Thursday, July 24, 2014

What a Beautiful Day!

What a beautiful day to be outside! The sun is shining, its not too hot, and there is a nice little breeze blowing through. Unlike the past few days where it was hot and muggy!

So for my farm day today I was back over at Rippling Brook Farm. When I got there Aaron and his children were picking cabbage, again (this is like the 10th time, or more!) I wasn't sure what to do so he sent me over to weed the jalapeno peppers with one of his daughters. I don't like hot stuff but those peppers looked good!

After that we started weeding cabbage (almost thought I was back to that first day.)

And while we were weeding, we stumbled upon this little fe-llow (female fellow :) .....

This is a female Black and Yellow Argiope spider (Argiope aurantia.) Argiopes are orb weavers, meaning they spin their webs in a beautiful circlular design. Argiopes are also one of the few spiders that are active during the day. They are commonly found in fields and gardens, like the one we found today.

Another characteristic of Argiopes and day active spiders is they spin stabilimenta. Stabilimenta is a thick, zig-zag shaped web, which you can see in this picture. It is uncertain what the stabilimenta is used for for certain, but speculations are that it is used for either stabilizing the web (stable is the root word), attracting prey, or discouraging predators by the reflection of UV rays. Either way, its a pretty cool feature of the Agriope.

I learned about this spider, and many more, in one of my classes at SRU. I am glad that I am able to put my learned knowledge to work and that I could share this knowledge with you. Also, like most spiders, Agriopes are venomous to their prey, but to humans, the bite isn't any worse than a bee sting. So if you see one in your own garden, please do not harm this beautiful creature!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Beans, Beans the Magical Fruit!

 Today I went to Hidden Valley Farm to help pick beans, and boy do they have a lot! These pictures are of both sides of the bean rows (about 12 rows.) Today was the first day picking and we harvested almost 80 - 1/2 bushel boxes of beans!    

                                                    But the farm doesn't only have green beans. There are also yellow beans, purple beans and dragon tongue beans [to the right (they're pretty cool.)] I was picking yellow beans and picked three five gallon buckets full! And I got there late! There were ten other people picking and I can't imagine how buckets they picked each. Picking beans is a lot of work just like weeding but the upside is that you can eat the beans. I also was allowed to take some home since there weren't enough to fill the last box; I will                                                                     definitely enjoy them! I hope you all will too once                                                              they are put in the CSA shares!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Road Trip!

This past Monday I had an opportunity to drive out to the Lancaster with some of our farmers to check out another organic cooperative that is out there. This cooperative is called Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative, and it is HUGE!

Before we went to the warehouse we stopped at one of the cooperatives farms, who is owned by someone that Aaron has spoken to before. We were shown around the fields and green houses (I couldn't understand what they were saying because they were speaking German) and some of the crops that are grown on this farm include cucumber and carrots.

 The next stop was the LFFC Warehouse in Leola. When we arrived we were greeted by the, I think, Manager Casey. He then showed us around the different coolers and packing areas. This warehouse is definitely bigger than our own, but it would have to be to have enough space to store the produce for almost 6,000 CSA shares a week. Yep, that's right. 6,000! We only pack around 600 a week, and there is only three of us! At LFFC there are nine people in a packing line and they have a roller table, which gives them a slight advantage. And I didn't see it personally, but Casey told us that the packers can pack a box in 6 seconds! That's really fast considering their shares are bigger than ours and it takes us at   least thirty seconds. But I guess when you have 6,000 shares you learn to hurry!

Aside from the really long drive I had a good time and it was nice to see the other side of thee state again. I learned a lot and hopefully I can implement those learnings here at CRO (like pack a box in 3 seconds) :) Probably not but I can sure try!

             And since today is Thursday I was at one of the farms. Well this time two. I started at Toby's helping his daughter pick shell peas (which are for their own use, not for CRO) and then we went up to James' farm. Whatever was originally planned didn't happen because of the rain so we weeded the small blueberry patch and planted some cauliflower and broccoli. Then afterwards I helped them shuck peas. Hopefully next week will be more productive. Keep an eye for my post to see if it is!