Welcome!

14Welcome to our farm’s blog and website! Oakhill Organics is a family-run farm located on Grand Island. We grow everything we sell right here on our farm, and everything that we grow is sold directly to customers here in Yamhill County! We sell primarily through our unique 45-week long Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, which offers customizable share sizes and contents. You can find out more information about what and how we grow by following the links above; or, scroll down to read our latest farm news on our blog!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

Posted in News & Updates | Leave a comment

Late summer pause

Sunflower = the symbol of late summer!

Sunflower = the symbol of late summer!

I had a very unfamiliar experience this week. During my normal Monday afternoon office work session, I … finished my ‘to do’ list. And dealt with all the papers on my desk. I … finished.

How often in our adult lives do we get this sensation anymore? Of actual completion. I remember loving that feeling as a student of finishing a quarter and taking a clean break before the next term began. Rarely do we ever have quite that same level of “doneness” anymore, except perhaps the awesome feeling of wrapping up the CSA season. That feels good, but it’s a once a year deal.

Anyhow, I’m not really done right now. I was just done on Monday. Which is still rare. I usually have work that has to necessarily carry over to later work sessions. But I think this is part of where Casey and I are in the seasonal cycle of the year and also where we are at this season in life.

As far as the yearly cycle, one could say that we are in the midst of a big in-breath as we prepare for big fall harvests. Aside from the fruit, we’re not really in the midst of these big projects yet. But most of the planting and much of the weeding for the year is done. So, we breathe in and prepare ourselves.

I also don’t have any big pressing farm paperwork projects — late August is a relative lull, as I’m not thinking about taxes or CSA sign-ups or such. I’ve been keeping up with the monthly bookkeeping, so it’s a time to just keep going: paying the bills that come in and processing payments.

And, on the homefront, the kids and my summer schedule is winding down. I’ve already finished planning our homeschooling year, which starts next Monday. Since planning is done but school is yet to begin, I once again have a moment to pause and breathe in deeply.

Those things all give us a moment of pause, but I also think that things are happening in our life too that are changing (slowly) how “caught up” we feel.

I will tell you these things: starting a farm, building a house, and then starting a family are all very good ways to feel not caught up for quite a while. Basic maintenance of a life (housekeeping, farm maintenance, etc.) can feel very very very hard in these seasons of life. I’m sure that many of you have experienced similar periods in your own life — perhaps for you it was graduate school, or the birth of your own children, or moving to a new location. With so many of these kinds of life events stacked on top of each other in the last ten years, things that might feel basic in another season of life have felt next to impossible.

And, of course, on some level, the desire to “catch up” is perhaps misguided, since life is a journey after all. But, I do think that some seasons of life allow for more catching up, and I want to very cautiously note that perhaps we are in one of those seasons now. A season when both the farm and the children will easily allow Casey and me to spend a few hours cleaning on a Saturday morning without it feeling like a huge sacrifice or hardship (that sounds dramatic, but really try cleaning a bathroom with a baby and a toddler around, and you’ll know that it’s really not an over-statement at all).

Daily life out here no longer feels like “triage,” which is how we used to describe it. There have been times when it felt like we had so many things to do — things that were all past being urgent — and we just had to choose which tasks, knowing that we’d never get them all done and that some would inevitably just get dropped. In some seasons, that meant the house would get dirty while the fields were (at least partially) weeded. Or, the children would be rocked to sleep but the dishes piled up in the sink. Or, the fall crops were planted but the summer weeds weren’t worked in before going to seed.

Some of this is life, of course. A full life will always require prioritizing. But this process feels different now. It no longer feels like we’re just running around putting out fires. It no longer feels like our children and the fields and the house are all screaming urgent needs at us. For the most part, we are able to anticipate and meet needs earlier in all those arenas, before there is “screaming” (literal or just figurative). We will enjoy this slightly calmer season while it lasts.

And, perhaps some of this is late August talking. Perhaps it’s me enjoying this in-breath before the next cycle of our life starts — when we start hauling potatoes and carrots and covering the table with math and Spanish books. That’s ok too. I will enjoy this moment while it is here, because this moment is the only moment we have right now.

May you too find some peace in these final weeks of summer. Savor the warmth and the music of crickets at dusk and the wonderful, abundant foods from the field. Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Ratatouille Rendezvous is this Friday! ~ Join us on the farm for a late summer feast at 6 pm, Friday, August 26 ~ We are making a big batch of summer stew and will provide bread and goat cheese as well. Please RSVP if you plan to join us! Bring a big bowl & spoons/forks for your family, along with a side dish to share (salad, side dish, bread, dessert, etc.).

Directions to the farm: Take HWY-18 to Dayton. Drive south through Dayton and stay on Wallace Rd/HWY-221 for about seven miles. Turn LEFT onto Grand Island Rd. After the bridge, turn RIGHT onto SE Upper Island Rd. Our driveway is the first on your left. Our house is the 2-story brown one toward the back right. If you have questions, you can call: 503-474-7661

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Grapes — Concords! The ultimate grape flavor! Contain seeds.
  • Chehalis apples
  • Brooks plums
  • Tomatoes — Both cherry tomatoes & big beautiful heirloom tomatoes
  • Green peppers
  • Eggplant
  • Cucumbers
  • Green beans
  • Salad mix — Just in time for another round of big late summer heat. Make yourself a great big salad for dinner and beat the heat in your kitchen!
  • Basil
  • Rainbow chard
  • Zucchini
  • Potatoes

~ ~ ~

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm:

  • Eggs — $6/dozen
  • Lamb — Chops are $14/lb; roasts are $10/lb; ground lamb is $10/lb; and organs/bones are $6/lb. Get it while it lasts!
  • Beef cuts — Roasting type meats are $10/lb, and steaks are $14/lb. Organs and bones are $6/lb.
  • Beef stew meat — $10/lb
  • Pork organs, fat & bones — $4/lb
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | Leave a comment

Fruit!!!!

The kids celebrating the beginning of the apple harvest!

The kids celebrating the beginning of the apple harvest!

I’ve had this experience several times this summer, when I consider the abundant display of produce at our CSA pick-up and then I consider the relatively small acreage we have planted to vegetables this year, and I wonder: where does it all come from? Really, there seems to be some disconnect between what I see in the fields and what I see at pick-up. How does that magic happen?

It is magic (really, it is!), but perhaps not as mysterious as it seems to me at moments. The answer to this conundrum is that a big chunk of the produce on display doesn’t come from our fields … it is coming from our orchards.

There’s a Chinese proverb: “The best time to plant a tree was ten years ago. The second best time is now.” Amen.

We planted our first orchard seven and a half years ago, and the next one the following year. Each year, we’ve watched the trees grow and tended them and pruned them and mowed around them and watered them. Trees grow, which is a kind of magic, but it’s something we’ve observed and helped along with our farmer ways.

And, now, we’re rejoicing in the big returns on that earlier investment. Even though we have been present for all the work of helping these trees grow, it still feels miraculous to drive our gator out to the fields full of empty bins and then fill those bins with fruit from the trees. Really, it’s just amazing. Food grows on trees. Why does that feel more magical than planting a lettuce seed and cutting salad four weeks later? I’m not sure, but perhaps it’s because of the lapses in our attention on the fruit trees. Since they don’t need to be planted every year, nor watered as regularly, their harvests feel like gifts and less obviously the product of any of our work. And, well, fruit is really delicious (hey, so is salad, but we’re less likely to just pick lettuce to eat in the field, whereas an apple straight from the tree is a great treat).

Oh, I shouldn’t compare. It all feels magical really: apples, salads, all of it. Plants are amazing. We’re over a decade into this farming gig, and it still feels profound every day. I don’t think I will ever tire of the miracle of putting a tiny seed into soil and watching it grow into a large, nutritious and beautiful plant (say a giant Marina di Chioggia winter squash or a plentiful tomato vine).

Summer really is starting to wind down. We’re facing a late summer heat wave this weekend, but it feels less daunting knowing that the days are shorter than in June, and it’s likely the nights will cool off. Folks will be heading back to school shortly. We start our own homeschool routine the last week in August, and we are excited to open all our new books and learn new things together. We’re also keeping our fall schedule relatively wide open so as to allow plenty of time for all the fall harvests coming up. Much food will go into our coolers and storage room between now and the end of the CSA season — most of it to share with you in the next CSA season!

To help us celebrate the abundance of summer, we invite CSA members and friends to join us on the farm at 6 pm next Friday, August 26 for our Ratatouille Rendezvous. We will make a big pot of ratatouille (summer stew with tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, peppers, onions, and garlic). You bring a big bowl, spoons (and fork), and a side dish to share (salad, bread, side dish, dessert). Nothing tastes better in late August than ratatouille, and we’re sure you’ll agree.

Since we’ll be cooking food, we ask that you let us know if you plan to join us. We’ll have an RSVP clipboard out at pick-up, or you can email us to let us know how many people to expect. Directions to the farm are below.

In the meantime, we’ll keep bringing in more of the year’s abundant fruits and vegetables at an astonishing rate. This season is such a full on experience of nature’s plenty. It is a joy to be living so immersed in the August experience!

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Ratatouille Rendezvous ~ 6 pm, Friday, August 26 ~ Please RSVP if you plan to join us! Bring a big bowl & spoons/forks for your family, along with a side dish to share (salad, side dish, bread, dessert, etc.).

Directions to the farm: Take HWY-18 to Dayton. Drive south through Dayton and stay on Wallace Rd/HWY-221 for about seven miles. Turn LEFT onto Grand Island Rd. After the bridge, turn RIGHT onto SE Upper Island Rd. Our driveway is the first on your left. Our house is the 2-story brown one toward the back right. If you have questions, you can call: 503-474-7661

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Grapes — These grapes are one to two months early, depending on what you consider “normal” (it’s honestly hard to remember “normal” or “average” seasons anymore!). These are Concord grapes, which have the ultimate grape flavor. They are also from very old vines. Old timers on the island told us that the original cuttings came across the country on the Oregon trail. Because they are an old type, they contain seeds. Which we don’t mind at all, seeing as how delicious the grapes are. But children should be warned. You can just chew or swallow the seeds if you like, or spit them out!
  • Plums — Lots of kinds to choose from this week: Italian, Brooks, and Imperial Epineuse!
  • Chehalis apples
  • Asian pears
  • Tomatoes
  • Green peppers
  • Kale
  • Chard
  • Purple potatoes! — The hardest thing about harvesting purple potatoes is that they look a lot like … rocks. When in the soil anyway. When prepped in the kitchen, they glow like purple-blue gems. The children have been loving home-made purple french fries (which we make by peeling and cutting potatoes into strips and then roasting in the oven with lots of butter so they get crispy).
  • Beets
  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini
  • Garlic

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm:

  • Eggs — $6/dozen
  • Lamb! — The lamb is in! Chops are $14/lb; roasts are $10/lb; ground lamb is $10/lb; and organs/bones are $6/lb. Get it while it lasts!
  • Beef cuts — Roasting type meats are $10/lb, and steaks are $14/lb. Organs and bones are $6/lb.
  • Ground beef — The best ever — $10/lb
  • Beef stew meat — $10/lb
  • Pork organs, fat & bones — $4/lb
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | Leave a comment

August is fair season

Just another beautiful August farm scene -- late summer summer squash and lettuce.

Just another beautiful August farm scene — late summer winter squash and lettuce (to be harvested soonish!)

When I reflect on this last week, pretty much one event comes to mind: the Yamhill County Fair! Our family has participated in this local event for the last three years. I don’t think I realized ahead of time just how much of a time commitment it would be (and I’m sure the animal entries require even more time!), but it’s become a wonderful part of our summer schedule of activities.

Dottie with her blue ribbon basil

Dottie with her blue ribbon basil

This year, Rusty entered some of his artwork and both children entered items from their garden. Have I mentioned yet in a newsletter how much ownership they have taken over their garden this year? Casey and I still help out with the heavier work of weeding and things, but they were completely in charge of planting — both deciding what and when to plant and doing the actual work. Rusty planted zucchini, sweet corn, cosmos, cabbage, beans, sunflowers, potatoes, calendula flowers, peppers, tomatoes, sweet onions, basil, and a Rhododendron (I tried to convince him that evergreen flower bushes belong in garden beds, not in vegetable gardens, but he would have none of that). Dottie planted sweet pea flowers, tomatoes, sweet corn, basil, fennel, zucchini, cosmos, celery root, and peppers. I’m sure I’m forgetting things!

What fun it was last Tuesday morning to visit their garden and decide which items would be fair worthy. Dottie entered enough vegetables and herbs that she won the “sweepstakes” award, meaning that she entered the most items in that category!

Locals will know that our fair is pretty small. In some ways, I think it’s amazing that we still have a fair at all, when bigger and fancier fairs have been abandoned as old fashioned and money drains in other counties. But our little fair persists, in spite of the relatively small space it takes up (in town, no less! Which feels unique!) and the relatively small number of entries.

Rusty with his blue ribbon waterfall painting

Rusty with his blue ribbon waterfall painting

But the smallness of it has endeared it to me over the years. When the kids enter anything at all, they bump up the display on fair day significantly, and of course they end up winning quite a lot of ribbons for lack of competition. They enjoy the affirmation of the ribbons, and it’s a fun way for our homeschooling family to organize some of our endeavors and “present” them formally to the world. I think this is an important skill to have — to be able to put together a “finished” product for presentation (not to mention the necessary skills of jumping through hoops and filling out paperwork — both of which also occur with fair participation!).

