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September 2005
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November 2005

Farm Fall Festival

Thank you for a wonderful fall festival. The day was cool, overcast and at times drizzly, but that did not dampen anyone's spirit. Many of the activities took place inside our main barn, which felt cozy, cheerful and warm from the buzz of all the people, the food, the warm cider and the live music from the steel drum band.
And yet the weather did not deter people from going outside and take hay rides led in turns by Michael Heller and Craig Highfield. From all appearances, people had a great time.
Some of the many hay riders (picture snapped by Kenji.)

Shareholders may seldom hear about Julie Adkisson and Susan Topping, both of the Capital Area Food Bank, but much of the work done for the CSA, the Anacostia Farmers Market, and the farm volunteer groups is done by them. And in keeping with this, the fact that the fall festival was such an enjoyable experience to so many people owes a lot to the dedication of Julie and Susan.

Incidentally, shareholder and friend of the farm Fred Delventhal kindly sent us a link for a series of photos he took during the festival. To see his pictures, click here.

And let me finish this post with one of Fred's fall festival photos.

And more photos

I got tired of playing catch up, so this evening I uploaded to our photo album all the pictures that passed muster. This means that I'll have a clean slate during the fall festival. In addition to the photos I mentioned in the previous post, Clagett Farm Photos: 2005 now has 21 more photos--including a couple of beautiful sunset pictures taken by no-nonsense volunteer Deborah Starobin-Armstrong. If you have already seen the photos I talked about in the previous post, you may want to start with photo 78  and continue on until photo 98. Enjoy!

Photos added to our album

I'm still running behind but I just added 19 photos to Clagett Farm Photos: 2005, our online photo album. You probably have seen many smaller versions of these photos when they were published in this weblog. Some of the pictures you have not seen, however. In addition, these new album photos are larger than previous album photos. If enough people prefer the smaller photos (it depends on your screen size), I'll go back to them--but you'll have to let me know.

To view the album beginning from the new pictures, click here on picture 59 and then on "next" to move on. Incidentally, pictures 76 and 77 are satellite photos of the farm. Even though they were probably taken in late winter or early spring a few years ago (the new greenhouse and high tunnel do not appear), if you are familiar with Clagett Farm you'll be able to recognize certain distinct features of the farm. 

Festival plans in case of rain

We've heard there's a good chance of scattered showers on Saturday. It's likely that it won't rain between noon and 3pm, but in case it does, we still plan to enjoy ourselves, although perhaps in a more intimate atmosphere. If it's actively raining, the band, auction, and all the food will be moved into the Education barn. We'll have kid's activities in the barn, as well. And if anyone is interested, we'll be separating garlic cloves so they can be planted next week. If it stops raining, we'll head back outside for the hayrides, bike tour, and games, as planned. See you then!

Sweet potato crop

Today for the first time since the very welcome rains we were able to use our potato digger to harvest sweet potatoes. Last week the soil was too wet so instead of a tractor we used forks and elbow grease to dig out the sweet potatoes. Below we see Kenji using the potato digger on a row that was already dug out. It was a quick second pass to make sure that we didn't miss any the first time. As you can see from the photo, the second pass yielded almost nothing.
The sweet potato crop this year is a meager one, especially when compared to last year. I guess the weather had a lot to do with it. In addition, deer consumed many of the sweet potato vines, which, of course, had a major impact on our yields. In contrast to other farms, we usually do not experience much deer pressure, but this year we did. Everything is interrelated: the dry weather forced the deer to look for food in new places and, alas, they found the vines and liked them.

Black widows

As we mentioned before in this weblog, black widow spiders are fond of pumpkins and winter squashes. Not as food, but as shelter--on the underside. So when harvesting pumpkins and winter squashes, it's a good idea to  check for black widows. They are rather timid with humans (after all, we are somewhat larger than they are) and would only bite if a person touches one. And yes, they are poisonous, but rarely deadly. In the US the last known death from a black widow bite took place over ten years ago.

Black_widow_2_1While harvesting winter squash last Friday I was not that successful in my attempts to photograph a black widow spider. Despite the poor focus, here are the two best pictures. The photo on the right shows the underside of the black widow with its telltale red hourglass. Below you can see the spider as it usually looks when seen from above. Incidentally, the newly homeless spider scurried away to safety. If you get a carnival squash in this week's share, it could well be the former home of this poor spider.


Future greens


This grasshopper is enjoying the baby arugula bed. And in a couple of weeks it will be the shareholders turn to enjoy the arugula growing in this bed. In addition, our spinach, spicy mix, lettuce, turnips and radishes are doing well and we hope shareholders will end this CSA season enjoying their fresh greens.   

Rainy harvest

Well, I guess the drought is over. After experiencing the driest September in over 120 years, we got some rain last Friday, and then some more, and then more and more. By Sunday our rain gage showed that in about 48 hours we had about 4.5 inches of precipitation. Much less than in other parts of this area, but definitely a lot of water. With this rain we already surpassed by over 40 percent October's average rainfall.

Because of the rain and the mud, harvesting last Saturday was quite challenging. And yet six hardy worksharers took part in the harvest. It is interesting how working under such conditions (driving rain, boot-sucking mud, and so on) usually infuses the whole team with a spirit of cheerful camaraderie.