August 2023 Farmer Updates from Rock Bottom Ranch
September 1, 2023
August 9, 2023
The apprenticeship program at Rock Bottom Ranch is over half way complete and that feels a bit surreal. I arrived in Basalt to work for ACES in March. At that time, Hook Spur Road was covered in snow and littered with potholes. I remember initially driving down the bumpy road, in awe of the mountain views, and unsure of what the next seven months of work would hold. As with most new experiences, I held mixed excitement and anxiety about my new home, job and community in Colorado. With time, those anxieties, and the snow, melted into a busy season of work in this rich community.
Since March, the apprenticeship program has provided opportunities to work and learn both on and off the ranch. In addition to standard farm training, the ag. team has participated in tree pruning, welding and woodshop workshops. We’ve gone birding to connect with our natural environment and numerous local farm tours to connect with the robust farming community in this valley.
I feel so grateful to learn, work and live in this valley. It’s wonderful to be a part of the impact of ACES, both on through our work at ranch and, more broadly, throughout the valley. I look forward to the coming weeks and months of this growing season and the lessons they hold. I hope to soak up and hold on to these Summer August days before they quickly fade to fall. I hope that you, too, are able to make the most of these shortening summer days and find reasons for gratitude in this beautiful place.
— Molly Farrell, Vegetable Apprentice
August tomato bounty. Photo by Sarah Cherry.
August 16, 2023
Let August be. That is my mantra this time of year, when the busy months begin to weigh heavy on us all. August is the deep exhalation of summer. A settling, an accepting, a plateau of heat and vibrancy and life. Reprieve is offered through cooling nights, waking to dew-covered fields. The crops seem as tired as we are, though they continue to produce with vigor, as do we.
As the hustle and bustle of farm to table dinners winds down, we are preparing for fall. Lately, we’ve been sowing cabbage, kohlrabi, bok choy, onions, and beets to reap the fruits come October. It is so difficult to fathom fall and winter this time of year, when each day seems to need to be taken one step at a time. Conversely, mid-August is when I want so badly to hold onto summer knowing fall is right around the corner. This is when we reckon with how fast time, the season, is going- yet the hours sometimes slog by.
Needless to say, we sleep well this time of year. There are many joys I look forward to: the blooming of sunflowers, the ripening of tomatoes, the abundant regrowth of chard and summer squash. I sincerely hope you all are enjoying the abundance August is bestowing us with. That you are indulging in the creativity of cooking and feeling nourished and intune with the season. My other mantra of August is abundance. No month feels more abundant to me than August. It feels like a gift, knowing how much work has gone into it all up until this point in the year. It seems to be saying, here is your gift, the deepest form of reciprocity. You have tended to me and for that I can provide.
— Ariel Rittenhouse, Vegetable Lead
Harvesting lettuce at Rock Bottom Ranch. Chris Cohen Photography.
August 23, 2023
Did you know normal body temperature for cattle ranges from 100.5 to 102, though 103 might be normal on a hot day? Unlike humans, ruminants have a wider range of temperatures because their digestion requires fermentation, which produces heat.
Some days ranching in August are so hot I find myself dunking my head in the cattle trough to cool off, just to look up and be nose to nose with our bull. Lucky for me, he’s a friendly fellow and gave me a big slobbery bull lick in the face, ha!
The livestock team is doing our best to keep the animals happy and cool in the hot season of peak summer. We love seeing how much our lambs and cow calves have grown since last spring. We will continue to have whole chickens for sale into September as well as turkeys for Thanksgiving. Egg production is slowing down, so make sure to stock up this fall.
— Michael McMillan, Livestock Lead
Cattle at Rock Bottom Ranch. Photo by Sarah Cherry.
August 30, 2023
Last week, we sowed some of the last seeds we will be planting this season. Time has flown by so fast with summer’s energy making it hard to take a breath. I love how fast summer is but I often find it hard to ground myself during this time of year. My favorite way to slow down after a long week of work is camping. A change of scenery and time spent in nature makes my weekend feel 10 times longer. This increased relaxation allows me to continue to work hard throughout the week. It’s been so nice to receive my own CSA share this year, and it has been even nicer to take it camping with me. I’ve been loving to grill our summer squash and have it on the side of one of our RBR burgers or on top of a salad with kale and spicy frills.
Another way I’ve been trying to slow down this summer has been working on preserving our abundance for the winter. Recently I have been making sauce with our tomatoes and peppers as well as pickles with our cucumbers and onions/garlic. It has been especially fun to experiment with different types of salsas and dips. Preserving our summer crop is such a fun way to celebrate the season and to continue to reap its rewards in the winter.
A good example of how RBR preserves crops is the garlic you received in your last CSA. This garlic should last at least five months because we dried it by hanging it upside down for three weeks. Similarly, once we harvest our potatoes we will “cure” them, by leaving them in a 60 degree room with high humidity which should make them last at least two months. Lastly, we simply preserve our meat by freezing it which can last up to a year.
— Julianne Tippett, Vegetable Apprentice
Checking on the sheep flock. Photo by Chris Cohen.
Learn more about Rock Bottom Ranch! We hope to see you soon for upcoming programs & events: