June Farmer Updates from the Field
July 1, 2021
June 2, 2021
Sometimes the romance of tending to baby seedlings and transplanting them into the soil of the Rocky Mountains is overwhelming: watching the killdeer build their nests in garden beds and then guard their eggs from us, having monarchs visit the green house while trellising tomatoes, tasting the first forkful of summer salad made with lettuce that you’ve neurotically been nursing for two months. Of course there are the tedious repetitive tasks that interrupt the spell, like hand weeding one bed on your hands and knees for an entire afternoon. But the charm of it all always returns when you stand back up and look at the bed, free of weeds, with plenty of room for growth.
This has been the flow of each and every day for me during my first spring at Rock Bottom Ranch. I am even more lucky to be spending those days with an amazing team who not only puts up with my off-key singing all day but joins in and makes the time whizz by.
We are so excited to be sharing with you our produce for the first time this year and can’t wait to hear what you’re loving, learning about, and need tips on how to cook throughout the season. We hope you’ll come and visit us out in the fields sometime and get the chance to bask in the romance of it all.
-Juliette Moffroid (Vegetable Lead)
Juliette Moffroid (Vegetable Lead) with seedlings. Photo Credit: Chris Cohen
Shannon (Livestock Apprentice) and Hollis (Vegetable Apprentice) in one of our green houses filled with Salanova lettuce. Photo Credit: Chris Cohen
June 9, 2021
I frequently get asked what farmers do in the winter. Often, I jokingly say that December and January are for doing all the thinking that there is no time for in June. Then June gets here and I realize that it’s not really a joke. As I write this, my brain feels especially fried, and it’s probably not just the long afternoon heat.
June is a month for action. All the thoughts we thought in the winter decided what to plant, in which beds, at what spacing, with what timing. Now with the to-do list written out, we get to work. There are lettuce and turnips and sunflowers to seed. Broccoli and peppers to transplant. Sheep and cattle and broilers and laying hens and rabbits to move. Tomatoes to trellis. Grass to mow and weed whack. CSA boxes to harvest, wash, and pack. Eggs to clean. Water pumps to build. Packaging to order. Tours to give. Irrigation to run. Electric fence to fix. And that is only Tuesday.
But unlike earlier spring work, June’s work comes with the perk of instant gratification: a bunch of radishes, a bowl of butter, a piece of bread. It’s a magical part of the season when the work and the reward collide, thanks for being part of it!
-Mariah Foley (Agriculture Manager)
Mariah Foley harvesting lettuce in our outside production garden at Rock Bottom Ranch. Photo credit: Chris Cohen
Shannon (Livestock Apprentice) and Jen (Livestock Lead) near the greenhouse in the field. Photo credit: Chris Cohen
June 16, 2021
It’s easy to get caught up in the hectic nature of early summer here on Rock Bottom Ranch and not take a moment to step back and reflect on the many throughlines that give meaning to the work we do here, but I’m grateful for the chance to do so.
If I had to assign a theme to this week at the ranch, it would be food as a point of connection. As I write this, four members of our crew are in Aspen attending the first farmers market of the season; countless bunches of carrots, bags of greens, and dozens of eggs are completing their journey from the ranch to community members’ kitchens today. I spent the morning assisting with our live chicken pickup, and got to hear stories of delicious recipes that folks had planned to make for their families with the chickens they were taking home. Two volunteers, who happened to attend my alma mater, helped me seed a new succession of scallions this morning as well; the first thing I wanted to chat about was the food that I miss from my college town. On Wednesday, I was lucky enough to meet many of you all, our CSA supporters, as you picked up your boxes from us, boxes that we had lovingly packed with our first gorgeous crop of radishes for the season.
Part of why I am drawn to farming is because of the way that food brings people together and allows us to share space and stories with one another. Thank you all for your support and for the opportunity to open my eyes to all the ways that this has happened for me this week!
-Hollis Vanderlinden (Vegetable Apprentice)
Hollis Vanderlinden (Vegetable Apprentice) outside the season extension house. Photo credit: Chris Cohen
Shannon and Ray (Livestock Apprentices) surrounded by chickens in the transportable coop. Photo credit: Chris Cohen
June 23, 2021
This time of the season, our days of planting and seeding have given way to more regular cultivating and harvesting. I’ve been thinking a lot about the efforts that have helped us arrive at this point. And per usual- I’ve been thinking a lot about radishes.
We have a few beds of radishes in the field, the first having been sown in early May and the second bed a couple weeks after that. This cycle of planting (called successions) will continue on for the remainder of the season. When the first bed of radishes has been fully harvested, the next bed of radishes has just sized up and is ready to harvest.
Similarly, just when the heat was starting to get to me, three new agriculture stewards joined our crew: Sam, Sophia, and Lily. In vegetable production, they’ve helped us keep our beds nearly weed free, an endeavour that felt daunting before their arrival. As the days lengthen and warm, vegetables are consistently shooting out new growth. I feel lucky that their help is accompanying this spike in production, and to have more hands to get the radishes (and other vegetables) from the field to your CSA share. You can think of it as smart planning (I sure do) or the rhythms of vegetable farming, but these successions help to provide steady abundance throughout the season. Thank you for sharing in this abundance with us.
-Hannah Pike (Vegetable Apprentice)
Hannah Pike (left), and Hollis Vanderlinden (right), tending to a bed in our outdoor production garden at Rock Bottom Ranch. Photo credit: Chris Cohen
Photo credit: Chris Cohen
June 30, 2021
We are all celebrating rain this week- the heat wave that made its way through the west has finally broken. While we are far from the end of the heat, the solace of the precipitation has given me a sense of calm.
The trees are bright and green, juxtaposed against the dark wood of their trunks. The birds sing loud when the rain ceases, and the grass is growing faster than the sheep or our scuffle hoes can keep up with it. The air feels breathable, not as harsh as our dry Colorado summers tend to be. The veggies in your CSA basket flourish. The cows retreat under the safe canopy of the trees, keeping dry, though I’m sure it feels good to have the rain cleanse their hide. I know it feels good on my own skin. I am embracing the rain, no matter how soggy my feet are.
Time seems to pass differently in this weather. The heat makes time feel like it’s moving in a liquid fashion, one moment melting into the next, forcing you to keep a slow and steady pace. It felt like those long hot days would never end. In the rain, time passes as if it were falling with the raindrops, dropping fast from the sky and landing with a confident splat. These days pass by effortlessly to me, as if gravity were doing the work. Either which way that your week is moving- slowly and arduously, or flying by with fervent- I implore you to take a moment to slow down and reflect on all that the rain has gifted us. We hope you enjoy those veggies!
-Shannon Hourigan (Livestock Apprentice)
Shannon (Livestock Apprentice) being absolutely adorable with some sheep friends. Photo credit: Chris Cohen