Last Saturday, it took more than 100 helping hands all of 15 minutes to harvest the carving pumpkins into bins. Hardly the blink of an eye! Many we-did-it smiles. Then off everyone went to have a cup of cider or take a wagon ride to the pigs, and Rebecca and I began working to bring the bins to the barn. But - the lift arms on the tractor stopped working. I couldn'tseehow the pumpkins could get to Sunny in the farm shop? Just then Ellen came around the bend on her tractor, towing some wagon-riding shareholders, and a plan appeared. One by one, they "chained" a bin full of pumpkins onto the wagon, and then made a human circle around the pumpkins to keep them from falling off on the way. And off they went! Look at that people power!
Predictably, on Monday, there was a whole new list to see to. Sweet potato harvest loomed - a big project! I thought about getting all the smaller projects done first, and tackling the sweet potatoes once they were done. "Just go see," Dan advised. "Try a bed, figure out if your harvest system works." So we went right for them the next day. Half were grown on beds using plastic mulch and drip irrigation. The weeder crew remembers that day - we had to plant them by hand because the water was so deep that we couldn't even see the pathways. It was wet. wet. wet. They didn't all make it - it's hard out there for a little sweet potato plant on hot black plastic even in the best conditions. The other half, on bare ground, were on drier land, and had a better time of it. So we started our harvest with those. First, by mowing and "beating" the vines. Next, the digger bar goes under, the spuds come up. Then we scrum through the loose earth, put spuds in buckets, then back to the shed to empty them into bags. This week the weather matched the crop - it was tropically hot out there! We did 1.5 beds, enough to see we likely have a reasonable harvest out there, despite the early season conditions. Phew! Dan was right. It was a lot easier moving towards the week's cover cropping and other tasks with a clear picture of this next big process. That the yield is out there, that the digger bar goes deep enough, that the way we remove the vines is working. A reminder for me - when there's something big coming up - just start, do enough so you can see the task clearly, not just the looming bigness of it. When Monday comes, we'll be ready to dig again, all systems go, and with a little luck, there will be thousands and thousands of pounds curing in the greenhouse by next weekend. We hope you enjoy the harvest.
Your Farmer, Zoe
(for Dan, Karen, Abbe, Rebecca, Sunny and Ellen)