August Field Notes from Riverdog Farm

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Courtesy of Capay Valley Farm Shop

The mystery white peach orchard was so prolific – both high yielding by sheer number of fruit but also by size – this year that we are sun-drying some of them this week. They ripen quickly off the tree and have to be picked firm to prevent bruising. We picked all of the fruit when it was ready for harvest. After filling the CSA boxes, there were about 200 cases of peaches in the cooler. We cut them into quarters and filled 20 old wooden drying racks, 3’ x 8’ in dimension, with the cut fruit. This type of peach is a freestone, so the flesh pulls away from the pit very easily leaving the center intact. The peach slices will be dry by the end of the week with the expected hot, dry air that comes with triple digit temperatures. Then we’ll collect the dried peaches in 5 gallon buckets and store them in the cooler until winter when they’ll be included in your veggie box. Out in the open air, the cream-colored quartered fruit with deep red centers looks very inviting. Hopefully, all the cut fruit will make it into the buckets for storage before any become samples for workers heading out to the field.

Another big wildland fire is happening to the north of Capay Valley causing a thick layer of smoke to settle throughout this narrow valley. With daily temperatures of 105 for 5 days straight, fighting the fire has been very challenging. At night, the glowing orb of the flames can be seen from a distance. With warm temperatures well into the night, a variety of eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes are beginning to arrive at the packing shed. Very soon, we hope to be in the thick of tomato harvest and be awed by the medley of colors the summer harvest offers.

Mid-August is a time for star gazing on the farm when we can squeeze it in because earth is passing through the Perseid meteor shower. The night sky in Capay Valley is particularly spectacular for witnessing stellar events because there are so few artificial lights – the darkness at night makes the stars and meteoric showers (aka shooting stars) highly visible. The Perseid meteor shower happened on August 11 but we continue to see shooting stars from this event. It’s a humbling diversion: noticing the cosmic events happening all around the farm during the flurry of summer harvest.

The green houses are full of winter crops ready to be transplanted. They include: kale, chard, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower. As we harvest the abundance of August crops, seeds are arriving from the UPS truck: six 5-gallon buckets of carrot seeds, beet seeds, and more brassicas. While summer harvest is at its peak, it’s hard to imagine the cold, wet winter but since this climate is conducive to growing year round, we are thinking about what to plant for the next season when we’re in the thick of the current season. It certainly keeps everyone on the farm busy.


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