You know you’re inching up there in years when two of the conversations that consumed your interest on Thanksgiving were about: 1) hearing aids; and 2) memory loss. I’ll save hearing aids for another time (“What did she say?”) yet the discussion about memory loss was too pertinent to…ahem…forget.

John and I were enjoying our holiday meal with several close friends when the topic came up. Most of us are around the same age, give or take a decade, and we were commiserating about how difficult it can sometimes be to remember the simplest of things. None of us teeter on the brink of no return, I’m happy to report, but total recall is a challenge. One friend phrased it best when she acknowledged the information she’s looking for is indeed in her head, then added “and every now and then I can retrieve.”

I loved that phrase so much, I asked one of our other dinner companions to pull out his iPhone and email it to me right then and there. I knew that I wouldn’t remember it otherwise. Which, of course, goes right back to the point of the conversation….

Memory — or the lack thereof — is an ongoing theme around here. Like one afternoon during the mayhem of pre-Thanksgiving harvest, when Farmer John, Dana, Mary and I were all in the salad shed area at the same time, each working on rinsing and processing various vegetables for market. Mary had just dunked some sort of greens into one of the sinks, and turned on the faucet to get the other sink filling while she headed out to the fields for more. She asked if someone would turn the faucet off when it was done.

Those of us staying in the room — all members of the over 50 club — froze.

“You know what the chances are of one of us remembering, don’t you?” Dana asked.

Mary conceded it was risky, but tried to bolster our confidence with a thumbs-up ‘You can do it!’ gesture as she grabbed a couple harvest baskets and left. (By the way, I don’t know who ultimately turned off the water. I walked out of the building before the sink was full and instantly forgot all about it.)

Even our cat Pablo seems to be in on the joke. See, he’s just a tad spoiled, and knows we keep a supply of cooked chicken in the fridge for his daily lunchtime snack. Probably right around the time Mary tested our retrieval skills with that faucet episode, I made the mistake of feeding Pablo his treat earlier in the day than usual.

An hour or so later, as John and I were preparing our lunch, Pablo planted himself in his “I’m ready for my chicken” spot and tried his best to fool us.

Or had he forgotten he’d already eaten his chicken? At 12 years old, Pablo is no youngster himself, after all. Perhaps his memory isn’t quite what it used to be either.

Thankfully, we do have two youngsters in human form working at the farm — Mary and Zac, both in their 30’s — with Mary having been here just shy of five years. Oh my, how we rely on her for recall when needed. As in, “What was the name of the brussels sprouts variety we grew last year?” or “Any idea where I left my hat?”

It was the day after Thanksgiving when John, Mary and I were planting the newest row of lettuce mix and came to a mutual revelation in which retrieval will eventually prove itself vital. As we were hunkered down over the 200’ bed pushing soil blocks of tiny lettuces into the ground, it occurred to me that we were planting only a portion of the amount we’d grown for our early fall lettuce mix.

Thing is, we’d planted a bit too much the first time around and from market-to-market we’ve never harvested it all. Since we begin picking from the north end of the bed for Wednesday’s farm stand, then from the south end for Saturday’s stand, we’ve been left with an unharvested section in the middle that continues to grow and grow and grow, as illustrated in this artist’s interpretation.

The problem with late fall/early winter farming is how slowly the crops grow as the days become shorter and colder. After a discussion about this annual phenomenon, we three lettuce planters concluded that next year we need to employ the opposite lettuce mix strategy. Rather than setting out the biggest planting early in the fall and the smaller planting later, we should reverse it — plant a shorter bed when the lettuces grow quickly; a longer bed when they’re a bit more stubborn.

I suggested one of us should go make a note of the plan, since the chance of retrieving it on our own next September is probably slim. John dismissed the idea and said he felt sure we’d think of it when the time comes.

Mary remained conspicuously mum. I know what she was thinking, though. September is almost a full year from now, plenty of time to remember and forget so many things. I think I’ll go ahead and write down how many flats of lettuce mix we’ll need for the first planting and for the second, just in case.

Then next year, when we’re getting ready to start seeding for the fall, hopefully I’ll remember to ask Mary where I put that piece of paper.

* * *

We’re a little short-handed this week (not to mention the hands we’re using are frozen!) but we’re doing our best to get as much variety for the market tables as possible. Here’s what we plan to have for you on Wednesday:

“Cheddar” cauliflower and Snow Crown cauliflower; bags of broccoli side shoots; spinach; lettuce mix; bulk Purple and Golden beets (without greens); pink radishes; Watermelon radishes (see photo below!); crinkly Savoy cabbage; green storage cabbage; bulk sweet white turnips; Brussels greens; bunches of chard; Dinosaur kale; Curly kale; bags of arugula; bunches of kohlrabi; cilantro; and anything else we might have time to harvest.

***Eat Local Week is off and running! Check out the events and participating restaurants here. And be sure to stop in for dinner at our two faves — all year round! — Wink Restaurant and Texas French Bread.


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)