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In the shadow of machines

Nov. 12th, 2009 | 05:02 pm

Finally the weather we have been waiting for all October! Sunshine, moderately warm temperatures, a little wind, and no rain for over a week! It helped dry out the fields, at least most of them, and we were able to get all the garlic in yesterday! We used the electric tractor home-made transplantor and it, again, saved us so much time and back aches. $100 for the transplanter parts was never so well-spent. A little chain dragged behind the transplantor, evening out the soil and covering the cloves with inches of soil. We approximated that 5,000 cloves were planted. Sounds like a ridiculous amount, but considering that we are growing our own "seed" to re-plant next fall we need all the garlic we can get.

The wet soil conditions here (I believe we are one of the wettest regions of the state) have not allowed us to use our bed lifter or potato digger to get the last of the fall crops out of the field. We ended up digging all the rest of our potatoes by hand (500 pounds), along with several hundred pounds of rutabagas, celeriac, and there are still hundreds of pounds of carrots to go, as well as a hundred or so pounds of beets. Some of this will go into an additional CSA "Thanksgiving" box being delivered to Minneapolis on Nov. 21. Some will go in our root cellar to get us through the winter.

The neighboring row crop farmers have finally gotten in their fields surrounding us this week, and we are glad for them. There are surreal moments though: to be hand-pulling carrots, hear the loud engine of a 300-HP engine merely 20 feet behind you on the road pulling the largest chisel plow you've ever seen. So big are these machines that they barely fit on the road. The combines actually don't fit and they have a truck and trailer behind with the combine arms. Semis follow suit to carry all the thousands upon thousands of tons of soybeans. Surely they are GMO seeds, surely they are Monsanto's. One big monopoly playing out on the landscape. We sit in the carrot bed, in awe of the "other side" of agriculture. You can hear the whir of the tractor engines coming from every direction and in every turn of the head, there is another tractor out of the corner of your eye. Sometimes with a bit of anhydrous ammonia smoke coming up from where the chisel blades meet the soil. We're really on opposite sides of the agricultural spectrum. And yet, we are both called "farmers" and we wave every time they drive pass with a rueful smile. It's an illustrative reminder of how different we do things. We see the bobbing lights moving in the field as we go to bed and wake up with the field freshly plowed across the street. We didn't even see it happen.

If you are belong to the Facebook universe, you can now be a "fan" of Loon Organics! Just search for Loon Organics Farm and you'll find us, complete with photos of the farm. It's a great forum for customers, friends, and CSA members to talk about all things food, recipe, and agriculture related!

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