I get to write the blog this week, and I thought I’d share some things I’ve been learning in my second season at the Blandford Farm.
Growing seasons have a rhythm to them, and as I continue to work as a grower, I become increasingly aware of those rhythms. Greens, alliums and brassicas are the first transplants to go in the field. Flea beetles are among the first of the pests to appear. (The holes in your Asian greens, arugula and radish greens were the work of flea beetles.) As we harvest greens, scallions and radishes, we are transplanting peppers, tomatoes, summer squash and zucchini. Soon, we will be harvesting their delicious fruit and transplanting fall crops, such as brussels sprouts and root vegetables which will be ready in their due time.
Then there are weekly rhythms. Mondays are for planning and general farm maintenance, Tuesdays and Thursdays are harvest/market preparation days, Wednesdays and Fridays are market days for Mark, and general farm maintenance days for myself and Aaron. So you’d probably never see us moving animals to a different pasture spot on a Tuesday, and we wouldn’t harvest greens on a Friday.
Last year was my first year at Blandford Farm, and I spent that year getting acquainted with all these seasonal and work patterns. This year, I am taking on more responsibility. I have been handed the baton on CSA communications, and I’m also responsible for our direct seeding schedule. (These are seeds that get planted directly in the ground, instead of started in trays and then transplanted. Some items that we seed directly into the soil are: carrots, beets, radishes, peas, beans and cut greens.)
It’s a different perspective. Instead of being told what to do and when to do it, I am in tune with what needs to happen enough that I can arrive to the farm in the mornings and just start doing what needs to be done. I can see a field full of weeds and know which section needs to be weeded first.
It’s a good feeling. Even though I have much more to learn, I feel like I’m growing as a fledgling farmer.
I’ve also been learning good tips to keep cool while working in the fields, as it has been draining-ly hot lately. My #1 hack for keeping cool on hot days is: don’t work on hot days. …At least not in the hottest part of the day. I’ve been coming in to work earlier than usual and leaving earlier than usual to try and escape as much of the heat as I can. It is much more pleasant to work at 7:00am these days than it is to work at 3:00pm.
Tip #2: Wear a bandana around your neck and keep it cold and wet. This can be achieved by periodically drenching it with a hose. It’s amazing how much cooler I feel when the back of my neck is cool.
Tip #3: Wear a hat with a wide brim. Create your own shade!
Tip #4: Stay hydrated. You’ll sweat more and thus stay cooler.
Tip #5: Wear sandals, not shoes. Your feet can feel the breeze, and you can occasionally put your feet under the hose. It’s very refreshing.
Tip #6: This one is mainly for those who sunburn easily. (And as a redhead, I can tell you that I sunburn easily!) It is easier to wear light, long layers than to apply sunscreen constantly throughout the day. I find that I get just as hot in shorts and tank-tops as I do in long pants and a *light* long sleeved shirt. So I opt for the longer option so I can protect myself from constantly getting sunburned. My farmer’s tan cuts off at the wrists!
I’m the one in the straw hat, following *most* of my own advice for keeping cool! The rubber boots were a bad idea. (At least as far as heat goes.)