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Back to the Blog: Another Day at the Farm

It’s July in the Sonoran Desert. The cicadas sing, dust storms roil on the horizon several times a week, the garden is dry and listless, and mesquite pods have begun to litter the ground. Meanwhile, I try to figure out when I can comb the neighborhood for mesquite pods to make flour for the year sometime in my crazy schedule.

It’s been a week of peanut butter sandwiches, if you know what I mean. It’s been several weeks of peanut butter sandwiches, in fact. With the Unicyclist and myself both in crunchtime, “real” meals are sorely neglected. There’s a lot of peanut butter, a lot of omelet, a good deal of hummus and raw veggies, and a fair bit of pancake. It’s all about the quick and the easy—what real food we can whip up and eat in a half hour.

Since I’ve been so busy, I’ve definitely missed updating the community here on the fabulous summer events we’ve enjoyed thus far: the second farm day, our escape to cooler climes in northern Arizona, and a darn fine Vietnamese noodle salad I will be enjoying for lunch this week. While I could begin with any one of those things, it seems best to begin by showing some of the pictures from the most recent farm day. Frankly, farm day embodies hope. After all, when my own garden is decidedly brown and crunchy, it’s incredibly encouraging that someone is able to grow things during the months of triple-digit weather.

As you will recall, last farm day hit during artichoke season. This time around, however, it was a stand of June corn that sat ripe and ready in the hundred-degree heat. The rows of artichokes were overgrown and buzzing with bees. The buds had burst into bloom like hundreds of violet fireworks.

I couldn’t decide if I was astounded or amused by the artichoke flowers. They were brilliant and soft, purple flattops above the spiny chokes. The bees were as amazed by them as I was. A steady, industrious hum hung over the otherwise neglected rows.

Plenty more was growing in Farmer Frank’s Crooked Sky farm. There were rows of still-green tomatoes, dotted with red, ripe ones. The first crop of corn was on its way out—husks turning brittle and kernels lost to the area critters. The melons were swelling fat (Frank planted some 40 varieties this year), the onions stood in straight rows, rich purple eggplants dangled from bushy green growth, massive summer squash in green and yellow crouched hidden under the broad squash leaves, and the Armenian cucumbers wound snakelike on the ground.

These are the same cucumbers we are still getting in our weekly share, a couple months later. It turns out that a foot-long cuke like the one you see above is just a baby. Frank’s crew doesn’t serve them up until they stretch to 2-3 feet in length. They are enormous, cool, and crisp. We can’t seem to get through one in a week. Of course, fresh cucumber is a good way to make friends.

The wheat fields were beautiful, rippling like song. We still have several bags of wheat berries in our freezer I am looking forward to using once the temperatures drop again. Or perhaps for a batch of pancakes next weekend.

Just like before, we had the privilege of gathering all we could carry from the fields. People came in comfortable clothes and floppy hats—even a bonnet or two to protect against the sun. This woman is searching for a ripe cucumber to go with the handful of I’itois onions she has already pulled from the ground.

The farm was, as always, beautiful, hot, and buggy. Frank’s crew served up another amazing feast showcasing the current crop, and we all ate ourselves silly. We left with slight cases of sunburn and massively full stomachs, already anticipating our next visit to this patch of earth in Central Phoenix.

4 comments

4 Comments so far

  1. Mangochild July 20th, 2009 1:54 am

    Good to hear from you again! The pictures of the wheat fields, they are something we don’t see here, but I wish we did :-)

  2. kirbysmom July 20th, 2009 6:13 am

    Gorgeous! I love the artichoke flowers. Funny, I never thought about them flowering. I learn so much from you. Glad to hear that you and your Unicyclist took some time to smell the artichokes, er…, roses. I love you!

  3. Aaron July 21st, 2009 5:12 am

    Wow. You take really great pictures! Keep’em coming.

  4. Laurel August 16th, 2009 8:48 pm

    Thanks. The artichoke flowers are wild, no?

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