June 2023 Farmer Updates from Rock Bottom Ranch
June 29, 2023
June 7, 2023
After nearly 7 months of winter, we are very excited to begin harvesting for both CSA and the farmers market! Though the winter was long, we were blessed with a surplus of snow which has saturated our arid soils and set our crops up for a very hydrated spring! We’ve been thoroughly enjoying the consistent above freezing lows throughout May, enabling all our heat loving crops to flourish! And though the rain isn’t ideal to work in, it has been crucial for keeping our crops happy.
This is my second season at Rock Bottom Ranch and it is amazing to witness the differences between seasons, nuances that either make our jobs easier or more difficult. New challenges present themselves. We are experiencing both the change in season and change in our crew. This year four new apprentices, a new Livestock lead and director have begun working on the ranch. It is exciting to continue to grow here with so much change and many fresh perspectives.
Along with all the changes this season, CSA will also be different. We have changed the set up of pick up to enable more opportunity for you to pick what crops you really want in order to minimize waste, and we encourage you to bring your own bags to reduce our use of plastic. Additionally, the CSA pick up will be fully staffed to provide the opportunity for CSA members to really connect with the farmers growing their food. We are all passionate about food, and we are a great resource for any questions: how to cook a particular vegetable, how to store it, how it was grown, etc.
Thank you so much for supporting us and we look forward to a bountiful growing season!
— Ariel Rittenhouse, Vegetable Lead
Harvesting lettuce heads at Rock Bottom Ranch. Photo by Chris Cohen.
June 14, 2023
As we enter the heart of June, Rock Bottom Ranch is beginning to truly feel like Summer. Last week we celebrated successful first harvests for both the Carbondale and Aspen Markets, and for you, our CSA members! This week we welcome new ACES summer staff and kick off RBR summer camps/field programs. Between events, programs and visitors off the Rio Grand, the ranch is bustling with activity letting us know that the seasons have turned and Summer is upon us.
The natural world is signaling the season, too. Long June days mean that our plants are growing quickly. Some crops seem to almost magically double in size from week to week, testing out ability to stay on top of trellising and pruning. Over in the chicken coops, our laying hens are producing nearly 400 eggs a day, the most our flock will lay all year, because of the generous amount of daylight hours.
The ranch is busy with visitors, farm production is beginning to pick up speed, and our team is ready. Spring held such anticipation for our first harvest, for market season, and for the long, productive days we’re experiencing. We are excited to be at the start of, what we hope will be, a bountiful season.
It’s neat how food can connect us to our natural world. An especially sweet carrot might remind you of a few frosty nights in April, a not so perfect kale leaf might tell you of a hail storm, or the season’s first tomato of an especially long and sunny June day. Any which way, we are grateful to share the coming season with you!
— Molly Farrell, Vegetable Apprentice
Sheep grazing in the pasture at Rock Bottom Ranch. Photo by Chris Cohen.
June 21, 2023
I am writing in the early morning light, coffee and another energy pumping through my veins.
The sun is up and so am I, the day itches to begin. This is my favorite time of year. The long days help power through the long list of tasks that the plants and animals and land ask of us. I love the hustle and bustle,and dare I say chaos, of the summer.
However, I take the morning light for me, to sit and reflect and power myself for what needs to be done in the day. Mary Oliver’s poems often provide scaffolding to my reflections through the seasons, so on this longest day of the year I wanted to share her words with y’all.
The Summer Day by Mary Oliver
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean —
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down —
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
Enjoy the sun on your skin and in these veggies.
— Mariah Foley, Agricultural Manager
Harvesting lettuce at Rock Bottom Ranch. Photo by Chris Cohen.
June 28, 2023
In the land of livestock, we are starting to see the process of regenerative agriculture and land management come full circle as we finish up our first pass through our back pastures. In the front pastures, regrowth of plants grazed in the spring look lush and beautiful; hard to picture that a mere month or two ago the vegetation had been neatly cropped like a short and spiky hairdo by our animals. Our rotational grazing allows us to manage healthy and diverse grasslands that benefit our animals, the land, and the humans that call Rock Bottom Ranch home.
Grazers keep our lawns diverse and dense. As they feed they keep any one species of plant from taking over large areas of a pasture and crowding out other species. Their droppings spread nutrients across the pastures, and we are careful to move the animals before they deplete vegetation of vital nutrients by eating too much of the plants. Chickens then follow the grazers. They consume bugs and help to spread droppings out across the pastures. We then leave the pastures to rest and regenerate.
This week we are also preparing to stack hay for winter feeding of our sheep. As the daily cycles of rotation churn on, there are these larger milestones that remind us of the larger seasonal cycles to come.
Winter feels far away with the long to-do lists of summer. Hay season is a reminder to me that a different season of work will be here sooner than we think.
Broiler chicken in the pasture at Rock Bottom Ranch. Photo by Chris Cohen.
Learn more about Rock Bottom Ranch! We hope to see you soon for upcoming programs & events: