Saturday, April 9, 2011

Taters, taters, taters

Thursday was my first day working out at Tranquil Ridge Farm. I am doing a working share there.
What's a "Working Share"? As part of the farm's CSA program I am putting in work hours to pay for my CSA share. Elbow grease for veggies!!
Thursdays I will spend 6 hours working on the farm. Last Thursday we planted potatoes-lots and lots of potatoes. Nate (the farmer) drove the tractor pulling the setting machine. I'd post a pic of this thing but I don't have a camera right now. I'll see if I can draw you a word picture.The setter is green metal it has places to hold baskets of taters or plants and 2 seats at the back with foot rests. You sit on the seat with your feet on the foot rests and a big green basket of seed potatoes cradled between your knees. It has a big yellow tank up top with tubing that runs down to a wheel with triangular cogs. The tank is full of fish emulsion fertilizer (did I mention this is an organic farm). The fertilizer water travels down the tube and fills each hole as the wheel goes around punching holes in the tilled soil.  My job was to stick a seed tater in each hole and make sure it got covered with a bit of dirt. Sounds simple- well that's what I thought.

Things I learned sitting on the setter:

1. Keep your eye on the hole!! Every time I looked up or looked away I got behind and had to hustle to get back in time with the speed of the setter.
2. Free range hens can undo all of your hard work if you aren't careful. Nate's hens were pecking up the taters about as fast as we could set them until I got the hang of dragging soil over them and Nate got on another interesting piece of equipment that looked sort of like a cross between a dune buggy and a daddy long legs - the hiller. He made short work of hilling all of those taters.
3. Working on the setter is sort of like playing the piano. You have to have eye-hand coordination, but the left hand needs to be able to do it's own thing not the same thing the right hand is doing. Pick up a tater with the left hand (without looking - remember you have to keep your eye on the hole). Pass it to the right hand. Push the tater in the hole and drag some dirt over it while at the same time you are picking up the next tater.... repeat until the end of the row.
4. Change seats often. There are 2 seats one: on the left and one on the right. When you are on the left you are perpetually leaning right to set your taters. I got pretty sore pretty quick. So I moved to the right seat to even out how sore I knew I was going to be later.
5. Fish emulsion smells like the sea or maybe the sea smells like emulsified fish. Either way by the end of the morning I smelled like the sea or like emulsified fish depending on your point of view.
6. Wring out your gloves and knock off the mud every couple of rows. It's amazing how much mud can cake onto a glove. I looked like I had mud paws.
7. Remember to bring something to sit on for the ride home. I didn't and I had mud on my car seat - lots of it.
8. It is amazing that two people not working all that very hard can plant and hill about 300 pounds of potatoes in a morning.
When we finished I spent a pleasant hour or so plucking baby weeds from the flats in the cozy warm greenhouse.

My first day impressions: I LOVED IT!! I miss our farm a lot. I'm learning a lot about how a larger CSA functions and I'm getting plenty of fresh air, sunshine, exercise and good company not to mention veggies. Who could ask for anything more. :^)

1 comment:

Donna OShaughnessy said...

Nice to have you blogging again Dot. Missed you