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Greetings From Farmer Vicki

Greetings From Farmer Vicki
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  • Greetings From Farmer Vicki

    Post #1 - May 17th, 2005, 8:22 pm
    Post #1 - May 17th, 2005, 8:22 pm Post #1 - May 17th, 2005, 8:22 pm
    Farmer Vicki is a friend of mine who farms up north (Wisconsin). She works hard on the farm, using organic and sustainable methods, but she takes time every once in a while to give people a report on what's happening on the farm. Vicki has agreed to let me post her reports on LTH. I want to do this for two reasons. First, to help support local, organic, sustainable farms. Second, and for us, perhaps more germaine, to give us a better sense of how some of the food we love gets produced.


    Farmer Vicki from May 7, 2005 wrote:Greetings! Spring planting is in full swing. We have mananged to get the radishes in - both French Breakfast and cherry types, baby lettuce, mesclun, arugula, beets (red), carrots, onions, leeks, kohlrabi, sugar snap peas, snow peas, cabbage, broccoli, okra and strawberries. For the spring crops, we still have some carrots, beets, green onions and chard to plant out. Hopefully, by the end of the weekend those will be in as well. We have started hardening off tomatoes and peppers in hopes that we can begin planting those in a week or so. Hard to tell if Mother Nature is going to cooperate with my personal plans. One thing about farming is that a person learns not to make too definite of plans, but rather to flow with what comes our way. In many ways, all of life is that way. We have to learn to flow with the tide. There is always a bigger picture than what we can see with our limited vision.

    But, along with the planting, the weeds have raised their sneaky little heads by the trillions. I am always amazed at what farmers refer to as the "seed bank." If we all made as many deposits in our bank accounts as the weeds do, we would all be quite wealthy. One giant ragweed can produce as many as 3 million seeds. A lamb's quarter produces one million. Needless to say if one hundred weeds complete their cycle, a major deposit has been made. Fortunately, Jay has been working hard trying to help customize some mechanical weed cultivation equipment. So far it is not perfect, but I give his efforts an "A." He has reduced our hand weeding by 80 or 90 percent so far. Hoorah for Jay! I am beyond grateful for his efforts and initiative. Guys like him make life so wonderful.

    Chad, Jon, Jay and I have devoted many hours to the high end pf the hoes to demolish what remains. Thank Johnny's Seed Company for the stirrup hoe - that is one great tool. Tonight Jon, Jay and I took our turn on the the hoes and wiped out another zilllion weeds. The rows look so pretty now. Hopefully soon the last rows will be hoed and for the first year ever we will be on top of the weeds during this early season. No weeds mean better crops and larger harvests.

    We obtained a transplanter this year and have found that it is wonderful. We can transplant 4 times faster than we have in previous years. In the attached photo Chad is driving, Jon (blond mop top) and Jay are tranplanting onions. That was our first day out with that piece of equipment and I have fallen in love with that green and yellow piece of steel.

    Even with all the labor saving equipment this is the season in which I work 15 hour days seven days a week in order to get it all done. Some years I have done this and still never felt "on top" of things, but this year I feel the rewards of our hard work. That is very satisfying. Everyday I drive through the fields and look at the plants growth and see nice clean soil with little or no weeds and my heart rejoices with gratitide. I am so blessed.

    I heard a report this week on the radio about West Nile Virus and collecting Blue Jays and Crows for analysis. They did not want anyone to bring in any birds that were found in or by a farm field - because the ag chemicals kill the birds. They eat a worm or insect that was sprayed or the seed that was planted and then they die from what they ingested. So what does that say to us? To me it is scary. I wonder what part of this picture can the mainstream farmer not understand. To me it is simply a matter of putting two and two together. Somehow it just does not compute for so many people in agriculture. A couple of days ago my mother was telling someone how we used to have lots of birds at the farm and over the years they disappeared, but now they are back and she now has been able to put out a bird feeder and enjoys watching them gather round to gobble up her food. At least around our farm they can have a haven. Lets hope for more and more farm havens for the birds, bees and butterflies.

    Have a great week. I hope all your lives are as wonderful as mine. I will keep in touch, but if there is a delay between e-mails, rest assured that I am working hard to produce a great crop for all of you. Farmer Vicki

    Farmer Vicki from May 14, 2005 wrote:Greetings from the farm.

    For a while in the late winter/early spring I get real antsy with wanting to get moving and then the time comes, and I wonder how it got here so fast. Such is the human condition.

