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GRATITUDE

I agree with Ralph Waldo Emerson, “I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new” . . . and the ordinary delights brought by each passing day!

Whatever means of celebration you choose, I trust you are filled with gratitude and joy for the Blessings we enjoy in this great country–America the Beautiful. Happy Thanksgiving 2020 from Robert and Glenda!!

Lyrics for America the Beautiful . . .

  1. Oh, beautiful for spacious skies, For amber waves of grain, For purple mountain majesties Above the fruited plain! America! America! God shed his grace on thee, And crown thy good with brotherhood From sea to shining sea.
  2. Oh, beautiful for pilgrim feet, Whose stern, impassioned stress A thoroughfare of freedom beat Across the wilderness! America! America! God mend thine ev’ry flaw, Confirm thy soul in self-control, Thy liberty in law.
  3. Oh, beautiful for heroes proved In liberating strife, Who more than self their country loved, And mercy more than life! America! America! May God thy gold refine, Till all success be nobleness, And ev’ry gain divine.
  4. Oh, beautiful for patriot dream That sees beyond the years Thine alabaster cities gleam, Undimmed by human tears! America! America! God shed his grace on thee, And crown thy good with brotherhood From sea to shining sea.

Text: Katherine Lee Bates, 1859–1929

Music: Samuel A. Ward, 1848–1903

Time Change

The time changed last night/this morning and the wind is blowing a blustery gale this evening. So happy I am not a turkey roosting in a tree tonight!

Robert has all of the garden cleanup done from the 2020 Harvest Season! This is a first to be done this early. We are already planning for the 2021 Harvest Season, however! We have placed two seed orders and are working on the third order. We have always planned and prepared in advance–this is one of our secrets to successful CSA Farming!

We are already getting inquires for the 2021 Harvest Season. As I indicated upon the 2020 Season Closing, I will be directly contacting all 202 CSA Members in February for your 2021 Season Commitment.

Stay warm. Stay well. Eat well.

Getting Healthier?

I read an interesting statistic today. Before March 2020 nearly 90% of grocery shoppers reported dinning out sometimes; however, a recent survey indicates only 45% of shoppers reported utilizing restaurant delivery while 35% reported cooking at home six to seven days a week! Of course, I am sorry for the pandemic distress caused for all of those in the food service industry. Our country, indeed the world, is facing a terrible economic situation due to the mandated “lockdowns.” However, if anything good is to come from this terrible situation, perhaps the change in eating habits from restaurants to cooking at home will help to improve the health of families.

The Last Onion

Our final CSA Boxes of the 2020 Harvest Season will be delivered the last week of October. This is an early shut down of our CSA in comparison to years past. However, Robert and I feel we had a very successful CSA Season–despite the fact our gardens received (up to the first of October) an amount of rain which would come up to our chins if delivered all at once!

Fall Garden Cleanup

One of the advantages of a forced early closing to your farmers is that Robert has been able to clean the gardens up MUCH earlier. There have been years when this work was completed in December or January! October is a much nicer month for this difficult and dirty job.

It is interesting to see reaction of the area wildlife to the changed look of the fields. Shock might be a good word used to describe the feelings of “nakedness” and “exposure” they now experience when in the garden area. Fortunately, we still have tree lines for them. Here is a photo of Mom and The Twins–who are now old enough to sometimes play alone in the fields. This Helicopter Mother is always nearby with watchful eyes, however!

Mom and Her Twins

These last boxes will contain spaghetti squash plus either delicata or carnival winter squash and sweet potatoes. There will be the last of the (small) eggplant and bell peppers. And perhaps a few red or russet potatoes in some of the boxes. These potatoes were not an abundant crop for us this season.

The Last Eggplant

We do recognize an increased consumer demand for CSA Farm Shares and local food. I will be contacting all 2020 CSA Members in February for a 2021 Season Commitment. We are also now accepting new CSA Members for the 2021 Season!

As Fall moves toward Winter . . . Stay Warm, Stay Safe, and Eat Well. And thank you to all for your participation in our 2020 CSA Harvest Season!

In The Box

By now every CSA Member should have received an email from me indicating their individual dates of final veggies pickups or deliveries. Please read your email carefully. We are NOT retiring from farming as one CSA Member thought and related to me!! We are simply closing the CSA for the 2020 Harvest Season due to the recent rainfalls and summer heat affecting our 2020 crop production.

In the box you will find sweet potatoes and a spaghetti squash–either large or small, individual-sized squashes. Additionally, either Jester, Delicata, Carnival, Acorn, or Butternut depending on the day. Also, eggplant and bell peppers as our meager gardens allow at this late date. There may be a few white or russett potatoes and onions, but these are getting in short supply.

