There is officially no doubt about it: there is a lot happening around Rising Sand Organics. The lengthy fields stretching up the side of the hill serve as a living testament to all who drive by that we’re in business. This passerby view doesn’t even take into account the monster beets and towering peas stretching towards the tops of the hoophouses at Field Notes, or the newly established bees, cows or puppy dog that now circle the premise. As the season progresses, the nature of our workload is transitioning once again, from the almost exclusive bed-prep and planting of spring to a more varied and robust agenda for summer, including building and fencing projects, preparation for markets, and a great deal of maintenance and care over the plants that we’ve already established, both at Field Notes and Rising Sand.
Now that the majority of our initial planting has been done, the key to our continued success is hoeing and mulching. By thoroughly cleaning up the weeds that have germinated and grown thus far, and covering the soil to provide a physical barrier against further weed growth, we can save ourselves a lot of time and trouble the rest of the season, letting crops like onions grow more-or-less uninterrupted until harvest season. It’s a hard, thankless, and time-consuming way to make your way up and down onion beds that seem to stretch forever, but by taking care of it now, we will greatly minimize further labor investment, and maximize our crops by reducing weed competition.
Similarly, we’ve dedicated time in this early summer juncture to the establishment of some animals and creatures at RSO. Most prominent are the four cows who roam the wild, rocky pasture behind the barn, eating and pooping; clearing and fertilizing. These guys came from Primitive Pastures’ herd, and though they made a valiant escape effort upon first touching down at Rising Sand, they’ve since settled in quite comfortably, and gotten to work on their own projects. We finished up the fencing on the second paddock on Tuesday and moved them over, to start a consistent rotation and make the most of the grasses we’ve got growing wild, while increasing the fertility of the pasture greatly over time.
Then there are the bees. The dream-team (Fanni and Oren) assembled on Monday to get the top-bar hive installed, and bring our new nuc of bees onto the property. Oren’s report on Tuesday was that they “seemed happy.” While I’m not sure exactly how bees communicate happiness, our hope is that they are at least pollinating some flowers and trees for the time being, and eventually become happy enough to provide us with honey, wax and whatever other tangible and intangible goodies come from the company of bees. In the long-term, of course, there is infinite value to propagating and maximizing the well-being of critical pollinators, and they will also take care of a great deal of work for us; this season and well into the future.
Finally, there is our nameless puppy-dog. Still early on in his transition from adorable to savage, he requires more time and attention now than he’s technically worth, but there’s a great deal of morale-boost that comes from watching a puppy bound through the tall grass, and he will eventually circle the premise with Logan Brice, deterring wild intruders and slaying crop-eating critters, and hopefully managing the herd single-handedly. But for now, he’s just a big-footed and goofy puppy, and we appreciate him for what he is. There’s a good chance his name will be either Lotus or Otis, but I would favor Storm.
In addition to all of this beekeeping, cow moving and weed control, we’re starting the renovation of the pack-shed – where we will wash and pack vegetables – and the construction of a walk-in cooler. As our muscly tomatoes and tree-top peas can attest, harvest time will soon be upon us, and we’ve got to be ready to wash, pack and sell. All of these projects equal up to long days, and by the time I reach the farm after work, I’m often met by zombie-faces, robot motions, and much silence — with the exception of Oren, of course. We are, individually and collectively, striving for maintenance of energy and establishment of balance, and the necessity of constructive physical and mental routines is becoming all the more apparent. It’s a bit of a relief to know, however, that while we are working, resting, eating or otherwise, the cows, bees and mulch are continuing to work for us, in that laid back and natural way that we humans can never quite slow ourselves to.