    We have been very busy working on weeding techniques. My goal and motto for the year is that, "Not one weed shall go to seed." The guys have told me that is too high of a goal, but I believe in shooting for the stars. If we aim low, we have a tendency to reach only the hieight we aim for, so 100 % is where my aim is focused. I've never been one to go for mediocre. Weeds have been one of our biggest problems in the past and I felt that our focus this year had to be on weed prevention. Over the winter we solved several equipment issues, so now we focus on weeds. At present we have a small tractor with belly mounted euipment on loan from the local equipment auction that we are experimenting with. Jaysen has been working on it with Jon's and Chad's help and today we tried it out. Woopee!!!! It worked so fine. I was out hoeing the rows in the north-east field while Jay ran the cultivator and when I would get to the row after he made his sweep, I would often have to walk 20 to 30 feet to find a weed to hoe - darn - just breaks my heart to have to walk instead of hoe. Jay has worked on some other cultivation equipment as well and we are really doing fine in the weed department so far. Hopefully when you all come down for Spring Fling on the 26th of June, you will be able to see the benefits of our labor.

    The wind has been a trial lately. When I went out to the north field today I saw that some of the lettuce and escarole had been "sand blasted." I do not know if it will come out of it or not. Fortunately, only the far north crop was damaged. We have also had a problem with cabbage root maggot in several crops. So far the broccoli, pac choi and cabbage have been affected. A cabbage fly comes, lays her eggs wihich hatch and the little maggots crawl down the stem into the ground and feed on the roots. The plant then dies because it is unable to take up nutrients. We tried a soil drench of insecticidal soap today to see if that might help. Last year I tried wood ash, but that did not help at all. Conventional famers use Lorsban, a soil insecticide, to prevent this type of crop loss, but then the toads and worms and birds die. I chhose to loose my broccoli and pac choi instead. I must admit though that it can be discouraging to see them die off after all the work to start the seed, grow the little plants, plant them out and then - whammo! All for maggot food!

    We have begun planting out the first of the tomatoes - one row of cherries and one row of determinates. The first planting of cucumbers and cantaloupe are out. If the wind will die down and the weather warm up some, I would feel like I could proceed quicker, but right now I feel prudence is necessary to protect the crop.

    The attached photo is of Chad watering the big greenhouse. The watering is quite a task right now. We put in a sprinkler system this year in the big house which saves time, but we still have to spot water. At present we have plants outside hardening off and it takes about 2 hours a day to water. Chad is really a trooper when it comes to watering. Most of the guys would rather not water, but he does it willingly and with no complaint. (And he does a good job.)

    I am also attaching a perennial plant list for all of you gardeners. I would hate to have all the growing fun. If you are interested in any plants, let me know and I will arange a day to drive up to deliver them. I also have lots of herbs, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant.

    Looking forward to our first harvest and will keep you up to date on our progress.
    Farmer Vicki

    P.S. If any of you would like to come down and join in with us to expeience a the farm in work mode, please let me know. I am only able to do this a couple days a week, but you are welcome to come. The Peterson parents have been out to ride on the transplanter with us and have a great time, and we can always use an extra hand.
    Think Yiddish, Dress British - Advice of Evil Ronnie to me.
  • Post #2 - May 31st, 2005, 7:35 am
    Post #2 - May 31st, 2005, 7:35 am Post #2 - May 31st, 2005, 7:35 am
    Farm Update from Farmer Vicki:

    Hello to all of you farm oriented folks!

    It is Sunday (May 15) and although I should have rested, I was outside in the cool wind early waiting for horse manure to be delivered (what a blessing) and to fix an irrigation problem. My field pump has a pull cord and that silly thing is binding up. Usually it binds up within the first 6 inches, but sometimes it binds up at about 12 to 18 inches. What an arm wrencher! The guys can get it started without too much trouble, ah, but alas, this lass has a very difficult time. So, when I am alone I want to weep when I have to start the pump (which happened today). The new crops absolutely had to have water today, soooooo . . . guess who had to get the pump going?

    Jon had a band concert in town today, so I took a mid-day break and went to hear him. He was voted the "Most Valuable Junior" by his class mates. What an honor - and a boost to a Mother's ego.

    Then I headed back to the farm to handle the potential frost for tonight. Oh me, oh my, what a job to haul all the plants that were hardening off back into the greenhouse and then to cover the wagons and trailers and truck with plastic to prevent damage. THe wind whips plastic around like a sail. I was mighty happy when that job was done. Come tomorrow morning we get to uncover everything and pull plants back out of the greenhouse again. Indeed, this season is the most difficult time of the year - plants everywhere, overflowing at the seams, waiting on the weather and hoping for the time to hasten when we can at long last be free of the mass of greenhouse plants. Once we get really moving, things clear out pretty fast. Glory be!

