Newsletter

Week #20 – 2016 CSA Season

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What’s in the Box: Red potatoes, green peppers, beauty heart radish, red radish, assorted sweet pepper, serrano chile pepper, mesclun salad mix, porcelain garlic, red storage onion, chives.

What’s going on at the farm:  We have some great crops for you in this last week of the CSA season including beauty heart radishes,  fresh salad greens, and more.   Our mesclun salad mix this week contains mizuna, red mustard, green mustard, baby red kale, arugula, lettuces, and choi. We are running out of onions, squash, and most everything with good timing as frost creeps in and the season has come full circle.  It has been a challenging but successful year planting schedule wise but we are packing in as many veggies as possible for you once again this week for our last CSA delivery of 2016.  Thanks to everyone who was with us for our ninth season of farming and for being a part of the season.   Your support and participation are greatly appreciated and I hope you enjoyed all the veggies and fruits!  There were a lot of great crops and flavors to enjoy throughout the season, both on our plates, and in the fields.   I know I gave it my all physically but what keeps me going personally is the ultimate goal of providing lots of healthy fresh organic crops to enjoy so all our families can eat locally and farm the earth sustainably without harmful chemicals, antibiotics, and GMOs.  I would like to think that it makes a small difference which works towards a greater goal then just us, and I am very proud of all of you and myself for being a small part of this big picture together.   Hopefully we will see all of you back for another season next year.   We will be taking sign ups for next season from returning members beginning in December and you will receive e-mail reminders on the progress of sign-ups and our preparations as we move through the winter months.   Generally early sign-ups are encouraged to help the farm start up again bringing in the seeds, fertilizer, soil, equipment, supplies, etc… that we need to prepare for a successful planting schedule to be executed properly.  These events happen very early in January through March despite the lack of field activity. In fact by March 1st we will then be planting like crazy in the greenhouse again growing thousands and thousands of transplants, stacking up hours of labor again, and spreading tons of plant based compost over the semi-frozen fields.  Before spring there will be much to do as well and the season will continue on for a bit.  We still have three markets a week through October, some produce like winter spinach still coming, and so I will be attending some winter markets this year up until Christmas time.  We will also be planting our two varieties of garlic over the next week.  It was another good garlic year this year and besides stocking you all up over the season, and especially the last two weeks, we are planting more then ever for next season. Our seed stock is huge which should make for some great garlic next season!   We will be breaking up the bulbs into individual cloves for planting this week and they will be hand planted before the end of October.  Our potting soil for spring is all ready ordered and will be shipped here in early November too!  It will all be trucked in from Vermont Compost Company in Vermont for us and many other organic farms in Southern Wisconsin and ours will come in the form of three huge sling bags.  I then bag by hand with a shovel and sacks all 6,000 pounds of soil and stack it neatly in the greenhouse where it will wait for spring until we start onions and many other crops again in March.   It is always an exciting trip as I have to pick up the sling bags from a main location and partner up with another local farming friend with a rental truck so we can help each other get it done.  It is kind of wild to think that we are not even quite done with this season and yet moving into the next one but that is also the way this type of farming works.   It is all a cycle constantly moving in rhythm to our climate and cycles here in Wisconsin and this late fall early winter months prepare us for reflection, continuing education, not to mention healing physically in preparation for a new cycle.  Many other less exciting organizational projects await this winter as well like itemizing seeds and receipts.   Getting to everything that the season did not allow time for is important in the off season as well before things get crazy busy again including greenhouse and other farm repairs, home repairs, and plenty of paperwork and numbers to crunch.  I will work on clearing out trees and undergrowth which is always creeping in on a few of our fields as well.   The dense undergrowth of some areas always encourages more deer activity and in some areas decreases light too much.   On our 2 acre farm every square yard is valuable space!  Of course I am also looking forward to getting some rest for the aching body, family time with the kids, and the holidays too.   It was a challenging and beautiful journey as always and I think I speak for everyone at the farm when I say we enjoyed growing for you!  Have a great winter and from my family to yours, thank you!