Keep and eye on your winter squash. I would not expect them to last for twelve months as they have in some years! Yes! I still have a couple of spaghetti squash left over from 2019 . . . WOW! And as tasty as ever!

Sacrifices To Be Made

This time of the year there are sacrifices to be made in name of the fall winter squash harvest. IE: Our garage becomes our warehouse holding both large and individual-sized spaghetti squash, acorn squash, jester, carnival and butternut winter squash! Look for tips and recipes under “W” for “Winter Squash.” You might want to check out last week’s Blog, too.

In case you are unaware, eggplant do not like cool temperatures and peppers do not like rain! For this reason we are beginning an orderly shut down of the 2020 CSA. It takes two weeks to get the CSA Farm Shares up and running in the spring and it will take over two weeks to close the operation down now. Do not fear! Each CSA Member will hear from me via email in due time for notification of your last veggie box(es). So keep an eye on your email please! And yes, I have been known to send them out at 2 a.m. Such is the life of a busy CSA Farmer.

Robert has been attempting to clean up the gardens. This first entails removing the drip tape and related piping, the fabric and the staples which hold the fabric in place. Then he can go in with the tractor and mow the area as a part of the fall clean up. The biggest problem today was his getting the truck unstuck. We worked together and were able to back it out of a very wet area with the tractor and a chain. Probably should have known better than to be there in the first place! It appears a trip to the car wash is next on my To Do List.

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This last bout of rain brought us 3 inches here on our farm. I know it could have been much worse. Remember 2004 and Hurricanes Fran and Ivan?! They make Sally small; however, 2004 is the only other year we felt the need to start closing the CSA veggie deliveries this early in the season!

Standing water in the roadside ditch.

In the CSA Boxes this week look for spaghetti squash–either individual-sized the larger family-sized. There will also be either an acorn, jester, or carnival winter squash this week. We have potatoes. We trust there will be some eggplant and sweet, colorful bell peppers. The beans and okra keep slightly producing–but if there are more, consider it a surprise!

Hurricane Squash

We are in Hurricane Mode here on the farm. We do not know if we will get excessive rains, but we are trying to get all of the crops under cover just in case Sally swings more to the east instead of the west after making landfall.

Spaghetti squash are in your CSA Box this week. Spaghetti squash are in the winter squash family. You will find recipes and how to cut this vegetable in the Recipes under “W” for “Winter Squash. Winter squash have hard outer shells. Sometimes winter squash will last for months. I actually have three spaghetti squash from the 2019 Harvest Season! However, I do not thing the 2020 crop will last as long. Why? It has to do with the weather and how well the crop was hardened before harvest. As I have said before, 2020 has not been and ideal harvest season–if ever there is one, I might add! A few spots on the hard shell will not matter, you just do not want to wait so long to bake the spaghetti squash that the dark spots on the shell get soft.

We have another name for spaghetti squash. We call them Hurricane Squash! There was a year (2004) when the City of Asheville and much of Buncombe County had a power outage due to two passing hurricanes (Fran and Ivan). The Health Department closed all of the restaurants and so our outstanding produce orders were canceled. However, we harvested and delivered our CSA Boxes the same as always. It did not matter if our CSA Members did not have power when it came to eating the spaghetti squash. They could be cooked on a grill, the pulp raked, and eaten right out of the shell . . . no stove or oven or dishes or dish washing was required! Hence, the name Hurricane Squash! This was also the year we decided to go to TOTAL CSA FARM SHARE direct marketing for our family farm!

If you bake the spaghetti squash with the shell side up and the pulp side down, there will be no need to cover the squash while baking in the oven. The shell may brown slightly, but that is okay. Bake until fork tender.

Also in the box look for a Carnival winter squash, an eggplant variety, sweet bell peppers, potatoes and the last of the tomatoes and beans or possibly okra.

Dancing In The Garden

Friday evening Robert was in the garden when a big buck went running past him on the right and crashed into the blueberry bushes. Then two mares and a stallion went running past him on the left almost knocking him down. Either the horses were chasing the buck–or else, the buck was running from the horses. Either way, it made for some excitement in the garden. Next their owner and our neighbor came running in with bridles trying to catch his horses.

The grass is always greener . . .


These are the horses from the field across the road.  These horses are in retirement and are dressage “dancing” horses.  Perhaps you have seen them performing on television?  I understand most of the breeds used for dressage are from Europe.  In previous years, our neighbor traveled all over the world with these dancing horses!  But now his horses are in “retirement.”  The horses do not get out of their assigned fencing often.  This is the third time that I can remember in 27 years. I think most of the time, they must be very happy in their own pasture.