    (May 29) Last night I awoke to the sound of gentle rain. I jumped out of bed and looked out to be sure, and yes indeed it was raining. First thing in the morning I scooted out to the rain guage to find we had 1/4 inch - not much but hopefully enough to get some of the seeds I planted recently to germinate. We have been very short on rain this spring and we havea whoel field that is not beign irrigated, so we are trusting Mother Nature to treat us favorably.

    Because today was a holiday the guys were all off work, although Jon, Jay and Chad all stopped by to say hello (and started the pimp for me - thank you guys). The pull cord is just too hard for me to pull. Today I managed to get several crops planted and some weeding done. For farming there is a window of opportunity that is essential to work within, and although we are in good shape there is still much work to be done. So your lima beans went in today as did some of your green onions. I also took the time to do some over-due transplanting field scouting.

    The crops are looking great for the most part, but we have lost many crops that are prone to cabbage maggot. Unfortunately, the early cabbage, radishes and some ofthe pac choi and broccoli have withered and died. It is disheartening to spend the time planting, culitvating and weeding, only to see and insect gobble up the roots of the plants so they wither and die. So, we plant another crop in that area and move on. The radish rows are now eggplant and cantaloupe. The pac choi is becoming green onions. Every year some crops thrive and others do not. I guess this is not the year of the radish. Boo.

    We have been blessed with 1,200 tons of horse manure to compost for next year's crops. That's a lot of horse manure and an answer to prayer. Most folks you know don't get too excited about horse manure, but you have just met one that does. What a great boon for the organic matter of the soil.

    We are working hard to make this year's motto of "No weed shall go to seed" a reality. So far we have had four flushes of weeds to deal with. In time perhaps they will slow down, but at present there is no sign of that happening. I spoke with one of the neighbors who uses herbicides and he told me that he has had to cultivate his fields twice so far this year because the weeds are germinating even with the use of herbicides. He guessed the chemicals just didn't work - WRONG!!!!! These silly mortal farmers have been busy creating monster weeds that have learned to ignore their poisons - when will they learn? Quit spraying and start cultivating, guys.

    Oak Park folks will have your first pick up at the market this Saturday. Joliet and south will be a week from Thursday. Mark your calenders for the upcoming Spring Fling on June 26th from 1-??? If you could let me know if you will be attending and the number in your party, it will help me prepare. Hope you can all attend.

    Forgive me for not writing sooner, but I have been working from early AM till dark most days to get the crops in and the weeds down. If I have to err, it will always be on the side of the crops so you can be assured of the best veggies this summer.

    See you all soon. Farmer Vicki
    Think Yiddish, Dress British - Advice of Evil Ronnie to me.
  • Post #3 - September 13th, 2005, 7:41 am
    Post #3 - September 13th, 2005, 7:41 am Post #3 - September 13th, 2005, 7:41 am
    For those interested, here's another report of life on the farm, an especially interesting and poignant report:

    Hello from farm country. In this life we have to traverse many hills and valleys. We love the high places and disdain th elow. But, both come our way and perhaps we learn more from the love spots than the high. For us, recently we have had to deal with both in rather quick succession. Last week after market we experienced the birth of a new baby calf. She is pretty as can be. Mom and daughter are doign fine. This week at the end of Saturday market in Chicago we expreienced the loss of all our market money, stolen from our van as my sister waited to leave the loading area. For me, this is a substantial loss and came during an already difficult year financially. I wonder at time why and how a person can become such that they coudl hurt another person in such a way. It is beyond my comprehension. All night Saturday I hurt with the reality ogf the event. Then Sunday when I was working, I had to stop and and think about al the blessings that come my wat and how often people and events are kidn to me. And I thought abhout the foodness of Fos. The good is what I choose to look at. It must be the way for me. Over and again I am blessed and for a night and a day I forgot to look at my many blessings and instead I put my focus on the valley of difficulty. I have often refered to myself as a realist with the benefit of hope. As I walk through this valley I choose to kwwp my focus elevated to the higher places. It doesn't change the reality of having to tell my workers not to come to work on Monday because I cant' afford to pay them.. It doesn't change the fact that I will have to labor harder than normal to get everything done - but it will keep my attitude right. And attitude is everything. And, the crops will still grow and and the sun will shine and bees and butterfiles will still flit about and things will be all right again.

