Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Just in Time

If a picture is truly worth a thousand words…

Then, I don’t have to tell you how the Boss and I spent the better part of the past two days on our knees...working.

Nor, do I need to tell you that those jeans will NEVER, ever be truly clean again…but, I digress.

We have been meaning to harvest the potato crop of 2012 for some time, but…well, you know how it goes…
With the first  frost of the fall season Sunday night, and the forecast calling for rain, rain and MORE rain, it was time to pull out the stops and get those ‘taters out of the ground and into the reefer in order to have them for sale far into the Winter.

We started the project Monday, in hopes of getting done in time for supper.  However, there were far more potatoes in the main “potato garden” than we anticipated and we ended up harvesting ‘taters again Tuesday. We were both quite glad that I bought a whole bunch of extra storage hoppers while I was in town! (we needed them all…and then some)

I have covered my love of the potato numerous times. Like this...  and  This one has a video of potato harvesting. The tasty tuber is crucial to our survival and we enjoy it in a myriad of ways.  Please don’t let anyone make you think that potatoes are unhealthy.  Far from it!  High in nutrients, low in fat…potatoes are an excellent source of vitamins and un-refined carbohydrates. If anything is bad for you, it is all the toppings that smother the potatoes prior to serving.

Here on the old homestead, potato harvest is done the old-fashioned way, mostly by hand. With the exception of the potato plow, there is no specialized equipment for the small producer.  If we were bigger, we could implement some real cool tools that would take a lot of the hand work out of this job.  But, bigger operation means bigger operational budget…and we’re doing quite well with our present model…thank you very much!

The Boss runs the potato plow down the row, tossing tubers to both sides.  I follow along, collecting the errant ones and putting everything off to the last open furrow.  When he finishes the tractor run down the row, we work toward each other, putting the potatoes out of the way of the next run with the tractor and plow.  …and so it goes, until the patch is completely unearthed.

The tubers are left to dry slightly in the sun before we come back to collect the bounty and place everything in cold storage until such a time that it is offered for sale. That generally means we come back after lunch, sorting and picking until all the potatoes are hauled off to the reefer.   If kept at a constant temperature in the reefer or walk-in, these potatoes could, in theory, be eaten sometime next Spring. Our customer demand will probably keep that from happening.

The potatoes we planted in July will be the most vibrantly colored and will ultimately last the longest, but those few left over from the Spring planting are big, robust potatoes just waiting to be baked, mashed, soufflé-d and enjoyed immensely in any number of recipes as well. There are red potatoes, white potatoes and Yukon gold potatoes.  The very small ones have been sorted out to sell as “tiny taters”. Nothing adds to a menu like a potato!

Filthy jeans, broken fingernails and woefully sore muscles are the price we pay for the assurance that the TATER CROP of 2012 is safely in the reefer and just waiting to fill our customers’ (and our own) needs.
That seems a small price to pay, if you ask me! Just glad to finally check that one off the “to-do” list.

…and just ahead of the rain!

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