Today as I drive around the farm on a hot steamy day snapping some photos and assessing the progress, I admire the eggplant rows with neon purple flowers and deep shiny patent leather textured fruit. We are growing cantaloupe for the first time this year and at first I mistake them for cucumber vines with their similar small bright yellow flowers then I notice all the melons beneath the canopy and sea of leaves. This week we have picked 150 lbs of green beans so far and began with cherry tomatoes and okra as well. Cucumbers have been doing great but we are having some problems with squash bugs on our zucchini plants eating the stems and spreading disease. I caught up with the farm crew as they were picking cucumbers and cutting out the diseased plants. They let me know it is time to reorder sunflower seeds, we discuss the melons and high marks we received on our tomato tissue sample. They tell me how our new seeder is not reliable and how we hand planted the pumpkins which are coming in nicely. It feels nice discussing these tangible matters against the backdrop of rolling hills rows of vegetables and rain clouds on the horizon. I take a few steps toward the tomato plants and notice raccoon, fox, and deer tracks all leading in on the same trail.
Raccoon tracks look just like a small child’s hand print. I remember as a child being fascinated by raccoons and their hand shaped paws when one night I heard the trash can tipped over and went down to investigate. There was a raccoon standing on his hind legs holding a holster of Roy Roger’s french fries in one paw while eating with the other. I’m trying to picture what sort of animal party’s are happening after hours in the tomato patch when the workers leave. I hear there was a fox hanging out in our tomato barn with a chicken in its mouth, mind you we no longer have chickens so it must have been a “bring your own chicken” sort of affair. As for the deer somehow they have managed to elude our hunters while simultaneously antagonize our farmers. Groundhogs scamper off to avoid my jeep and birds feast on mulberries in the trees that line the driveway. I can’t help but notice all the wildlife that for better or worse consider our farm home as we constantly evaluate new strategies to coexist. Have a great week everyone.