Farmer John Writes: This is Farming

 In Farm News

Holiday Season Week 3, Deliveries of November 21st – 25th, 2023

For Some, This is the Last Week of Deliveries

Welcome to Week 3 of our 4-Week Holiday Season.

For some shareholders with a bi-weekly holiday season share, this is the final week of deliveries. Thank you for being with us this season.

If you are unsure of your delivery schedule, check the delivery calendar in your membership account.

The Crops

Kale, Brussels Sprouts, Parsley—still bringing these frost resistant crops in from the field. I think this week is the last for the Brussels sprouts, last for the parsley, and not the last for the kale.

Kale—now giving kale tops, which include baby leaves—very sweet frost-enhanced kale.

Spinach—thoroughly sweetened by frosts. I think you will love it. However, the spinach is re-growth, so some of the tips of the leaves are cut, due to a previous harvest. Overall, I think the leaves look okay. However, there were a lot of weeds in the spinach. We don’t have time to remove all of them, so please do this sorting/grading yourself. Spinach from our fields in mid-November is a rare culinary treat.

Substitution: Carrots for Onions. The onions didn’t store well. They looked like they held up, but shareholders reported that, in spite of looking like good onions, inside, some were spoiled. I forgot to list carrots as a customization option for this week’s boxes, so am happy to have carrots available to substitute for onions. 

Actually, just because, we are going to put a small bag of carrots into every box, whether onions were ordered or not. Carrots seem like a great addition to the Thanksgiving table; I’m glad to offer carrots.

Further Note on Onions: Upon closer examination and evaluation, we determined that a minority of the onions has turned bad, maybe one out of 10 or 15. We can’t throw out so many good onions on behalf of the bad onions. We are going to more closely evaluate the onions and discard what seems spoiled. We might miss a bad onion or discard a good onion—this happens in life. We plan to add onions as some of the Farmer’s Choice option to boxes next week. You might get an onion next week, and it will probably be a good onion.

Victor backs up the last load of celeriac

holiday squash

The Weather

Last week, the weather was mild. Sometimes this happens in November. We seized the weather, did a lot of harvesting and grading and work around the farm.

Customer Service

I’m kind of keeping up. It’s the toughest job on the farm, at least for me. Most shareholders are kind; some are merciless.

The Crew

The last day for the H-2A workers is Friday, Nov 24th. They are the best crew ever.

Boni left last Friday to visit his brothers in the Northeast, whom he had not seen for 20 years.

“Thank you, John, for bringing me here,” said Boni. “I thought I would never see my brothers again.”

Boni is my idea of how human beings should be for one another

The Work

We did a couple of jobs last week that were long overdue—cleaned a fence line and repaired and re-stained the granary deck.

The fence line—when I came back from the film tour 13 years ago, my fresh eyes were horrified by how shabby the farm had become, and how unintentional and chaotic the fence line west of the buildings had become. I undertook to clean it and organize it, which required a large dumpster for trash and the scrapping of a lot of obsolete pieces of machinery and other steel.

13 years later, the fence line had again become more of a dump than a repository, lined with broken washing machines, disengorged cement columns, obsolete or dismembered farm machines, spare parts, rotting wood beams, etc. We undertook to clean and organize it again. The farm needs an inventory of building materials and spare parts, but the array had become overwhelming and the appropriateness of much of it had become marginal.

thoroughly decayed trusses for a shop addition that was never built

spare machinery parts and welding materials that made the cut for another 10 years, now stored in a truck bed

End of the Season

As we wind down the season, I think about the building maintenance and repairs that ideally should have been done during the season, but were not undertaken due to time constraints. As the weather turns cold, I resign myself to that some building projects will not happen (and maybe some will, dependent on weather). Machinery maintenance and upgrades can go on throughout the winter, thanks to our heated shop.

To do—15 years ago, maybe more, we built observation decks on either side of the cupola that sits on top of our corn crib. (We used to elevate our ear corn and oats into the cupola and down into bins for feed storage for our cattle and chickens.) The decks still need a staircase and railings to complete the lyrical plan. This winter? Maybe.

cupola decks needs staircase and railings

As shareholders, you are part of our farm. I hope I adequately convey to you the satisfactions and frustrations that attend the operation of this farm, that you at least somewhat experienced the joys of jobs accomplished and the disappointments of jobs undone. 

This is farming—the done and the not-done and the kind-of-done and the soon-to-be-done-maybe.


Thanks to all our workers for the great season. Thanks to the weather, the fertile soil, and to the reliable equipment. And thank you to all of you shareholders, who make it possible for our farm to exist.


Farmer #1: Do you like your life? My wife wants to know.

Farmer #2: Like my life?

Farmer #1: Yeah, the life you live. Do you like it or do you just go through with it, kind of endure it. My wife wanted me to ask. She gets to the point of things. 

Farmer #2: I’ll have to get back to you on this. Give me three to six days to respond.

Farmer John

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  • Elizabeth Di Cola

    This will be our last week of the season and I will miss our every other week of abundance. And I will miss our weekly farm news, keeping us linked to the life of the farm. Farmer John, you are a special human being and I learn so much about farming and life from your writings. I wish the Crew safe travels back to their homes and Boni the blessing of seeing his brother again. Without you we could not share in the abundance of the farm … and only because of you is there abundance! Happy Thanksgiving to all. We are grateful for you.

    • Farmer John

      Elizabeth, Thank you for your beautiful tribute. I will read it to the crew tomorrow. And thank you for reading Farm News. It is another way for us to bring the farm to you, as it is not so easy to come experience the farm directly on a regular basis.

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