Friday, November 6, 2009


The best thing about farming is the distractions, sometimes.

Today, like every single Thursday since mid-spring, I spent picking and packing the vegetable order for the hospital. The past few Thursdays have been cold and rainy, not ideal weather for this kind of work. You know it's about time to quit for year when the wash water (straight from the well) feels WARM.

Not today. Glorious, bright, warm cloudless day, a day fit for May or even June! Just enough breeze to be annoying--blowing row covers back at me while I picked from under them. Warm enough that the veggies were just a trifle soft as I picked them, and perked up a lot in the rinse process. Yet cool enough that they stayed nice and crisp after that as I packed them.

Ah, distractions! First, it's always tempting to pull that annoying weed while I'm picking. but then I want to pull the next one, too...and the next...and there just isn't time on a picking day when I'm doing the whole order myself.

Then there are all the edibles. I snack my way through the day, both "weeds" and crops.

Sometimes I just have to sit and look around at all the beauty. It's different now that things are under row covers--I can't so easily admire the luminous beds of red and green lettuce. And the winds of the past week have stripped most the colorful leaves from the trees. But the neat rows of white covers have their own beauty, and the dog's coat glistens in the sun, and sky is so incredibly blue, and the willows are so graceful in the breeze.

There are still enough insects about to be distracted by them...and in this season the distraction is in admiring an unusual pygmy grasshopper, rather than swatting a thousand mosquitos.

Those are just the ordinary distractions.

After I showed apprentice E. how to screw in the hooks that are part of the high-tunnel side curtain "rigging", I wandered off towards the lemon balm to pick a few more sprigs to make the needed weight for the order. I noticed something moving in the lane north of the sheep sheds. A skunk! We often see their diggings along the lane, but I've never actually seen the skunk there. This one's tail looked pretty thread-bare, so it may have had mange. It was entirely unconcerned when I called E. over and we walked as far as the gate...about 50' away from the skunk. It just wandered on down the lane away from us, occasionally stopping to dig-dig-dig-dig-dig like a very quick dog. Skunks hunt for grubs and worms by digging little holes and rummaging under things. If we had cows, we would know skunks were at work when we saw all the cow pies turned over.

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