About a month ago, I wrote a blog about our gate latches – or I should say, our lack of gate latches – around the farm. During all the years we’ve had this farm, instead of actual latches, we’ve used bungee cords to keep the gates closed.

Soon after that blog went out, I received an email from the husband of a long-time Saturday farm stand shopper explaining at great length (and with such humor that I laughed until tears rolled down my cheeks) how, as an Engineer, he couldn’t sit idly by, knowing how inferior our latch situation was.

After giving some background about his childhood growing up on a farm in Minnesota, followed by brief discussion comparing his run-on sentences to those written by William Faulkner – which segued into a dissertation about the impropriety of beginning a sentence with the word “And” – Dave the Engineer went on to say:

“As I read . . . your latest newsletter, man I was thinking, I ought to get over there and install some proper latches on those gates . . . so those folks can get on with the gardening so that [my wife] can buy the radishes so that I can eat and enjoy them without having to do all that work myself. It’s not that I mind getting in the dirt, nor getting dirty nor even pitching manure by hand, but somehow vis-a-vis my childhood, I just don’t want to dig another row of dirt up to plant in it radishes, onions, kohlrabi! Nothin. . . ! I want to pay somebody else to do that but I sure can’t stand to have an improperly latched gate. We all have our threshold levels of things we can’t tolerate and a gate should be rigid, swing freely, and be properly latched. . . And this ain’t no sales pitch either. I’ll do it for nothin, well maybe I’ll steal a few peas if you have a pea patch.”

Who could refuse an offer like that?

During Dave’s initial visit to the farm, he straightened and leveled our gates so they would indeed swing freely, rather than scrape along the ground every time we opened and closed them. While we were busy enjoying this new luxury, he set to work welding what would turn out to be two truly unique “bump” latches, hand-made from various scrips and scraps and who knows what all.

Notice the exquisite detail. One latch has our farm’s initials torched into it…

. . . while the other has two angels – one image a negative;

the other a positive.

Utter brilliance. Who cares if Dave begins his sentences with the word “And?” He’s not only an Engineer, he’s an Arteest!

And I mean that.

Although I have to admit that on first approach to the bump latches after they were installed, I was a little frightened. Each one was secured by such an odd assemblage of parts, particularly where the post slides into the thingies that hold it shut.

I’d never seen anything like it. In case it isn’t immediately obvious, those metal loops hang loosely and kind of pivot when the gate closes, allowing the latch post to secure itself between them.

But really, it’s the “bump” aspect of the latches that will prove themselves to be our favorite. More often than not, when we go through the farm gates, both of our hands are occupied either with two buckets or two baskets of whatever we happen to be harvesting at the time. Before Dave fixed us up, when we got to one of the gates we had to set the vessels on the ground, unhook one end of the bungee cord, pick the vessels back up, walk through the open gate, then set the buckets or baskets down again to close the gate and re-hook the bungee cord before we could be on our way.

Now, all we need do is bump the latch with an elbow.

We’re absolutely thrilled. Thanks Dave. Had William Faulkner been an Engineer, he couldn’t have done any better.

* * *

Here’s what we’ll be schlepping through our snazzy new latches to bring to the farm stand this week:

New potatoes — Red Lasoda and Yukon Gold; the last of those delicious garlic scapes; sweet carrots; bunches of purple beets; snow peas; the first summer squashes (mostly zucchini and yellow squash); lettuce mix; head lettuces – butterhead, romaine, red leaf & green leaf (sorry for running out of lettuce so quickly last Wednesday – we’ll have more lettuce mix and head lettuces this week!); fresh spring onions; young leeks; fennel; bulk white turnips; bunches of chard; bunches of pink and purple radishes; and a little of this and that.

**Our friend Mithu is hosting summer art camps for students again this year. (She’s also displaying her current students’ artwork at an exhibition this Saturday, May 8th). For details, see the info from Mithu that I’ve reprinted below my signature block.

Jo Dwyer
Angel Valley Organic Farm

You all are cordially invited to the The Blooming Paintbrush Studio’s Annual Student Art Exhibition on Saturday, May 8th at 6400 Harrogate Drive, Austin, TX 78759. The exhibition will be from 10 a.m. till 4 p.m. My students have worked hard all year long to bring their best to you. Please bring your families and friends and make this exhibition a success. Thanking you. Mithu Deb

Following are my upcoming Summer Camp information 2010. Summer Camps are going to be held in June, 2010. Please go to my website http://www.thebloomingpaintbrush.com for actual dates and further information.

From 9 a.m. till 12 noon is Art Camp where we will do four projects — Still life in pastel, Papier machemask, colored pencil and a acrylic painting. The fee for this camp is $150.

From 1 p.m. till 4 p.m. I have Pottery Camp, where we will explore the different construction methods and just make stuff using hand building methods as well as use the potter’s wheel. Your child will bring home as many as he or she can make, finished and glazed. For pottery the finished pieces will be given after four weeks after they are fired and glazed. The fee for this camp is $175.

All materials are included for all the camps. There is a discount of $25 for double registration, that is if you enroll your children for both the morning and afternoon camps. The kids can stay over during the lunch hour. A snack will be provided during morning and afternoon but please pack a sack lunch, if your kids stay over for lunch.

I am located in North West Austin, off 183 and Oak Knoll. Hope this location works for you. I hope this answers all your questions. Please feel free to get in touch with me, if you have further inquiries regarding class times for specific age groups. Thanks

Mithu Deb
The Blooming Paintbrush