Post by Delia
Kings Hill Farm
The Delicate and Delicious Balance
August is always an interesting month. The threat of the hot, dry days turning into hot, dry weeks is ever present, and although it is the last month of the meteorological summer, winding down is not on anyone's mind anytime soon. At King's Hill Farm, we only just hit the halfway point of delivering weekly boxes to our 350 CSA members, and so sowing seeds, transplanting, and hiring new fall interns are the order of the day.
It is certainly a delicious time to be enjoying the harvest. The big juicy heirloom tomatoes are in full swing, specialty melons have begun to ripen, the first new red potatoes are ready to dug up, and sweet corn, bell peppers, and tomatillos are all in our immediate future. Cold soups, salsas, salads, and slaws are the dishes we turn to when the temperature inside the farmhouse climbs into the upper eighties and while this hasn't happened too many times this summer, the weather forecast is an ever constant source of wonder and worry. Just this past Monday we were all doing rain dances, hoping our very hardest that the gathering clouds would offer some respite from the past three rainless weeks. The fields were beginning to get dusty and depressing and while we irrigate many of our crops when necessary, it can quickly become nearly impossible to get water on all seventeen acres currently in cultivation. Harvesting the new potatoes was going to be made more difficult and time consuming because huge clumps of dry dirt were sticking to all of them, the eggplant rows had taken a break from producing fruit while they waited somewhat patiently for a drink of water, and our new fall transplants were in danger of not being able to establish healthy root systems without adequate water.
Obsessively checking the radar like so many farmers in this technological age, we waited. And then, as if someone heard our pleas and liked our dance moves, thunder was heard in the distance as a big strong system barreled right towards the farm, just south of Mineral Point, WI. If you ever want to see a farmer grin from ear to ear, catch him or her during a nice long, drenching summer rain after a three week dry spell. And then maybe throw in a rainbow too. That was how our afternoon went yesterday and it was wonderful. As Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said, "For after all, the best thing one can do when it is raining is let it rain.”
It's funny though. Not an hour later, after having already received an inch and a half of rain, the storm appeared to intensify and water started to fall sideways in a strong wind. So then we started hoping the rain would let up a little, please? Too much water and we might not be able to dig potatoes at all. And any hail, which of course can sometimes accompany strong thunderstorms, would be nothing short of devastating for our season. Careful what you wish for I guess. In the end the clouds passed and we feel blessed. But relying so heavily on favorable weather conditions for one's livelihood (and food)is very much like walking a tight rope. It is such a delicate balance for all of us.
At the end of the day we'll whip up a batch of gazpacho and feel good knowing that along with our CSA members, our fellow farmers in FRESH, and everyone who supports local food grown in a sustainable way, we are making great efforts to live well and keep that balance in check. Because as Marshall McLuhan put it, "There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth. We are all crew."