Saturday, August 08, 2009

Farm Bulletin: Amblin' Entertainment

Contributor Anthony Boutard explains a critical part of the assessment regime at Ayers Creek Farm. The results of this method are on display every Sunday at the Hillsdale Farmers Market from 10 am till 2 pm.

The return of cool evenings is most welcome, by us and the fruit. The slow amble is an essential element of farming. The utility vehicle and the ATV are essential forms of farm transportation. A check of the pump or making sure all is well before settling in for the evening takes but a few minutes, it is fast, and allows you to think about the next task or the beer in the fridge.

Ambling along on foot, zig-zagging methodically through the rows, allows the farmer to assess progress and permits ideas for changes to crystalize. We remembered this week an old market farmer who told us you can only grow melons for about five years, and then you never want to see the stinking things again. We lasted eight before snapping.

We don't shrink from difficult crops, but the Charentais is a demanding and miserable prima donna, an imperious ingrate always rewarding eagerness and optimism with an equal and opposite force. The grower begins to take on the haunted appearance of the professor in the Blue Angel (above), pathetically clinging to the night club long after Dietrich's Lola-Lola has taken on a new and equally hapless lover.

But we were talking about the amble, weren't we?

The grapes are looking beautiful; the clusters are full and well-shaped. Though still green and hard, the vineyard has a subtle peppery fragrance the comes with developing fruit. In the vegetable block next to the vineyard the chicories have all emerged. We have easily doubled the area planted, and we hope to have a good supply this winter. The pole beans are doing well, and we should start picking some Preacher and Garden of Eden beans next week. The sweet potatoes soaked up the warm spell and the vines are now three feet long. Disentangling ourselves from the melons will allow us to increase sweet potato production.

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