Saturday, October 01, 2011
Farm Bulletin: Summer Into Fall
While city folk can live in denial of the change of seasons, refusing to bring in the patio furniture and insisting on dining outdoors until the first snow flies, farmers have to acknowledge summer's end and prepare for the onset of winter. This week contributor Anthony Boutard lets us in on the preparations at Ayers Creek Farm.
Hillsdale, it was a sunny and warm afternoon in Gaston, not a drop of rain and nothing but the merest zephyr was observed. Zenon and Abel shook their heads in disbelief when we described the rain and malicious gusts of wind that that bedeviled us. Any thought that they were teasing us was banished by buckets of freshly harvested and very dry Dutch Bullet beans. Bean season was officially open.
About half of the beans of each variety were dry and ready to pick this week. With rain forecast for next week, it is a good idea to harvest everything that is ready. Since last Sunday, it has been a steady and relentless march through the bean rows. After picking, the pods are threshed, and then the beans are run through a fanning mill to remove debris. The beans are laid out on screens where they will remain until they are absolutely dry. We run a dehumidifier to hasten the drying. Fully dry beans have a distinctive click when you run your fingers through them.
A couple of showery days will allow us to assemble more screens and dig the sweet potatoes. They will need to cure in a 90 degree room for ten days, and then six weeks at room temperature. Then our attention will turn to the squash, as well as planting garlic and wheat. It will be a busy month, but we will get the preserves done.