By: Lucia Kearney
We’re going through some intense and important times. Change times. Waking up times. I think it’s important to pay attention in these times, to not look away. But I think it’s important to remember the daily miracles of life as well. These things are not mutually exclusive; we can hold both in our hearts and minds.
And so, here are a few beautiful things that happened in the last few days on the farm and that make me grateful to be a farmer.
We’ve been having quite a time with aphids this year. As organic farmers, we’re more than happy to steer clear of synthetic pesticides. Instead, we get creative, we learn from the ecosystem, we plan ahead. And sometimes we bring in helpers. Cue ladybugs.
Ladybugs love to eat aphids. Our ladybugs arrived overnight in the mail. Once Hallie opened up the bag, they were excited to get out onto the farm. Hallie ran allover, leaving handfuls of ladybugs behind. In farming lingo, beneficial insects are also known as a biological control. It’s why we let wasps nest in the sides of our high tunnels: although, they have been known to occasionally sting interns, they also predate soft-bodied pests, like tomato hornworms, that like to eat our crops.
The ladybugs seem to have settled in nicely. Below you can see them on baby arugula in the greenhouse waiting to be transplanted out, and on mint and sage respectively in the herb garden.
Ladybugs weren’t our only new arrival on the farm this week – we also welcomed some baby chicks!
Like the ladybugs, they arrived overnight in the mail (thank you US Postal Service!). Baby chicks can travel safely in the mail because for the first two days of life they’re still digesting the yolk sack from the egg. The postal service has been sending chicks through them mail for decades, and has protocol in place so that chicks are shipped quickly, handled gently, and kept warm on their journey.
(Buster was very curious about the new arrivals)
They settled into their new home quickly, eating some feed, and then gathering beneath the heat lamp for a toasty nap. When they get big enough, we’ll move them outside to our chicken tractor (a chicken house on wheels that we can move everyday to make sure that the chickens get fresh pasture). In 12 weeks, they’ll be ready for slaughter, but we’re trying not to think about that quite yet…
Instead (in case things weren’t cute enough) you can check out this picture of Nico and Willa singing to the chicks earlier today.
Garlic is one of my favorite crops. It’s planted in the fall when the season is winding down. Covered with a thick layer of straw, it overwinters and is one of the first green things to poke through the soil in the spring. It grows steadily along until it’s harvested at the height of summer.
We are growing hardneck varieties on the farm (softneck varieties are the garlic that you see woven into braids), the benefit of which is that we get to harvest garlic scapes. What are garlic scapes you might ask?
These are garlic scapes:
The garlic scape is the flower stalk and bud of the garlic plant, harvested before the flowers open. They have a mild garlic taste, and can be used in a variety of recipes. I like to chop them up and sauté them as you might garlic or onions at the beginning of a recipe; Hallie likes to grill them whole.
Harvesting the scapes not only makes for a tasty treat, but it helps us grow larger garlic heads as well. Once the stalk is cut, energy that the plant would be putting towards flowering can be redirected towards the bulb.
I love them. They have such an elegant curve to them, taste delicious, and remind us that in the near future we’ll be harvesting garlic!