Our hidden beach

I write often about our farm work, but rarely about the fun of living on a farm.  The previous owners of our farm created a sand pit.  They sold sand for road construction, leaving an open bowl-shaped pit in a hillside.  When we bought our farm, I viewed it as an ugly scar on the landscape and plotted to bulldoze it flat.  Wow, I was so wrong.  It has become a favorite place for our family.  Our children find it endlessly interesting.  It was a giant sandbox when they were young, then a terrifyingly steep sled run, now a sheltered and exotic fire pit.  For Steve and me, it is a direct look at the glacial till that underlies our farm.

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Our daughter hosts a campfire in the sand pit.

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The air at the bottom of the pit is still, even on breezy nights.

I appreciate the pit on cool fall days.  The west-facing slope catches warmth from the setting sun.  We picnic there in short-sleeves but would need snow jackets up above.  I asked our son what he likes best about the sand pit.
“It’s a good place to find fossils.”
“There’s no dirt – it’s all sand and gravel and there are even different types of sand.”
“It’s a mini desert.”

It is a child’s paradise.  We remember the birthday party when a pack of kids soaked themselves under the irrigation, then ran to the sand pit to roll in the warm sand.  They looked like sugar doughnuts.  This is cheap fun.

Farm News.
Email brown-out.  Remember, I will be away from the farm next week.  Please limit communication with us during August 2 through August 12.  Contact me no later than 8 a.m. this Friday to cancel a box, ask questions, etc.
• I will deposit post-dated August 1 checks on August 2.
• Carrots.  We are working intensively to establish our fall carrot crop.  Steve is in the midst of replanting two acres.  He planted those fields just before the hot spell and the seeds did not germinate well.  This is our last chance to replant.  Any later and the carrots will not be ready to harvest before winter sets in.  The weeds are growing quickly.  Our crew battles them every day.  We will be relieved once the new fields are well established.  Have you noticed that carrots are missing from the CSA boxes?  We often deliver carrots in late July but lost the early planting to weeds during a wet spell in May.  Look for carrots from us in about one month.
• The crew’s work is very straightforward right now.  It’s all harvesting and weeding.  We seeded our last flats of transplants, fall greens like Yukina and mizuna to fill the CSA boxes in November.  Those plants will go in the ground in late August, then our greenhouse work is done for the year.
Spotted wing drosophila (SWD) has appeared in our raspberries again this year.  This new fruit fly pest devastated Wisconsin’s fall raspberry crop last year.  Once again, it has shown up across the state.  Steve has begun weekly applications of organic pesticides.  We have recognized the SWD earlier than last year, and are hopeful about limiting the damage.  We are optimistic enough that we trellised the brambles this week for easy picking.  Our farm is participating in a UW monitoring program to track SWD.  Ironically, our children were the first to find the bugs, just like last year.  They are observant kids with little fingers, lots of time and a love of raspberries.  They spend a lot of time in the berry field.

Veggie List and Veggie Notes

Sweet corn, about 7 ears
Muskmelon, 1
Lacinato OR green kale, 1 bunch
Green bell pepper, 1 or 2
Walla Walla onions, 1 or 2
Zucchini or summer squash, 2 squash
Cucumbers, 2
Slicing tomatoes, about 1 lb
Cherry tomatoes OR eggplant OR green beans

Next week’s box will probably contain watermelon, tomatoes, cabbage, peppers, onions, Romano beans and more.

Sweet corn – Be prepared: some tips will need trimming.  Otherwise, this is an excellent, tasty batch of corn.

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