And, the smallness of the fair also means that we can pretty much “do” the entire fair in the morning. We can check out our entries (to see what ribbons have been won!), look at our friends’ entries, see all the animals in the barns, watch the horse events in the arena, and ride a ride or two — all before lunch! This year, I especially appreciate the novelty of enjoying 75° weather on our fair morning. What a wonderful change from the normal hot, hot, hot temperatures we endure! (Last year, the temperature topped 100° on our fair day!)

Now that the fair is behind us, it feels like summer is quickly coming to the beginning of its end. How quickly will the weeks pass before school begins again? So quickly, I am sure. Earlier this week, the unseasonably cool temperatures gave us a foretaste of the fall to come, and it was quite lovely but also too soon! We have more summer to savor! We have crops for fall that still need to grow and mature! August is here, and we are relishing it!

And, summer is so very present in this week’s share too. There are so many good summer fruits to choose from. Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Asian pears — Already? Oh man, these are early Asian pears! As with everything on the trees this year … it’s been a bizarre summer with unseasonably mild weather and yet early perennial crops! If you are not yet familiar with Asian pears, they could be described as a cross between an apple and a pear. That’s not really botanically accurate, but it describes the eating experience well. They are eaten firm, like an apple, but they are much juicier and have a flavor akin to a European pear. So, you don’t need to wait for these to ripen (as you might a firm European pear) — they are ready to eat, even though they are firm and crisp still.
  • Imperial Epineuse plums — This is the earliest of our “prune” type plums. It is a European plum and is “freestone” (meaning that the pit comes out easily from the flesh). They are of course wonderful for making dried prunes, but they’re also delicious for eating fresh. I think our family is quite possibly consuming a few too many plums every day as they are hard to resist!
  • Chehalis apples
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Slicer tomatoes
  • Green peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Cucumbers
  • Kale
  • Zucchini
  • German butterball potatoes — We’ve been enjoying how tender the skin is on this variety of potatoes. They’re great for roasting or baking whole with the skin still on. We hosted two different groups of people for dinner this week (a gathering of Yamhill County farmers on Monday night and families from our church tonight), and both nights we filled a pan with potatoes and roasted it. Great, delicious food to feed a crowd!
  • Garlic

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm:

  • Eggs — $6/dozen
  • Lamb! — The lamb is in! Chops are $14/lb; roasts are $10/lb; ground lamb is $10/lb; and organs/bones are $6/lb. Get it while it lasts!
  • Goat — Goat chops are $14/lb. Organs and bones are $6/lb.
  • Beef cuts — Roasting type meats are $10/lb, and steaks are $14/lb. Organs and bones are $6/lb.
  • Ground beef — The best ever — $10/lb
  • Beef stew meat — $10/lb
  • Pork organs, fat & bones — $4/lb
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | Leave a comment

From flower to fruit

The first of the "prune" type plums will be ready to pick for next week's CSA!

The first of the “prune” type plums will be ready to pick for next week’s CSA!

On Monday, we passed another “cross quarter day” in the calendar — Lammas, the halfway point in the summer season. As with all of the four seasons in the year, the first and second halves bring with them distinctive experiences. The first half of summer follows the spring trend of abundant green growth but with the addition of all the earliest fruits in the orchards and on our summer annual plants.

But the second half of summer, from now until the equinox, turns the world’s focus even more to fruiting and maturation. It is in these next few months that we will pick bins and bins of fruit, much of it to store for eating during the following fall and winter. Even sitting here in our house, I can see the large red apples ripening in our home orchard, weighing down branches.

Late summer's golden hue has taken hold in the ashes.

Late summer’s golden hue has taken hold in the ashes.

The colors of the season shift too. Just this last week, we all noticed and commented on the beginning of the color change in the ash trees. They always begin to turn golden and yellow mid-summer, slowly taking on an autumnal hue and then finally dropping their leaves in fall itself. Since one side of our farm is a waterway treed primarily with ashes, our visual landscape changes significantly when they start this slow late summer turning. When you add the dormant grasses at the edges of all our fields, the picture glows golden yellow-brown under the summer sun. Green has given way to brown. But a most vibrant brown — the brown of work well done. These early turning plants have clearly already done their work for the year — the ash trees long ago flowered and have matured their little inconspicuous fruits, and their water supply in the creek is mostly dried up. So, they begin to rest now.

Our rest is still many months out! Which is fine with us, because we love this time of year. It’s hard to imagine a better place to be than an abundant farm in August (especially when just a five minute drive to the river). When we’re not harvesting, we’ve been happily tending to our wild edges — mowing in the orchards, weeding, and mowing, and weeding. But, this time of year, those tasks feel less “Sisyphean” than they do in May or June, because really the rate of vegetative growth has slowed (as has the water supply for parts of the farm that we don’t irrigate actively). So, if we mow an edge of the farm now, it will likely stay tame(ish) through the end of the season. The work thus feels very satisfying!

As does the eating of all the good food. When the children ask for a snack, how wonderful to set out a bowl of plums or slice one of the earliest apples. Simple, delicious, foods to feed body and soul.

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Plums — More of our juicy Asian plums. Soon the “prune” types will arrive!
  • Chehalis apples
  • Green beans
  • Green peppers — Once upon a time, we learned that green peppers are unripe red peppers. And, then, for a while we were very confused about why anyone would want to eat an unripe food and we poo poo’ed green peppers as being inferior. Then, after a few more years of cooking and eating, we decided that green peppers are wonderful. When they are in their “green” state, they are an entirely novel food, one that can be appreciated for its sake rather than just as the warm-up to a ripe pepper. We love to put green peppers in lots of dishes. I usually dice them and sauté them with onions or garlic and then add zucchini and/or kale (and lots of butter, of course, because y’all know that I love. the. butter.) and cook until it is all tender and delicious. That’s a staple dish around here in the summer.
  • Tomatoes — I feel like I really don’t need to ever talk about tomatoes. Because, well, tomatoes feel the love. And they’re so easy! It’s true! We eat tomatoes daily this time of year, and we rarely cook them. Instead, we simply slice them and enjoy. Casey loves a few slices with his breakfast of eggs and cooked greens. My favorite thing is to spread plain goat cheese on half of a roll and then put a slice of tomato on top. I think that is one of the quintessential summer foods for me. Especially when eaten by the river. Which I did today for lunch.
  • Cucumbers
  • Basil
  • Kale
  • Chard
  • Zucchini
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Potatoes
  • Torpedo onions
  • Garlic

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm:

  • Eggs — $6/dozen
  • Goat — Goat chops are $14/lb. Organs and bones are $6/lb.
  • Beef cuts — Roasting type meats are $10/lb, and steaks are $14/lb. Organs and bones are $6/lb.
  • Ground beef — The best ever — $10/lb
  • Beef stew meat — $10/lb
  • Pork organs, fat & bones — $4/lb
  • Coming soon: more lamb!
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | Leave a comment

The elements

First photo of today: a nice farm-y image of the growing fall brassica field, a greenhouse, and our mobile chicken coop (in the background).