Week #19 – 2016 CSA Season

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What’s in the Box: Spaghetti squash, red potatoes, red storage onion, green peppers, purple stripe garlic, white porcelain garlic, red radish, butternut squash (bi-weekly only), jalapeño pepper, spicy salad and/or braising mix, thyme, eggplant, sweet pepper, and arugula.

What’s going on at the farm:  This week marks the final week of deliveries for bi-weekly members who will receive their tenth share of the season this week.   Full season members still have one week remaining next week for delivery #20 of 20.   It has been a long and very bountiful season and I am proud to say I think we did the best job we possibly could.   That being said we are not holding back and going all out as usual this week and next bringing on as much as can possibly be squeezed into each share with as much variety as possible.   We are loading everybody up with garlic this week because it goes good with everything and who can really have enough garlic?  These dry bulbs will store until spring if it takes that long to use them at room temperature.  Do not refrigerate your garlic for long as it will sprout.  Keep it dry and room temp and out of direct sunlight.  The same goes for the winter squash, they should not be refrigerated for long periods as this induces spoiling early.   spaghetti squash you have had a few weeks ago and it is an easy one to prepare and Bi-weekly members are also getting butternut since they have not received one yet.  I love these baked with some pasture butter and real maple syrup but the spaghetti needs to be forked out after baking.  Plenty more of our peppers coming your way this week too as we are including an assortment of green and colored peppers.  Yes they are getting smaller but we think its best to enjoy them while we still can with cold fruitless months coming soon.  Try them roasted or with butternut squash for soup, or of course they are good with pasta, eggs, stir fry and so many other uses for the sweet peppers.  We have had many fresh herbs too enjoy this season but its about time we bring the thyme back 🙂   If nothing else remember you can always hang a bundle of herbs up to dry and use later in the winter when fresh local herbs are a near impossibility.  Other things going on this week include plenty of clean up taking the tomato vines out of the greenhouses, tilling in weeds, moving posts, and hoops and other equipment into storage for winter.

Thank you to everyone who joined us for a 1/2 season (Bi-weekly share) this year! Hopefully you found your experience to be a tasty one and found value in your share of organic produce with us and enjoyed the fruits of our labor.  I hope we will see you returning when sign ups open this winter for another season of fresh veggies in 2017!  While we are talking about wrapping up the season I will remind you one more time that full season basic and standard members still have one week remaining!  For Tuesday folks the last delivery is Oct. 11th and for Thursday folks it is Oct. 13th.  We will be shelling garlic for planting over the next week here and prepping our fields for planting it.  It was a very good garlic year and we have a lot of some very large seed garlic which should make for another good year for it next season.  Garlic also adapts t0 its soil slowly over the years and our stock had definitely progressed into noticeable larger bulbs every year.  To prep for planting this we break all the bulbs up into individual cloves which will be hand planted one by one right side up into their hand dibbled holes in a few weeks.   We still have two more solid months of work here before we can cozy in a bit and let the achy bones rest for a month or two while planning for and dreaming of another season to come. I will be attending winter markets as well if you would like to support us and find our produce through the winter months.   Madison East Side Farmers Market winter market and possibly some Dane County Farmers Market indoors are on the agenda for winter from mid November until Christmas and there will be some excellent frost sweetened greens and garlic to be had among other things.  We will also be downtown on the square and at our regular market locations through October.  Thanks again to all our bi-weekly members, we will be in touch regarding sign up opening for next season around the turn of the new year if we don’t hear from you first.  Until next week then for the rest of our members, enjoy the produce folks!

Week #18 – 2016 CSA Season

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What’s in the Box:  Salad mix, topped red radish, butternut squash, yellow storage onion, red storage onion, blue coco romano beans, purple glazer garlic, green pepper, sweet peppers, jalapeño pepper.

