Tag Archives: brownsville

out of Hiber Nation

I have visited the Portland Zoo twice since my last blog post. Both times I liked watching the bears and seals the most. The most recent time, the bears were all sleeping. I don’t think they hibernate at the zoo, but that was my first thought while gazing on their big haunches rising and falling with each huge sleepy breath.

We haven’t really been hibernating all this time. We’ve actually been very busy bears, but I like the image of us awakening from a slumber filled with dreams of tomato abundance, excessive squash (which we’re still eating), a mighty Filbert harvest, and one c-c-c-cold winter.

Spring is upon us again and it has brought with it our inaugural-second artist in residence! Meet Zoe Minikes (5 word bio: Zoe draws daily and obsessively). She’s cookin’ something good here on the farm, but I’ll wait to unveil everything she’s been working on. One of the things I CAN share with you is our spanking awesome residency website designed by Zoe herself. Scroll down fast and then slow. We’re also so proud to be hosting Joey Grihalva (29 word bio:  Joey Grihalva is a podcast host (“The Milwaukee Auer”) and journalist (of the radical first person persuasion) working on a lighthearted book about the philosophy and necessity of sustainability.Big things happening and dreams coming true!

 

I’ll be posting more about Zoe and Joey’s residencies, so don’t change that dial.

 

 

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Zoe in her "studio" (our living room).

Zoe in her “studio” (our living room).

Joey in his "researching chair."

Joey in his “researching chair.”

boots and gloves and hats and stuff.

boots and gloves and hats and stuff.

Gabriel planted four rows of tulips last winter and they are beautiful.

Gabriel planted four rows of tulips last winter and they are beautiful.

I told Zoe she could trim the Boxwoods out in front of the house and then one day I came home and found this little guy waiting for me.

I told Zoe she could trim the Boxwoods out in front of the house and then one day I came home and found this little guy waiting for me.

These are potato cages. The idea is that as my potato plants grow I can keep dumping soil on them until they reach the top of the cage. At the end of summer I can harvest the spuds by simply opening up the cages at their seams, let the soil spill out and grab the delicious food! Hopefully it works.

These are potato cages. The idea is that as my potato plants grow I can keep dumping soil on them until the plant’s foliage reaches the top of the cage. It will continue to create tubers as it gets taller. At the end of summer I can harvest the spuds by simply opening up the cages at their seams, let the soil spill out and grab the delicious food! Hopefully it works.

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rolley-polley vision (carrot starts)

rolley-polley vision (carrot starts)

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We started tracking light patterns in our new greenhouse last month. That was when the sun was actually shining.

We started tracking light patterns in our new greenhouse last month. That was when the sun was actually shining.

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We're proud to be growing seed crops for Adaptive Seeds again this year. What you see here: Rutabega, Leeks, and some onion in the back.

We’re proud to be growing seed crops for Adaptive Seeds again this year. What you see here: rutabaga, leeks, and some onion in the back.

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all systems grow

Once again, more than a month has gone by since we’ve put something up on this here blog. To no one’s surprise things have grown bigger, stronger, longer, fatter and juicier. Our apples are starting ripen and my new favorite pastime is walking through the orchard and taking bites off of anything that looks ripe. A symphony of flavors. The green beans are hanging long from the vines, ready for pickling. Almost every meal contains tomatoes, squash, and maybe black berries.

Last weekend brought another kind of abundance to the farm. We held our first annual Farm Stomp here on the farm. Three bands played under the canopy of the filbert orchard while local community members provided and roasted (on site!) goat meat, veggies dishes, berry pies, hand-made ice cream sandwiches and even freshly made soda (blueberry mint and peach – ridiculously good). The most common word used to describe the event since it has passed is ‘magic.’ And it truly was. It was inspiring to see these incredible musicians playing their hearts out beneath the branches that we carefully pruned and tailored over the winter. To see our friends donating their time and resources to provide food and drink reminded us of what an amazing community we live in. THANK YOU to everyone who came, enjoyed and helped. Please see our EVENTS page for photos

Some photos:

Gabriel sets a gopher trap while my favorite vehicle in the whole world stops by our mailbox.

