It was a mild Saturday, and we took our time to the fields, Zach and Mia and me. First we checked out the chicken coop, and shooed the hen sitting on the eggs. Six warm eggs in different shades of pinky-brown. The chickens pecked at the metal eyelets on my shoes, and Zach messed around with them. They hold pretty still when you pick them up, and he stroked their necks, making sure they pointed outwards so they wouldn’t peck at his eyes. Two ran out and I laughed as he chased them down, watching them waddle out of his grasp. They were pretty quick
Zach pointed out the farms further down. The People’s Grocery was right next door, and then, farther away, a Vietnamese community farmed for themselves. Zach was excited about all the rows they had dedicated to strawberries, the rows under black plastic cover, with the plants peeking out of the holes. Apparently they just might trade, later, for a few of them. Off to the side, was a stand of fig trees, once owned by woman but no longer. He didn’t know what would happen with them. But their own farm wasn’t permitted to plant trees, simply because if they left, the city of SF would have to rip them out.
We eventually set out to the mustard rows, with scissors and plastic crates. We were going to fill them up with greens for the farmer’s market tomorrow. Nothing too stemmy, but otherwise, it was fair game. I was definitely the slowest, but there was no pressure. No pressure is good, compared to my usual worklife. Filling the crates took some time, and as we bent to the row and crept slowly downwards, Zach told funny stories about the aggressive rooster they used to have, the farm internships in Santa Cruz, and what to do with the mustards we’d be allowed to take home at the end of the day. When our crates were full, we spread them out, one by one, on the picnic table, and picked out the grass, the dead looking leaves, the bugs (which I couldn’t bring myself to touch), and the leaves that had holes chewed in them. We put them in 1 pound bags.
Sometime in the midst of this, Fred came back with a mid-morning snack, more than could I ask for. He took out a couple of Pink Lady apples, and some asian pears that had been given to him. I brought out some almonds. The Pink Ladies were perfumed, blushing pink, delicately flavored, the Yalli (sp?) pears were honeyish, melon-round in flavor. Delicious. I listened to Zach and Fred talk about the Seeds of Change catalog, (which would be featuring one of Fred’s hybrids), different tractors, and what kind of niche they might be able to fill at the market tomorrow.
After we had finished in the rows, Fred rubbed a clump of dirt in his hands, to test its moisture content. It may be dried out enough to rototill. If they waited to for the soil to dry out more, it may just end up raining for a week or two, and the weeds may get out of control. The trick was to till before the weeds went to seed, in which case they can get a bit out of control. So he got into the bright orange Kubota tractor, and lined it up between the rows. Its whirring metal teeth sank into the ground, staying clear of the irrigation tubing that edged the field, and each row. We watched him go down the row, which took about ten minutes, then back up another. Then it was time to go. The four hours flew by fast.