What’s going on at the farm:  Rain, rain, rain.   It seems more like a monsoon season then fall in the midwest lately but our fields are draining well and no standing water anywhere.  The immense amount of rain has brought a halt to our ability to till and work the fields but at least they are draining and not flooded.  Butternut squash, our third variety of winter squash is going out this week, these are so easy to prepare and so good just roasted face down in the oven at 350 for about an hour.  Serve with butter and maple syrup or brown sugar.  They also make an excellent creamy soup and pair well with red sweet peppers.   More salad mix coming this week for fresh salads and radishes which have been topped and bagged to keep them crisp.   Our beans are still flowing in this week and we have more of the blue romano beans for you despite the strong storms nearly tearing all the vines down from their trellises.   Peppers will be included as a random assortment  this week including green and sweet peppers.    That means only the jalapeño peppers have heat this week, all the others are sweet.  More red potatoes, garlic, and onions for all too.  Our salad mix is a mix of lettuce and arugula this week.   Last week was also half/half arugula lettuce although we had it posted as all lettuce we had to make a change to come up with the right quantity of mix for shares last week.

This week is filled with more clean up tasks and plenty of beans and peppers to pick.  We are working on taking down the tomato vines from the greenhouses and removing other crops from the field as well.   Our newer plantings of salad greens, beauty heart radishes, turnips, and spinach are slowly sizing up in the fields but with all this rain the weeds are still germinating just as fast and we will be weeding these late season crops as well this week.  We were able to take a little time off this weekend from farm work and market to have our annual farm potluck and bonfire and it was a blast.   Good food, friends, and family made for a perfect night celebrating the coming of fall and the near completion of another good season.  Two weeks remain after this one.   Week #19 which is our last week for bi-weekly shares, and of course our final delivery for full season members the week after.   Enjoy the food all!

Week #17 – 2016 CSA Season

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What’s in the Box: Acorn squash, spaghetti squash, red potatoes, purple glazer garlic, yellow storage onion, red storage onion, green pepper,  serrano chile pepper, red radish, blue coco romano beans, and chives.

What’s going on at the farm: More new crops to enjoy as the bounty continues this week on the farm.   Acorn squash is new this week after being cured and if you have not had it it’s a flaky light yellow squash,   I like to just split them in two after slicing off the stem and roast them face down in a glass pan with a little oil at 350 for about 40 minutes.  Serve afterwards with butter, sugar, sea salt, etc….    They are also very good roasted with your root vegetables, peppers, onions, beans, garlic, carrots, etc… or as a side dish of course.  Red potatoes are here and they are the only crop we do not grow from seed for you but we just don’t have the field space or equipment to grow potatoes.   We purchased these delicious spuds from Igl farms in central WI for you though and they are certified organic and good any way you cook them up.   They make excellent partners with any of the veggies, or served my favorite way, garlic mashed potatoes. They are delivered and bagged dirty but that protects the skins from damage and they can easily be rinsed prior to use.  I can’t imaging a CSA year or fall without any potatoes so we bought in a healthy portion of these to stock you up for the cooler weeks coming.  Garlic is another long storer in your share i’m sure your familiar with… as well as the storage onions, and they all go so well with everything.   Blue coco romano beans are in shares this week again too, and they can be eaten pod and all either raw, sautéed, steamed, etc… although the purple color will fade when they are cooked.   Crisp green peppers, topped radishes, and some fragrant chilies, and fresh chives complete our share this week.  Thanks everyone and enjoy the veggies!

Week #16 – 2016 CSA Season

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What’s in the Box: Garlic, red storage onions, yellow storage onions, red radish, all lettuce salad mix, spaghetti squash, blue coco romano beans, eggplant, green pepper, cayenne pepper, sweet pepper (assorted), and anise hyssop.

