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I was sitting in the dressing room before my show last night 980 miles away from my farm and feeling every square mile of it. My sister and I were as normal digging through one an-others make up bags and suit cases seeing what the other may have brought we haven’t seen before. It is our little ritual…we get it from our mother. Hey’ when did you get these pants or can I wear those shoes tonight? All that…anyway, my sister was looking at my battered finger I broke a couple of weeks ago when the extension ladder came crashing down from the top run taking my finger with it…every last run…the brake has healed or is healing fine but left behind is the dark smashed finger nail that does looks pretty bad. My sister who works managing my mom spends more of her time on the cell phone then any garden crinkled up her nose at my beaten up finger and said…”Peggy you need to paint your fingernails…your hands look ….I broke in and said like someone who works on a farm? Well, yes she said.. We both laughed a little at that…it is always kinda weird how different but alike we are…the twin factor.  For years my mother and my sister gave me such a hard time about being a farmer…calling me little doo after my dad who was a farmer. And it is true I do have a lot of dad in me…just ask Mark…I tend to be a do-it-yourselfer to a fault and a bit of what we nicked named” Bob”. A Bob is a girl like me that likes to do well more guy stuff…I do like tools…I do like building stuff…I do like my tractor and I do like the outdoors. I tend to light up when talking about a good nail gun or waterproof matches then the latest nail polish colors. I don’t spend a lot of time playing with hairstyles and much more time looking for the perfect garden hat or muck boots. Although I will say I am still my mother daughter and like to drift into the va..va..boom when I do slip into a dress or girlie clothes. My mom call that my Za Za..look. one extreme to the other. I have been that way all my life you see. One minute I am in old jeans the next in high heels and lipstick. Keeps life interesting for me. It’s almost like a stranger…I don’t recognize but I like.  Over the past few years my mother and my twin sister have lighten up on me about being a farmer. My mom will even  tell people now “Peggy Jean has a farm and she grows the best garden…she gets it from me”. And it is true I do get a lot of it from her….but “Bob”that is dad all the way.  I was looking at my sister sitting in that small dressing room before the show and all the stuff that lay before her in way of the latest and greatest makeup…hair styling tools…all neatly packed in her designer bags…her new blackberry buzzing like the farm’s honey bees in her Louie Vuitton handbag….And all I could think about was wow… that handbag costs as much as a good riding mower….and its not even leather…it’s vinyl!  Me, I can’t even find my cell phone…or my baby backpack I use as a purse…they just don’t hold much meaning to me. Now a good weed hoe…that is something I would definitely covet.

Peggy-Black Patsy white jacket The Lynns performing

The farm….we are in desperate need of rain. We are on the edge of losing crops due to the heat and lack of rain. It is that way for several farmers right now. The farm has seen less then an inch of rain since the end of May. The trees and grass are turning yellow and crunchy. I spent 5 hours watering the field before I left for the road on Wednesday just to keep the plants alive in hopes we see some rain later in the week. This is also the time I really miss working the farmers markets where we farmers get together and talk about weather and what each of us is going through when the day at the market slows down. It just sounds winy..when I hear me talking about. I had a farmer email me the other day asking how I am germinating seeds crops in this high heat and drought? He had planted 2 100 ft rows of beans and nothing is coming up. Same goes for his pumpkins. When it is this hot top soil temps being well over 100 and the soils water table being so low seeds will bake and  dry up and won’t germinate. I wrote him back telling him the why his crops weren’t coming up and the only way I have found is to use shade cloth and drip lines to water the beds. His beds being so long this is going to be an expensive bean crop to grow and a investment in lots of man hours putting up a hoop system to cover his rows. I know I have to do it myself in our field when I get back on the farm. Once you install the shade cloth over the low tunneled hoops and run your drip irrigation lines you will have to baby the crop for the next few weeks slowly introducing the plants to the full on effects of the sun and heat. Not much different then hardening off small plants in the spring that you grew from seed. If you remove and expose the seedling from the shade cloth too soon they will go into shock and some will parish from the harsh exposure. You can’t leave the shade cloth in place for the plants do need and want full sun once they have been slowly introduced. You have to pick and chose which crops you are going to invest this much time, money and effort in though for you can’t cover the whole field.

