Big Day on the Farm

June is the great month of arrangements: graduations and parties, vacations and weddings . . . vegetables and CSA harvest pick-ups. Of course, months of preparation have gone into these grand events.

There's preparing the ground, weeding and watering, organizing days and times budgets and guests, all in anticipation of the big flourish. It is exciting, and the final details can also be a bit stressful. This last was especially true in the early years of our CSA farming.

“All right,” a farmer might say, one fine June morning, “Who's ready for our first CSA pick-up today?”

A hundred heads of greenhouse-raised lettuce clamor for attention: “I'm ready! I'm ready! Pick me! Pick me! Me me me!”

The farmer backs up a step. “But I only need twenty head of lettuce today. I've only got twenty families coming to the farm today.”

“Pick me,” holler all hundred head. “I''m sick of this boring old hothouse! I'm ready to graduate into the world! Otherwise I'm going to bolt! See, here I go, I'm out of here, I'm bolting!”

The farmer covers his ears. “Ai-yi,” he says, “Okay, two heads per CSA share, that's 40 heads of lettuce, oh gosh, all this beautiful lettuce! All ready at once! Let's see, three heads per share . . . ?”

Meanwhile, the fellow farmer is optimistically striding out to the kohlrabi patch in the field. “Okay, kohlrabi, who's ready for the big day?” the farmer calls enthusiastically.

The kohlrabi shrinks back in alarm. “Oh, no, it's been too dry. It's been too hot, it's been too cold, it's been too wet, it's been too everything and anything. We're too young, we're much too young, oh let us alone.” The kohlrabi begins to looks a little teary; the kohlrabi has cold feet. The kohlrabi is not ready for the big day.

“Well,” says the farmer, “Huh. Jilted at the altar.” But she goes on to the bok choy, which is looking bold and vigorous under its protective row cover. The farmer flings off the cover, and the bok choy bursts out into the air.. .. bolted, reeling.

“Oh-oh,” says the farmer, “What's this?”

“Oh ha ha ha,” laughs the bok choy helplessly, “We had such a good time at the party, oh ha ha ha . .” The gone-to-flower central stalks lean drunkenly one way and then the other.

“Oh no no no,” says the farmer, “The party hasn't even started, what have you been doing, we need you today, fresh and bright and ready for harvest!”

“Oh ha ha ha,” says the bok choy, falling over, “Ha-ha-ha-harvest. Don't you know it's been too dry? It's been too hot, it's been too cold, it's been too wet, it's been too everything and anything!”

“Oh, gees,” says the farmer, stepping over the ridiculous bok choy, to check the salad greens. The farmer lifts the row cover tentatively, peeking under: is this promising green a sign of beautiful mizuna and arugula and tatsoi and other delicious mixed greens? Or is this green a promise of a fine mix of weeds?

“Hello?” says the farmer. “Salad greens? Are you under there?”

“Oh hi!” comes a perky answer. “Are we glad to see you! Everything's going great here, we 're all so relaxed and easy-going, life is wonderful, it's like a vacation, we haven't done a thing! We just let the weeds do all the growing!”

“Don't say that,” says the farmer, “This is the first CSA pick-up day. We need you!”

“Yawn,” say the salad greens, “I guess we're ready for another nap on the beach . . . why don't you check the salad turnips instead?”

“All right,” sighs the farmer. “Salad turnips, here I come.” Another hopeful look under another row cover: “Aww, what happened here? You're still tiny!”

The turnips start up a familiar refrain, the spring, summer, and fall farming song: “Oh, it's been too dry! It's been too hot, it's been too cold, it's been too wet, it's been too everything and anything!”

“Oh, gees,” moans the farmer, going back to the greenhouse with the morose field report for the fellow harvester.

The fellow harvester is awash in lovely heads of lettuce. “Look at this!” he says, holding one up. “Isn't this beautiful?”

It is beautiful, crisp and fresh, brilliant green with red speckles. “Yeah, wow! But gees, everything is supposed to look that good, and be perfectly ready by now. Maybe we should put everything in the greenhouse from now on.”

“Yeah! Let's cover the entire farm with a giant sheet of plastic!” says the happy lettuce man. “Here, help me pick some more lettuce! This is going to be the biggest best lettuce salad the people have ever had!”

“Maybe all the people can serve their giant lettuce salads at their graduation and weddings and vacations and parties?”

“All right!” The farmers join in a sort-of-victory high five. Everything might not be perfectly ready for the grand event, but everything's perfectly all right.

Originally published in the Monadnock Shopper News, June 10-June 16, 2015