What’s going on at the farm:  This week brings us into the last quarter of the season.  We harvested the rest of our winter squashes this week bringing in butternut and acorn squash for curing.   Our blue coco romano beans are going wild now and heavy with beans so plenty of these coming this week.   When cooked the purple color will fade out and the inside of these romano or snap beans is a lovely green and you eat the whole pod on these beauties either raw or cooked.   Garlic and onions aplenty for preparing your favorite dishes and of course they are a staple of cooking for most everything so we like to include these weekly for everyone.   More spaghetti squash coming to you this week and what is perhaps the last of the eggplant and sweet peppers as they will be slowing down big time now with the most welcome dip in temperatures we are having lately.   Cool weather will be perfect for our young spinach, lettuce, chard, salad mixes, and other fall roots in the field.    Our all lettuce salad mix is back this week for fresh salads and more crisp red radishes to pair with it.   Sweet and hot peppers are also included again and we like them for homeade sauce with the spaghetti squash, or as toppings on homeade pizza.    Our outdoor tomatoes are finished now and we have work to do tearing them out and removing trellising this week.   We removed squash beds from the field last week but we have plenty to do every week now mowing down crop residues and pulling plastic.   The greenhouse’s will also be cleaned up of a heavy load of tomato vines soon too as they have been reduced to just a smattering of small fruit here and there.   It was a great tomato year but sadly the cycle does end for us in the Midwest this time of year.   Frost is only a few short weeks away now and the window is closing on our day length and plant growth rate as the temps dip and daylight slowly shortens and becomes less direct.   Fields which were plowed and incorporated last week will be seeded into cover crops of vetch, and white/red clover this week.   Sprouting salad mixes, and greens will be weeded by hand tools, and the harvesting , sorting, washing, and packing will continue as we put together these last week of  summer boxes and fall into equinox next week on September 22nd.   Fall is my favorite time of year, and a time to celebrate our hard work and efforts from the harsh daily grind of non-stop daily farm labor for 6 months straight.   We will be having our annual potluck this year just two days after the equinox on the evening of September 24th so hopefully we will see you here at the farm for that as mentioned last week.    E-mail details coming out this week as well for that dinner.  Thanks and enjoy the harvest!  -Kyle

Week #15 2016 CSA Season

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What’s in the Box:  Spaghetti squash, yellow storage onion, red storage onion, assorted sweet peppers, purple glazer garlic, arugula, green pepper, red radish, eggplant, thyme, concord grapes, and jalapeño pepper.

What’s going on at the farm: September is coming in with some warmth this week and  reminding us all here that summer is not over.   We spent our Labor Day weekend laboring on some more fall clean up removing mulch beds, drip, weedwacking, pulling weeds by hand on some late season chard and watermelon radishes, and mowing.  Butternut squash and acorn squash were also pulled from the field this Labor day.  Our warm weather crops like beans and peppers will set heavier and change color faster with the heat although we seem to be between bean crops at the moment.  We are patiently waiting for our new blue pole beans to set and the filet beans have slowed down quite a bit, but the heat this week should have the first heavy flush of blue pole beans ready starting next week.   Some new crops for you this week including spaghetti squash.  squash is excellent roasted and or baked and served with some butter and brown sugar or maple syrup but the spaghetti is easily forked out of its shell after baking at 350 for 35-45 minute face down on a cookie sheet.    These squash have a shorter shelf life of one to two months but they can be stored without refrigeration at room temperature.  We cooked them up this week with a fresh sauce of tomatoes, ground beef, green peppers, onions, garlic, and eggplant and some basil, thyme, and oregano for a fresh take on home made pasta.  Another new crop we are excited about is the fresh arugula which came out just perfect this week.   Although there is not a lot of weight to this crop it more then makes up for it in its clean, crisp, yet spicy flavor.  The arugula is actually related to radish which we also have this week.  Plenty of green and sweet peppers to pass out this week too and our concord grapes have finally ripened after weeks of my children asking when they will be ready, they are finally here.   They do have seeds but the taste is just like a fresh pressed glass of grape juice.   We will be throwing our 7th annual CSA dinner this month for our CSA members.   It is a potluck style dinner and  to celebrate our harvest seasons bounty and near completion.  Bring a dish to pass and join us on the farm for what is my favorite weekend of the year , otherwise known as the one where we take a day (or maybe a half day) off!  Its always great to talk and connect with the members who support our efforts here and for people to see the farm.  I will be sending out a reminder e-mail on that in another week but the save the date, which will be a Saturday evening, on the 24th of September.  Until next week then folks, happy Labor Day weekend and enjoy the veg!

Week #14 – 2016 CSA Season

DSC_0160What’s in the Box: Slicing tomato, purple glazer garlic, sweet yellow onion, red storage onion, leeks, green filet beans, serrano chile pepper, red Italian frying peppers, yellow Italian sweet peppers, eggplant, and sage.