Mark and I went for a little vacation at my family’s ranch/farm last week and low and behold the corn is high and just about ready. As soon as I saw it I jumped out of the truck and picked an ear to test it. Now this field I was in is growing field corn…not sweet corn.. I grew up eating field corn which I like better then sweet corn. Some sweet corns now have so much sugar in it I feel like I am eating a piece of candy not a vegetable. Field corn is nuttier in flavor and hardier tasting on the dinner plate.  This field corn is left on the stalk to harden then it’s harvested to make into feed for animals and other corn based products. We country folk know if we people want to eat field corn you have to pick it when its just ripens or its too tough to eat. So as Lucca and Mark looked on I torn a cob off the stalk to sample the ear. Lucca’s mouth watering all the while. Not yet I announced maybe next week it will be ready. I took the ear back to the truck for Lucca to try. I was laughingly joking as I got into the truck telling my husband and son this is what we call fast food in Hurricane Mills Tennessee. Over 1000 acres in corn is grown this season on my families farm and I will be right there in the middle of one of those corn patches next week singing as loud as I can….Thank God I’m a Country Girl! Not to mention bring a big bunch of corn home for the CSA and Farm Market…oh yes…My little farm may be on the verge of a dust bowl right now…but the corn grows high in the land of the three rivers:)

CSA News & Update

Weekly Shareholder Pickup this weekend at the farm. I won’t be there with you this weekend, Old farmer Mark will be tending the market and CSA baskets for ya. The market will be slightly bare of baked goods and such with it’s cook out singing for her new weed hoe…but in your baskets this week are carrots, just pulled and yummy…squash, peppers and cucumbers and tomatoes…oh yes they are coming in like crazy now.

Be sure to return your CSA baskets each week along with those little plastic containers. We are see a few missing baskets with folks forgetting to bring them back to the farm.

Farm Market and workshop update

I will have to reschedule the cooking workshop for Saturday I didn’t realize I would be traveling 980 miles back home tonight. So I won’t be back on the farm until late Sat. I will reschedule the workshop for July 31st.

Jane will be tending the market as she does most Saturdays.  If you want to cut flowers she can set you up with cutters and a bucket for that.

See yall soon on the farm!

Getting away

Once in a great while you have to get away from the farm for a day or two…but with that comes all the organizing and delegating responsibility of caring for the animals and crops. With so many different feeds and instructions it can seem over whelming, but really once you walk through the process showing them this and that it becomes easier for them and not such a big deal….it just looks that way on paper. Kinda like the farm itself…So Mark and I took Lucca to my family’s ranch/farm this week for a little break…a little swimming in the creek…camping out and eating hotdogs. There were kids running everywhere and Lucca had a great time. I of course was worried about the crops not getting any watering with me being gone. Mark worried a little about his donkey’s getting out of the barnyard. And Lucca worried about nothing but having a good time. Oh..to be a kid again. It is good to get off the farm during the season…I have learned..by the way…everything was fine when we did get back…nice.

My Irish ancestors that came to this country in escape of the great potato famine would undoubtedly raise their brow at the fact potatoes are one of my favorite crops to grow here on the farm. I was talking with my mom a few years ago about gardening how to,  her being one of my best resources of great gardening insight she is in fact a fine gardener with lots of fair best in show ribbons of her efforts in the garden to prove it. Anyway,   I mentioned that i was trialing a bunch of potatoes varieties here on the farm, but was having trouble with finding the best growing system in which to best combat the all evil Bermuda grass from taking over the plots and choking out my crop.  I said to her “you know I don’t remember us growing potatoes in our garden as a child though…did I just miss them? She kinda of laughed and said “honey you couldn’t pay me to grow another potato”….Why? I asked, I mean they are such a lovely plant…and Mom, they taste so good freshly dug, nothing like what’s in the stores…She said that may be true but once you’ve had to eat them day and night..fresh and rotten…Peggy Jean’ she calls me…Irish people…and you are one…have had about all the potatoes they want…are you growing any corn? ha ha…  Well, it is a good thing I am a few generations removed from my ancestors relationship and reliability on potatoes.  I really enjoy growing, harvesting and eating these yummy spuds…and I hope you will too.

