In many ways, I think that the farm season can be looked upon as a metaphor for life - in an abbreviated time period one experiences the highs and lows that otherwise are stretched out over the course of a lifetime. This said, some weeks are better than others, and we can hope that they even out in the end.
This was one of those weeks that we'd rather not have too many of. As much as you might hear me complain of fierce winds, late freezes, or extreme heat, a farmer's worst enemy, without doubt, is hail. This week, these destructive bullets of ice fell from the sky here not once, not twice, but three times. Friday evening we saw near-golf ball sized hail fall from the sky, and to add further insult to injury, more fell in the early morning hours of Saturday. Not exactly what we had in mind for summer to officially start. So many emotions seize you as you hear hail begin. First there is sadness. Our house has a metal roof, so as I sat in the hallway with my fingers plugging my ears, it sounded as though I was in a tin can. My heart raced and a choking anxiety seemed to be pinching my throat. I worried for the vulnerable, defenseless, plants that we've been nurturing. After about 10 minutes of this deafening, stampede of hail, it stopped. When we were able to assess the damage in the morning, there was a feeling of grief then anger. Why did this happen? And, then finally after a day of mourning this battery that Mother Nature handed our crops, I came around to feeling grateful. I remember the devastation that many Front Range farms experienced last summer, and recollect having my 3/4 acre garden in Longmont wiped out the day after transplanting out my warm season crops one year. It can always be worse.
Luckily our greens are in the hoophouses so they were not affected, by and large our tomatoes and pepper plants had not fruited yet so there was minimal loss there, and the root crops are mature enough that they will not show much, if any, signs of harm. However, it does mean that the plants will be stressed. There is a lot of foliar damage to just about everything in the field and many of our new seedlings (winter and summer squash, beans, and corn) were left looking especially ragged. The tender pea leaves were left with a mosaic of holes, and the sugar snap and snow peas were left scarred. I can personally attest to them being as sweet and delicious as ever, albeit a bit "weathered", or perhaps we can look at them as "beauty marks" - they tell a story of the short life they've lived. The good news is that the weather is supposed to turn warm (finally!!), and this means that the warm season crops should finally start on a sharp trajectory of growth after this cool, wet spring.
Earlier in our week, we lost one of our best farm buddies, Spirit the Beagle. If Spirit was a human, I always thought she would've been the class clown (she was a total goofball that always made us laugh with her crazy antics) or Miss Congeniality (she was happy-go-lucky and didn't meet another dog or human that she didn't love). She loved life on the farm, and I am certain she ate more radishes and turnips than most grown men. She preferred carrots as her treat of choice and had been adopted by the chickens as an honorary member of their flock. She could always be found hanging out with them in their coop if she was nowhere to be found. She pranced on her tiptoes as we walked, and always had her nose to the ground and white-tipped tail pointed to the skies searching for the next meal. She kept me sane by walking miles upon miles with me up 2375 and Surface Creek Roads through this past cold and snowy winter when none of the other dogs wanted to venture outdoors, and not a day ever went by when I wasn't grateful to have recused her almost eight years ago. I miss her being my "sous chef", always waiting to clean the floor as I made dinner, and not having her in the crook of my legs as I sit on the couch and write our weekly newsletter, but am comforted knowing that she is at peace having crossed the rainbow bridge. What would we do without these best friends in our lives?!
I found myself often thinking of the parable of the horse this week, which, if you're not familiar, the gist is that regardless of what is handed to you, don't immediately jump to conclusions - who are we to know what is good or what is bad. Accept what comes our way and do our best to be content in the present, even if it's not what we expected or desired. A rough week on the farm has a way of making us even more grateful for what we do have and certainly for what we don't have as well.
And with this, we wish each of you a wonderful week ahead! Thank you for your support of our farm and local, organic agriculture! It is our great privilege and honor to be growing food for you.
In gratitude, Melissa & Cale