Since the summer CSA program ended, life has been much less hectic here on the farm. We only have 20 folks in the winter CSA so it’s quicker to pack the bags on Wednesday and there’s a lot less product to pick in the garden or high tunnels. Many of the items in the winter program are greens…radishes (the greens are edible too), purple top turnips and Japanese turnips (these are very mild), mixed lettuce, kale, swiss chard and spinach. In a few weeks we’ll have green onions, broccoli and broccoli rabe. We had several days early this week where the overnight temps were around 19 degrees and we thought we’d lose the lettuce greens that were in the outside beds. Luckily they seem to have survived. I brought one of the Japanese turnips home the other day. I sliced it up, sauteed it in butter with fresh garlic (from the garden) and it was delicious. It had a really mild taste whereas the purple top turnips have a little bite to them. The winter CSA runs until Dec. 17.
Weatherman is calling for severe storms tomorrow and strong winds. It was my job to open the two high tunnels today and vent the kale bed so it was no surprise when I went back tonight to close them up that the row covers were partially blown off. Because the heat in the high tunnels creates condensation on the inside of the plastic roof, it’s important to vent the tunnel to dry out that moisture. With the raised beds, where the kale is growing we had to partially take the plastic off the hoops overtop of the bed so the kale doesn’t cook from the sun shining through the plastic. Everything is all closed up and buttoned down for any winds that come along. The night time temps are supposed to be ok for the next few nights so we don’t have to worry about freezing temps.
On the cool mornings we spend time in the fiber room, skirting the alpaca blankets. The goal is to get all of them done before the next shearing in the spring. I’m actually getting into a groove doing the skirting and liking it. The level of enjoyment depends on how short or uneven the fiber is and how dirty it is. A black blanket (what the main body of fiber is called) we skirted recently was so dirty and had flakes of what appeared to be dandruff in it and it was horrible to get that out of it. We use little brushes like you’d brush your dog with to fluff up the fiber and get the “vegetable matter” out of it. Usually while the other interns skirt, I would card the fiber that I had skirted before but I needed a break from that. I have enough batts done to make the baseball cap I want to make. The cap mold has been ordered so it should be here for me to use on the 23rd. There is a wet felting class where everyone will work on a hat, felted soap (we take two pieces of felted material and a bar of soap is felted into the center of it…kind of like a washcloth with built-in soap) and if there’s time, possibly a vase. Should be a fun and educational day.
Peanut is doing well. My phone is acting up and won’t let me send pictures to my e-mail so I don’t have any recent pictures to post. She is up over 16# and not being hand fed too often. Her cast should come off in two weeks and she’ll be ready to go. I had to try to feed her tonight and the two new kittens in the barn came around and rubbed all over her while I was trying to feed her and she didn’t like that. She only drank about a 1/2 ounce but she is getting plenty from mom so all is well.
All of us interns met with the sister who is the General Superior (top person here). Sister Denise is a great lady and easy to talk to. We were interested in learning more about the Sisters of Providence recent decision to allow seismic testing and possible drilling for oil on their land. She explained to us that it was an extremely difficult decision and one that they (all of the sisters) deliberated over for many months and sought out the advice of a local ecology professor before they decided to proceed. If it weren’t for the fact that their funding and the sustainability of continuing with their missions and programming was in jeopardy, they would have easily said no. They were approached by an Indiana oil company, Country Mark about the possibility of drilling. Country Mark is a co-op of farmers and has an exceptional record of no spills or accidents and truly were concerned that the sisters were comfortable with the process and accepted all the stipulations that the sisters put into the lease agreement. Currently they are in the “thumping” mode, where the truck is doing a seismic test on the roadways to get an image of the formations underground. There is a 50/50 chance that they will find oil. There is no fracing involved. It’s more of a sucking out of the oil because this oil formation is part of an underground coral reef. Indiana was under water millions of years ago and apparently a coral reef exists in this region. Isn’t that cool ? I’ve never heard of that but it makes sense that there could be a petrified one down there. All of the discussions and information has been shared with the community and neighbors in an effort to be totally transparent about everything. Sister Denise was sorry that they had forgotten to invite the interns to the information meetings but shared articles with us to bring us up to speed. We had concerns because of the Land Ethic that was developed in 2012 by the Sisters and this seemed to be a total contradiction to that. Many times in life there are no easy answers and when it comes down to a matter of survival for this convent, I think they did what was necessary to continue to serve the people in this area and around the world with their missions. If they could not continue with all that they do, many people would suffer. If they find a sizable cache of oil, they hope to look at updating their facilities to be more sustainable and possibly make some changes as far as their fossil fuel needs (they have 200 cars in their fleet that the sisters use). Let’s hope that there is a good outcome for all….Mother Earth and the Sisters of Providence.