Farm Journal: Booming beans, Roundup ready and a ramble

Beans are booming at CPO! Photo: Anne Riordan

Beans are booming at CPO! Photo: Anne Riordan

This is part of a series of Farm Journals, farmers writing regularly about life on the farm, week to week, through the season. Anne Riordan is field manager at Cayuga Pure Organics outside of Ithaca. Read all her journal entries here.

BEANS!  That’s the name of the game this week folks.  It’s what is on our customer’s minds, my mind, my co-worker’s minds, my friends’ minds (because I won’t stop sending mass text-messages of bean fields in full growth spurts). Beans are in! They’re growing, and how.

I hate to start every blog with some type of complaint or revere about the weather, but i’m going to do it again. This week i’m pretty happy, that’s for sure. I’ve been able to harvest most of my rye, and due to the heat, the beans and corn got a whopping boost and are finally catching up to my late start.  I drive past the fields now and I begin to get that grin across my face.

You know what that grin is –  the “holy cow, I planted this…I planted that field right there and it looks like that!” grin. And then, inevitably, I pass the field, and the right side of my mouth begins to droop. That's the “ok, now they’re up and growing and i can’t do a thing about what happens next” face.  And then, I’m all the way past the field and I’m downright nervous. I’m like, “ok! Now I’m ready for the growing season to be over, because all of my fields are weed free and i like them looking just like THIS!”.

Sunset at CPO. Photo: Anne Riordan.

Sunset at CPO. Photo: Anne Riordan.

Ultimately, I think I have very little say.  It feels like no matter what I do, Mother Nature has the last word. I can plant a  field and weed it over and over and over again, or I can plant a field and forget to weed it. Often, they’ll look the same. Sometimes, the field I forgot to weed will look better (this is the case with the beans and the oats this year).  All I can do is prep my fields and beg and wail and coax and plead with Mother Nature to be merciful.  At least, that’s what it feels like.  But that doesn’t mean it isn’t incredibly enjoyable the majority of the time!

So it’s 10PM and I got out of the fields around 8:30.  I went back to the farm and met up with my office manger for a meeting about where Cayuga Pure Organics is headed next.   The fundraising site we had going for the barn re-building has finished, to our success.  And thank you so so much to everybody that donated!   Not that we are out of the woods by a long shot, but the mood is, as always, optimistic.  It is a constant source of comfort to me that the farm crew is so close and family-like. Not related but we’re a family. Does that mean we’re a Farmily? 😀

Lately I have been noticing the round-up ready corn fields around my area. This is something I constantly notice, because there are not a lot of organic farmers on my side of Cayuga Lake.  There are many on the other side- more grains farms, oodles of vegetable farms, beef and poultry, everything else you can think of. But CPO is the largest grain farm as you head east away from Ithaca, and I am constantly fighting a battle against my conventional neighbors.  Has anybody else noticed that the round-up ready corn this year is all 15 feet tall?  I’m astonished.

Round-up ready crops make me so incredibly mad. These conventional farmers plant them, the fields look like garbage until the crops are about a foot or so tall, then they go through and spray the whole field and the next day, it’s sparkling clean. It’s got to be one of the most frustrating sights an organic farmer can see.  And to add insult to injury, some conventional farmers blame CPO for “spreading” more weeds to their fields (none of which I border, or anywhere near).  Argh!  Of course, I take this all very personally.

I spent the earlier part of this blog expanding on how vulnerable I am to Mother Nature and that it can be enjoyable and now I get mad because I can’t control the weather.  I’m being fickle myself.  I suppose farmers in general are taxing Mother Nature. I mean, we are trying to force our crops to grow in 20 acre fields in 30-inch rows 3 inches apart. How natural is that? No wonder She rebels.

I did notice an article in a fashion magazine about the increasing allergies to GMO-corn. I can only assume that if the fashion magazines are picking this up, the awareness of the toxicity of round-up ready crops will increase faster, or sink in deeper, than it has so far.

Well, this has been a series of slightly disjointed rambles. I think it’s due to the amount of time i’ve been spending on the tractor during this part of the season. It probably isn’t  good for anybody to have as much thinking time as I do.  I try to keep myself entertained by moving my mind from one topic to another, from conversations with friends to political drama (which usually just makes me mad) to projections of the future, to family, to maybe a bit of ipod music.. and speaking of which, I’d really love to learn a language. Is it possible to find a program to put on an ipod that i could listen to in which I could learn french while I cultivate beans?   The whole point of this is that it doesn’t lend itself to my social skills (or apparently my writing skills).  Takes me a bit of time to assimilate myself back into society after a 9 hour day on the tractor.

Luckily, Bear sees me most, and he doesn’t mind.

To bed with me, readers!  I hope you’ve enjoyed the ramble.

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  1. RE: GMO corn… you might have mentioned, in addition to allergies caused by eating animals fed with GM corn, the FDA just raised the permissible levels of glyphosate in food (the active ingredient in Roundup) in spite of the latest scientific findings that link glyphosate to cancer.

    • Indeed, the entire discussion has taken a turn down the side-road of whether genetically modified organisms are dangerous, while ignoring the 800 pound gorilla in the room…that spraying poison on our foodstuffs is inherently dangerous, and that even an eight year old could understand that.
      Mass spraying of herbicides has expanded to the level of impacting waterways and ground water, and somehow we stand quietly by and let it happen.

      • Yes, you both are touching on something that is integral and yet seems to be lacking in general conscious. It is tangential to the discussion about fracking – whereas we do have to look at both sides of the argument, we've created this situation of needing energy and thus fracking is one option, the much more important and obvious-seeming comment is that it is NOT safe to dump chemicals into the aquifer. i mean, That is just not something to screw around with. Although these are just tip-of-the-iceberg concerns in both realms.

        I find it hard to believe, going back to GMO crops, that people who drive by and notice that fields that have been completely sprayed with round-up and are BROWN AND DEAD and do not grow back don't somehow connect this to the state of their intestine after eating round-up crops.

  2. you guys should read the soy bean seed planting recommendations. If you dont use roundup ready seeds you can use another worse herbicide that costs more but the non-roundup ready seeds may yield enough more to pay for the extra cost of the worse herbicide etc depending on growing conditions…

    • That's like some terrible snowball effect! We need to move the consciousness out to the meta-scale

  3. Of course it's not safe to "dump chemicals into the aquifer" – good thing that hydrofracking is done well below the aquifer.

    • Brian, the overall point is fluid spills are not contained. this affects the water and the animals and people alike in a dangerous fashion. I am in no way claiming to be an expert on fracking. from what I do know I don't want it anywhere near my farm.