Located at the base of Buckhorn Mountain at 6700' elevation, Buckhorn Gardens is a small, organic vegetable farm 13mi. south of Montrose, Colorado. Our farm is an active part of a 12,000 acre ranch; however, we only manage 3 acres with intensive vegetable gardening.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Greetings everyone! Sorry about the week-long delay. We had two busy, eventful weeks here at Buckhorn. Two weeks ago we tore up most of the beds in the dome, including the melons, the tomatoes, and the kale. We left the hot peppers, the perennial herbs, and some miscellaneous plants like nasturtiums, alyssum and datura. Next we will amend the beds and plant some cold hardy veggies. If you're a CSA member who picks up your share at the farm you should definitely poke your head in the dome - it looks pretty darn empty now!

The next weekend Breigh, Darren (and his parents) and my fellow interns worked a long Monday off in order to get all of the beds covered with frost blankets. For this we used mostly Remay, a white mesh material, and some old bed sheets that Jinelle scored from the thrift store. We situate the blanket over the length of the bed then secure it tightly with large rocks so that the wind doesn't pick it up. The frost did happen Monday and Tuesday night last week, so we were right to have covered everything, but we reached a low of 28°F so some of the crops were effected anyway. Squash, melons and cucumber production has definitely slowed down due to the cold. Outside tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and beans were all lost. All the beds are uncovered at the moment so they can carry on with their photosynthesizing, but they will need to be covered again before the end of the week - there's a chance of snow on Thursday!

The reason the blog didn't get updated last Tuesday was because we harvested the kid goats. Darren and Jesse did that dirty work while Noel, Breigh, Jinelle and I did another sort of dirty work - shoveling out the goat barn so the mother goats could have clean living quarters in exchange for their kids. I helped a little bit with the kid harvesting process and it was eye opening to be sure. I figured that I will likely be partaking in the goat meat so I thought it would be appropriate to lend a hand.

This weekend was very exciting because we, Breigh and the four interns, took a farm tour! I plan on devoting an entire blog entry, including pictures, to this excursion because it was so fun and so educational. We had the opportunity to visit with three farmers to see how they run their operations. It was a great road trip and I'm looking forward to talking more about it in another post.

Today was an exciting day for Breigh and I here on the farm because we welcomed the 4th and 5th graders from Ridgway Elementary to help us with a few special tasks. They moved around the farm in three groups. One group helped me dig up potatoes, another group popped and planted seed garlic, and the last group hauled rocks into one of the new beds in the dome. All the kids had a great time getting their hands dirty and we were able to experience the unique gratification that comes with instilling the value of earth-tending in the next generation.

That about does it for the past two weeks. I hope you're enjoying the last of the warm weather as well as the transition into the coziest and loveliest of seasons, autumn. Be well, we will see you soon!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Half of our booth at the Telluride Farmers Market

This week on the farm wasn't nearly as eventful as last week, with our spontaneous, educational field trip. Thursday was devoted to CSA and market prep as usual and Friday was market day for Breigh and me. We spent Saturday pulling up the melon beds in the southern hoop house Mars to replace them with carrots and beets and weeding various outdoor beds like the new carrots and the cover crops.

After two restful days off, during which Breigh canned tomatoes and made peach fruit leather, we returned to work today to pull up more outdoor beds, weed them, and plant radishes and turnips. We also weeded two-thirds of the 100-foot spinach bed.

I was unable to locate the information I promised concerning who to contact about the anti-uranium mill cause. My apologies there - the sheet we had with the contact info was conveniently lost in the proverbial shuffle.

Next week we'll be posting pictures of peppers and eggplants for identification purposes. Check back to determine which of your peppers are spiciest! Have a great week everyone.

A picture of some of our winter squash, which will be available through the winter CSA.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

On a Wednesday morning, we interns expect to wake up at 5:30 AM, bounce groggily to the farm site in the trusty Kubota, and pick the greens for your salad and braising mixes until about noon. Today, having been given a more forgiving wake up time, we rolled up to Breigh and Daren's house around 7:40 and were immediately herded into the van. Breigh was exclaiming that she'd been calling us and we needed to pick the lettuce as fast as possible so that we could go to a meeting about uranium in Montrose. We were all a little confused, but we did as we were told, and soon found ourselves in a large gymnasium/meeting venue of sorts with about 150 other people all interested in learning about the Pinon Ridge Mill, a uranium processing plant that is in the works for construction east of Montrose.

The meeting was not only informational, but served as a venue for members of the community to voice their opinions supporting and opposing the construction of the plant as well. Us farm folk went to support those who opposed the mill, and their numbers certainly needed fleshing out. Most members of the community who were present and who spoke were in strong favor the mill because it would provide roughly 1,300 jobs and supposedly boost the area's economy. None of them seemed to comprehend the serious repercussions the presence of this facility would have on not only the environment, but on the health of the area's residents for hundreds of years.

We all know the terrible effects of radioactive materials like uranium, and if this mill should be constructed, the harmful byproducts will be in the air, the water, and the soil all over the area. While the mill itself is many miles outside of town, there will be trucks driving through town and on other local stretches of highway (including by our farm) delivering enriched uranium away from the mill and toxic chemicals like sulfuric acid to the plant.

"If this mill is built," Breigh says, "we will not be farming here."

This is a serious and valid statement. Would you continue your CSA share knowing the produce you were receiving was contaminated with uranium byproducts like radon? The fact of the matter is, this project must be stopped. It is currently being reviewed by the commissioner of Montrose County as well as an evaluation committee, who were present today at the meeting. State scientists are also evaluating the situation on a chemical level, and this should play in to the decision of county leaders who are approving the special permit. Please, make your voice heard on this topic by contacting county leaders. I will probably be posting information on who to contact and how next week if not sooner.

Back on the farm, we harvested a whopping 217 pounds of tomatoes before CSA and market last week! This was Buckhorn Gardens’ largest harvest of tomatoes in its three-season history. We also tore up old beds of cauliflower and carrots in order to transplant broccoli and spinach seedlings. This afternoon we finished processing the garlic that has been drying the barn for a few weeks. The harvesting of squash, cucumbers, and tomatoes continued as usual along with various weeding projects. This post was on the longer side, so thanks for reading until the end! Best wishes from the crew at Buckhorn Gardens, we’ll see you soon!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

My apologies for the late blog post! This week was a bit different on the farm because we shifted our weekend in order to harvest chickens this Monday. We raised 40 feed chickens over 14 weeks and processed 39 of them in about 10 hours (we lost one to a suspected coyote a couple of weeks ago). It was a long day during which we experienced some technical difficulties with our borrowed equipment. However, once we solved all the problems, the operation went very smoothly, especially with the help of the trusty plucking machine! This somewhat violent contraption vastly aided in the feather removal process, virtually eliminating the need for human hands to go over the carcasses with tweezers for a fine-tune cleaning. We now have 39 beautifully vacuum-sealed chickens in the walk-in fridge.

That was our major event for the week, but weeding and harvesting continued as usual. We harvested a whopping 145 pounds of tomatoes before the CSA pick up last Thursday. Bed preparation for winter crops continued as well. I pulled thistles out of four 75-foot beds to make way for my bind weed-pulling comrades. Good progress was made overall!

And now for some of the recipes I promised last week. Wondering what to do with all the squash and cucumbers you've been getting from your CSA share? Here are some ideas for you!

Cuke Dip

1/2 cup (or more) finely chopping cucumber
8 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons sour cream
1/2 clove garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley
3 tablespoons paprika

Mix to blend well. Makes 1 1/2 cups. Serve with corn chips, assorted vegetables, or chunks of French bread.


(Beef) Zucchini Ratatouille
You'll notice this recipe has quite a few veggies you can get from your CSA share or market. Plan ahead for this dish this week, and make it vegetarian if you prefer.

2 large onions, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1lb zucchini, thinly sliced
1lb tomatoes, peeled and sliced
1 small to medium eggplant, peeled and sliced
1 green pepper diced
1 clove garlic, minced
(1-1 1/2 pounds ground chuck)
1/2 teaspoon salt

Sauté onions in olive oil for 5 minutes. Add zucchini, tomatoes, eggplant, green pepper, and garlic to onions and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. (Brown meat, drain, and add to vegetables. Cook 5 minutes, season with salt.) Serves 5.

Have a wonderful week, see you tomorrow!