Farmer John Writes: Monet Did it, Too

Pre-Season Farm Update
We hope you enjoy this pre-season farm update. Deliveries of full 20-week shares will start the week of July 8. Some 10-week half shares will start the following week. Shareholders will receive more information about their farm shares before deliveries start. Shareholders can also log in to their membership account at www.harvie.farm/login.

And if you are not yet a member of our farm, you can still sign up for a 2019 farm share here.

Time
Every winter at Angelic Organics, we create a schedule for planting and harvesting crops. This choreography can almost always be implemented in a timely way, even if spring weather is adverse. This year, however, weather adversity leapt outside its usual boundaries, and hampered us mightily in the timeliness of plantings.

Old clock in the farm office

If we had adhered to our original delivery schedule, which would have started the week of June 10, you would have had available only kale, pea shoots, cilantro, and scallions to choose from. Normally, you would have also had spinach, lettuce, radishes, heads of choi, and maybe beets and broccoli.

Monet
I recently read an article about Claude Monet’s painting Wisteria. This year, it was discovered that Monet had painted Wisteria over a prior painting of water lilies. When the painting was closely examined, it turns out it had been retouched to cover up holes containing bits of broken glass, likely caused by an Allied bomb that shattered many of the windows in Monet’s studio during the Second World War–another sort of violent storm.

If farming is art, then consider that this season, due to storms, we laid a new picture of the season over a former picture. 

Deficit
This means that several early season crops, such as radishes and spring turnips will be missing from the picture–also spinach which does not hold up well in perpetually wet silty clay loam soil nor in the late June sun.

One of several wet spots we had to navigate for weeks to get to our higher fields

One of several wet spots we had to navigate for weeks to get to our higher fields

Abundance
It also means that our sequential plantings of head lettuce, scheduled to be planted over several weeks in early spring, all went into the ground very late in a two day window–lots of lettuce coming your way…lots of broccoli, too. You might find this abundance too sudden, but please bear with us in this record-breaking year of rains.

What Might be Available for You to Choose from for Your First Delivery?
As noted, lettuce and broccoli; also scallions, garlic scapes, parsley, pea shoots, rainbow chard, kale, cilantro (maybe), arugula (maybe), beets (maybe). More lettuce, more broccoli.

Eduardo cultivates broccoli

Irrigation?
Speaking of rain, we spent a few days this past week laying out our irrigation system for the season. Wet weather extremes can moderate, or they can lead to other extremes, such as heat and drought. Rain follows rain, until it doesn’t. If we need to irrigate later in the summer, we’ll have time to turn the system on, but no time to lay it out.

Weeds
I’ll add that the rains of the past few seasons seem to have made our soil more hospitable to certain weeds, such as quickweed and foxtail. Perhaps the biochemistry of the soil has changed due to the saturation of the soil with moisture, or maybe the pounding rains have compacted the soil, making it more conducive to germination of certain types of weeds. For years, I was very happy with our level of weed control here, but now the weeds have made quite the comeback in certain fields. The crew has already weeded all of our crops–they have weeded some of the fields several times–so the crops look good now, but once we start harvesting, we will have less time to control the weeds. 

Recently weeded scallions

Recently weeded scallions

Tour Some of Our Fields
Here’s a video of some of our fields, taken on the Summer Solstice, June 21.

Wet
Even while many of our fields are flourishing after drying out a bit, some of our other fields are still impossibly muddy. Fortunately, these extra wet fields were scheduled to be fallow (at rest) this year.

June 15, 2019; We buried our 6430.

I got a tractor stuck about this bad in this same field in 1973–even worse than this. Back then, the field was so wet we thought the tractor might actually sink out of sight. It took a 250-foot cable and an enormous bulldozer to get it out. Now, back to 2019.

Morning of June 17, 2019; Eduardo mucks mud

We were unable to get the tractor out with shovels, tow straps and another big tractor. 

I called Marty Mumm, the salesman I bought the tractor from nine years ago, to ask him if he knew of a towing service that could winch it out. 

Marty said, “I’ll come look at it.”

Marty came out, assessed the situation, jumped into our Bobcat loader, artfully mucked about with it, and fashioned a ramp in the mud that allowed us to pull the tractor to dry ground.

Afternoon of June 17: Marty pushes with the Bobcat; Farmer John drives the 6430; Victor pulls with the big 1566 International tractor. View the dramatic rescue

“You are a genius, Marty,” I exclaimed.

“Oh, it’s just something I like to do–get things unstuck.”

“What do I owe you for your great work?”

“Nothing–just glad to help out.”

That’s Marty Mumm, my friends–our hero of the season.

June 22; Victor power washes the undercarriage of the 6430. It seems the only damage done was a front flat tire.

Like new–the tractor that Marty Mumm sold me in 2010

We look forward to delivering your vegetables soon, rain or shine.

Warmly, 
Farmer John

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Showing 9 comments
  • Cindy Stear
    Reply

    How far away does Marty live? I would like to thank him with a gift card.

    • Angelic Organics
      Reply

      Hi Cindy. That is so very kind of you. Thank you. Here is the address of Marty’s workplace:

      Martin Mumm
      Mid-State Equipment
      4323 E, US-14
      Janesville, WI 53546

  • Christine
    Reply

    Thank you for sharing these stories. I’m very excited to receive my first share!

    • Chris Holden
      Reply

      Lucky truck, unstuck truck

  • Alisa
    Reply

    I like hearing these types of stories about how the food on my plate actually got there. It’s so easy to forget that people had to work hard to get it to me. I’m grateful for what you, Marty, and all the other people working with the farm do for us. Thank you.

  • Barbara Holman
    Reply

    Farmer John, I love the story about Monet’s Wisteria, and your likening it to the fields this year. I will write to the author of the story in the Smithsonian separately, but either the shattered glass from bombs was WWI, or Monet didn’t do the repainting. He died in 1926. His large waterlilies, for which the Orangerie was built, were painted specifically as a gift to the people following the horrible devastation of WWI, to provide a place for peace and quiet and beauty for healing. Isn’t that lovely?

  • Nancy Barrett
    Reply

    Yay, Marty! Looking forward to those vegetables.

  • Carla
    Reply

    We love you, Angelic Organics! Thank you for your persistence and your commitment to feed us so beautifully. Your expertise, skill, and commitment are amazing, and we are grateful.

  • Cristina
    Reply

    Way to go Marty! Good work all!

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