Farm Journal: community as harvest wanes

Beans ready to roll! Photo: Anne Riordan

Beans ready to roll! 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.

November 4, 2013

Well, I'm thinking that Indian summer is over.  Or drawing to a close, at least.  The days are warm and getting colder, and the nights are freezing cold. It was 20 degrees the other morning. That's COLD.  In my little cabin, I'm burning lots of wood. I like it toasty.  It's getting so it feels that 50 degrees is warm at the moment.

The fall foliage is still blowing me away, though. We must have had the early enough frost to really bring out the gorgeous reds and yellows and golds, unlike last year. Last year was almost scary in the lack of color. It was like the trees went from straight from green to brown and on the ground. And it was bad in New York, but it was worse in other states. I had to go to Massachusetts last year and it was like summer lasted until November. Of course, last year was really, really weird. The very oddest winter there was.

Matured corn. Photo: Anne Riordan

Matured corn. Photo: Anne Riordan

Now, given that my grains are planted, I'm just worried about snow.  I have 70 acres of beans to pull in and 70 acres of corn to pick… I am of course less worried about the corn.  But beans stay so low to the ground that if they are covered with too much snow, they'll just mold.  That would be a fully unsatisfactory ending to a productive season!

The beans look so gorgeous. They are small and firm and have such bright, amazing, vibrant colors.  I always love this time of beans best. It's right after they senesce, and before they sit. They're perfect.  Soon – because ultimately I can't get them all harvested when I want – they get rained on, snowed on (hopefuly not)… they soak up water and swell, then they shrink back down as they dry out and the skins wrinkle and bit. And then of course I harvest them and they get all muddy. I wish i could hand pick every single bean in my field. They'd be the most gorgeous beans in the whole entire world.

On a separate topic, a new branch into my knowledge of fracking has appeared. On my puddle jumper plane back from London after my brother got married, I met up with a Mr. Richard Chuchla of Exxon Mobile. He is in charge of exploration in Latin America. This is opening all sorts of doors for me! After an extremely interesting conversation, we're now friends and correspond about our differing points of view on natural gas. He's sending me literature and opinions, and I am sending him back the perspective from those of us who actually live next to the fracking sites and have experience with what seems to happen.  I'm really excited!  I've never been offered an insight into something which has such an over-reaching effect and is such a hot topic in popular news, such to say. I'll do my best to keep an open mind. :)    I do have a checklist about a million questions long to ask him about everything I don't understand, however.  I don't understand a lot.

Everyone's season is winding down.  We've had several events, we the farmer community in Ithaca… One was the "farmer formal" hosted by Wide Awake Bakery (the invite said "leave your carhartts and muck boots in the barn!") and I recently was the happy recipient of a "thanksgiving friendsgiving" party which mentioned that we should all be reaping the benefits of the harvest!  I hope I have all my beans in so I can bring some delectable, non-shrunk beans to their gathering. I'm making this a personal goal.

Morose skies after planting rye. Photo: Anne Riordan.

Morose skies after planting rye. Photo: Anne Riordan.

A giant reason I love Ithaca is the community. I have a friend who recently published a paper about housing and community. Specifically, good/bad housing, and good neighborhoods/bad neighborhoods.  The correlation was that you can live in bad housing in a good neighborhood, because you still have your social structure, a friend infrastructure, a supprt system, somewhere to go, community outbuildings. If you have a wonderful house in a bad neighborhood, you stay isolated, because you're not comfortable outside your house.  It's all about community!  How you feel about where you live hinges so much on what type of support and community you have around it. I am so blessed, and I think all the Ithaca and surrounding area farmers feel the same way, to live in such a supportive community. Struggling with the organic stuff .. well, if you know there's a whole peloton of poeple doing the same thing.. it makes all the difference.

Off to bed! I'm going to the PASA grain conference tomorrow, to learn even more about grains. There's endless amounts to learn.

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