First photo of today: a nice farm-y image of the growing fall brassica field, a greenhouse, and our mobile chicken coop (in the background).

I feel like the seasons at the peaks of the year (high summer and deep winter) are some of the most elemental. In deepest winter, the elements visit us daily in the form of regular fires in the stove, blustery days, endless rain, and mud on our boots. In the peak of summer, we find ourselves in daily kneeling contact with the earth, afternoon often brings dynamic breezes across the fields, and we immerse ourselves in that beautiful cool flowing water of the river as often as possible (as well as spend countless hours moving irrigation pipe across the fields!). Fire, usually, comes in the form of the SUN and its vibrant heat.

But, this last week, air and fire visited our farm in unexpected forms. You may remember that on Wednesday, I wrote a newsletter extolling the mild (so far) summer. Of course, no surprise, the next day brought warmer temperatures to the valley, and everyone at pick-up suggested that I somehow jinxed us all (what power this newsletter would have if that were true!). But that brief heat wasn’t to last, and as part of the subsequent shift back to milder weather, the afternoon turned quite blustery. Windy even. Hot and windy. Before too long, we heard sirens and saw many firetrucks racing down 2nd St (Facebook told me it was likely to a brush fire in the county). Interesting, I thought.

As I drove home myself later, I was struck by just how windy it had become. Many hazelnut orchards on my drive had recently been cleared and mowed, and the dust blowing across the roads was incredible — like a desert storm.

Then, as I drove on to the island, and toward our intersection, I saw several emergency vehicles parked on Grand Island Rd, just down the road from our house. Next to my parents’ field and the land we own across the creek.

I drove down cautiously to see if I could learn what was happening. A neighbor told me that a tree in the creek had fallen in the wind and snapped a power line in two, leaving two live wires on the ground on either side of the creek — one in my parents’ field and one in the field we own but rent out. Between the wind, the electricity, and the dry brush, fires started quickly. Thankfully our neighbor saw it happen and called the fire department immediately. Both fires were put out before any damage was done to property or to crops, and no people were injured. Hoorah for fast first responders! We are so grateful for our volunteer Dayton firefighters!

Casey took a photo of the burned area this weekend:

The long white pole building in the background of this photo belongs to my parents.

The long white pole building in the background of this photo belongs to my parents.

Again, we are so grateful that our neighbors near and far were able to quickly end this story in a positive way. Fire, like all the elements, can be very scary when out of control! And last year’s wildfires in the region (including the one that burned around Holden Village) instilled in us great respect for how Small Things can grow into Big Things.

But, Casey also found himself a little fascinated by the question of what our field would be like if the fire had spread. Because we live in a region that was shaped by fire — both by regular wildfires that would clean out the undergrowth in our forests but also here in the valley, where people would intentionally burn fields regularly in order to maintain cultivated fields of camas for fall harvest. We live in an era when intentional fire setting feels so very irresponsible, but it used to be part of the routine of living here. Our imaginations often wander to those previous times and those previous occupants — what this landscape looked like to them, how it felt to live here.

Thankfully, the rest of our week was less eventful, although still very elemental. Plants are growing like crazy in these fields of ours, especially in the slightly warmer temperatures that have arrived. We’ll see what August brings us next.

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables: So many summer flavors this week!

  • Chehalis apples
  • Plums — Yellow plums are available again, along with a new red plum that is meatier than those that have come before. Today I ate four yellow plums in a row as I sat by the river. The juice ran down my chin and my arms, and I didn’t even care because I knew I was about to jump back into the water anyway. Summer is good.
  • Green beans
  • Tomatoes – cherry, roma, slicers oh my!
  • Eggplant — The first of the year!
  • Cucumbers
  • Green peppers
  • Basil
  • Beets
  • Kale — Our new planting of kale is coming on!
  • Chard
  • Zucchini
  • Green onions
  • Garlic

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm:

  • Eggs — $6/dozen
  • Goat — Goat chops are $14/lb. Organs and bones are $6/lb.
  • Beef cuts — Roasting type meats are $10/lb, and steaks are $14/lb. Organs and bones are $6/lb.
  • Ground beef — The best ever — $10/lb
  • Beef stew meat — $10/lb
  • Pork organs, fat & bones — $4/lb
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | 1 Comment

The summer that hasn’t (yet)

I'm sure I take a photo of Casey's hands + some vegetables at least once per year. I just love the image of the fresh food and the hard-workin' hand. So I'll keep taking them!

I’m sure I take a photo of Casey’s hands + some vegetables at least once per year. I just love the image of the fresh food and the hard-workin’ hand. So I’ll keep taking them!

I don’t particularly want to jinx the weather by commenting on it too explicitly, but at the same time, a year like this just cannot go without notice. The kids and I have been recording the high and low temperature on our porch every evening, and for most of July it’s looked something like this:

High: 75°
Low: 58°

Folks, this is NOT what I have come to expect of July in the Willamette Valley. Or, of June … or even May!

The last ten years that we’ve lived here have consistently felt like scorching hot summers. To Casey and me, who are both Pacific Northwest natives, but of the milder variety — the Puget Sound and Oregon Coast-raised type of “we-actually-kind-of-really-love-not-hot-summer” of NWers.

Or, we’re realizing that now. The last ten years I think I’ve tried to love the heat. And, I can truly appreciate some wonderful things about those experiences. A good, dry heat can be so satisfying, especially when paired with a large body of water (the river for us). But a heavy-feeling, hot, dusty, muggy, overcast heat (as we often have mid-summer) can feel oppressive and makes any outdoor activity (besides swimming) feel daunting.

We’ll have those days again. Perhaps even this summer yet. But so far it’s been much more like the summers Casey and I both grew up with, when days are long and mild and could be filled with so many pleasurable outdoor activities (without sweating buckets in the process).

We’ll enjoy it while it lasts anyway, because it makes our hard physical work much more pleasant, I’ll tell you what. Hand weeding is an entirely different activity when the temperature peaks at 75° rather than 95°.

Another "fruit-in-hand" photo ... of the first apples of the year! Hoorah!

Another “fruit-in-hand” photo … of the first apples of the year! Hoorah!

Interestingly, our perennial crops are all still feeling early, in spite of the mildness of the weather. We’ve talked with other growers about this phenomenon (mostly grape growers), and we all suppose it’s because the season turned warm(ish) and mild so early. Very true. I honestly can’t even remember the last time we built a fire in our woodstove (our only source of heat). I wish I had recorded the last fire just to be able to remember that early date, but I’m sure that at the time I had no idea it would be the last! Was it in February? March? Many months ago, anyway, and it’s hard to really even imagine needing a fire ever again, although of course we will. We will, indeed, just as we will find ourselves under a hot sunny sun again before too long.

