmers. We're a real family like your own....but with several added challenges during the growing season...long hours, lots of additional demands that there isn't time to cover, little ones to train properly even if we are busy, and the financial challenges all small farms face. The spring rains seem to have slackened all ready. So again this year, please also pray for rain throughout the season. We are always faced with watering challenges and may have to drill another well in the near future, so please also pray for wisdom.

" For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God."
Hebrews 6:7


Abundant Blessings,

Your Farmer's Wife

Val Colvin