This weekend was a busy…busy weekend. It started Thursday afternoon as I frantically raced around the garden and house getting things in order so that I could leave for a weekend at my parents without feeling any anxiety. I thought this process would move along quickly and we would be on the road after lunch. Of course, that’s not how it worked out at all.
I woke up Thursday morning and there were suddenly a million things to do. There were bags to be packed, dishes to be done, people to email to schedule interviews, weeds to be pulled from around the potatoes, and a butterfly that had worked its way free from its chrysalis and was promptly the center of my girls universe (we ordered painted lady larva from Insect Lore and grew our own butterflies which will be set free later today).
By the time I knew it…noon had come and gone.
I gathered up the girls and brought them to the Tastee Freeze for a quick lunch and summer treat, then rushed back home to finish packing up the van. By the time we pulled out of the driveway, it was a little after 4pm. I said a quick prayer that the eggs would not hatch while we were gone and started the hour and a half long drive to my parents farm and CSA.
Friday morning, I woke up early, enjoyed a shake and a cup of coffee and then a full on rhubarb harvest began. Below is a picture of the rhubarb field in late April when a surprise snow storm moved through but did nothing to damage the crop.
My parents run a CSA south of Valley City, ND called Llama Trax Gardens and the entire hillside leading up to their driveway is a field of rhubarb plants that aren’t really eye-catching. Not until you get into it and encounter stalks that are nearly the size of my youngest’s arm. These large, bushy plants have been grown for the sole purpose of being harvested and brought to Casselton so that the Maple River Winery can store and use it in creating their delicious wines. Their Strawberry Rhubarb is my favorite.
With a ragtag crew from all walks of life working along with us, we harvested and cleaned what will probably match the four to five tons that was harvested last year. Dad would load up the bucket on his old tractor with stalks from the fields, drive them over to the two tables we had set up in the framed up, roofless barn, dump the load onto two large tables and myself and anywhere from four to eight others would set to work with our sharpened knives, cutting the leaves and roots from the stalks before tossing them into large garbage bags.
We put in two eight-hour days, some of us walking away with sunburns and blistered, locked up hands, and there was still a small section left that would have been taken care of Sunday had Mother Nature not stepped in to provide us with a half a day of rain and thunderstorms.
It was a few hours into the second day that I received a phone call from my husband asking if the eggs were cracked when I left. Of course they would hatch while I wasn’t there. Why not?
When we returned home Sunday afternoon, we had seven baby chickens. Sadly, this was out of the 34 eggs my parents gave us. But as disappointing as it was that so many eggs did not fertilize and grow as these tenacious seven did, the small group we have now is still a blessing. We have officially slipped into animal husbandry mode, having picked up a watering system, feeders and medicated chick starter for our funny balls of fluff.
The girls have enjoyed their time watching over the babies, asking when they can pet them, laughing at their antics, cooing over how “precious” they are. The Hubs has actually named a few which goes against farm rules entirely. Livestock is livestock, not pets. But even I’ll admit, I adore all of them – Ralphie in particular. He or she is one of the friendliest chicks we have and is content snuggling up in hands or rushing up to meet you when you reach into the storage container we have them in for the next couple of days until they’re ready for the bigger set up the Hubs has rigged for them.
We finished off our weekend tilling the garden and a section of ground around the well for our raspberry plants.
I’ve noticed that there’s never really a slow day out here, unless things go ignored. Today, the garden needs to be tilled further and weeded, the potatoes need to be hilled up now that the plants are taller and we’ll be loading the whole family up for a trip to Pelican for supplies to build our coop.
Before I end this, I’d love to encourage all readers to take a look into CSA’s. CSA stands for Consumer Supported Agriculture and these places are everywhere. From startup to established, these operations offer shares to customers to buy into. You spend so much for a half a share or full share and every week or every other week throughout the season, you are provided with a box of what the garden is producing. This is fresh grown produce and in most cases is brought straight from the ground to you. This means minimal handling, no processed foods, and veggies and fruits that are about as fresh as you can possibly get them. In addition to that, some CSA’s will offer homemade preserves, farm fresh eggs, herbs and flower arrangements.
Not only are you making healthier choices for yourself and your family, but you’re also supporting local businesses. We have several here that have been around for years or that are in their first season. My parents have operated theirs for about five years now, having started off at Farmer’s Markets. They made the decision to switch to a larger scale, start up their own business and today – a garden that was once the size of mine – now rests in the valley and on hillsides.
Check them out and support them if you would like. You can find them on Facebook. Even if you’re not a customer there’s still valuable information about self-sustaining lifestyles and recipes for delicious things like kale chips and zucchini fries.
Now, if you’ll excuse me….there’s a garden to weed and kids to get out of the house!
Until next time readers!