But each season brings its challenges and its pleasures. For us, this weather has been one of this year’s unexpected pleasures indeed! Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Important dates coming up:

  • Thursday, July 21 (tomorrow!): second-to-last CSA payment due. I’ve sent out email CSA statements with your total due. Please email me or ask me at pick-up if you have any questions about your account balance.
  • Friday, August 26 ~ Ratatouille Rendezvous!: Our next on-farm event! Come for a farm tour and dinner! We’ll make a big batch of ratatouille (summer stew) to share. You bring a side dish, salad or dessert. We’ll dine under the late summer sky and then enjoy an evening singing by the fire. More details to come, but please note that this is a change in the date. We adjusted it to better accommodate some other scheduling things that came up for us as a family.

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Rusty picked himself a juicy ripe Shiro plum at the end of the afternoon.

    Rusty picked himself a juicy ripe Shiro plum at the end of the afternoon.

    Plums — Yellow Shiro plums. So sweet and soft — watch out for juice dripping down your chin.

  • Chehalis apples — The first of this year’s apples! Chehalis are always our earliest apple here. They are great for eating just plain out of hand.
  • Figs — These are like candy. We have limited quantities this time, but this is the first year we’ve had any significant crop at all since planting these trees in early 2009! The first few years, they kept freezing to the ground and then had to regrow. Finally in recent years they have become woody and tall like trees, and we look forward to even bigger harvests in future years. Fresh figs are quite the treat.
  • Green beans — Are they fresh? Oh yes! And if you’re not sure, try sticking them to your shirt. A chef showed us that trick once upon a time, and now we always joke in the fields by picking one and sticking it to our shirt (it will cling on its own if fresh). Make a bean salad, or roast, or sauté! Yum!!!!
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers & green peppers
  • Lettuce
  • Broccoli OR Cabbage
  • Zucchini — Both the dark green and light green types
  • New potatoes
  • Green & sweet onions
  • Garlic

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm:

  • Eggs — $6/dozen
  • Goat — Goat chops are $14/lb. Organs and bones are $6/lb.
  • Beef cuts — Roasting type meats are $10/lb, and steaks are $14/lb. Organs and bones are $6/lb.
  • Ground beef — The best ever — $10/lb
  • Beef stew meat — $10/lb
  • Pork organs, fat & bones — $4/lb
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | Leave a comment

Summer adventures

The farm in summer!

The farm in summer!

I’m sitting down to write this week’s newsletter much later than has been my habit recently. This has just been such a beautifully full summer day that I only now have the time. But I can’t hardly regret the late hour or my heavy eyelids, because everything about today just sang of summer and its glory — kayaking on the river with friends (for the kids and me), harvesting (Casey), weeding (all of us), and dinner with more friends outside as the sky turned from blue to pinkish orange. These long days can be so very full and rich. Between the sun’s return (which kissed me a little too pink probably on that river) and the happiness of friendly gatherings, the day feels like it ends with a glowing halo. Ah, summer.

The theme of this week has been play. And weeding. And then play. And then more weeding. Remember when I was talking two weeks ago about farm aesthetics, and how ours is a bit scruffy? Well, it was feeling too scruffy, and so we’ve been continuing to liberate our plantings from those weeds. It’s satisfying work, albeit pretty physically exhausting. While others in the region may have felt sad about the incredibly unseasonably cool and drizzly weather the last week, we’ve been rejoicing in it. Hard work is much easier when the temperature is in the 60s with a light drizzle than in our normal July weather of 90+°!

Sometimes pictures are necessary for illustration. Here’s a post-weeding photo of our peppers, eggplant and tomatoes:

The mounded green in the middle are the WEEDS that we pulled. It was a DEEP mound.

The mounded greens between the beds (which have groundcloth on them) are the WEEDS that we pulled.

But, like I said, we mixed it up with adventures too. Casey took the kids on a bike ride to our favorite hike and then a walk in the woods:

Walk in the woods on a cool July morning!

Walk in the woods on a cool July morning!

And then more weeding happened.

Sadly, another part of our farm got more cleaned up than we would have preferred this last week as well. The county roads maintenance came on the island to do the regular flail mowing of road edges. We were gone from the farm this time, and they drove that mower well past the normal depth of mow zone and deep into the willow hedge I posted photos of a few weeks ago. The mower had used the flail mower up in the air to cut branches and trees. When I went out for my morning run, I found myself speechless at the sight of entire trees chewed down to stumps by the mower:

This is one of the less dramatic sections of our hedge. In some places, the trees are completely gone.

This is one of the less dramatic sections of our hedge. In some places, the trees are completely gone.

As we were eating breakfast, we heard the mower return, going at our hedge even more. I rode my bike out to ask him to please be done. The hedge had been mowed enough. He looked surprised at being confronted at 7:30 am in the morning by a freshly showered woman wearing a skirt and riding an old Schwinn bicycle, and he assented and stopped. So the hedge is left to recover, as it will.

Now every morning as I run, I look at the new version of our hedge. I have to say that the morning I saw the hedge was right in the midst of a very hard news period. You know what I’m talking about. The Very Hard Confusing Things that were happening in other parts of the country are now linked in my mind to this mowed down hedge, and I am reminded every morning of those events.

Willows, however, are very resilient trees. The bushiness that was apparently growing too close to the road for the county crew’s standards will in fact return, thanks to the willow tree’s ability to regrow when cut down. They will actually just get bushier in future years (assuming they are not out-competed by blackberries first, which is our biggest concern right now). This is called “coppicing” in horticultural terms. We look forward to their return, and feel inspired to actually plant more willows on the inside edge of our current hedge. After seeing our hedge cut back so much, we realized that we just need a bigger hedge. So, this winter, we will take cuttings from our existing willows and plant another line or two inside.

Already in summer we are making plans for the winter! That’s how the seasons turn! But, for now, we just put those little items on our calendar so that we can remember later. Because honestly summer is just too juicy of a season to allow us too much time to think hard about coming seasons. Now is all consuming with its weeding and its river trips and bike rides and friends. Sometimes in the midst of tragedy in the news, it is hard to know how to best live. I don’t know the answer to that Big Question, though I ponder it regularly. But I do feel like being present for the adventures of this season is one answer. Not the whole answer, by any means. But it is a way for us to embrace what we have now. To savor the gifts we have before us this time of year, knowing how very fleeting they are.

May you too savor summer’s adventures! And enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Payment reminder! I emailed CSA statements last week to everyone who has a balance due still. Your email should tell you what is due. Please mail or hand deliver check or cash to us by next week (July 21). Let me know if you have any questions about your balance or anything else regarding payments.