What’s going on at the farm: Another busy week here as we enter week #14 with a fury of rainstorms.    We began winter squash harvest this week pulling in some fantastic yields of spaghetti squash.   These will be distributed after a week or two of curing in the greenhouse.   We still have acorn and butternut to bring in this coming week and looking like very good yields this year so it looks like plenty of winter squash coming for everyone soon.   A lot of mowing and plowing was accomplished this week along with weeding the baby salad greens, radishes, etc… that germinated a week or so ago.   More mulch beds and drip line were picked up and removed from the field this week from our spent cucumber crop.   We are also cleaning and sorting our onions and garlic for future sale now.   Separating out the larger bulbs of garlic gives us the best planting stock possible for next years crop and ensures we have enough set aside to plant our desired area for next season. Our green bean crop is very nice this week, they are maxibel filet beans, and they are seedless and stringless french beans with a full flavor and crisp yet tender texture even when cooked. Plenty more sweet peppers pouring in yet too and folks will receive a variety of red, yellow, and orange this week. Our onions,leeks, and garlic will assist in delicious pairings with these and the eggplants.  Sage is our herb this week and it lends itself well to pairing with port or chicken if you eat meat…. its also good on roasted vegetables and as a savory accent to your dishes by frying the leaves lightly in butter until they crisp up.  We have our annual organic inspection this week and we are busy this week crossing our I’s and dotting our T’s during this busy harvest time.  An organic inspection involves a four hour tour and review of the farms land and paper trail.   Most of the time is spend on the paper trail and our farms inputs, methods, and tracking of crops from seed to sale.  Until next week then, enjoy the veggies!

Week #13 – 2016 CSA Season

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What’s in the Box:   Eggplant,  green pepper, slicing and heirloom tomatoes, purple glazer garlic, sweet yellow onion, red storage onion, Italian sweet peppers (red and yellow), sweet bell peppers ( may include orange, red, yellow), jalapeño peppers, chives, purple haze carrots, and leeks.

What’s going on at the farm:  We are seeing some significant shift in weather and day length this week on the farm as nights begin to dip down into the 50’s.    Summer crops will slow a bit and luckily we won’t have to work through as many humid 90 degree days either.    We have a lot of sweet peppers in many colors and varieties coming in for the next few weeks so expect healthy portions of these sweet beauties.   We have been making a lot of ratatouille and freezing some batches for winter.  Also taco’s and fajita type dishes at home using up all the pepper seconds we can possibly consume.     I also enjoy stuffed peppers with rice and beef and of course there are many twists on that dish to experiment with.    Our purple carrots are back for one final week this week and of course some tomatoes, garlic, and fresh herbs and spices for you to enjoy.    Our herb this week is chives which we finally established this season after a long and slow start from seed this spring.  Jalapeño is the small fat possibly checked (cracked)  green chile in your box and they are very hot this year…. I like to make jalapeño poppers by splitting them and stuffing them with cream cheese or cheddar cheese and then slow cooking them on the grill for an hour or so on indirect heat.   I remove the seeds for this but you may want to wear gloves as the seeds have very hot oils.  Fresh pico is my favorite thing to make with the ripe tomatoes, sweet yellow onion, hot peppers, and maybe a little lime, chile powder, and cilantro.   You will receive the carrots topped, washed, and bagged, so they can keep crisp stored in the bag they are packed in.   Wet weather, and a tractor breakdown kept us out of the planting and seeding operations this week but we will be planting spinach and salad mixes this week as it dries out.   I repaired the tractor and of course on top of it a greenhouse fan broke down but we received a new motor for that fan all ready and should have all broken equipment up and running shortly.  We have some nice french filet beans coming in but they are not quite ready this week, as well as purple pole beans coming in shortly behind the filet beans.    Our spaghetti, acorn, and butternut squashes are reaching maturity as well this week so we should be harvesting them over the next few weeks too after which they will be cured before distributing them.   A few items not on our list may make the box as well this week including celery for bi-weekly members, and cherry tomatoes which are slowing down quite a bit right now and seem to be passing their peak, sadly, along with the full size tomatoes which are definitely slowing down as well.   Enjoy the summer fruits while they last folks and I will be seeing some of you at the drop sites.