Squash blossom.

Quinoa!

Quinoa and Calendula

Our first attempt at three sisters planting. Unfortunately we never got to the third sister so currently we’ve just got corn and squash in our nine mounds in front of our house. The third sister would have been some kind of been planted in the round between the squash and corn. There’s always next year!

Kale seed.

Waiting to be threshed.

Garlic flower. A volunteer.

custom trellis for green beans.

Beautiful pepper plants.

Cabbage.

Proud corn.

Grapes in the greenhouse.

This is what you get when you do something nice for us. Our friend dick has been buying our filberts and walnuts and selling them to friends in Corvallis, kind of like a promotions agent or marketer. We never asked him to do this yet he does. And so we thanked him in one of the only ways we know how.

Me and Gabriel’s mom Monica harvested all of our red potatoes. It was like digging for treasure while grunting and dripping with sweat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Everybody wants to be a (Brassica) Rapa

On Sunday evening, Andrew from nearby Open Oak Farm paid us a visit and brought an F-150 full of full grown Sutherland Kale, a unique flat-leaved green kale from Sutherland, in northern Scotland.  It is a true heirloom Scotch kale that is nearly extinct, sourced from a very Scottish sounding fellow named Angus Simmonds who researched kales at the University of Edinburgh in the 50’s.

Andrew and Gabriel talkin' 'bout kale.

Anyway, we have a partnership going by which we are fostering these biennial beauties on our land until they go to seed in June.  A worthy cause in the fight to save heirloom varieties and combat the ever-growing and powerful influence of GMOs in the valley.  It was a great activity for both Serah and Gabriel to work with Andrew (a wealth of knowledge, holy crap) and our new roommate Fumi after what was an exhausting weekend of work, with a great Poetry Slam in Eugene sandwiched in there.

Serah diggin' up some dirt. Our soil in front of the house is decidedly "clayy," pronounced: clay-ie. Clayy but real good. Later we plan on putting different varieties of quinoa in that plot.

Andrew and fumi diggin' and plantnin.'

We also busted out some beds against the south side of our house and sowed radish (confetti mix), beets (dark red, candy striped, golden, and albino), and spinach (viroflay GIANT).  It sure feels good to see things coming together outside of the greenhouse.

Our beautiful 100 year old pear tree in the early evening.

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start!

If they take up this much space in the greenhouse, will we even have room to walk around the farm once they’re planted outside?

I can see a season of preserving, drying, lotsa lotsa cooking ahead of us.

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more words about succulents and food

Yesterday, Gabriel and I transplanted a whole bunch of little starts – tomatoes, pepper, cabbages (coming out of our ears), broccoli & endive. It’s always nice working in the green house and I tend to get a little distracted in the warmth, especially when I walk by those little succulents. I started wandering over near the little plants and peering behind weed infested pots to find more and more types of succulents that I had never noticed before. I began pulling clover and ivy volunteers out of the hidden pots and become so distracted that Gabriel had to remind me of our mission: transplanting food plants/thinking about farmers’ markets/business. So I made a secret deal with myself that I’d be back the next day.


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why we spray

This is not our sprayer, but it looks similar.

This is what EFB can look like on your tree. Once it gets to a certain stage, it kills the whole branch. Depending on the size of that branch it could mean losing anywhere between 1/16 to 1/5 of that trees nut production. Multiply that by the number of trees infected and you could have a big problem.

Eastern Filbert Blight, or EFB, is a fungal disease which causes severe damage to certain types o Hazelnut trees – specifically Barcelona and Avellana. Those are the two varieties we are growing, not counting the new Jeffersons we are starting to plant.

Today I planned to go out into the orchard and continue planting those little tree whips, but I ran into Rod on my way out. He had fired up the Massey-Ferguson and had attached the mechanism he uses to spray chemicals on the trees. I know that sounds harsh, and it kind of is, however it’s the only way we know to battle EFB on our existing trees, besides digging them all 3000 of them up and replanting them with a hopefully disease resistant variety. Maybe that is soon to come, but not on this day.