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Shiro & Methley plums — Two kinds of plums are available this week! Shiro, which are yellow, and Methley, which are red/purple. We have plenty for you to take home some of each. Both will have juicy sweetness running down your chin.
  • Tomatoes
  • Cut lettuce mix
  • Cucumbers/broccoli/peppers — This batch of stuff is still limited!
  • Kale
  • Zucchini & “cousa” squash — I’ve been putting “zucchini and summer squash” on this list for a few weeks, because I tend to think of our light green oblong squash as a “summer squash” rather than a zucchini. But to be more accurate, it is a “cousa” style squash (whereas many people associate “summer squash” with the light yellow crookneck style). Whatever it is, we love it!
  • New potatoes
  • Sweet onions
  • Garlic

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm:

  • Eggs — $6/dozen
  • Goat — Goat grind is $10/lb. Goat chops are $14/lb. Organs and bones are $6/lb.
  • Beef cuts — Roasting type meats are $10/lb, and steaks are $14/lb. Organs and bones are $6/lb.
  • Ground beef — The best ever — $10/lb
  • Beef stew meat — $10/lb
  • Pork organs, fat & bones — $4/lb
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | Leave a comment

With the kids

The family that HOES together GROWS together!

The family that HOES together GROWS together!

Earlier today, I had a conversation with a friend while our kids splashed in the river together. We talked about how important it is for children to do actual real work, always stretching themselves in their abilities, so that as they grow into adults they will feel capable as they approach so very many new necessary tasks in their daily lives.

Later, after lunch, we got to put these idea into practice. Casey and I had some weeding to do. The first priority was what we call “guerilla” weeding (alternately known as “liberating the plants”) — it’s yucky work that happens at least once a year when farm tasks necessarily distract us from weeding when the time is best (which is when all the weeds are very small). We can do it, but it’s hard and daunting and requires us to “gird up our loins,” as it were, before we approach it.

So, today we set out to “liberate” our sweet potato plants from over-zealous summer weeds, and then I was immediately needed up at the house. The kids had gone up there to retrieve their big straw hats, and in the midst of getting her things together, Dottie dropped her current favorite toy through the slats in the deck. Her current favorite toy is a teeny tiny plastic pig — smaller than an adult fingernail and light pink — and now it is somewhere amidst the gravel under our porch. Much comfort was needed when we realized that pushing a stick under the porch would not uncover the teeny tiny pink pig.

As I held my very distraught and crying little girl, I thought about those weeds that very much needed me to help pull them out and how many I wasn’t pulling in those moments. Parenting and living any other kind of life is always a balancing act. But my arms were needed around that girl just then, and so the weeds waited.

Thankfully, big brother Rusty came to the rescue, encouraging Dottie to come on out and build fairy houses with him. Instead, they ended up playing in the muddy dirt around an irrigation pipe, and the next time I saw Dottie, she held her browns hands up into the air and yelled, “Look at how muddy I am!” Hoorah for mud.

The littlest one decided she was done.

The littlest one decided she was done.

Our next task was a more satisfying one — cross-hoeing a recently planted patch of brassicas (cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, collard greens). Cross-hoeing like this feels amazingly good — it feels like we’re scratching the Earth’s back. And, with this task being easier to see and understand, the kids wanted to pitch right in. Casey gave each a hoe (see photo above!) and they joined us for as long as they were still having fun. For Dottie, that lasted about twenty feet into the first row. Rusty finished almost an entire row before moving on to procuring the afternoon snack: yellow plums from my parents’ tree, which they snacked on in their mobile play house while Casey and I finished up another seven rows.

As the kids grow older, I value these types of afternoons more than ever, as I can begin to see the cumulative affect they have on our children. They are still so very young, and of course they do not step up to tasks the way we can. Nor would we expect them to. But I appreciate how their proximity to our work and their ability to chip in in proportion to their size and ability allows them to slowly grow into the concept of real work alongside the other many things they are learning every day. We are already amazed at how many tasks they do know how to do on the farm already.

Enjoying plums on their little porch!

Enjoying plums on their little porch!

Whether they become farmers themselves someday is entirely up to them. But the farm can teach them lessons that apply elsewhere too — how to follow a task to its completion point, how to work with other people, how to see when work is needed to be done, and how to enjoy tasks (most notably by doing them together!). They also see us balance our work with play, and I see those mornings we spend at the river to be just as integral to it all as the afternoons hoeing together. They are both part of our life, and I feel grateful that the children get to be part of both.

Casey and I grow through it all too. What better lesson in patience for me than to hold that girl through her tears and know that the weeds had waited how many weeks; they could certainly wait another fifteen minutes. When we look at life as a journey, and the daily tasks as the end in themselves (rather than a means to an end), it all feels so magical and wonderful. I’ve observed a lot of kids in community getting close to adulthood lately (we have been here ten years now after all! That’s plenty of time for kids to grow!), and WOW does it really truly go fast! So, yes, I will hold you little girl. And I will laugh when you lie in the path, and I will be so happy to see you and your brother eat plums until the juice runs down your chin!

May you enjoy all the gifts of summer work and play. And, enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Methley plums — These are the plums from the hornet nest tree(s)! It took a few tries, but Casey did manage to safely remove the hornets’ nest (and discourage them from continuing to come back). And so today he finally got to pick these plums, which are now very ripe and juicy and delicious! The juice will run down your chin.
  • Cherries — This week’s cherries are Sweethearts rather than Lamberts. Also delicious!
  • Tomatoes — We were so excited to be eating tomatoes on the Fourth of July this year. In our minds, that is an exceptional feat of farming. A delicious one too!
  • Broccoli/cucumbers/green peppers/basil — We only have a few of each of these items, so they’ll be in a box together and folks can choose ONE. More of each will come in future weeks!
  • Cut lettuce mix
  • Fennel bulbs
  • Chard
  • Zucchini & summer squash
  • New potatoes — A rainbow selection this week! Red skin and white flesh; purple skin and white flesh; and purple skin with purple flesh!
  • Sweet onions — Big, beautiful sweet onions with fresh greens on.
  • Garlic

~ ~ ~

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm:

  • Eggs — $6/dozen — We are especially short on eggs this week because we had an accident involving some broken eggs (sad face!). Sorry!
  • Goat — Goat roasts and grind are $10/lb. Goat chops are $14/lb. Organs and bones are $6/lb.
  • Beef cuts — Roasting type meats are $10/lb, and steaks are $14/lb. Organs and bones are $6/lb.
  • Ground beef — The best ever — $10/lb
  • Pork organs, fat & bones — $4/lb

 

Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | Leave a comment

Farming aesthetics

Two different farms, across a road. Read more below.

Two different farms, divided by a road. Our farm is on the left, protected from the road by a deep and tall willow/blackberry hedge that we planted seven years ago.  No value judgments here — just illustrating what I write about below with a picture.

Farming is not just plain farming. It’s not as though every farmer wakes up each morning and walks out to do his or her job with the same view of how to do his or her work — or even with the same notion of what his or her work is.

Often when we talk with other farmers in our area, we realize just how deeply we approach farming with different paradigms. Our most basic assumptions start in divergent places, and we hold dear sometimes opposing values — all of which affect every major or minute decision we make … everything from what to grow, how to market, what to spray (or not), and so much more.

