Friday, September 10, 2010

What's new at the Farm? 9/10/10

The harvesting started last week with three lots of Swiss chard and a tomato. The swiss chard was planted early last fall in Oregon, grown through the winter and selected for desirable traits in March. In early April it was transplanted here in Albion on plastic and had row covers installed to increase the available heat. As soon as the chard pushes up the row covers, we remove the covers and basket-weave them like you would tomatoes. The middle part of August they start to drop seed so they were cut and stacked in the field like you see here.
Jeff and Becky threshing Swiss chard with our Cecoco thresher.

After a couple of weeks drying (we had perfect drying weather this year), we run them through the thresher as above. Once the seed is separated from the stalks and leaves, it is bagged and placed in our controlled atmoshpere storage until mid-fall when we start seed-cleaning operations.

We're also harvesting tomatoes last week and this week and probably every week for a month and a half or so. We harvested a cherry tomato last week; I figure there were between 150 and 450 thousand cherry tomatoes in that field. After doing this a few years we have become adept at harvesting cherry tomatoes quickly and efficiently so it only took us a full day to pick them.

Let's see: Let's say we had 300,000 tomatoes to pick, we had 10 farm crew members and it took us 8 hours to pick and crush the fruit. In theory each person picked an average of 4,688 tomatoes per hour or 1.3 fruit every second for 8 hours straight. Of course that's not what happened, but when you are picking thousands of tomatoes in a seemingly endless row with no end in sight, then you have some time to play around with numbers. Case in point (this is from some years back) if each of those 300K tomatoes were 4 inches across (average hamburger size) you would have enough to go about 19 miles, or from Albion to Augusta. That's a lot of burgers!

Speaking of hamburgers I bought a cow over the weekend. Well, actually a half a cow, well actually a half of a half of a cow. My neighbor raised three beef cows over the past two years and had a half to sell so I bought it. We were talking about raising cows last Sunday morning and how the cattle yards out west looked; crowded, dirty and generally not how I want my beef handled. Growing up on a dairy farm we always had lots of beef to eat; we didn't think much about it. Off the farm for thirty years I have bought my beef in a local butcher shop or occaisionally in the grocery store. I remember as a kid it was common for someone to raise a few beef animals and sell them to friends and neighbors. I wonder what ever happened to this. Well, at least right now, and in my neighborhood, it's back. The farmer wants $ 1.50 hanging weight and the local butcher gets 75 cents for his part so I'll wind up with around 150 pounds of beef at $ 2.25 a pound across the board. 

We put 24 pints of sweet corn in the freezer over the weekend. I bought six dozen ears from a local farmer and Peg and I blanched it and removed it from the ears and froze it. This will last us pretty much all winter. Along with the beef, and chickens we put in the freezer earlier, we should have a decent supply of food on hand before cold weather comes. I do hate going to the store every night.

Until next week, enjoy the coolness of September. Brian

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