“Beautiful weeds”

In the box this week look for Italian eggplant and Asian eggplant and sweet peppers–bell and perhaps a long shaped pepper. Some of them are starting to turn red, yellow or orange! Also, tomatoes for slicing and small, round bites of goodness in orange and red which we call “The Farmer’s Candy.” Also, potatoes. We are in the process of harvesting the winter squash, but this week we will still have tomatoes which NEED to be enjoyed. If you find more than you can eat, remember they can be roasted and then frozen for later use.

The Eat Goes On . . .

I did not recognize my Blog when I went to it today to write this entry! I wonder if it has anything to do with the notifications I have been receiving (and ignoring!) from Word Press? So much to do and so little time! Let us see if I can navigate this new layout today . . .

The Farmer’s Candy . . .

The last day of August is tomorrow and we roll into September. I find it amazing how rapidly the year is passing. Our gardens are a weedy mess right now. Truly one would wonder that any veggies had ever come from them! Well, except for perhaps the tomato gardens which are still in pretty good shape.

Tomato plants continually tied up by loving hands.

You can see where Robert has spent hours tying up the plants to keep the fruits off the ground. Of course, the blight has affect some parts of the tomatoes and the beans. Still, this is today’s harvest, so there will be a few beans this week.

Green beans and yellow, flat beans.

The eggplant are beautiful this year! We have received so many comments on how the skins are not bitter at all. There should be plenty more of these beauties coming from the gardens. Oh yes, as with every vegetable, we plant MORE THAN ONE garden!! This is the one hedge we have to keep the pests and blights at bay on at least some of our produce!

Italian eggplant on the vine.

If we did not take this precaution of spreading out our various waves of crops, all of the tomato plants would look like the ones in this blighted section. Unfortunately, the blight spreads on the wind and by one walking through the garden. Simply a fact of Blight! Just imagine how many tomatoes we would have if not for the blight!

Blighted tomato plants still attempting to produce fruits.

In the box this week look for Italian eggplant and Asian eggplant and sweet peppers–bell and a long shape. Also, tomatoes for slicing and small, round bites of goodness in orange and red which we call “The Farmer’s Candy.” There may be beans or potatoes, depending on the day’s harvest. If you find a rare squash or zucchini, it may have come from my brother-in-law’s garden! Although, we still trust our last planting of patty pan squash will produce those yummy treats.

Tomato stuffed eggplant topped with sweet bell peppers! Ready for the oven!

The eat goes on . . . the eat goes on . . . the garden keeps pumpin’ produce to the farm . . . If you are of a certain age or listen to a certain genre of music, I trust you will have this tune moving through your brain for the rest of the day! And I think I can work quite well with this new Word Press format; but, I may make time to go back and read those notices!

Butterflies & Personal Shoppers

Something Robert and I have observed this summer that is of concern is related to the butterflies. We have huge butterfly bushes in our front yard. Typically they are loaded with butterflies –so many butterflies they cannot be possibly counted! However this year, we have one pair (that’s two) yellow and black butterflies. Sometimes there is a black and blue pair that makes a visit, but not always. This one pair is all that we see consistently. I wonder why? We do not have a Smart Meter on our house. We keep our cell phones on Airplane Mode except to occasionally check messages. It’s not because of Wi-Fi or 5G as we live at the top of the mountain and our home has “hard-wired ethernet” for the sake of the bees and butterflies. Perhaps something elsewhere has interfered with their migration pattern?  The butterfly bushes are blooming as always.  We just don’t understand  . . .

Butterfly Couple 20200820_132538 (2)

