Most years, we shut down both our farm stands in January and February yet, happily, that won’t be the case in 2012. The farm is still producing, and as long as it does, we’ll keep one market open — the Wednesday farm stand in Northwest Austin, to be exact, for at least the next two weeks. Longer, if we can pull it off.

The Jonestown stand, however, is closed for the season and we won’t reopen that one until March. The official story we initially gave our Saturday customers for not opening a time or two in January was because we have a “skeleton crew” during the winter months and can only manage one market per week.

Now, I’m not saying our story wasn’t true — it just wasn’t completely true. And as the guilt of our little white lie started laying more heavily on our psyches, Farmer John and I started ‘fessing up to the Saturday folks at our last 2011 market on Christmas Eve. Thing is, during the eight months of the year our Jonestown farm stand is open, the only day we have “off” is Sunday. A winter break allows us to have Saturdays for a little while, too.

Don’t get me wrong — we don’t resent working Saturdays. We greatly enjoy both farm stands and wouldn’t want to sell our produce any other way. It’s just that, sometimes, a two-day weekend sounds so…decadent. Like having two Sundays in a row.

Imagine our giddiness, then, at the prospect of the days we’d be taking off between Christmas and January 1st. An entire week of Sundays! Our co-farmers Dana, Mary and Zac don’t come to work during that time — they have their own holiday plans — which leaves John and me here to relax by ourselves. Alhough, truthfully, I’m a far better relaxer than John. Hand me a book or a couple of crossword puzzles and I’m content for hours. John, on the other hand, sits still only when there are exciting televised sports games blaring at him. Which games, of course, usually broadcast on Sundays.

That’s the only glitch when your week of Sundays isn’t technically a week of Sundays: Television programmers don’t abide by the same schedule as vacationing farmers. So by the time Tuesday rolled around and the only choices on TV were daytime talk shows or old movies, Farmer John had had enough. He got antsy.

Besides, it was time to start seeding early tomatoes. And before the first seed flat could be placed into one of the greenhouses, some preparation was in order. We have two greenhouses, both of them small yet too big to adequately heat the entire space this time of year for only a dozen or so flats of tomatoes. To reduce the area needed to a minimum so that a couple small electric heaters could do the job, John constructed a makeshift greenhouse-within-a-greenhouse using hoops and row covers.

This is a very temporary set-up that will have to suffice until he does some major work on our old greenhouse (work to be done any day except Sunday) when we start getting serious about filling both these structures with starts for spring and summer crops.

Once the mini-greenhouse was ready to go, John began the seeding process by cleaning several plastic flats.

[Doesn’t he look sharp in his crazy shirt circa 1980-something? It’s always interesting, what a person might find in old forgotten dresser drawers.]

With the aid of his miniature cement mixer,

Farmer John combined all the secret ingredients he uses for his potting soil. After filling the flats with blocks formed from this concoction, he distributed the Early Girl tomato seeds — a somewhat neck-breaking chore when bifocals are perched upon one’s nose — and laid them side-by-side in their interim hothouse to germinate.

Seems to me an awful lot of work for a Sunday, even when Sunday falls on Tuesday. Which is why, while John toiled, I spent the afternoon reading and working crosswords, interrupted only by the occasional forays to the greenhouse and garage to take these pictures.

Unlike John, I know how to treat a Sunday.

* * *

Happy New Year! Here’s to loads of lovely Sundays in 2012. For this week’s Jollyville Road stand, we’ll have:

Romanesco cauliflower and some white cauliflower; lots of spinach; various head lettuces; pink and purple radishes; Watermelon radishes; green “storage” cabbage; Brussels greens; chard; kale; bags of arugula; golden beets; white “Tokyo Market” turnips; bulk Asian greens; heads of escarole; some lettuce mix; and broccoli.

Jo Dwyer
Angel Valley Organic Farm
Farm stands:
Saturdays 9:00-1:00 in Jonestown on FM 1431 at the blinking yellow light [closed until March]; 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)