Tuesday, July 20, 2010

July's Joys

Not so long ago, when I was a sophmore in high school, my teacher, Carolyn Lyday, in my Health and the Human Spirit class , taught a curriculum centered around the concept of joy (This was a Quaker school). Her thesis was that true joy is the obtainment of many moments of happiness achieved through the accomplishment of goals, both conscious and unconscious. Her lesson resonated with me then and comes to mind on the sweet occasions when I am acutely aware of joy. It is also befitting to recognize what might be joy for others. The tomatoes and watermelon seem joyful this year, as they soak in the sun of these long, hot days. The sheep and the cows seem giddy when they are moved to a fresh plot of pasture with tender grass to munch. And, the excitement of all of our CSA families' children as they greet the bunny and meet the new turkeys and chicks appears a joyful reminder to the parents of these families as to why they chose to buy produce from our farm, so their children could learn, touch, grow, smell, and taste Maine in the summer.

Our mornings start at 5AM in the summer. The rising is always a challenge but once I am in the door yard, a quick look across the street reveals a very content set of sheep, awake before me, and already engaging in their favorite activity, grazing.

John and I settle on a harvest list Sunday night (as we prepare our agenda for the week.) We post this on the table in the barn on Tuesday mornings, allowing for a sense of satisfaction to the lucky person who gets to cross off each item as it is washed and stored in the walk-in cooler until shareholders arrive in the afternoon.The crew readies the truck with crates to head out to the fields in search of tender greens. Rubber bands are counted for items that will be bunched and instruction is given regarding products that the crew will harvest for the first time this season.As John heads off to harvest produce, I head out to harvest cut flowers. The bees are often still sleeping on the flowers when I start cutting but as the sun warm us and the dew evaporates, the bees start to fly and the garden takes on a low, deep buzz
Together, the bees and I, we make our way through the blooms, deciding what to cut first and aware of a subtle joy at how well everything is growing. In the winter when we (John and I) buy seed and plan out the garden and then again in the spring when we transplant all those tiny little starts I can see the garden in my mind's eye and when the moment comes, as it does each summer, when the harvest grows in size and the work seems endless, this is when I hear Carolyn's words about joy. These 5AM starts, when the world is a-glow with the sunrise and my hands are busy with the work, allow for simple reflection.

And then the greens start to arrive back at the farmstead, ready to be surveyed and washed and counted and double checked for goodness.

First the lettuce...

Then the arugala....

Then the collards....

And everyone scrambles to process all the greens so we can take breakfast.
And sometimes, even Papa gets up to help.

After breakfast and livestock chores, we head back out to work and start catching up with the rest of the world as they wake up....a little multi-tasking caught on film.

And if we're lucky, the day is complete with a short nap, the sight of which was all too heartwarming. I think we tired Papa out with a 5AM start.

This week's harvest includes:
Green Bunching Onion
Collard Greens
Beets with Beet Greens
Salad Radishes
Summer Squash
Radicchio -- probably just Tuesday as we wait for some more maturity in the rest of the row.
Small bunch of loose flowers

A word about radicchio...this is not lettuce. It is an Italian vegetable that is often used in a salad. It is naturally a bit bitter but wonderful when sliced very thinly and mixed with lettuce. The stalks are edible and delicious. This weekend, Aurora Provisions, the caterer for the wedding we hosted here at the farm, prepared grilled radicchio, and it was delicious. Cut into quarters and coated in olive oil, the radicchio was placed on the grill and served warm. I might add a little fresh basil before serving when I make it tonight. The radicchio is the small reddish-purple head with nice white markings.

Collard greens are on the same list with kale and mustard greens for the item most often cited as over distributed in CSA's. We love greens and know that some of you do too. We try to balance offering some each week but not too many. If there was an interest, we could have a greens-only CSA share as they prove to be uncomplicated to grow. But, we also don't want to burden those who aren't greens aficionados. What to do with your collard greens...anything you might do with kale or mustard greens can be done to collards with much the same result and a delicious flavor. My mom always serves them with ham, red-eyed gravy and beans.

To close:

What We Need by David Budbill, from While We've Still Got Feet. © Copper Canyon Press.

What We Need

The Emperor,
his bullies
and henchmen
terrorize the world
every day,

which is why
every day

we need

a little poem
of kindness,

a small song
of peace

a brief moment
of joy.

Blessings on the meal,


  1. Stacy,
    What a wonderful blog post! You and John really have a gift for sharing your thoughts and observations at the farm.
    Thank you!

  2. This is pure poetry, Stacy. Thank you! Such a good meditation on joy. Much love to you all ~ Jones

  3. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderfully busy day...lovely pictures... lovely thoughts...

  4. this post is so beautiful-- the words and the pictures, both. And I love the bee.