Week 9: August 2nd
What’s in your Share This Week?
Red Ursa Kale
All of this week’s produce has already been introduced to you in prior weeks. Now that you’re somewhat familiar with the fennel, the purplette onions, and all the rest of it - it’s a great opportunity to experiment with your veggies. Go free-form in the kitchen this week and see what happens.
Coming soon: Potatoes, at last!
On the Farm…
Well……it’s been one of those weeks. Angela, our farmhand, had a personal emergency and had to depart the farm abruptly this week, leaving us reeling at the prospect of heading into the peak of our season - August and September – without her help. I’ve been scrambling to find experienced, reliable hands to replace her and coming up against what so many other farmers – and employers in general – gripe and moan about: “it’s hard to find good help these days.”
This week’s labor hunt has been an experience both horribly stressful and oddly beautiful at the same time. Without another person on board, Abby, Bets and I simply can’t get all the food watered, weeded, harvested, washed, packed and delivered to town. There aren’t enough hours in the day to do it, or enough mitochondria in our bodies to fuel it. It takes four of us, and sometimes more. So when our fourth person evaporated, dread crept in on me. We don’t live in a place where experienced agricultural workers are a dime a dozen – people who are familiar with lots of crops, with harvest techniques, with our particular systems, with the sheer physicality of a 14 hour day. And to imagine having to train someone from scratch at this point in the season…oof. Daunting.
I started to wonder if I was going to have to ask all of you to come pick your own veggies for the rest of the year.
Some anxious days passed for us and I called every single person I could think of locally who might be a fit for the job. I left messages on their answering machines and heard nothing back. I composed an email to all of you (that I didn’t send), asking for leads. My husband, Danny, wrote the same email to all of his acupuncture patients (that he didn’t send).
On Monday morning, my mom and I sat on the tailgate of the pickup out in the field, trying to strategize for the week. Who was going to do Wednesday delivery? Saturday delivery? Who was going to help with harvest, set up the farmstand, wash the totes? Where could we cut corners? What was essential and what wasn’t? Did those weeds absolutely have to get pulled? And then my mom looked up at the sky and said, “Come on universe. Throw us a bone.”
I’ve noticed that the universe likes to make you sweat a little, and sure enough, we were. Tuesday is our biggest, longest harvest day and we were going into it down by one. I was gearing up to be at the farm with my headlamp on Tuesday night. Which is when Marisa, who was supposed to go home to Hilo this week, announced that she had changed her plane ticket and could stay for another two weeks. Beautiful thing number one.
Later that day, when I was dreading the looming task of digging potatoes – a back-breaking, slow, hot, dusty job – all of a sudden, a truck and horse trailer pulled up at the farm. It was my friend Laurie, who on a whim had decided to bring me some loaner equipment from her farm outside Coos Bay. One of the items: a horsedrawn potato digger that Maude could pull. If it worked, it would likely save us hours and hours of digging. Beautiful thing number two.
I went home that night relieved, but also knowing that the fix was temporary. We’d been given a two week reprieve, but we still had a longer-term labor dilemma: What happens when Marisa is gone? I was absorbed in my worry when I walked in the door of our house and saw the answering machine blinking with six messages. “Come on universe,” I said under my breath. “Come on.”
And it did. Four of the six messages were call-backs from people interested in farmwork. (Beautiful things three, four, five and six). One of the people who called was from California and had called us out-of-the-blue, completely unaware that we were in a desperate hunt for help. The other two calls were from friends who said they didn’t want jobs but that they would be happy to help in any way to see us through until we had the folks we needed. (Beautiful things seven and eight). Thank you universe.
So, a long story and a heinous week made short, next Monday a new hired hand arrives and we’re going to do a trial period with him. We’re hoping it’s a good fit. He’s jumping in with us right as the harvest rodeo really starts to buck, so it’s fingers crossed. Meanwhile, we’re still getting your lettuce and broccoli and onions and fennel and berries out of the field before midnight, thanks to Marisa.
And hopefully with some help from Maude and that new potato digger, we’ll be getting some spuds out of the ground this week as well.
Thanks for your ongoing support for the farm. It means the world to us all of the time, but especially during nutty periods like this. You guys make it all worth doing. Our appreciation runs deep.