Saturday, August 24, 2013

A day at Blue Heron Orchard & garden..

This is one of my jobs. 
Working at an organic orchard and a large garden owned by hardcore throwback hippies.

The day these pictures were taken was hot, long, and full.  The other worker, Austin is pictured below harvesting squash. He hates harvesting squash. 
Everything about the squash plants is sharp and poky.. Every stem, leaf, stalk, vine, flower, and fruit is covered in splinters. When you reach into the plant your entire arm is swallowed by mammoth leaves covered in spiny prickles. By the time I locate the squash, clip the stem, and pull my arm away, I'm covered in tiny scratches and pricks.We don't wear gloves while harvesting..this has caused pain more than once --

Once, I found myself in the middle of a poison ivy patch while weeding. And of course my idiot reasoning was "oh hey..poison ivy. I'm pretty allergic to that stuff.. buttt pshh it'll be fine, I haven't gotten it in a while and if I do, it won't be bad at all. Hardly noticeable I'm sure.." so me, being stubborn and silly, continued to grab the stems of poison with one hand, and clip with the other. IDIOT. a couple days later I found horrible poison ivy boils between my fingers, a rash where my shirt meets my pants, and a rash across my breasts- where a stalk of poison brushed into my v-neck. stupid pervert plant.


In this picture we have a very small portion of the squash, part of the extensive basil rows, more squash, and the beginning of the tomato plants. Beyond that are rows of varied pepper plants, beautiful purple eggplants, and popcorn. And this is only part of the garden!
I'll just note that harvesting these tomatoes in not my favorite thing. The rows are too the time I'm halfway down the row my tray is already full and quite hard to carry. I've tried to make it into more of a workout by first picking the tomatoes and leaving them in piles through the row, then going down the row with the large clumsy tray and squatting with it all the way to the ground to retrieve the tomatoes.
Regardless of how they are harvested, the plants leave greenness and dustiness all over your skin. If I examine my arms at the right angle the hair has turned totally green xD  The plants are so overgrown, and the rows so close together, it's like wading through a jungle that wants to swallow you alive and spit you out- transformed -into a sweaty, smelly, tired, greeeeeeeeeeeeen creature with sleeves rolled up, sweaty hair flying everywhere, muddy feet, and dusty rolled up jeans...when perhaps I entered clean and dry, with shoes on my feet and hair tied neatly back with a bandanna.

gross side note:  after harvesting tomatoes and working all day, the shower is so coated in brown dust that the water has trouble draining....So I've started stripping to my underwear as soon as I get home, and jumping in the lake.

cleaning --

The processing kitchen. These are special cucumbers that never get bitter, no matter how big they get. They don't turn green at all, instead they turn either dark brown, mustard yellow, or pure icey white. They are delicious.

 squeaky clean! Ready to weigh, box, and take to the farmer's market.

harvesting --

picking the cherry tomatoes. I enjoy this, it's like a treasure hunt..and they taste sooooo good right off the vine. This particular variety is called Black Prince. Instead of bright red, the tomatoes turn a very dull reddish black, and are nice and firm.

p.s. Check out my awesome henna tattoo.. the Hindu symbol which basically means "serenity", serenity for all living things, and peace.



Shallots. similar to onions, but purple and less onion-y. This is only a very small portion of the dried shallots.. We harvested these and lay them out to dry on screens. There were soooooooooooooooo many...but that was only the beginning of the job. Once they had dried, we clipped the tops and bottoms and peeled away a couple of the top layers of skin to leave the shallot looking shinier, cleaner, brighter, and more attractive. And leaving my hands and nails in an opposite state of looks.


 small portion of the "cleaned" shallot crop.

visitors --


super cool moth on the tomato plants.. it had fuzzy bright orange legs.


A bit hard to spot, but there's a tiny light purple bug crawling up my henna-d arm. It tickled.

A couple weeks ago some people came to the orchard and did some filming for a documentary. They are from "Slow Food" (as opposed to "fast food"). They promote and expose food ideas and food philosophies which have already been in existence, filming documentaries across the country and helping real foodies learn about each other.
They came the day after Austin and I harvested a huge amount of Basil. While they were here, we prepared the leaves and made pesto! It was also a lovely day to pick the first of the early apples. Because they've been ripening in the sun, they taste like cider when you eat them directly off the tree.  I love to eat the whole apple, core and stem. I love not having to fear the pesticides and chemical fertilizers!


This baby. She's the new guy ;)  still just a pup, and very full of energy. She runs up and down the tomato rows at high speed...she's great to have around, but we have to hurry to pull the harvested tomatoes out of her path. Really though, the worst thing about this dog is that she's too distracting!! One look and I've forgotten my task in favor of puppy snuggles.

The cats that live here are not overly friendly to begin with, but now with this bundle of fluff here we only see the cats at mealtime..

 I can't seem to remember her name.. It's one of the 108 names for the East Indian goddess of "truth and deceit"... not wonder I'm having trouble remembering..
For now everyone just calls her "pup" anyway. Mannn she's so darn cute.


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