 

Week #12 – 2016 CSA Season

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Whats in the box:  Purple haze carrots, slicing tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, eggplant, purple glazer garlic, sweet yellow onions, red torpedo onions, green peppers, red italian frying peppers, yellow Italian frying peppers, leeks, celery (large shares only) and holy basil, and cayenne pepper.

What’s going on at the farm:  Another busy and abundant week at the farm with some enjoyable temperatures for working and finally some nice rain has made for a good week.  Hoping for some more as temps rise again this week.     Our sweet peppers are coming in and besides the green peppers you will receive red italian frying peppers this week.   They are my favorite pepper with excellent sweetness even half red and an unmistakable tapered shape which resembles a horn giving these peppers the name corno di toro or horn of the bull.   There should be plenty of other red, orange, and yellow sweet peppers to go around this week too.   Another enjoyable and new crop this week which also boasts many health benefits is holy basil.  This herb has long been known to possess  medicinal qualities and also sports some bright colors and flavors to enjoy.  The top of the leaf is purple and underside green and the aroma is of mint while the flavor finishes off with stronger flavors of cinnamon and clove.   It is great paired with tomato for sauce or minced for fresh use with tomatoes.    Here are a couple great links describing the many health benefits of this slow growing basil which is actually related to the mint family as well.

http://www.medicinehunter.com/holy-basil

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-1101-holy%20basil.aspx?activeingredientid=1101&activeingredientname=holy%20basil

Other tasks going on this week include more weeding, yes this is a nonstop difficult task which we usually do by hand with hand tools and quite frequently by hand around the young crops.   We also thinned all of our rutabaga which is looking great and coming for fall.    All of our mulch onion beds and weeds in the onion field were mowed down and the beds and drip line were removed to allow for plowing of this area to incorporate all organic matter.   We also topped all of our fall onions and stacked crates upon crates of them up for storage into fall and winter.   Our main issue right now is running out of crates as the harvests are heavy this time of year.   carrots and beauty heart radishes are being hand weeded this week again too and our fall crops of brussel sprouts, and winter squash are looking fantastic right now.    Lots of beans of varying types and sweet peppers coming your way as well soon, yellow bells, orange bells, and red bells of many types are slowly showing color this week in the field.  Our plantings of greens, radishes, and turnips sprouted perfectly this week.  More planting in the works for this week too seeding greens and roots of all sorts for fall.  Until next week be well and enjoy the produce!

Week #11 – 2016 CSA Season

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What’s in the Box: Cherry tomatoes, purple haze carrots, slicing tomato, heirloom tomato, purple glazer garlic, summer squash or zucchini, english cucumber, sweet yellow onions, red torpedo onions, eggplant, leeks, serrano chile pepper, basil, and celery.

What’s going on at the farm:  Welcome to the second half of the CSA season everyone!  We have some tasty new crops coming to you this week!  As I mentioned last week the onions your receiving now are sun cured and dry onions along with the garlic they do not need to be refrigerated.  Neither do the tomatoes unless they are cut open.   Cherry tomatoes are also pouring in now and ready for your enjoyment.  Plenty of tomatoes still coming in for you all this week and sweet peppers are ripening and may even be added to the box this week although the yields are still increasing slowly we should see a spike in ripening later this week as temperatures rise again into the 90’s.  We are nearing the end of our celery this week, it was a fantastic celery year so enjoy the last of these sweet crunchy stalks.  Our purple haze carrots are back again this week too and they store best cold and humid with the tops removed if your not using them immediately.   The tops are edible as well and good for stock or even carrot top pesto!  Overall  it was another very busy week on the farm here, the body aches and heat take their toll during these warmer months but the summer crops love the warm weather!  We managed to get all of our fall onions harvested and set out for curing this week and our crop looks nice this year.  First to prepare for this we topped all of our summer onions which involves clipping the top off each and every one.  The weeds and empty spaces we have cleared out from all of this harvesting during this peak month of the season have gotten a bit out of control so we will be doing lots of mowing and tilling this week and working hard on the harvests so we can open more time for planting fall crops. Enjoy the summer fruits and veggies as we stay focused on fall preparation and harvest here on the farm!