Healthy Harvest Notes

This is another letter from one of our farmers in Middlefield- the Healthy Harvester.  You may have met him at a  Customer Appreciation BBQ

I did a very poor job of writing anything last year, quite poor indeed.  Seems it always got pushed off until some “not so busy” rainy day in the indefinite future.  Never happens.  At least not to fit my work schedule.  And finally this winter I get down to it, but I never get far.  What have I to write about?  I get half a paragraph done and writer’s block sets in and I can’t put another two words together to suit me.  Maybe that’s the trouble.  If I wouldn’t be so particular  I’d get farther.  So here we go on an adventure with words.  If I get stuck  I’ll just write around the block, so I get too wordy without saying anything, somebody might have to be an editor.  And editors usually have trash cans, if ti doesn’t make the grade, it’ll get pitched.

Okay, where do I start?  I probably missed all kinds of interesting tidbits last summer and fall by by not writing a thing, didn’t even keep a diary.  Didn’t even keep crop records like I should have.  And I haven’t an excuse in the world that I know of.  Maybe I will ask my wife, she might have an excuse for me.  Anyhow, you are probably interested in what I’m currently doing, not in might-have-beens.  So what’s current?  How current?  Let’s see, at the moment I’m sitting on a recliner with a tablet on my legs writing longhand with a pencil.  Yes, I am.  Since I’m an Amish man, I don’t have electronics around, so I do things the old fashioned way.  And this pencil works just fine.  The words are recorded just as fast as if I had a laptop and could touch type.  Probably faster, because I would be tempted to do all kinds of other things with the computer instead of getting down to business.

Check one-two.  Am I still current?  Off the subject, says brain center.  Reroute your word processor and talk about actual farming!  Oh my!  So that’s way I’m writing this.  Good thing I’m a better farmer than writer, I’d never keep on track.  Let’s see now, current activities…

NO, we don’t hibernate  we actually have activities on the farm this time of year.  Today we filled our ice house with ice for next summer.  Our ice house is also our produce cooler in the warm weather.  It’s actually better than a mechanical cooler because it’s much more moist and so keeps a fresher product.  We try to get all our produce on the truck fresh out of the field, but depending on the product and the weather, it’s not always possible.

So what’s putting up ice like?  In our neighborhood, we have a total of six ice houses we help fill.  So if we all help each other we’ve got a pretty big crew.  And many hands make light work.  We moved over 20 tons of ice from the surface of a pond 1000 feet away from the ice house and stacked it eight feet high inside.  We worked from about 10:00 until just a little after 4:00.  Let’s see, there were between ten and twelve of us all the time.   We had two teams of Belgian workhorses in bobsleds hauling the ice, one loading and one unloading at all times.  Several men worked int eh ice house unloading and stacking and the rest worked on the pond cutting and and loading.  I personally cut all the ice out of the water because it was my ice house.  That way, if pieces were goo too wide or long, I’d be the one to suffer.  I used a chainsaw mounted on a two wheeled cart, so I wouldn’t have to bend over. Okay, now that’s enough on ice houses.  Oh, and I really like that it doesn’t burn fuel to keep the produce cold.  Last winter was so mild we didn’t get any ice.  So much for saving fuel, I had to buy ice.

I really like this time of year.  Right now, we’re on the dividing line between growing seasons.  Last week we finished threshing beans and this week we plan to dig the rest of the carrots, and next week we start planting onions and such for next summer.  We keep on blurring the dividing line between seasons.  This year I have a hoop house covered with clear plastic where I planted greens in early November.  Way too late under any other circumstances.  But the sun shines in there and warms it up and they’re growing!  Even if the days are short!

I had trouble keeping the hoop house standing for awhile there.  Another of those learning experiences on the farm when we try something new.  I put it up nice and neat just the week before Hurricane Sandy spluttered his remaining fits over our area.  The high winds derobed my beautiful hoop frame and left just a skeleton.  We didn’t exactly appreciate her uncovered  so we tried again, this time weighting the plastic down a lot more.  A couple of weeks later we got some more high winds which again left her completely bare.  Next time we again weighted it down plus pounded in stakes and crisscrossed 1/4 inch nylon rope over the top and tied it down tight.  Worked beautifully.  The greens are growing nice, so there is my first successful covered winter crop with no supplemental heat.

If it works like ti looks to be working, I can’t wait to put up a lot more this fall.  Over the beds kale and chard and carrots and beets and mustard and kohlrabi and lettuce., to harvest fresh all winter long.  Oh my.  I love farming.  The rich rewards of growing and harvesting sweet rich healthy crops full of nutrients for us to eat.  What joy!  As opposed to crowing a commodity that is processed to oblivion and then reconstituted by food engineers with PhD’s behind their names to sell to people as food.  Add on irradiation and homogenization and chemical preservation and pasteurization or amalgamation and it ends up being no wonder we need the amount of hospitals and doctors we do to care for our sickness.  Ill health is usually a result of unwise choices over a period of years which eventually degrades our body to the point where sickness can set in.  But I am no people doctor, just a lowly plant doctor so I won’t pass any opinions other than that.  Though plants and higher organisms share many amazing characteristics concerning food health and resisting disease.  But seriously it must be time to retire.  I’ve almost bored myself this last paragraph so better stop.  Wow, what an adventure with words!  Til next time!

May you enjoy good food and have happy children!

The Healthy Harvester


  1. Jude on January 27, 2016 at 3:49 am

    Hi That was an interesting and fun read. Thanks for sharing about the Ice house and I agree with you. I think that simple and basic food helps us avoid a lot of ills.

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