I watched as Rod filled the big tank up with hose water, then tested the sprayer. The spraying mechanism consist of two steel round attachments with 10 nozzles on each of them. They are adjustable so you can spray high and low. Each nozzle is connected to a hose which leads to the big tank which by now has been filled with water and is ready for the chemical additive. Rod used Bravo, a common chemical in the hazelnut biz.

After we cleaned some of the nozzles, Rod stepped into his bright yellow haz-mat suit and came back inside to fortify the house. We won’t be going into the orchard for several days now.

Spraying is something that Gabriel and I are generally opposed to in every way. The way we are looking at this is that it’s our first year living and working on a nut orchard/farm and we’re trying to understand the way the operation normally works while we investigate other options. We know of a couple organic filbert farms nearby and have learned that the major difference is the amount of labor needed to care for the trees. We are two people, sometimes four, and we’re learning.

I didn’t bring my camera with me this morning, so a few pictures and a link from the internet will have to do:

Eastern Filbert Blight

 

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little business

So as we may have mentioned before, Gabriel and I both have normal day jobs along with what we do on the farm. For the past three weeks I’ve been working Monday thru Friday in a neighboring town while Gabriel has worked 3 to 4 days a week in a different neighboring town. AND we’ve both been working at the Brownsville Saloon on the weekends. It’s been a lot a lot a lot of  work work work.

It seems like throughout history there has been a prevailing concept of what it means to be a farmer – Old MacDonald and his farm e-i-e-i-o, etc. Growing up, I never heard about how Mr. MacDonald got out of bed, milked his goats, fed the piglets, set his drip-line timers and then drove 30 minutes to nearest town where he taught 7th and 8th grade English. And though times have clearly changed and the singularity of farm life is long since been replaced by a more multi-faceted existence, it didn’t really hit home until there I was, pruning an orchard in my overalls in the mornings, feeding hundreds of kids at a Boys and Girls Club in the afternoons, then back separating walnut meats from their shells in the evenings.

Well, today was Day Two of Three Days Off In A Row that, miraculously, Gabriel and I have at the same time. If you’re wondering which hotspring we went to, or what we think of the Oregon Coast, I’d tell you ‘none,’ and ‘I don’t know.’ I’m picking dirt out from around my cuticles as I write this, proof that ‘vacation,’ is becoming not about literally vacating, but about finding meditation in the ability to focus my attention and care into one act, knowing that I’m not expected anywhere for anything for the rest of the day. Finding and hoarding that singularity wherever I can find it. I can spend 7 hours with these sweet little succulents if I want, and guess what, I do.

The best part of the day was around noon. Rod was outside the greenhouse preparing melon starts, his specialty, in 5 inch newspaper pods like how I taught him. Bracken, ever faithful to Rod, found a spot in the doorway where he could have a view of his master and be perfectly underfoot. Gabriel was behind me in the greenhouse planting peppers and celeriac from seed. Suddenly Sara burst in with her big smile and comfy sweater and said ‘I have something for you!’ She held her hand over mine and dropped a scraggly clump of little unidentified succulents that she had uprooted for me to re-pot. I mean, these were the tiniest, squishiest, sweetest little things. It made me so happy. Ahhh, vacation.

If you come visit us, I promise you'll leave with one.

I think this is called 'echeveria.' If I ever have a little girl, I might name her that.

Teeny tiny little sweet things. These pots are about 2 inches in diameter. They'll probably have to be transplanted again real soon.

That guy in the front is an aloe. I think I heard Sara say something about putting the original plant in her pocket while in Mexico years ago.

Sprouts! We're looking at some Black Prince tomatoes and red onions here.

Endive. ˈen-ˌdīv or ˌän-ˈdēv. You decide.

And then one day Sara goes 'oh, and here's the ginger.' WE HAVE GINGER GROWING IN THE GREENHOUSE! There are few things I love more than ginger.

"weeds"

Here's Gabriel operating the other tractor. It's called a Kubota and when he and Rod use it, it looks like a little toy tractor, like the kind in sand boxes at public parks. It's a little powerhouse and completely indispensable.

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