July Farmer Updates from Rock Bottom Ranch

July 6, 2022

 

Despite late frosts and tumultuous summer  storms, abundance in our vegetable fields have arrived. Our harvest days fly by– all hands are on deck to cut, pick and pull fresh vegetables to fill our bright CSA boxes and serve our local Aspen Market community. Abundance brings both celebration and chaos; both invigoration and exhaustion. Above all, it brings awe. How can a tiny little tomato seed transform into a towering plant? How did the simplicity of water, sunshine and soil produce a fruit so vibrantly red, fragrant and juicy? Abundance is a reminder to treat Mother Nature with reverence. Storms, late frost, and weeds the size of a small child can sometimes leave us questioning her. But nature does not behave in a myopic fashion; a larger balance is being maintained in ways that we cannot always understand. A weed is only a weed because we humans have assigned it as such. Abundance has taught us patience and tenacity. As we’ve experienced this season, bounty may not always arrive as or when expected, but welcoming it without the force of industrial practices is necessary to realign with nature and therefore ourselves. When the weeding feels like too sweaty a task, we shift our focus to the gifts that come from good stewardship: nutrient-dense food, clean air, communion with the earth, community with one another. 

 

Masha Brumer


— Masha Brumer, Vegetable Apprentice 

 

Tomatoes from Rock Bottom Ranch

Sungold tomatoes from Rock Bottom Ranch. Photo by Chris Cohen.

 

Our Burlap Dinner this September at Rock Bottom Ranch

Harvest at Rock Bottom Ranch. Photo by Chris Cohen.

 

July 12, 2022

 

We are in the swing of summer around here! We’ve kicked off our Farm to Table dinner events, and it's such a treat to share the ranch through a tour and a meal! (and it’s a nice reason to prioritize getting caught up with mowing all around the ranch). The vegetable garden is starting to show us some summer bounty. The pastures are growing fast and we are working to put up hay for winter feed. As the days shorten in July, so does our window to seed fall and winter crops. Plans for October and beyond pull me into the future. In the midst of the field work, there are orders to put in for next year’s laying hens and seeds for fall and winter crops.

 

Each season, I try really hard to stay present in this (the best) part of the season. I savor the busy "harvest-weed-trellis-harvest-market" routine, the daily dance of moving livestock to new pastures, and the yummy summer crops that come with it all (my favorite snack these days is a cucumber sprinkled simply with salt, eaten while flopped down after a hot day). As the to-do list and the sunlight seem to stretch on forever, I am grateful for the reminders that these beautiful, busy days are fleeting. The Agriculture Apprentices and Summer Stewards have reached the halfway point of their respective work seasons. The hardest part of having such amazing farmers train here for a season is the notion of saying goodbye to them in what will feel like a blink of an eye. So I will be savoring their company along with the cucumbers. 

 

Ariel Rittenhouse, Vegetable Production Crew Lead
— Mariah Foley, Agriculture Manager


 

Farm Tour at our recent Farm to Table Dinner

Farm Tour at our recent Farm to Table Dinner at the ranch. Photo by Greta Brown.

 

The Outdoor Production Garden at Rock Bottom Ranch. Photo by Greta Brown.

The Outdoor Production Garden at Rock Bottom Ranch. Photo by Greta Brown.
 

June 22, 2022

 

The geese honk and head to the pond as he ambles up, snout in air taking in the thick smells of grass, manure, and ripening serviceberries. The musk of his scent travels beyond his thick chestnut pelt and the rams in the paddock next door stand on alert as he takes his time deciding which way to wander next. Should he sniff around the growing chickens in the mobile coop? Maybe check out the grain in the tractor yard? Nibble on a succulent snap pea? He pads along with the nonchalant attitude of a large predator and lets his curiosity lead him to the far corners of the ranch at dusk.



What does our resident bear fledgling think when he’s on duty and we’re off? To an outsider, his impressive size wouldn’t allude to the fact that only two months ago this “cub” was still huggable. However, us neighbors on the ranch know from his blonde coat that he was one of the babes born this spring. The fresh scat every morning shows evidence of his wandering as he grows bolder with fencing and us. Just another thriving member of this diverse ecosystem on the farm and off in the height of summer. 

 

Even with the impressive heat, the farm is full of life as evidence of the herds of geese, Mr. (or Ms. who knows) Bear, and the many July birthdays we’ve already celebrated on our crew. We’ve been putting up hay, rolling on our Farm to Table dinners, and going to market every week. During the day as the sweat beads on my brow, I dream of washing the dirt away in the river after work. Then finding some rest under my fan while the flies lazily buzz through the thick air. The sticky sweet syrup of July is luxurious here. We hope that you are staying sweet and cool, too!
 

 

Jess Burroughs, Agriculture Apprentice
— Jess Burroughs, Vegetable Apprentice
 

Cattle graze near the pond at Rock Bottom Ranch. Photo by Greta Brown.
Cattle graze near the pond at Rock Bottom Ranch. Photo by Greta Brown.
 

June 27, 2022

 

We have arrived at peak summer, peak heat, and most excitingly: peak harvest. Our days in the field consist of keeping up with the rapid growth of our crops. There is a simple awe and excitement from watching your plants grow overnight. Wasn’t that tomato barely red yesterday? Bearing witness to the magic of peak season brings us great joy (and relief), and we hope you feel it as well.

 

The flourishing of our delicious plant friends means the weeds are growing just as fast— possibly faster. Our healthy soils house an abundance of microbial life and feed plants beyond just our veggies. While some of the weeds are a pain (I'm looking at you, Thistle), weeding in the fields gives us opportunity to observe, admire, and connect. Of course, we employ some tricks to help us such as mulching and tarping, but ultimately, it is our hands that keep our vegetable plants ahead of the game. 

 

Each harvest requires more and more empty bins to keep up with the bounty. An abundance of plump tomatoes, juicy cucumbers and crisp peas await us in increasing numbers come harvest days. New treats, like eggplant and broccoli, start to appear as well. The first harvest of a new crop always brings smiles and satisfaction. We hope you are enjoying the seasonal abundance and variety that summer brings– it is short, but oh so sweet. 

 

 

Jess Burroughs, Agriculture Apprentice
-- Masha Brumer, Vegetable Apprentice

 

 
Sungold tomatoes on the vine in our hoop house at RBR.
Goats and sheep at RBR. Photo by Chris Cohen.

 


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