I hope that you have all stayed safe and warm in this wild Winter weather. I returned home from my road trip this past Monday right before the ice hit the Portland area. What should have been a 7 hour drive home turned into a 24 hour slog thanks to ice that hit the Eugene area. I, along with thousands of others, literally SLEPT in my vehicle on Interstate 5 for about 8 hours on Sunday night. It was wild! I'm so happy to be home though, despite the weather. Just to be back in my own kitchen and bed is heavenly.
I made a run out to the farm Monday because it's really hard to be away from it for three weeks and it felt like the tundra (or so what I imagine it to feel like). During the past week, there were gusts up to 80mph with sustained winds in the 30's. Temperatures dropped to around 10 degrees and did not get above 40 for almost a week. That's what I consider to be a serious deep freeze. The farm looked fine when I left on Monday afternoon and I felt ok about things. But then the ice came, along with more cold wind and temperatures. When Stephen and I returned to the farm Thursday, everything was under a sheet of ice and things did not look so great. We lost plastic on one of our high tunnels - thankfully not the one with our late Winter greens. When we checked in on our Winter squash and potatoes in our shipping container, we discovered they were all frozen. ALL of them. Mother nature can be brutal.
I realize that as a farmer, I will forever be learning really hard and heartbreaking lessons. When we discovered this loss, I immediately went to all the shoulds - I should have had these moved into the walk-in. I should have put a heater in here (which is hard with no power). I should have known better. I for sure cried and was so thankful to have Stephen alongside me during this really hard moment. With some distance from the initial discovery, I reflect on the word should - what a useless word. It really causes nothing but feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, and self-blame. It's SO easy to fall down that "should" black hole though and it takes a lot of self awareness (and unrelenting positivity) to get out of it.
In the past couple of weeks, during all of my solo desert time, I really embraced letting go and leaned into trusting the journey that life takes me on - really trying to accept that I'm never actually in control. My journey during the past four years has been bumpy, painful, and full of grief. Yet, I'm so happy with where my life is at, have grown into a better human, and I regret nothing. The main takeaway is that losses are not a waste if viewed as lessons. What do I need to get results that meet my values/priorities? What must be changed in order to not feel this loss again? How will I grow and change from this? Farming helps me to let go in some ways because at the end of the day, nature is in full control - she is full of loss and grief and does not care about ANY of our plans. Farming has helped me to become more resilient in the face of hardships and yet, even after 15 years of it, these losses still really hurt. I try to give myself grace now though and accept that we will be fine and that this is another opportunity for growth. We have farmer friends who have potatoes and Winter squash they can sell us. We have also really prioritized upgrading our storage situation for this coming year's storage crops!
With all of this brutal weather, I'm unsure when greens will return to your CSA. I'm hoping to be able to include some in your share this coming week! All of the field greens (kale, collards) will have been set back pretty hard by the cold wind. We were hoping to check in on our tunnel greens, but the high tunnel was frozen shut!!! This is what Winter farming really looks like - it's hard and we are 100% at the mercy of weather. The rest of this CSA season may not look like what we wanted it to (a balance of greens and storage crops) and yet - there will be food! Back before grocery stores, generations of folks were at the mercy of what nature had to offer them in the moment. We do have plenty of roots and value added items in storage - some greens will come back! The lesson that I take from this moment is this is what seasonal eating REALLY looks like. I have found that eating 100% off my farm makes me so very thankful for the shifts in seasons. Who doesn't get sick of eating Winter squash at some point and yet, just about the time I'm over it - raab season is here. Thank you all so much for investing in seasonal eating this Winter - we will all feel the deep gratitude and appreciation when those first peas show up in the Spring.
Well, with all this ice - it was a good week for office work! Our 2024 crop plan is just about complete and our seed orders are 90% done. Wooohooo. Casper helped SO much.
What will be in this coming week's CSA share:
What farmer Mary would do with CSA share:
Chipotle peppers are smoked red jalapenos. This batch was grown, smoked and dehydrated all by yours truly! They are so good thrown into a pot of beans to add a bit of zip. You can blend them into mayonnaise to make spicy mayo or soak them in an adobo sauce to kick it up a notch. Some chipotle may really bring together a slaw of beets and kohlrabi (just grate or spiral them raw). How about a hearty Winter stew with beans, kabocha squash, and turnips? I would personally add a little bacon or maybe a ham hock to this. This beef stew with turnips and kohlrabi looks so good!
Much love, Farmer Mary
Wild Roots Farm
CSA Update 1/23/24 7:50am-
Unfortunately, we lost plastic on our second high tunnel so were unable to get a salad mix for y'all. We had so many gorgeous greens and the radicchio was still frozen. However, we were able to harvest January king cabbage! Enjoy them roasted (with olive oil and salt) in the oven (425 for 20 minutes) then drizzled with butter.
Much love, Farmer Mary
Wild Roots Farm