The latest person to collect Powerball’s multi-million dollar prize used the word “proud” when describing her feelings about her win. The story goes that she went to the store to buy some Rainbow Sherbet for a family member and bought one lottery ticket — the winning ticket — while she was there. Personally, I thought pride was an odd emotion, considering it was a simple craving for an icy dessert that ultimately led to her instant riches. Who am I to judge, though? Maybe she’s proud of being lucky.

I think of myself as one of the lucky ones too. I’ve long been married to a great guy, I live on a lovely little farm, and have many friends who are important to me. My luck, however, has been almost exclusively non-drawing related. I’m not the one who wins the door prize. Lottery proceeds continue to elude me.

That’s not to say I’ve never won anything at all. When I was maybe seven or eight years old, my mother came home one day with a big box of brand new Barbie clothes, each color-coordinated ensemble (including the tiny shoes!) still attached to its cardboard packaging. Where did she get this treasure trove of Barbiewear? She won it! Well, technically I won it, as she had used my name in the drawing for this spectacular wardrobe. She hadn’t told me about it beforehand because she didn’t want to risk disappointing me.

She was a really nice mom.

Alas, my luck for such things expired that day. It doesn’t work, apparently, if I’m aware of being in the competition. Every drawing I’ve entered since that surprise childhood win has been a bust. Which is why I wasn’t immediately interested in answering a recent online survey from one of the seed suppliers we use, despite the supplier’s enticement of a $50 gift certificate for some lucky survey filler-outer. Fully aware of my lack of this type of luck, I allowed the email to languish in my inbox for a good week or more before finally deciding to go for it.

Honestly, it was more out of curiously than any misguided hope that I’d wind up $50 richer. As I clicked through the survey’s questions, I learned the seed company was trying to assess what methods people use for growing crops through the winter.

One of the questions asked what advantage there might be to winter growing. There’s no doubt in my mind that my answer echoed every other: fewer insect problems. (Wonder if the absence of originality will further hurt my chances at that cool 50 bucks?) The answer is obvious for farmers in, say, Maine or Minnesota where insects actually die during the winter months — rather than just hibernate, like they do in our part of the world — but I was thinking about this winter in particular, and even this past fall.

Oddly, we had no aphids. It was almost eerie. Generally we battle these tiny suckers all year round to some degree, yet they’d seemed to have vanished from the face of the earth last September. We didn’t miss them. Especially on the Brussels sprouts, which are normally Party Central for every aphid in the tri-county area. It’s why we don’t put a whole lot of emphasis on growing Brussels plants for the sprouts themselves and consequently hold back on the number we put in the ground.

Compared to the amount of fall broccoli and cauliflower we grow, Brussels plants are kind of like the forgotten second cousins.

Yet this year, for some reason aphids remained AWOL long enough for the Brussels sprouts to flourish. While our farm stands were shut down, patrons of our two favorite restaurants, Wink and Texas French Bread, enjoyed a bounty of insect-free sprouts from our farm. Now that we’ve reopened our stands, we’ve been able to bring them directly to you.

Trouble is, the fall is finished and winter is almost a memory. Blowing in on the March winds, zillions of winged aphids have arrived and brought with them their newly-hatched minions.

The sprouts aren’t their only target. We’re suddenly finding aphids on the lettuces, the Asian greens, and more. We’ve started fighting them with our limited organic arsenal, but it’s difficult — impossible, really — to spray Brussels sprouts plants sufficiently to kill these awful little bugs.

The good news is that the number of plants turned to goo are thus far in the minority. We do still have a decent amount of happy, aphid-free sprouts.

How long the tiny insects will allow us this luxury, I can’t begin to guess. Our strategy is to keep harvesting as many as we can, while we can. It’s the only strategy available to us. After all, spring is pretty much here. The aphids are back.

Know what I’d like more than that $50 gift certificate? To be granted one wish. A fifty doesn’t buy much of a wish, though, so I realize it’ll have to fall somewhere between Powerball and owning the best-dressed Barbie in the neighborhood. I’m thinking the total extinction of aphids, at least here at the farm, would be a nice prize. Heck, I’d even chip in a few extra bucks if it would help.

* * *
A bigger selection coming to the farm stand every week now! Here’s what we’ll have this Wednesday:

Brussels sprouts; bunches of sweet carrots; green onions; green garlic; young leeks; bunches of chard; Dinosaur kale; bunches of purple beets and golden beets; lots of green and red Butterhead lettuces; Red leaf lettuce; a few Romaine; lettuces mix; Euro salad mix; some arugula; and anything else we find ready for harvest.

Thanks!
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)

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