Our readers know this. Clearly you have done enough research about where your food comes from to understand that it is not all grown in the same way, and you have chosen to eat food grown in the way that we choose here on our farm. You value things like diverse plantings, perennial hedgerows, no spraying (not even organic-approved sprays), healthy working conditions, non-GMO seed sources, etc etc etc. All the things that are built in to the handy-dandy “organic” label (which is really quite complicated but still is a useful “shorthand” for a particular set of values about food and the environment).

One thing we have observed in our ten years farming is that our values at times bump up against other farmer’s values. Particularly in the area of how those values translate into aesthetics. What we have observed is that many larger scale farmers highly value an aesthetic of “cleanliness.” They often prefer fields free of weeds and borders that are mowed or sprayed.

This preference is not just a matter of organic vs. conventional methods, but seems to be linked to the total acres in cultivation. When a farmer is managing many larger fields, they tend to want them as tidy as possible. Certainly, there are clear arguments that can be made in favor of this aesthetic — fewer weeds means fewer plants competing for nutrients, water, sunlight, and space. Which likely translates to better yields. And of course, fewer weeds this year means fewer weed seeds that go into the weed “bank” for future years! Yes, there are many reasons to weed. True enough. That’s why it’s a Thing That Farmers Must Do.

But, I almost wonder if on that larger scale, the farmer’s brain also needs that “cleaner” aesthetic in order to “hold on” to the bigger picture of farming many large scale fields in many places. Perhaps it’s just too hard to understand the state of the crops if there are scraggly hedgerows or weeds in some of the fields.

We planted willow in our hedge, but other plants have taken root there as well, such as this stand of St. John's Wort.

We planted willow in our hedge, but other plants have taken root there as well, such as this stand of St. John’s Wort.

I have to admit that whether we value it or not, a “clean” aesthetic has rarely been achieved here on our farm. Many times visitors have commented (with some surprise) on the weeds in our fields. They often ask us to explain it — at times almost seeking the secret behind the weeds as though there is some mystical secret plan at work. As though we have achieved some kind of Zen master one-ness with the weeds or something, so that we have transcended the need to weed on our farm.

Far from it! We do weed, and often when people point out weeds they are looking at an older planting that is scheduled for upcoming tilling in. Because of our year-round methods, our farm is almost always in a constant state of tillage, planting, harvesting, and tilling again. Something is always going in and coming out, and certainly we give much less attention to weeding plantings that are about to be (or have just been) harvested. So, there’s always a little mess here or there.

But, we also do have different values that inspire how we prioritize our work. Perhaps to another farmer, those slightly messier older plantings would be an eyesore — something to address immediately! Again, if there is an aesthetic value of tidiness driving decisions, then yes. But always being 100% tidy on a farm is not always consistent with other possible values, such as: efficiency, profitability, farmer enjoyment, or overall vitality of a landscape.

I would say that those four values for sure trump tidiness on our farmscape. The last point is especially important to us. I have written so many times here before about our deep love for the wild. We have a deep and abiding love for the energy that is incarnated in living things, and especially in the plants we grow and the plants and animals that grow around the plants we grow. We see that the vitality on our farm, and the vitality in our food, grows as we let the edges grow and stay verdant.

Blooming phacelia in rows with our vegetables — one of our favorite flowers to plant just for the purpose of attracting beneficial insects into our fields.

Blooming phacelia in rows with our vegetables — one of our favorite flowers to plant just for the purpose of attracting beneficial insects into our fields.

From an agronomic standpoint, we also see that those “messier” areas (be they old plantings or intentionally planted perennial hedgerows) as providing necessary habitat for predatory and beneficial insects. To us, this point cannot be emphasized enough. Plants do not grow in a vacuum. They grow in soil that is hopefully alive and teeming with bacteria, fungi, and insects. They grow in air that is hopefully buzzing with insects that will provide pollination or predate on those insects that like to predate on our vegetables. When we let our edges get wild — even better, when we foster diversity and vitality through hedgerows and inter-plantings of flowers — we see our vegetables thriving, with fewer signs of insect and disease pressure. We have seen this again and again.  When we fail to meet our own goals of diversity, crops suffer. It’s sort of magical and humbling and awesome all at the same time. It also allows us to grow crops and feed our community without any sprays.

Honestly, if we hadn’t been doing this work for ten years now, I’d really doubt a lot of our methods. They just don’t seem to “make sense” in conventional ways. Messier fields mean vibrant crops? Also, this year’s weird equation of having no employees and finding the work easier is surprising too. The farm has new lessons for us all the time. But, we know that much of the secret is in our scale. Being small as we are, everything we do is ultimately very human-scaled. Not just human-scaled, but family-scaled. We can watch our crops carefully and understand when and where we need to weed or mow for good productivity, but no more. All we need to are meet the needs of our community each week. We harvest, and we say: yes, this is enough. And we move into next week. That is a powerful perspective to have, and it certainly allows us plenty of wiggle room. We are never asking our land to produce As Much As It Possibly Can. We only need Enough for Us This Week.

So, visitors will probably continue to remark on our weedier spots. And neighboring farmers will probably continue to be annoyed by the “weeds” in our hedgerows. (Both types of incident happened in recent weeks.) And, I will continue to shrug in response, seeing the “mess” through the eyes, but also seeing the miracle through my own eyes. I really truly do not always understand how it works, but as each year passes, I trust more and more to the power of the land and its deeper wells of power. I trust that sometimes our vision is not the only or best one and that much can be gained by letting that wild-ness soften the edges of everything out here.

I also feel that these choices affect the food we grow. I have heard from countless CSA members over the years how their bodies feel differently when they eat our vegetables. I concur. That vitality — it’s in them too. We live on the edge out here, embracing the forces that shape us. We feel so honored to harness that power and offer it to you in vegetable form each week. May you feel deeply nourished by the food you eat from this place.

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

P.S. The recent visitors who asked about the weeds were a very passionate mother-daughter team who were touring farms all over the west coast and championing food justice all the way. The daughter, Mackenzie, has kept a blog about their travels (loaded with great photos), which you can check out here : Down to Urth. I imagine that as she catches up our farm will be on there too, but given that intensity of their tour, she’s probably still processing and catching up! What an adventure!

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Cherries — More yummy cherries! I can’t believe that we’re almost done with harvesting our Lamberts and it isn’t even July yet! We have another variety of cherries that we’ll start harvesting next week, along with the first of the plums (as soon as we can figure out how to remove that hornet nest safely … they keep coming back!)
  • Salad mix
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Zucchini & summer squash
  • New potatoes — A mix this week of red, purple, and purple with white interiors. All smooth fleshed new potatoes!
  • Torpedo onions — Aren’t these onions just so amazing? I try to start each meal with a little onion (and/or garlic) sautéing in butter, and Rusty has begun saying the very same thing I always asked my mom when she was cooking dinner: “What smells so good?” It was always just onions/garlic in butter. But, yes my boy, that is a divine smell, and I am so glad you are appreciating it.
  • Garlic — Certainly a little chopped garlic in butter is a great way to start a meal, but we’ve also been delighting in whole cloves roasted on a pan of mixed vegetables. Zucchini and garlic makes a great combination. Be sure to chop the zucchini small enough that they’ll cook through before the garlic starts to burn. High heat helps for these two items too.