    On the lighter side, the baby goats love watermelon. When they see me with melons, they start to cry because they love it so much. And, much like children, they do not quit crying until they get that melon. Poor babies, the melons are done for the year. Hope they like squash and pumpkin just as much.

    The fall crops are coming from the field and they did nicely. It is so wonderful to watch those boxes of squash start piling up in the barn.

    May you experience more hills than valleys, but if you find yourself in the valley, remember to look up. Farmer Vicki

    If anyone wants to see a picture of the baby calf, contact me and I will send you a copy.

    Think Yiddish, Dress British - Advice of Evil Ronnie to me.
  • Post #4 - September 13th, 2005, 8:01 am
    Post #4 - September 13th, 2005, 8:01 am Post #4 - September 13th, 2005, 8:01 am

    Thanks for posting these reports and in particular this most recent one which is, as you say, interesting and poignant.

    I, for one, would love to see the pictue of the calf.

    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #5 - September 13th, 2005, 9:26 am
    Post #5 - September 13th, 2005, 9:26 am Post #5 - September 13th, 2005, 9:26 am
    Hey VI,

    what is the Saturday market in Chicago that Farmer Vicki goes to?

  • Post #6 - October 14th, 2005, 5:01 am
    Post #6 - October 14th, 2005, 5:01 am Post #6 - October 14th, 2005, 5:01 am
    Not only a plug for my daughter's school, but a resource to stay local as the markets shut down.

    What a wonderful season! The cooler weather is refreshing and the new crops are loving it. This morning I was out early looking things over and had to rejoice in the beauty of the land. It was very foggy and the dew was heavy. The land was covered with cob webs that were moist with dew. In the early light it was like a myriad of diamonds across the land. How often does nature present us with such beauty and we fail to notice because we are so busily on our way here or there? It pays to stop and enjoy the wonder of creation. What I felt was a combination of awe, inspiration, joy and peace. It caused me to stop to look and listen. The corn stalks were rustling, the leaves in the cottonwoods were murmuring and the roosters were crowing. Then I saw a toad hop off on his way to find a yummy breakfast treat. A few grasshoppers pinged their way across the field and a wooly caterpillar wiggled his way to who knows where. A lady bug sat quietly on a leaf drinking in the dew and waiting for a tasty treat to come its way. There is so much life around us. A whole world exists under us and around us. When the school kids were here a couple weeks ago they were more interested in the insects than they were anything else. Perhaps we should take a lesson form the kids at Hatch and take the time to enjoy the little things.

    The fall crops are coming along very nicely - both inside and out. We have new little peppers and tomatoes in the greenhouse. I am amazed at how fast they are growing. We are prepared now to plant greens and such in the ground in one of the greenhouses, but the outside crops are doing so great in this weather that I am just thrilled. The guys hoed and cultivated everything this week and it looks beautiful. We should have a nice variety available for the fall/ winter CSA. The location and day for pick up have been arranged and are as follows: The Oak Park Children's School, located at 124 N. Kenilworth. It is located in a large, green house called Gale House, just south of Unity Temple. There is a large, covered porch where the boxes can be stacked. I will deliver on Wednesdays by approx 9:30 AM. The school asks that people not pick up during the time that parents would be picking up their children to reduce traffic stress. To sign up, just let me know and make payment either at market or by mail. A couple of folks have indicated that they would need to pick up after work and I will find out if that is workable. Ask me at market and I will let you know. The cost is $140.00 for the season. Then I will take January and February off and will hopefully begin again in March or April with a Spring share.

    The picture is of the guys out picking greens. Don't those greens look great? Hope your lives are filled with as much joy and wonder as is mine. Famer Vicki
    Think Yiddish, Dress British - Advice of Evil Ronnie to me.
  • Post #7 - October 14th, 2005, 7:32 am
    Post #7 - October 14th, 2005, 7:32 am Post #7 - October 14th, 2005, 7:32 am
    Is Farmer Vicky taking new orders for the fall/winter CSA? If so, could you post her contact info? Thanks. Apologies if it's already in the thread somewhere and I just missed it.

  • Post #8 - October 14th, 2005, 7:37 am
    Post #8 - October 14th, 2005, 7:37 am Post #8 - October 14th, 2005, 7:37 am
    Ann Fisher wrote:Is Farmer Vicky taking new orders for the fall/winter CSA? If so, could you post her contact info? Thanks. Apologies if it's already in the thread somewhere and I just missed it.


    Yes, I s'pose that was the point--pretty dumb of me not to give contact info!

    The best way to reach her is via e-mail:

    Think Yiddish, Dress British - Advice of Evil Ronnie to me.