It's that time of year when it's tough to keep track of what day of the week it even is. Things have turned topsy turvy with the holidays - folks are traveling, it seems everyone is off of work, and stores and businesses have holiday hours in effect. The snow arrived just in time here to gift us with a White Christmas and the cold temperatures have persisted leaving everything in sight with the look of a glazed donut, like sugar crystals glistening in radiant light.
Cale has been traveling to see family for a few days, and it's left me here to tend to the chickens and other animals, our hoophouse crops, and all microrgreens in our grow room. Never has the house seemed more quiet and still. And, while for a moment I think I was suffering from a case of cabin fever, I quickly reminded myself what a luxury it is to have this down time to leisurely read, cook (I even tried my hand at homemade yogurt this week!), do yoga, make gifts, clean, and do all the things that I wish I had the time for come mid-July. I feel like that pink Ever-ready battery bunny getting recharged for the next round. Admittedly, by the end of the summer season, I feel exhausted, totally beat. My skin is bronzed a deep tan with an unmistakable purple undertone from what I'm sure is overexposure to the sun regardless of how much sunscreen I apply, my back feels like it could crack right in half, my toes and heels have developed callused cracks so deep they feel like sand paper from wearing Chacos for months on end, and my body feels a general achiness that can only be cured by weeks of down time. However, I reach the point where we are at in the winter right now, and I can feel my stamina, both physical and mental, have rebuilt themselves. As I finalize our seed orders, I again feel that amazing flutter in my insides at the thought of seeding the first crops in the field, I sense the nervous anticipation of anxiously watching for germination in the seed flats for what will be our summer crops, and I long for the warmth of the sun on my bare shoulders and the feel of the soil underneath my nails. I cannot wait to get back to the field and do what I absolutely love the most, honor the earth by being a steward, a caretaker, for the incredibly diverse array of life in our field.
And, what a year it has been. Although challenging, to say the least, with the drought, it exposed a compassionate and understanding side of humanity that otherwise may have remained hidden. We experienced generosity on a scale that was before unknown to us, and there seemed to grow a camaraderie amongst the farm community that would rival any Major League baseball team - we were in it to win it and for the long haul. It is easy to get hung up on the gigantic water bills that without doubt hurt our pocket books and the incredible number of hours that were spent working on irrigation and the sheer amount of sleep that we lost worrying about our crops surviving in this high desert drought, but what I would like to take and remember most from this year of farming is the unwavering support of a community that rallied behind our farm and carried us with their encouragement through some very strenuous and uncertain times. For this, we thank you all for a tremendous year of growing.
In many ways we consider this our first true season of growing on the Western Slope - it was the first season that we both worked at the farm full-time, we doubled the amount of space that we had planted to veggies, our summer CSA grew from two to 13 members (and the fall CSA doubled in size as well!), it was our first full season at the Ridgway Farmer's Market, and we had a full spring to get things planted (as opposed to 2017 when we got a late start due to our relocation). And, it was everything and more than we could've ever imagined. The blood, sweat, and tears that were shed in that field (and, yes, all three have baptized our soil!) were the culmination of so much gratitude, pride, pain, humility, complete wonder, and unbelievable joy and amazement, like the feeling you'd get on Christmas morning as a kid (how did he fit that new 10-speed bicycle down that small chimney??). We are thrilled to be able to experience this all again next season and to have you as part of our farm and lives as we gracefully stride into the new year.
This week we will be harvesting and provided we do not lose the greens to these very cold nights that are forecasted, we will have a gorgeous new bed of salad greens, spinach, baby chard, baby kale, and tatsoi available - some in more limited quantities than others. We have an abundance of amazing pea shoots, which if you haven't tried, you should! We are happy to be offering another microgreen "shoot", buckwheat, starting this week. We have lots of storage onions, carrots, beets, sunchokes, and winter squash...so much beautiful bounty! This week we are also offering dried San Marzano tomatoes from this past summer's garden and a new type of heirloom cornmeal ground from Oaxacan green corn. Please have any order in by Thursday evening for Saturday pick-up at the farm. Also, please note that when ordering online, you will receive a confirmation email. If you do not receive this, please send us an email so that we can help process your order.
To order, please visit: https://www.ultreiafarmstead.com/shop And, with this, we wish each of you the happiest and healthiest of new years. May all the blessings of this season of new beginnings be there for each of you. Thank you for your continued support of our farm and local, organic agriculture. It is our privilege and honor to be growing food for you.
In gratitude, Melissa & Cale