~ ~ ~

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm: It’s here! Our new batch of meat! I want to point out that you’ll see some price increases here. As we work through the last of our animals (and have begun buying a bit of meat ourselves), we’ve been realizing just how very valuable this meat is. We realized that we need to at least charge what we would pay for equivalent quality retail meats elsewhere — otherwise, we might as well just put all these final animals in our freezer! But we’d rather share them with our community. So, they’re here, for all of us to share. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy.

  • Eggs — $6/dozen
  • Goat — It’s here! The new batch of meat! If you’ve never tried goat meat, now is the time. Goat roasts and grind are $10/lb. Goat chops are $14/lb. Organs and bones are $6/lb.
  • Beef — We have cuts! Roasts are $10/lb, and various steaks are $14/lb. Organs and bones are $6/lb.
  • Ground beef — The best ever — made from a whole animal (the beef cuts we have to sell were made out of a separate portion of beef). $10/lb
  • Pork organs, fat & bones — $4/lb
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | Leave a comment

Through Casey’s eyes

I love this photo that Casey took of the southern entrance to our field from the road. To the right of our trusty field gator is our now six year-old willow hedge. It has certainly thrived and provides a useful buffer between our fields and the farm to the south.

I love this photo that Casey took of the southern entrance to our field from the road. To the right of our trusty field gator is our now six year-old willow hedge. It has certainly thrived and provides a useful buffer between our fields and the farm to the south.

You may have noticed that I (Katie) do most of the documenting of our farm. I suppose it’s in large part because Casey’s doing most of the rest of the work. But it’s also because these are my strengths and loves — I do actually even have degrees in writing AND photography! Not that I think overly highly of my skills in those areas now, but they’re both things I continue enjoy doing, capturing these weekly images and stories from the farm.

But today Casey took the camera with him as he went out to harvest, and I thought I’d share this week the things that he found worth of capturing. I’ll do my best to provide relevant captions of my own.

Look at how big our apples are getting already! (This is thanks to our diligent thinning but also just the passage of time and some lovely summer-y weather.) Our earliest apples -- the Chehalis -- look like they're just a few weeks out from being ready. Hard to believe but true. Also, check out that farmer hand!

Look at how big our apples are getting already! (This is thanks to our diligent thinning but also just the passage of time and some lovely summer-y weather.) Our earliest apples — the Chehalis — look like they’re just a few weeks out from being ready. Hard to believe but true. Also, check out that farmer hand!

Some of our apple trees are so loaded with fruit that we are planning to prop the branches this summer (because we fear they may break under the load of their fruit otherwise). In other exciting orchard news, some hornets have build a big round paper nest in one of our Methley trees -- the ones that will ripen first (and soon!). Hornets are aggressive against people who come too near to their nests. We've had other nests on the farm before, but never in places where we got in each other's way. But we need to pick those plums! Casey's already been stung twice just for being in the area, so he's been trying to figure out how to remove the nest safely. He knocked part of it down with a 30' long irrigation pipe yesterday, but it didn't fully remove it. More careful work to come on this matter so that we can pick plums for you soon!

Some of our apple trees are so loaded with fruit that we are planning to prop the branches this summer (because we fear they may break under the load of their fruit otherwise). In other exciting orchard news, some hornets have build a big round paper nest in one of our Methley trees — the ones that will ripen first (and soon!). Hornets are aggressive against people who come too near to their nests. We’ve had other nests on the farm before, but never in places where we got in each other’s way. But we need to pick those plums! Casey’s already been stung twice just for being in the area, so he’s been trying to figure out how to remove the nest safely. He knocked part of it down with a 40′ long irrigation pipe yesterday, but it didn’t fully remove it. More careful work to come on this matter so that we can pick plums for you soon!

Casey harvested the first of the garlic today! In our ongoing "dribs and drabs" model of getting farmwork done without extra help, he decided to just harvest twice as much as we need for this week's share -- half will go to the CSA and half will be hung to cure for use later. He'll keep doing that until most of the garlic is out!

Casey harvested the first of the garlic today! In our ongoing “dribs and drabs” model of getting farmwork done without extra help, he decided to just harvest twice as much as we need for this week’s share — half will go to the CSA and half will be hung to cure for use later. He’ll keep doing that until most of the garlic is out!

Close up shot of garlic and the farmer's hand again!

Close up shot of garlic and the farmer’s hand again!

At breakfast this morning, Casey was extolling the virtues of our current tillage system (as well as pondering new improvements for future seasons). This tool, our chisel plow, has been especially helpful this year. It has only a few strong tines, which get dropped very deep into the ground to run straight through. They break up any hard "pan" deep below the surface without turning the surface. The result is a lighter soil that still has plenty of healthy soil life.

At breakfast this morning, Casey was extolling the virtues of our current tillage system (as well as pondering new improvements for future seasons). This tool, our chisel plow, has been especially helpful this year. It has only a few strong tines, which get dropped very deep into the ground to run straight through. They break up any hard “pan” deep below the surface without turning the surface. The result is a lighter soil that still has plenty of healthy soil life.

After the chisel plow comes the power harrow, which has lots and lots of vertical tines that spin around in the soil (again without turning it over). This is the final tillage that Casey uses on a bed before planting it. And of course, there's our good old tractor. Just the right size for us. (Not too big; not too small.)

After the chisel plow comes the power harrow, which has lots and lots of vertical tines that spin around in the soil (again without turning it over). This is the final tillage that Casey uses on a bed before planting it. And of course, there’s our good old tractor. Just the right size for us. (Not too big; not too small.)

So, there you go — a little tour of parts of the farm that caught Casey’s eye today.

Daily life out here continues in its normal summer pattern — lots of harvest, planting, and weeding.

Enjoy this week’s vegetables!

Your farmers, Katie & Casey Kulla

~ ~ ~

Meet this week’s vegetables:

  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • New potatoes — These are the first of this year’s potatoes! And, they’re purple!!!! You’ll find that new potatoes have a different flavor and texture than ones that have been stored. I personally enjoy both types of potatoes, but I do find it exciting to be enjoying the new textures and flavors (and colors) of this season!
  • Head lettuce OR broccoli
  • Chard
  • Zucchini & green summer squash
  • Torpedo onions
  • Garlic — Pictured above! This is a soft-necked variety of garlic, great for all your typical garlic uses.

And this week’s extra goodies from the farm:

  • Eggs — $6/dozen
  • Ham — No nitrates-added artisan-made ham from the last of our hogs! $12/lb
  • Ground pork — $8/lb
  • Pork organs, fat & bones — $4/lb
  • Coming soon ~ Beef and goat!
Posted in Weekly CSA Newsletters | Leave a comment