August 22, 2004

Smells Like Summer

0821_1.jpg0821_2.jpgI was off gallivanting all over the place, and when I got back I devoted my first afternoon to washing the salt crusts off my kayak. So when Lorenz wandered by (ok, he didn't just wander by, he showed up because I poked my head into his office and asked for help moving my 17.5 foot fibreglass "paddle boat", as Lorenz calls the kayak) and asked if I'd uploaded anything onto the red barn troll lately, it took me a minute to figure out what he was even talking about. It seems that I had several weeks of spying to catch up on, and I had no idea where to start. "But I have nothing to say!" I protested, "people aren't going to believe me that whales and puffins are growing in the fields and that's all I've been spying on!". Lorenz's solution to the barn troll's ignorance? "Come on the field walk this afternoon".

0820_3.jpg0821_4.jpg0821_5.jpgThe "field walk" is when Lorenz takes his staff and walks the field, discussing what needs to be harvested and weeded and what to be vigilant about. The staff included not only the triplets, but Lukas the Spanish woofer and Vanessa the Torontonian woofer. There was much discussion of little bugs that prevent a heaed of cabbage from forming and dryness of roots and maybe even irrigation, but I'll admit that I didn't pay that much attention. I've always been big on smells, and there are a few that are the smells of summer: freshly cut grass, sun-warmed basil and tomato vines. I watched the field walkers walking, but mostly I had my camera pointing at some pretty detail and my nose close to the ground. (What an attractive image I paint of myself, like some little dog, sniffing the vegetables.)

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The pretty images of this week: the first ripe cherry tomatoes, tomatillos ripening, an okra flower, asparagus peas (these are a new phenomenon for me. We ate some later that night - and after an inital "why would I eat these, they're too much work for what I get?" I actually really liked them and started treating them like edamame), savoy cabbage, summer squash flowers, a detail on a cabbage leaf, swiss chard glowing in the sun. It's a cornucopia of pretty things that smell good (and taste even better!) up in the field.

0821_14.jpg0821_15.jpg0821_16.jpgI rejoined the field walk at some point - Lorenz was squatted beside the tobacco plant, explaining something or other to the crew. Now, before you get all huffy on me and tell me that tobacco isn't a vegetable, listen to this story. The tobacco was grown from seed that Lorenz once upon a time got from Black Creek Pioneer Village. He's been propogating it for years, on only a few plants. He doesn't actually smoke the tobacco (though some interns do from time to time), but he grows a few plants and then people experiment. This crop will be cured in the manure pile. Yes, you heard that right. Horse manure is so hot when it composts, you can bury a container in it and there will be enough heat to cure tobacco. Cool, huh? I made some comment on topping the tobacco, but that's not going to happen since he needs more seed - in part because some First Nation near Montreal has asked him to provide them with a heritage variety of tobacco seed.

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0821_21.jpg0821_22.jpg0821_24.jpgThe last bit of the field walk that I was interested in was the melon part of it. There are lots of melons ripening, and Lorenz showed everybody how to look for the "pigtail" to see if a melon is ripe. To illustrate, he cut open a few melons that had pigtails at the right stage of drying out, and then there was a sound of summer: much slurping. They're tasty. Clearly, the crows think so too, since many of the best melons have been ruined by the birds. There was also one interesting curio: one of the melons had managed to develop under the plastic mulch, and was growing as a shrink-wrapped melon. Sooner or later, though, the slurping changed to outright silliness and J.P. started juggling melons. I think it was at this point that Lorenz climbed back onto his tractor and drove off into the sunset (and I went back to fussing with my kayak).

Posted by Johanna at 09:16 AM

August 02, 2004

Jack's Not Dull

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"The turnip express leaves at 6 a.m.", Lorenz said last night, "anyone not there then has to walk up the hill". I'd just announced that I would take advantage of my day off and take pictures of the morning harvest. "The turnip" is the van, which does the morning commute up to the field and comes back a couple of hours later full of vegetables. Harvest is always early in the morning, since you should pick greens before the dew is off them to keep them fresh and wonderful.

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I didn't catch the turnip, though. I watched them load it up with crates from the comfort of my bed (perks of having the farm work happen right outside your window!), and then I had a nice long cup of coffee... still, though, I wandered up to the field before 7 a.m. and watched Lorenz and the triplets harvest beets, kale and chicory. J.P. and Justin were busy bunching Kale, and Lorenz and Sean were working in separate rows getting the beets together. Justin then moved on to do the chicory, but Lorenz, perhaps distracted by my chatter, continued with the beets. Since he looked like such an idealized farmer at that time - red beets, favourite ball cap, crouched in a row of vegetables - I kept snapping pictures of him. Boris, who is of the opinion that all pictures should include him, started posing himself.

0802_1.jpg0802_2.jpg0802_3.jpgNot the whole farm team was up in the fields this morning. The new Spanish volunteer, Lukas, was slumbering away in the trailer, and Tara is off on Mondays. Even if Tara was here, she wouldn't have time to bunch greens. Now that the new roadside stand is open on Wednesdays and Friday, she has markets four days a week. Hauling all those vegetables out to the stand is more work than setting up in the red barn, but also much more eye-catching. The new stand with the striped awning has been garnering its share of attention on the Guelph Line.

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It's a busy time of year for farmers. However, even vegetable farmers take a break from time to time, and Lorenz took the kids to a Renaissance Festival yesterday. They must have had his number, since he got singled out during the show and, according to Malcolm, the Renaissance wench sang a song to Lorenz that included the memorable line "roll me over in the clover and do me again". I'll have you note that this was a kids' show!

0802_6.jpgH.P. and I were having a peaceful bit of lounging in and around the pool (respecting the no glass by the pool rule, I'll have you note, with beer in plastic cups!) while the gang was at the Renaissance thing, but all that ended as soon as they got home. Spying two rather docile targets, Malcolm armed himself with water balloons and came on down. Fortunately for me, I used the kid-with-glasses line of reasoning ("you can't throw a water balloon at me, I have a camera!") to be spared, and Lorenz - who had taken over the floating lounge chair - became the chief target. Boris, who isn't allowed in the pool, soon started feeling left out, so Lorenz gave him a nice shower from within the pool. Lorenz then reclaimed the blue chair, but apparently he's not yet that good at the whole relaxation thing - he paddled it over to the side of the pool and started weeding the edges! You can take a farmer out of the field, but...

Posted by Johanna at 12:37 PM