Oh Rattlesnake beans, it seems like only yesterday you looked like this.

It practically was yesterday, really, yet already the beans are gone. And that’s a sad thing…though not beautifully sad like the Beatles song as performed live by Paul McCartney on the Ed Sullivan Show when I was 9 years old, the very song that cemented my undying love for Paul.

Until I fell out of love with Paul some time in junior high (an event that broke his heart, no doubt).

That’s merely one testament to how fleeting adoration can be. More recently, I also adored the Rattlesnake beans. All of us here at the farm did, including the infestation of spider mites that sucked the life from the plants in what might have been record time.

We knew spider mites were in there, and we’re all too familiar with what the mites can do to many types of plants, but Rattlesnakes are pole beans and they’d grown far too tall and too thick to possibly spray them (with an organic control, of course!) sufficiently enough to kill the tiny insects.

As the plants were waning, Zac confessed that in all his experience working on farms, he’s never been good at watching a crop die. I admitted it’s a learned tolerance. After observing life and death on our farm for almost 14 years, John and I have become almost hardened to the reality of it. Now, that’s not to say we’re not unhappy when a crop doesn’t last as long as we want, but when you get right down to it, we’ve come to expect a certain amount of failure every season. It comes with the territory.

Truthfully, I’m probably better than Farmer John at saying goodbye to spent crops. Once the plants are dead, you see, they’re like clutter. And I don’t care much for clutter. In fact, I’ve been known to throw many a highly important document into the trash can because it’s been “in my way.” (In my defense, ever since curbside recycling has been offered in our neighborhood, I at least toss essential paperwork in the blue recycle bin now, rather than into the container designated for used kleenex and kitty litter.)

The thing about a lost crop, too, is that there’s always something new following close behind it. It’s like our current bed of cucumbers.

They’re tired. So tired that any cuke they now struggle to produce is utterly undesirable. Being the one who abhors clutter, in my opinion they can’t be yanked out and carried away any too soon. Out of sight, out of messiness.

Still, they had a good run. Last summer we couldn’t grow a cucumber to save our lives, yet this crop was a remarkable producer and lasted a decent amount of time. Nothing lives forever, though, so as we bid a fond farewell to these plants we wait in giddy anticipation of the next succession.

That’s not the only recent development on the farm. The last day we attempted to pick Rattlesnake beans, before we’d concluded the negligible harvest, Mary let out an audible gasp that stopped us all in our tracks. This is what she’d run across:

The nest had been discovered a while back, but no one anticipated being witness to the hatching of one of the eggs. We all gathered around for a while to observe the painstaking progress of the tiny creature breaking out of its shell. So slow was it, we eventually went back to the final bean-gathering task at hand.


New life amidst the throes of rapidly deteriorating plants. There’s some sort of philosophical lesson there, I’m sure, but more important to Farmer John and me is the fact that this is a Painted Bunting nest. We both adore Painted Buntings. So much so, I feel certain this adoration will never end, unlike my grade school Beatles crush.

Sorry Paul.

Thanks to our love for birds of all kinds, the dead Rattlesnake beans will get a temporary reprieve. We won’t be so hasty about cutting them down, knowing there are babies in there. And in this particular instance, the clutter won’t bother me one bit.

* * *

Here’s what we’ll be bringing to the farm stand on Wednesday:

SCADS of tomatoes — large slicing tomatoes, juicy salad tomatoes, pink tomatoes, yellow tomatoes, three kinds of cherry tomatoes, and the last few heirlooms — plus of LOADS of zucchini, Zephyr and yellow squash; three varieties of eggplant; bunches of basil; sweet Yellow Granex and Red Creole onions; elephant garlic; some arugula; Cubanelle peppers, white bell peppers, jalapenos, and possibly a few colored bells (depends on if they’re ready in time!).

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)