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ICYMI: What's New at Great Oak Farm!

Posted 9/25/2017 3:30pm by Stefanie Jaeger.

Farming is very much a game of playing the odds. As the fairly predictable weather of summer gives way to the anything-goes-roller-coaster of fall, keeping track of the odds becomes a critical part of the farming equation. A forecast junkie, I habitually check the weather radar every time I turn on the computer, ending up there whether I intended to or not. Gears spinning in my head quickly evaluate the changes in percentages of rain, thunder storms, sunshine, or cold/frost from the last time I checked the forecast. These changes are weighed carefully against what tasks need to be accomplished for the day and the week, and a course of action is plotted. Repeat hourly as needed. As the captain of this produce ship, I am charged with simultaneously keeping one eye on the horizon and one directly off the bow, constantly readjusting my course to keep the harvest on course and not run aground.

This time of year, having a good crew here on the farm is critical to success. In order to better handle the rigging and keep ahead of the weather, at the end of August we hired on an additional farmhand, Evan. Evan worked here a few years ago for a summer, and has worked on a variety of area farms since then – we are glad to welcome him back on the crew! Having another set of capable hands on the team has been wonderful, and the 3 of us here have been tackling a host of projects. In addition to regular weekly harvests of produce (still picking beans and sweet corn in late September!), the past 2 weeks found us busy getting summer crops out of the hoophouses and prepping the ground in there for winter spinach plantings. The first plantings of winter spinach are up and looking great, and we’ve got 3 more plantings on the way to keep the spinach coming all season long in your winter CSA boxes. For our big project next week, we’ll be pouring a new concrete slab in the root cellar to replace the old gravel floor, which will be an exciting development. That way we can move whole bins of carrots, cabbage, beets, and such around with the pallet jack instead of in 80# sacks by hand. My body is grateful already. Meanwhile, we’ll be watching the weather closely as fall progresses, ready to turn hard starboard as fast as we can and get back to the big storage crop harvests when a cold front appears on the horizon. The onions were the first of the winter crops to get harvested, and I am happy to report they are curing down splendidly in the greenhouse. The next big harvest will be the winter squash, and we’ll need to get it in before the first hard frost settles down in the fields. The longer we leave them to grow in the fields the sweeter they will be this winter – but wait too long and we could lose them to frost damage. Always playing the odds! Enjoy the warm weather while it lasts everyone.

Yours in community, Chris Duke and company – Great Oak Farm


Onions curing for winter