One thing I do understand better this year is the hesitancy of some people to join a CSA where by design another person chooses the vegetables they will be eating. We always try to do our best and give our CSA Members the best quality produce available in any given year. Actually, our members get better veggies than what we eat since we choose to eat the damaged produce rather than to put it in the CSA Boxes of paying customers. The reason I have gained this understanding of hesitancy can be tied directly to Covid-19!
With the advent of Covid-19, French Broad Food Co-op, Whole Foods, and many other stores have been offering door-to-door or curb-to-car delivery of groceries. It’s not that I’m afraid to go into the stores; that’s not the reason at all. It is just that with the convenience being offered, I have discovered it extraordinarily useful to have my grocery shopping done for me! I was hesitant at first. I wondered if the avocados would be the proper ripeness or if my frozen items would arrive frozen and my cold items cold; but to my extreme delight, everything is working out exceptionally well. There simply are not enough hours in the day to get done what I need to do. I have discovered the convenience of a personal shopper to be worth the cost. So now I understand . . .
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We see some beautiful peppers in the garden.  We are growing bell peppers and a long-shaped pepper.  Both varieties  start out green. Some will have started to turn colors before being harvested; but for the others, you can experiment. If left on the counter, they will ripen like a tomato and turn red or yellow or perhaps orange. They have nice thick walls for the most part and are very sweet. Pepper’s have a large amount of Vitamin C! Enjoy these peppers raw or sauteed or roasted–whatever is your pleasure. Once they are rusted or sauteed, they do freeze well if you feel you want to save some for the winter months. We like to slice some very thin before sauteing and them on our homemade, gluten-free pizzas throughout the year!
Squash & Zucchini 20200817_173451 (3)
Rain? Yes, we continue to get more than our fair share. And the next couple of days don’t look a whole lot better. Say a prayer for your vegetables and your CSA Farmers.
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Continue to look for Italian eggplant and Asian eggplant and sweet peppers. Also, tomatoes for slicing and small, round bites of goodness in orange and red which we call “The Farmer’s Candy.” There may be beans or cabbage or potatoes, depending on the day’s harvest. If you find an ugly cucumber or a rare patty pan squash or zucchini, consider yourself one of the fortunate ones.
Summer Flowers 20200820_132407
As that look at the front yard I see the Sedum Autumn Joy starting to turn a light-greenish color mixed with pink which is a sure sign falls on the way. By this time of the year, we have made peace with the weeds and I’m able to say the some of them are actually beautiful.

Pretty Weeds 20200820_133121 (2)

Pretty Weeds 20200820_132311 (2)

Political Correctness Can Kill

Here I go . . . off topic again . . . but I feel this information, indeed, this truth, needs to be said and needs to be heard and needs to be taken to heart. I gotta say in this instance, I certainly agree with Bill Maher . . . SHAME ON OUR LEADERS AND THE MEDIA for not highlighting THE MOST IMPORTANT THING our country could do in order TO CONFRONT COVID-19. We should all be enraged. I applaud this comedian for having the “guts” to say this. Please watch and share this video.

https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2020/08/14/how-should-we-combat-the-coronavirus.aspx?cid_source=dnl&cid_medium=email&cid_content=art1HL&cid=20200814Z1&mid=DM621212&rid=940367431

And KUDOS to all of our CSA Members who are doing their best in trying to eat healthy, local, nutritious food. In addition to being kind to your body, you are supporting the local economy, helping to keep green space in the community, and setting a good example for your children and grandchildren. You are OUR HEROS.

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In the box this next week look for Italian eggplant and Asian eggplant. Also, tomatoes for slicing and small, round bites of goodness in orange and red which we call “The Farmer’s Candy.” There will be potatoes and onion and perhaps a few beans and cabbage. It is possible green bell peppers will make an appearance this week. If you find an ugly cucumber or a rare patty pan squash or zucchini, consider yourself one of the lucky ones. The cucumber plants are still alive and do have flowers, so there is hope for more in the future. The squash and zucchini which were replanted are starting to grow–so again, there is hope for more of these in the future.

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Robert has found it necessary to replant more crops and more often this season than any other season in the last 27 years. This is simply a testament to how cruel Mother Nature can be and has been in the 2020 Harvest Season. Not all has turned out as we would have preferred. Despite this, we are proud of the veggies boxes we have been able to provide to our CSA Members and we intend to continue for as long as possible! Most years we make it until Thanksgiving. One year we made it until Christmas! One year we only made it until Halloween. And ONE YEAR only the month of JULY.  We keep on trying! And we expect you to keep on showing up for your veggies until you get a direct email saying that we are closing for the season. Now for another photo of Troyer’s Country Amish Blatz gardens. Did you know they have B&B offerings and a wedding venue, too?

Troyers Country Amish Blatz Fairview Flowers 20200807_165011

Perhaps before joining a CSA, you did not understand now how the weather–frost, cold, heat, hail, and rainfall–can affect crops and their ability to grow and even their flavor. Perhaps before joining a CSA, you thought inclement weather only meant canceled golf outings, tennis matches, picnics, or how lush your front lawn looked. But you joined a CSA. Perhaps after joining a CSA, you have a deeper understanding of the contentedness of weather to your source of food. Perhaps after joining a CSA, you will even attempt to grow your own garden in the future–in either your back yard or your front yard! No mater what you decide, we are very happy to have you joining us on our Local Food Journey this season!

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