Growing by leaps and bounds

Now that it is August, everything is growing by leaps and bounds. Parts of our pasture are already looking like they will be chest-high before we get around to grazing them.

We need to clip our new field, which is in cover crop this summer, in the next few days; when I hop on the tractor and drive into the field, I will be just taller than some of the plants.

And it’s not just the plants. The chickens remind me of a kid that you don’t see often: it’s been so long since you saw them that you are always surprised at how big they are getting. With the birds, it always seems like you look away for a day and there they are, big again. Our laying hens have been laying eggs for a few weeks now and it is hard to remember not having to take an egg bucket out to do chores for them. And it is the same with the pigs and lambs: they don’t seem all that big, until you think about how big they were a few weeks ago — there is so much going on that everything seems to happen quicker than you know it.

Keeping up with the garden is an adventure, with a harvest of some sort on each day’s to-do list. Our plan: eat as much as you can fit into a meal and decide whether you are freezing or canning the rest. Half of our kitchen countertops are always covered in tomatoes, the stove room has sprouted a full six-shelf supply of curing onions, and the garlic is waiting for us to collect it from the laundry room.

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This year we were fortunate to defrost our chest freezer here at the height of summer: we got an accurate inventory of our frozen goods. There is nothing like a foot-tall stack of shredded zucchini to remind you to stop freezing zucchini! Defrosting the freezer does add new problems, like looking at all of the persimmons on our trees and then looking at our 10 bags of pulp still left from last year. We always try to race the season, finishing off our frozen goods before they are ready from the garden again, but our freezer tends to hide this or that.

But it is not just the food that I notice growing. When I look around the farmer’s market, it is hard not to compare to 5 years ago when we started our farm. There are more vendors at market, and they are selling a greater variety of goods. The vendors that were selling 5 years ago seem to be setting up booths with more supply, more color, more attraction.

We’ve got friends that have put up farm stands and more friends with plans for putting up farm stands. More grocery stores are interested in buying and selling food from local farms. And restaurants in the area have started to source more food from their neighboring farms. We even have a friend who is supplying all of the snacks for a few daycares (yay for veggie snacks at daycare)!

Growth is exciting! Markets bustle more when there is a cornucopia of food waiting for the customers. Dining room tables buzz when there are plates full of local harvests (or don’t, since all of the mouths are full!). We are lucky to have good farms all around us who are growing good food for us, and lucky to have good customers who keep all of the farms busy. And it is fun to think about the growth I will look back on in another five years.

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