When it rains...

corn field
My next post was supposed to be about sweet corn season here at the farm. We've had three great weeks of corn, and the farm stand has been abuzz with all the loyal sweet corn fans who come back day after day all month long, year after year. It's a fun season, and I've been fortunate to spend many happy days this month picking with Deb in the mornings, and spending my afternoons chit chatting away with our local customers.

But it appears corn season came to an abrupt end today. We are unable to access the fields to know the extent of the damage yet. Instead of picking, I am staring out the window at fields devastated by flood waters.  Corn tassles rise up from the flooded fields like tiny flags of surrender. The crop losses are certain to be huge. Losing the sweet corn would hurt, but everyone is more worried about the cow corn -- which we harvest to feed animals all year long. Hard to tell yet just how huge the losses will be. But they'll be significant.

I can't say this enough: we feel so fortunate no people or animals were hurt here at the farm. The water stayed out of the barns by mere inches...how lucky is that? So it could have been much, much worse. But it's worth noting there was far more damage than any of us Vermonters expected. Homes have been evacuated. Businesses have been ruined. A close friend's family lost their restaurant.  Thankfully, no one we know was injured.

flooding literally stopped inches away from the barns...so lucky!!
There's a lot of talk right now about how this storm was over-hyped. It's frustrating to hear people complain the media exaggerated the impact of this storm.  Sure, downtown Manhattan was not seriously impacted. But there's a whole world outside New York City. And many parts of it are under water!

As a relative newcomer to this farming life, I am proud to witness the quiet strength Ransom and his family have displayed in the face of these losses. I suppose when farming has been in your bloodline for six generations, patience, acceptance, and determination are passed through your genes.

It's been a very tough year for Vermont farmers. Please try to buy locally when you can, and do your best to support your farming neighbors (that means no honking or speeding past tractors on the roads!) Not many industries are so susceptible to forces of nature, and few years have been this bad weather wise.
Corn field covered by flood waters


Not quite HGTV, but it'll do!

I spend a LOT of time in my garden. There's something so cathartic about yanking out weeds, straightening the rows, and of course, picking fresh flowers, herbs, and veggies.

Several out-of-town friends and relatives had asked for a peak at what's been growing, so I made this short video a few weeks ago, which I now share with the entire universe (or the 20 or so folks who read my blog, take your pick! thanks for reading, by the way!).  The garden is a lot more lush now, two weeks into August, but here's a look at what was happening in July. I shot this with my iPhone, so bare with me!

Yes, there are weeds. Yes, some of the veggies (ahem...carrots!) are a bit scrawny. But overall, it's a darn good garden. And most importantly, spending time there makes me very happy.


Easy beet salad & being a better hostess

Have you ever arrived at a friend's house for supper, and she's still cooking when you get there? And in between welcoming you and pouring you a drink, she breezily sautees and whisks -- all the while delighting you with charming stories and responding eagerly to whatever you contribute to the conversation?

Well, that never happens when I host.  Food prep and conversation are my version of walking and chewing gum at the same time. I'm too easily distracted to cook while friends are in the kitchen. I either burn the entree, or flub the chitchat. So I usually plan cook-ahead dinners. This, I realize, is a huge hostess shortcoming.

If, however, there ever was a dish I could prepare while chatting it up with guests, it would be this beet salad. It's so simple, it might just be easy enough for me to multi-task. I put the finishing touches on recently while chatting with our good friends and dinner guests Shem & Rebecca and nothing bad happened..no sliced-open fingers or outfits ruined by beet stains. Victory!

If your garden, like mine, is booming with beets and simple salads appeal to your sensibilities, I'd highly recommend giving this recipe a try. Guests or no guests, it's a darn tasty dish.

Cold Citrus and Beet Salad
Chop tops and bottoms off 1.5lbs beets -- boil til tender and quarter
Peel and separate two naval oranges, cut into bit sized pieces
Add one thinly sliced onion
Toss oranges, onion, and beets in olive oil
Top with sliced almonds and crumbled bleu cheese

Many thanks to @eleanorpie for the inspiration, and to @stickymommy & her hubs for joining us for dinner


When the living is easy

"This is the kind of town where the rush hour traffic halts
                to let three wild turkeys cross the road,
and when the high school music teacher retires
after thirty years

the movie marquee says, 'Thanks Mr. Biddleman!'
and the whole town comes to hear
                the tuba solos of old students.

Summer, when the living is easy..."


Everything, all at once

Before I grew my own vegetables, I had it all wrong. I thought all the vegetables came at once, like a veritable salad bar in my own backyard. But of course, it doesn't work that way.  I've got plenty of lettuce and cucumbers, but my tomatoes and carrots are far from ready. Things are a little out of sync.

Of course, you can plan ahead. You can stagger some seeds and stretch the growing season. But control is mostly an illusion. Try as you might, there's always a curve ball coming...a flood or a drought, beetles or blight. You can influence nature, but there are no guarantees. And then, when the timing is right, you'd better be ready! Right now I am buried in beets and all these bulbous yellow summer squash are starting to embarrass me. There are far too many. I can hardly keep up! 

Sounds familiar, doesn't it? Rarely in life do we have everything, all at once. As I write this, I know it's true. But it's still hard to accept sometimes!

Health, love, career success, friendship, adventure, creativity, security, passion..they all have their seasons. Maybe you love where you live, but you hate your job. Maybe you've found your soul mate, but are feeling stressed about some unforeseen bills. Maybe that's OK.

There were years when my career made me feel successful, important and needed, but it hasn't been the same since I moved to Vermont. Some days I really miss the external validation of pay increases and performance reviews. Maybe I always will. Maybe that's OK. I'm busy cultivating a lot of other crops right now.

It's easy to look at what we don't have feel like we are doing something wrong. But that's the illusion of the backyard salad bar. I'd never call myself a failed gardener, just because my carrots are still puny. Just look at those beets! Perhaps it's time I give myself the same break for all the other seasons, as well.

*Apologies to The Byrds