harvest rolls in

Tuesday night for house meeting, we ate a meal consisting entirely of farm foods. Fresh chicken, fried up crispy and juicy. Purple podded pole beans, tossed with oil and vinegar. Fresh corn on the cobb, white and yellow and purple.

This is a major landmark. We’re not just eating our own home-grown foods, we’re making enough of it to make an entire meal for the household. This sustainability stuff is getting somewhere! :)

On that note, we’ve been invited to speak in a UNM Sustainability Studies course this fall, too. The instructor is Bruce Milne, UNM’s Sustainability Studies director. Rev ran into him on his way across campus the other day, and as they know each other from somewhere, they hung out for a while, during which time, Rev mentioned us. Bruce then emailed me to mention that he’s interested in yurts, working on a Harvest Vehicle project (still in the design phase) that would help small farmers get their produce to market by travelling between farms, supplying labor & equipment during harvest season, and teaching this sustainability practicum class where he wants people in the local foodshed to come talk. I think we can say that we are in the foodshed now. He also has his students go do things in the community, and is going to list our work parties as one way his students can meet that requirement. That is exciting!

i keep having days and evenings that look like this:

there’s something really beautiful about that. i put up eight more quarts of pickles on wednesday, this time by my own made-up-on-the-spot recipe, with water, salt, AC vinegar (because i could not for the life of me *find* the 2-gallon white vinegar jug), fresh dill, whole garlic cloves, and a little bit of honey. We’ll see how that goes. I had leftover pickling liquid, so i soaked some sliced cucumbers in it overnight, and brought them to the department potluck yesterday morning. They were tasty and well-received.

While i was clearing the cucumber emergency out of the fridge, i froze two pints of rapidly-softening tomatoes, and dried about another pint worth of ones that needed to have spots cut off. a night alone, spent in service to the garden and the web i’m living in, felt very, very good. soothing. this morning i picked that many tomatoes again, on my way through the soaking garden—we got a fair amount of rain last night and this morning, and everything is slick and muddy and sticking to your feet again out there. i am really looking forward to the day we get a patio, or even some sand, between the house, pump house, and yurt! i practically slid into the house this morning, the clay is so slick.

wednesday also, when Alan got home, we bundled and hung up the corn to dry:

This is the first time i’ve really harvested corn. When I was a kid, we used to drive down to Dewey, to buy fresh sweet corn at Young’s Farm, a family-run enterprise that I was deeply sorry to see has closed in the last couple years. That was fresh corn, picked that day or a day or two before at most. But this corn is the most intensely fresh stuff i’ve ever eaten–picked minutes before going into the boiling pot. I love the purple and red kernels. It is Seeds of Change Inca rainbow corn, a cross that makes both good sweet corn, and good drying corn for flour & polenta. it should make a beautiful flour. we even already have a grain mill for grinding it.

In harvesting it, we found about twelve different kind of bugs that were also doing their best to harvest it. mostly tiny black beetles, and caterpillars. This has all been scrubbed well to remove all insects, living & dead, prior to drying. We are going to stay on top of the harvest process now, so as to not lose too much to insect damage. We hope to have some corn for our upcoming Harvest Festival on labor day.

a beautiful arch of lima beans in the corn patch:

the garden finally has a good strong spider population. This beauty was hanging out in the sunberries, but i found two of her sisters in the corn the next day. When we moved in, we found many large Golden Orb Weavers on the land, a spider roughly the size of my hand (okay, i have small hands), yellow and black, majestically beautiful, with a huge zig-zag seam sewn down the center of her web. They didn’t come back last year, and I was worried that our various land-clearing and usage-changing activities had disturbed the habitat too badly; they had mostly been living in the enormous thickets of ragweed we cut down the first year (said thickets being in the way of things like closing or even getting through the barnyard gate, for instance). It is a relief to see their smaller cousins returning this year, and i hope there will be more orb weavers this fall and in succedent years!

and here are the sunberries that spider is living in, for those who were curious about them. they’re prolific, heat-tolerant and very tasty. They keep producing for months. They’re in the nightshade family (like tomatoes, potatoes, peppers & eggplants), and the berries are each about a centimeter in diameter.

i’m off to the probably-rather-soggy but ever-beautiful mountains in the Pecos Wilderness this weekend, with the delightful . next week, more corn, beans, canning tomatoes, plums & more apples. and, oh yeah, Fall Semester. isn’t the academic schedule supposed to allow farmers time to get our work done before the freight train of the oncoming semester smashes us flat? if that was the point, it sure is failing.