We fill bins with brilliant-yellow mustard flowers that perch beside bins showcasing purple-hued heads of lettuce, tangles of serrated mizuna leaves, piles of white-blossomed fava bean tops. We spend atmospheric days amongst pigs and piglets — recently, we watched 11 piglets have their way with a huge patch of old spinach. Birds trill, bees buzz, sheep wander and baaaa.
And we feature all of this tactile farm life on our blog, in our social media feeds and, as you know, in this newsletter.
Today in Tactile Farm Life, we present a slab of concrete.
For us, yes indeed!
The farm team harvests vegetables nearly every day of the year. All of those vegetables must be washed, and our three-bin washing system, which involves enormous bins of water that act sort of like washing machines and another contraption that is more like a huge salad spinner, is a wonderful thing to behold. But while the washing station was perfect for the task at hand — cleaning vegetables — it was not ideal for the farm team. Water tended to splash around. The wood chips that covered the ground would grow soggy. Mud blossomed — never touching the vegetables, but absolutely covering our shoes and the bottoms of our pants.
This was never exactly a knee-slapping good time. Wet landscapes are not fun places for hauling around big crates of vegetables. Once dried, mud turns into adobe, and if the mud is full of footprints then the ground becomes pocked, cratered, difficult to traverse.
We bid goodbye to the old wood-chip-blanketed station a few weeks ago. Now, we’ve got a concrete slab! And what a slab it is. This slab now supports all of our washing equipment. Irrigation is built into the new slab, so delivering water to the station is less cumbersome. And the slab is high off the ground — we back-up trucks to the slab and simply move crates from one surface to another, rather than hoisting them on our shoulders and delivering them to the truck bed.
All praise the concrete slab! It’s not exactly a lamb tottering across an emerald field behind its wooly momma, but that’s OK. For farmers, sometimes its things like tractor parts, irrigation hoses, fencing and, yes, concrete slabs that really get our hearts fluttering.
At The Market
As you know, the weather has cooperated during the past week, although the pigs don’t adore the heat. They have their own solutions, though — our pigs, like all pigs, live for the thing the rest of us (see above, re: “concrete slab”) tend to reject: mud. When the rain isn’t falling, and it’s hot, we make sure to water areas around the farm that quickly turn from dirt to mud. The pigs root around in the murky slop, creating depressions that are almost like bathtubs. And then they lie down, fully contented.
The fields are positively bursting with life right now: the fava beans and peas are being harvested in abundance, and you will see them at the Market. Greens are reaching for the sun, turnips are swelling in the soil. It’s a special time of the year at Black Cat Farm — one of many.
At the Farmers’ Market on Saturday
Prepared food stand
Roast beef with sauerkraut on sourdough
Porchetta with lentils and seared greens
Fava bean tops
Turnips (Magenta, Hinona Kabu, Hakurei)
Green Meat radishes