From the Fields: Winter Squash Harvest
November already! As daylight hours shorten, there is hardly time for a day off if we are to get the fall harvest in. “Let’s git ‘er done!” is the operating phrase. All hands, including our cultivation crews, are in the fields from twilight to twilight as we race against increasingly cold weather and wet, muddy conditions.
Yesterday it took two tractors to pull a trailer loaded with carrots out of axle-deep muck down in Griffin Creek Farm, Field 8. Thank goodness we’re almost finished in that field. The water table at the Ames Creek farm is rising, too, just as the winter squash matures. The crop looks good this year — Acorns and Delicatas are already in, but the Butternuts and pumpkins want to stay on the vine until the eleventh hour to color up.
Each of tens of thousands of pieces will be individually cleaned using our handy rotary squash-polishing brush. Labor-intensive, yes, but not as much as the way we used to do it, squash in one hand, brush in the other… We had hoped to harvest these hard-skinned beauties in dust rather than in mud, but the 90 to 120 days they need in the field almost always stretches until after the rains have begun. Each year we joke that they’ll be floating when the time comes. Day-boat squash! Not really, though — we’ll leave them another week or so and take them just in time.
The Griffin farm office trailers which were like ovens a few months ago are now like iceboxes until mid-day. Our La Niña winter hasn’t arrived yet, but it looks as though we’ll need lots of insulating layers and winter woolens just to keep the heating bills down. When the sun comes out, it feels like a gift.