Saturday, August 24, 2013

I Survived the First Week....

and I'm sure glad it's the weekend. Yesterday was a busy day of weeding here. My hands are so sore from pulling 2-3' tall weeds. We spentIMG_0656 the whole morning in the high tunnel, getting rid of the weeds. Here is the "after" picture. From right to left we have strawberries, swiss chard, melons and cantalopes. Picture the rows in between with tall weeds that were really stubborn and hard to pull out. In a high tunnel, you plant directly into the ground and there is no additional heat source. It allows you to extend the growing season for veggies and fruit. The far left side of the high tunnel will be planted next week for the winter CSA program. Not sure what we're planting but it's ready to go.
Sore hands
Owie !! Fingers are swollen (must be all those muscles I haven't used in a while)

Exterior view of High tunnel

Wednesday was CSA day. We had produce to pick in the morning (raspberries and blackberries) and then after lunch the final push to get everything cleaned and ready to pack by 2:00. Each person's "share" is packed in a cloth bag that they return to us the following week. They are given two so we always have one to pack in. The heaviest items are placed in the bottom of the bag and the lighter, more fragile items are put on top. This week's items were potatoes, pears, onions, tomatoes, parsley, cilantro, basil, peppers. Some people got cucs, green beans, blackberries or raspberries, eggs, jalepeno peppers or anaheims (not hot but long and pointy), or eggplant. For items that are just coming on, we have to rotate between who gets them when there isn't enough for everybody. It's a crazy system to figure out for Ann (the lady in charge right now). We have so many tomatoes right now. I've picked them twice and it's sad to see that the brandywine breed does not hold up well to pests. You reach in to grab a huge, beautiful tomato and it will be mush and half eaten or half rotten. That is not a particularly great feeling.....Yuck !  We have yellow ones, romas, brandywine, several different cherry tomatoes (one that has the coloring of a brandywine and is delicious) and several other red ones that I don't know the names of. Yesterday I worked with Ann to take some of the 2nds and prep them for drying. You cut them in even slices, soak in Fruit Fresh and place on the drying racks. They go into a large Cabela dryer and stay there for 23 hours. I had to go down last night and rotate the racks cause there are hot spots in the dryer. I'll go down at 2 and see if they are done and if they are, they get removed from the racks and placed in a glass jar. It's a great way to preserve them for winter use.
The sisters take some of the berries that are too mushy to put in containers and turn them into jam or jelly to give out to the CSA members. I think we have enough now that everyone will get a jar of jelly next week. On Tuesday, Ann showed the other interns how to make chimichurri sauce and that was given out on CSA day. It's made with parsley, red pepper flakes, onion, etc and is a great condiment for steak or other meats. I didn't work on that since I needed to unpack and get settled into my room.
Been trying to get out most days to are pics of what I see on my route...IMG_0632
Alpaca Barn

My thoughts exactly....




IMG_0640 IMG_0641
This morning I spent more time walking in the cemetery. In the center are the graves of three men and I was a little dumbfounded why, in a place that is for and run by women, there are these graves of men. Then it dawned on me....Women can't be priests. These are the menIMG_0646 who have been the priests over the years. Graves from the 1840's to current times are here and there is a memorial to the sisters who are buried in other countries. Keep in mind that a lot of work, by the sisters of Providence is done in Taiwan, China, and other countries so it only makes sense that some who have made it their life's work to work there would also want to be laid to rest there.

IMG_0648"Providing shelter to all"(see if you can see the mud wasp nests)

This is one of my favorite spots. I call it the meditation maze....I know there's a more formal name for it but I don't recall what it is. This isIMG_0649 where I have my chat with the universe each morning and is a great place to center yourself for the day ahead. The twisting and turning paths all lead to the center, where the bench is. The paths are lined with ground up rubber so it's easy on the legs. It's a really neat place and really close to Owens Hall, where my room is. It's usually the last stop on my walk before heading back to fix breakfast.

IMG_0650 Part off Equine Studies at the college here

Our portable chicken coop. There is a timer on the ramp door that pulls it up when it approaches night so the chickens are safe. They learn very quickly when curfew is.

IMG_0655 These are the sweet potatoes we weeded yesterday. In organic farming methods, since you don't use chemicals to control weeds, many times ground cover is planted. The sweet potatoes are in the hilled rows and in between is planted hairy vetch, clover and something else. When we weeded, we lay it in between the rows so it will decompose and put nitrogen back into the soil. It was a pretty dense jungle before we weeded. Many of the sweet potato vines were eaten by the deer, hence the spotty planting.
IMG_0658 IMG_0659 Orchard
IMG_0660 Ground Cover at Work

Another high tunnel under construction for a winter crop.

Beautiful steeple on church here at Sisters of Providence

Everyone is so nice here. The sisters are so cool. I just came from having lunch in the Owens Hall cafeteria and the sisters were talking about an event going on nearby and who was going to go on the zipline. Any of the stereotypes that one might have about nuns certainly doesn't apply to most of the ones I've met here. I did see a sister at lunch who wore the head covering of a habit but I think she is part of a group that is here for a retreat. Most of the sisters here are in t-shirts and jeans or shorts and are talking about horse racing, rollercoasters and NASCAR. Neat bunch of ladies !
Since this is a facility that values the environment and all of God's creatures, most people abide by the "No Kill" policy when it comes to a critter found in the garden or things that we pick. I'm fine with flicking a slug off a tomato and put the wolly worm aside that is crawling up the clover. The other day I was washing heads of cabbage and there was a really big hairy brown spider that was on one of the heads. I washed him off the head only to watch him run around the bottom of the sink and I kept thinking about the No Kill policy. I didn't kill him but I sure hope he brought a canoe with him cause he's gonna need it cause I "escorted" him down the drain. I'll say a little prayer for him tomorrow while I'm walking the meditation maze.

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