Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Farm Has Passed.

It was fun while it lasted. But we just couldn't keep it going amid all of the other things going on in our lives.

When we moved back here, we never envisioned not actually farming while living someplace other than the farm. Add all the extra travel, babysitting searches, a separate mortgage and a teenie-weenie income...well, you probably understand then.

I had a blast, I got to work with some incredible chefs and live a little tiny sniplet of an idyllic life.

We'll still have a big garden, and I may still sell to some local, local, local chefs. Like, within 2 miles local.

It's heartbreaking in a lot of ways, but I look forward to going back to work as a writer and continuing to help educate people on the importance of a localized food system.

Take it easy...


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Your Tomato and Garlic Specialists

Ha. In my last entry, I noted that I'd have lots of cardoons, barring any unforeseen disasters. You'd think those disasters would be more foreseen by now. Crappy potting mix is the probable culprit.

Anyway, I've taken to referring to this year as the "lost season". Because it pretty much is. I've been doing increased freelance writing, tearing the living bejeezus out of our old house (hopefully putting it back together someday), suffering from a terribly painful lower-back ailment and shuttling kids around between here and there.

But the tomatoes are thriving. The garlic is thriving. I had a teensy amount of flooding, but they pretty much survived that. So I will basically be nothing more than a tomato and garlic farmer this year. Not that those two crops won't keep me busy, as I have a pretty good selection of varieties among them.

So stay tuned for more info on tomatoes and garlic. Available SOON! A month or so, anyway.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Quick Update

Hey everybody.

I've been dividing a lot of time lately and getting to spend not nearly as much as I'd prefer to at the farm. But I have started selling rhubarb and spring garlic very locally. I'm hoping to be able to sell in Madison, but my quantities for each are so small, that at 4 bills a gallon, it may not pay for me to make that trip. But I do keep reminding myself of the term "loss leader". So if you're a chef, you may be getting an e-mail and a call from me before long.

Anyway, germination problems have slowed down my tomato starts a little, but they should catch up as soon as I squirt them with a little fish guts. They love that stuff. Cardoons should be plentiful this fall, barring any unforeseen disasters (those unforeseen ones always seem to surprise me, for some reason, though).

A few hundred rhubarb divisions are going into the remainder of my 1/8 acre rhubarb plot. Hopefully that stuff will be available for sale in 2 years. Lots of garlic, lots of tomatoes (heirloom, cherry, paste, slicer) and lots of cardoons.

Oh, I should mention a couple of great restaurants I had the recent opportunity to visit for the first time (as a diner anyway). April 28, I went to Van Halen in Milwaukee with a good friend of mine and we went to Zarletti beforehand. We both had the ossobuco with rissoto al milanese, which was incredible. I wish we still lived in Milwaukee whenever I have a chance to eat a meal like that in my old hometown. But luckily, Madison is a little closer. For our 8th wedding anniversary, Robyn and I decided we'd lived far too long to not have ever dined at Lombardino's. It didn't disappoint. Trio of pork, asparagus with a egg fried in olive oil and Umbrian lemon oil, ribbolita, panna cotta, etc., etc. Crazy good. Inspirational, in fact. I'm looking for any excuse to get us back there ASAP. And last, but not least, is a newly-opened little gem in La Crosse called Nell's City Grill. My buddy Stacy Hanson is the chef there and he's introducing La Crosse to a kind of French bistro cuisine not typically found in these parts. We've actually been there twice now and everything has been sensational. The appetizers are especially good. Mmmmmm..pommes frites.

The next place I have to go is Sardine. I drive past it a lot and I need to eat there. It's calling me. But first, I have rhubarb to plant.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Oh, Hi.

The past two days were dedicated to sowing my remaining tomato seeds. Lots of heirlooms...78 or 79 varieties...something like that. At least 16 cherry tomato varieties -- including SunGold, my first-ever foray into hybrid tomatoes. Lots of demand last year for SunGolds, though.

I also sowed some exotic peppers, many courtesy of Tim Stark, the Tomato Man AND the "Peppamon". It's true.

So, yes, the farm is even more part time than usual, but heirlooms and garlic will be just as available as ever before, if not more. And I'm still going to try to keep growing rhubarb, asparagus, cardoons (that was fun last year) and anything else I can handle.

The warmer it gets, the more I'm hating not being able to be around the farm all summer! But I'll get over it...I'll be logging plenty of hours there, for sure.

More tomorrow...with photos. Maybe.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

It's the Economy, Stupid.

It's our economy, anyway.

Due to some financial...mmm, hardships...we're planning to scale back the farm's production this year and for the foreseeable future. I'm still planning to grow heirlooms and garlic. Perhaps some other things, but I don't know for sure.

I have an opportunity to go back to work full time in my previous profession and I've decided to take it. In some ways it's a little sad, because we're putting our dream of a farm on hold, but it's also a relief to have an opportunity like this to fall back on.

So, farm still here. Farmer not here as much. But it's OK.

Monday, February 18, 2008

We Have a Website

In fact, we've had a website for about 2 years. It just hasn't been updated in 1.5 years, unfortunately.

Chalk it up to lack of computer training. I tried to make it work with my limited technological abilities, but I finally had to fire myself as Webmaster. I hired a new guy, though, who comes cheap and is an actual computer genius. His brain throbs and everything. Kinda grody.

Anyway, it's not live yet, but in anticipation of it being live...here's the link: The Updated-at-Long-Last Oldwebsterfarm.com.

(Maybe check on it in a day or two)

In the future, look for a much longer list of "resternts", as my dad calls them, on the "Where to Find Us" page, and maybe some new pictures or something. In another year and a half. Oh, also, for you "resternt" types...I hope to post my weekly availability sheet somewhere on there this season. So maybe look for that, too.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Pushing Past the Cobwebs

Slowly, slowly I'm waking up from my hibernation. My head is beginning to think less about bathroom tile and sheetrock and stud grade 2x4's, and more about seeds and potting mix and tractor tires.

I also had an offer this winter to go back to being an advertising copywriter, which stole my concentration for a while. But I decided it wasn't for me. The job probably would have been great -- working with one of my best friends in his creative department for more money than I ever used to make back when I was still in it. I'm hoping that maybe we could work out a seasonal/part time arrangement or something. Probably not, but it wouldn't hurt to inquire.

So anyway, I'm back in the New York groove here, getting ready for the '08 season. Calling chefs, meeting new chefs, ordering seeds and so forth. Here's my new thing:

Behold, The Mexican Sour Gherkin, or "Cuke Nut". Thanks to Chad from Footjoy Farm, also here in Sparta, for teaching me all about it. Luckily, I don't have to compete with Chad, he sends his stuff in the opposite direction to Minneapolis. (That photo is courtesy of the Seed Savers Exchange, by the way)

So hopefully I'll be dropping by here more often to disturb the crickets and leave some posts. If anyone is reading this -- besides the crickets, of course -- don't be afraid to leave a comment. Nothing worse than blogging to yourself.