September 2018

We did it on Tuesday! The prediction was for rain in the afternoon, at about 3:00 pm, and we put a lot of faith in the 100% prediction. The fields are getting quite saturated and not drying off between rains. David had to finish the potato harvest. There were potatoes in two fields. Monday was a failed attempt with both fields, just too darn wet, the machine that digs the potatoes is not meant to deal with heavy, wet soil. Tuesday morning was going to have to be it. David in one tractor pulling the potato harvest machine, Jesse in another tractor pulling the wagon and four people riding the harvest machine to pull those clumps of dirt and grass out of the rollers so only the potatoes would be conveyed up into the wagon. As they were harvesting the potatoes, five of us were in the same field bringing in the kale. Both jobs done before lunch!

Now let’s head across the valley and bring in the winter squash and pie pumpkins, and get it done before the rain. Several bins filled before lunch. A much needed one hour break then all hands on to clip, pick up and count them into bulk bins before that 3:00 rain deadline. We were working in the valley with an amazing view to the west where the storm clouds were mounting and moving our way. As a bin filled Eric hauled it by tractor to the shed. At 2:30 it began to rain, a nice gentle rain which felt good to our warm bodies. Almost done, and at 3:00 the sky opened and began to pour! The last bin was filled, we all ran and climbed into the back of the pickup truck for a wet ride back. Soaked to the skin and happy to return to the packing shed, we spent the next two hours washing squash. Eric, in full rain gear, drove back and forth with heaping bins.

This afternoon everyone is out harvesting sweet potatoes to get ahead of the next rain.


Watching the potato harvest go by as we harvest kale.

Bins of Carnival squash. Jesse uses the skid steer to move bins around the field .

Here come the storm clouds as we harvest winter squash.

Kale harvest, notice the mosquito net Sophon is wearing!

Why does it always come down to weather when I sit down to write? I guess if we worked inside it wouldn’t be such a big deal, but we all work outside all the time. It rained on Tuesday and believe it or not, it was a welcome event. The 1 inch we received was perfect for the plants, the ground was beginning to get dry. Remember a couple of weeks ago I said if we didn’t get more rain this fall we would have to irrigate, well we were getting close to that point. The rain came down gently all morning and we worked in it all morning! Although most of us had on rain gear, we all felt and looked like soaked little puppies after four and a half hours. We surprised ourselves and harvested lettuce, kohlrabi, celery and kale in that time. Rather an ambitious haul for one morning. I think all just hunkered down and got it done.

And then there’s the mosquitoes! On this farm we have never in 24 years even come close to experiencing such an invasion. They hang over us in clouds. They are relentless and their bite is nasty. We all cover up completely, keeping only our faces exposed, but somehow, on two occasions, a mosquito made its way under my glasses and stung me on the eyelid. First my left eye then the next day my right. Both of my eyes are all swelled up. When Jesse saw me yesterday morning he said, “What happened to you? Looks like you lost!”

The vegetables in the fields are all fine and happy although we need to wait until the ground dries to finish potato harvest. The ground needs to be dry for that activity so we have very small windows between rains and the time it takes the ground to dry.

I guess I know why I talk about weather so much!


Kale harvest on Tuesday morning. We had already been working in the rain for four hours by this time. We were getting cold and bitten up by mosquitoes, even kept going into our lunch hour so we could finish!

We grow a lot of potatoes. We dedicated nine acres to potatoes this year, more than any other vegetable we grow on the farm. In addition to growing spuds for our CSA shares, we also produce potato seed for other farmers. Our seed is double certified – certified organic and certified disease free by the Wisconsin Seed Potato Certification Program. During this busy week of CSA harvest, David, Jesse and Eric spent a great deal of each work day harvesting potatoes from our land in Arena, near the Wisconsin River. We’ve been waiting for this dry weather to be able to access the fields with our tractors. There was still a fair amount of mud and Jesse managed to get a tractor stuck. Luckily we use two tractors in the harvest process so David was able to tow him out with the other tractor. The guys brought in French Fingerling, Carola, Peter Wilcox, Goldrush Russet, and Magic Molly varieties this week and the potato cooler is getting pretty full. When the entire harvest is done we will be storing over 200,000 pounds of potatoes on this farm through winter and spring. If you ask any of us what our favorite vegetables are, potato is pretty high on the list, usually number one.


David and Jesse drive tractors side by side and Eric pulls debris off of the potato digger.

A dewy morning in the potato field.

Jesse hauls crates of dropped potatoes out of the field.

The potato digger drops potatoes into the potato wagon.

Potatoes get dug then ride up a belt. Dirt and stems get separated from the potatoes.

Eric, Jesse, and Yun empty the potato wagon into bulk bins to be trucked back to the farm.

Dream Lens Media photography

I really can’t remember weather like this. Not only the rains, but the fog and humidity for such an extended period of time. Many of the vegetables are responding positively to so much water and others are not so happy. The fall crops like cabbage, kale, collards, lettuce heads, radishes, carrots are all happy enough with the water. Then there are the crops it has posed a challenge with. The beans were all knocked over and suffered in quality, although the taste is still great. The corn was knocked down and had to be harvested from the ground. The salad mix had a good many leaves effected with black spotting, we did our best to pick them all out of the mix. The tomatoes, which always get hit with multiple diseases, got an excessive dose of diseases that brought the outside tomato season to a halt several weeks sooner than usual. But, the hoophouse tomatoes are beautiful and will be harvested for many weeks to come. The peppers are happy and thriving, turning big and red.

We do our best with the weather we get. We haven’t had to irrigate for some time now, saving us a lot of time, but we have not put the irrigation equipment away, there are still seven weeks to go and believe it or not if it stops raining we may need to irrigate.

And then there’s the mud! As long as we wear rubber boots and keep the trucks on the gravel drives, all is OK.

But it’s sure good to see the sun today!


Monday morning fog and pepper harvest.

Abby and Eric slogging through the mud as they harvest mix.

Then the crates of salad mix need to be carried to the truck.

I wonder how long Jesse’s green rain pants are going to survive. Last week they were duct taped together, now they are looking rather skirt like. Farm fashion is definitely like no other.

The crew spent a bit of time cutting the tips off of the corn to get rid of corn ear worm damage. Although the worm is perfectly safe (a family member said: it just eats corn, so probably tastes like corn), no one really wants one. But if you do find one, cut it off and enjoy the rest of your corn.