“I love this weather!” exclaimed the post by a Facebook friend during last week’s freezes. I considered for a moment leaving a comment — something along the lines of “Well sure you do…you work inside!” — but decided that might sound rude. I mean, this friend didn’t force us to farm for a living and thus spend nearly each and every day outdoors. Besides, on perfect 80-degree days when he’s sequestered inside an artificially lit building, we get to breathe in the fresh air, enjoy the warmth of the sun on our faces.

It’s just that lately, those days seem so very long ago.

When this latest cold front barreled down, it was enough to make us all wish for an indoor job. Last Monday was bad enough with temps hovering in the upper 30’s, yet at least with enough padding to mitigate the cold to some extent, we were able to occasionally muster some smiles.

Tuesday, however, was brutal. The first 2-1/2 hours stuck steadfastly at 32 degrees while everyone hunkered over the spinach rows, filling buckets leaf-by-leaf-by-leaf. Every now and then someone would scream out “I can’t move my fingers!” or my personal favorite, the random and eloquent “Gaaaaaaaahhhh!!”

On mornings like that, layering is essential. Mary is notorious for squeezing into three pairs of pants, and all of us appreciate the value of polypropylene jackets to help block the cold north wind. Long underwear of some sort is a must, as well. Lucky for me, I held on to most of my old elasticized leggings from the ‘80s (as Dana has noted, fashion flies out the window in the wintertime). Farmer John dresses to a different drummer and uses his Stewie fleece jammy pants as surrogate long johns (ultimately proving Dana’s point).

Yet no matter the preference in undergarments, no matter whether we’ve wrapped ourselves in three layers or ten, water is an inevitable enemy on bitterly cold days. There’s obviously no avoiding it altogether — we must rinse the salads and greens. And truthfully, when the ambient temperature is in the 30’s, sinks full of well water can feel deceivingly warmish.

It’s only when you take your hands out of the water that the pain begins to set in. Consequently, when the weather is too stupid, we try to harvest fewer of the usual suspects that require blasts of water from hoses, like beets with greens and bunching onions. Sometimes the bullet must be bitten, though, and an unlucky person or two is relegated to the outdoor grate, hoses and all.

And contrary to what one might suspect, processing produce inside the salad shed isn’t a whole lot more comfortable.

It’s a frigid state of affairs for sure when the farm’s walk-in cooler is warmer than our various work stations, but on days like these that is indeed the case.

Still, I don’t fault my Facebook friend for relishing cold weather after the horrendous summer we all endured. And while I won’t go so far as to admit that during a spell like this one I come dangerously close to looking back on those months with a bit of longing, you’ll never — never, ever, ever — see a post from me this time of year saying, “I love this weather!”

* * *

Follow the farm on Facebook, if you haven’t done so already, by going to this site and clicking the “Like” button — I promise not to complain about the weather (much) in our updates!

And for Wednesday’s farm stand, we’re planning to bring:

“Cheddar” cauliflower; lots of spinach; various head lettuces (butterheads, romaines and red leaf); bulk purple and golden beets (without greens) and bunches of golden beets with greens; pink and purple radishes; Watermelon radishes; crinkly Savoy cabbage; bunches of fresh young purple onions; Brussels greens; bunches of chard; Dinosaur kale; Curly kale; bags of arugula; bunches of kohlrabi; cilantro; white “Tokyo Market” cooking turnips; bulk Asian greens; and some of this and that.


Jo Dwyer

Angel Valley Organic Farm

Farm stands:

Saturdays 9:00-1:00 in Jonestown on FM 1431 at the blinking yellow light; and

Wednesdays 10:00-2:00 in NW Austin at the Asian American Center, 11713 Jollyville Road (1-1/2 blocks north of the intersection of Jollyville and Duval)