This weekend will be a weekly and b-weekly CSA pickup here on the farm. We have a few crops that are just coming in such as tomatoes…we are seeing a lot of little red current tomatoes…these are tiny little tomatoes the size of …well a current fruit an heirloom variety that kids just love picking…okay so do I…a little snack out in the field never hurts. I am hoping for a good bushel of nice red or semi-red slicing tomatoes as well for the CSA and market this Saturday. We’ll see what comes out of the field in the morning during harvesting.

The flowers are loving this warmer the normal weather…although they would appreciate a bit of rain. NPT came out to the farm this week to film the flowers and pickle making here in the farmhouse kitchen. They will be airing the segment in July sometime. I will let you know the date and time when they tell me.

My friend Anna has set up a photo gallery on this blog…by the way she is the master mind behind putting this blog site together…thank you Anna. I have added a few photo’s of the farm this week if you want to take a peek just click the tap at the to of the page.  Hope you all a great holiday weekend..Mark and I are taking Lucca camping and maybe a little fishing…The market will be closed this Sunday for the 4th…family time…about time:)

I have been really over doing it here on the farm as far as working goes.  Morning and evenings find me out in field and mid-day cleaning house and chasing Lucca around…summer board-em for an 8-year-old.  I tried my best to make a list of all the things I need to make for the market this weekend…the clock is ticking…but I just can bring myself to think about. After dealing with dinner, dishes and loads of dirty clothes I am feeling like I want to lock myself in a dark closet with a bottle of Mexico’s finest..a little lime and salt…and cry…yep…I would say I am burnt out…need a break…and a cook, maid and someone to water the plants…Lord…it’s early in the season for this.

So, today I am doing my Indian rain dance…We need to have a good inch dropped here on the farm to recover from a couple of weeks without rain. The heat being what it is has sucked the soil dry and the plants are stressed…really stressed. I was watering yesterday evening just to keep them alive for you really can’t water deeply enough to resupply the water table under the soil without standing there in one spot for minutes with your water hose spraying one area at a time. This is also one of the things I like to show interns here on the farm that after a couple of hours of watering the field during the mid-summer taking them back out into the field and asking so you watered these beds deep enough you think? I would say…no less with a little smirk on my face…Oh yes…the beds are well watered..we shouldn’t have to water for another couple of days Peggy…I got em’ good…really, they would say…I would reply as I was bending down over the bed…yep…they look wet enough don’t they? Oh yes…most of them would reply back to me…I drench them they would often reply …than I would take my finger and rake off the top couple of centimeters of soil and there it is…dry as a bone…astonishment is always the reaction you get…How can that be…I watered the heck out of this bed…is always the next thing I hear…Yes, I know you did…and mostly they did…the soil is so dry and parched it would take ten times the amount of water to begin to penetrate the ground all the way to the root where the plant needs it most. With hand watering all you are doing is easing some of the stress of the plant… It’s important to note…It is better to deep water then to just fly though your garden with a water hose damping the leafs and ground. But even than…nothing beats a good 30 minute rain shower…nothing.

It is still miserably hot and humid here in Middle Tennessee. Too hot to get much done in the field I’m afraid. This is weed loving weather too so these beasts are going crazy right now and taking over the farm. It is driving me insane not being able to spend much time battling these bed bullies not to mention planting new crops. It’s too hot to plant…nothing wants to poke their heads up and out of the soil in this hostile environment. So Mark and I along with the farm crew are muddling by kickin’, cussin’ and doing sacred rain dances…well maybe I am the only one dancing…but at this point I am willing to try just about anything to turn this season around so far it’s been an uphill battle all the way..

Last night I was watching the local news weather report with Nancy Van Camp… I really like her…anyway…she said this had been the hottest June in 57 years. We were in the high 90’s for 21 days straight.  And that isn’t what the heat index was that would have been over 100 for 21 days straight.  Our average rainfall for the month of June is over 4.0 ” but this year here in Goodlettsville we have seen .63 in other words we are dry…dust blow dry..  Well the clouds are building so I am off to conjure up Grandma’s spirit to get this rain dance started:)