January 15, 2019

What’s in the Box:  Oranges, Kohlrabi, cabbage, tatsai, watermelon daikon radish, parsley, Karinata Kale              


This week on the farm

Very, very quiet on the farm this week.  We have started back into our picking and delivering life, but the cold and wet have held back growth and so it is just a shadow of what will be happening soon enough.  We really did expect, like we always do, to come back from the year end vacations and see lettuce, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, parsley and cilantro, spinach, radishes, rutabaga, fennel, spinach and carrots all bursting to be picked.  But in the least sun time of the year, crops, weeds, soil and pests just sat and shivered and slept.  So we really came back to the same fields that we had left three weeks earlier.  And on a day like today it is easy to look out the window and think that things just might go on like this forever, always in the rain, mist and soft light of a January day.  Thanks to all our modern powers, I know that although tomorrow will probably be a gully washer and the week something to allow us to forget the drought for a moment, the earth is still wobbling back and forth on its axis, and starting last December, we are moving inexorably toward longer days, more direct sunlight, drying north winds, and warmer soil.  Soon enough we will be out in the fields with not enough hours in the day.

 The great thing about California is that we can grow almost anything almost any time.  The really hard thing about California is that we expect to grow everything all the time.  Machinery and people that wear out in the course of a season are set into the periphery because maintenance has to be deferred, repair put off until things quiet down.  In nine or ten months of jumping from the several daily crises of one day to the new crises of the next day, piles of mechanical projects accumulate and right alongside lay the bruised feelings, overlooked sensitivities, and tired bodies that must wait for a quiet, unhurried moment to be repaired.  Farming in California leaves a few moments, tucked in between the year end holidays and the first growth spurts of February in which to make all those repairs and amends. 

That means that in this quiet month of January, while we pick off the leaves and roots that have just reached adequate size and begin the harvest of the citrus fruits, working to meet  our responsibilities to all the people that enjoy our products, we also gathered with the extended family to celebrate  the 98th birthday of Annie’s Mom, May Heasell.  The winter timing of her birth in 1921 allows us to sit in the warm, inviting atmosphere of the Union Hotel in Occidental only a few miles from her birthplace and take the time to appreciate the special nature of an event that brings four generations of family and friends together.  At the same time, a few miles away in Guerneville, many miles away physically  and worlds away from the farm emotionally, each person of our family took the time they needed to just….repair.  Puzzle making, dinner making, long walks and runs, driving to the coast at Jenner, reading and sleeping were the luxuries and rejuvenation that we stored in our memories and muscles.

If Annie were here you would have a good supply of her recipes to help out, but she and Claire are savoring the last full day of time away.  The least I can do is let you know a little about what’s in the box, since some of the vegetables are a little obscure.  Karinata Kale, for instance, is originally from sub-Saharan Africa, and is a mix of mustard and kale flavors.  Being only recently domesticated, it retains a high level of nutrients.  Should be really good added to juicing mixes.  The oranges are having a good year.  These navels are among the best we have ever tasted and each year we enjoy getting the chance to pass them on to you.  The tatsai is a near perfect spinach substitute, having the same texture and a similar flavor, raw or cooked.  Watermelon daikon is a spicy radish with a little heat to it.   Can it be cooked?  Don’t know, but it is  flavorful and firm textured.  Kohlrabi, the green bulbs that look like sputniks (That’s Russia’s first space venture) are identical in flavor and texture to broccoli stems, and like them can be eaten raw or cooked.  Luckily for me, you know about parsley.  OK, that’s it for today.  Jeff