I had the greatest dream recently. In it, John opened the bedroom door and gently declared, “It’s time to get up, Muttonhead.”

This is actually how he wakes me up six days a week, so in the dream I awoke as instructed — which woke me up for real, too. After blinking once or twice I realized the room was pitch dark and John was sound asleep beside me. That’s what was so great about it. Since it was only a dream, I got to settle back in, close my eyes and drift back off to snoozeville.

Often people ask us what time we get up. It’s a well known fact that farmers rise long before dawn, right? Yes, yes, most indeed do. Just not me. While Farmer John is up and at ‘em at 5:20 a.m., he lets me sleep another hour or so before coming back to Muttonhead me out of bed. He’s a smart man. I’m not a pleasant person before dawn.

Every year right around this time, I know John would like to indulge in an extra hour or more of sack time himself. We’re always pretty much pooped as July winds down to its end. The summer season is the busiest of all and honestly, as August begins to come into view, motivation becomes a real problem. For us, as well as for the farm itself.

Without even considering the spent crops already pulled from the fields, an overwhelming percentage of the ones still standing are lackluster, at best.

They lean, they shrivel. They almost sigh with weariness. Crops that don’t die outright show their fatigue in various ways. Like our initial beds of peppers, for example, the ones we planted under hoop houses way back in February.

As they’ve aged, their formerly deep green leaves have turned yellower and yellower. All the Geritol in the world won’t restore these old folks’ iron poor blood. It’s okay. They stuck around a good long while and treated us to great quantities of delicious fruit. In our minds, they have every right to be tired.

The okra crop, however, disagrees.

To be fair, this okra hasn’t been languishing in the field as long as the first pepper crop. Still, it isn’t all that much younger, yet it greets each and every morning with a perky Hello! as its hundreds of beautiful yellow flowers open wide with anticipation of the new day. There’s nary a grouch or slacker among them.

It’s enough to drive a sleepier person a little bit crazy.

Fortunately, there are enough young, energetic, awake people at this farm to get some important work accomplished, work that will eventually lead to what we hope will be a successful fall season. For now, the concentration is focused on starting to fill the greenhouses with the first plantings for fall — crops that overlap with summer season offerings like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and squashes.

Soon enough, chard and Asian greens will be added to the mix, and then will come the first broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage seedlings. Lettuces, spinach, kales, brussels sprouts. Green onions. Root crops like beets, turnips, radishes and eventually carrots will be direct seeded out into the fields.

I adore the fall vegetables. Almost enough to get me up early.

Until that time, though, once we’ve shut down the stands for the summer, I’ll be sleeping in whenever possible. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself after farming these 14 years, it’s this:

Had I been born a variety of produce rather than a variety of human being, I would not have been born an okra.

* * *

One more Wednesday farm stand to go! And happily, we’ll have a darned good supply, despite the fact that July is racing towards its conclusion. The rains definitely helped give certain crops a little added oomph. For this Wednesday’s stand we’ll be bringing:

Tomatoes — not as many as last week, but not a puny amount either! Plus oodles of okra; a surprising amount of Asian cucumbers (a lovely result of the rains); lots of zucchini, Zephyr and yellow squash; some sweet red Corno di Toro peppers; Cubanelle peppers; however many red and yellow bells we find ready for harvest; three varieties of eggplant; arugula; and butternut squash from Sand Creek Farm.

Thank you for a wonderful season — and we hope to see you when we reopen the first Wednesday in October!

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)

Advertisements