Remember last months post where I told you all about the dirt road to get up to my farm? Well, this month I will tell you what is at the end of this road when you get to my farm. Although my husband and I do not have the typical lifestyle of people in rural Brazil, I really want to share a little bit about what happens during our daily lives working in the beautiful Brazilian countryside of Minas Gerais. Of course I could continue last months post and tell you all about the dirt road adventures we had this month, but I will leave that topic for now by just saying that on one trip up to our farm our beautiful white truck arrived completely orange from the mud and before retrieving anything from the back we needed to hose it down!
Now let’s talk about farming.
On the 22nd of September we welcomed spring here in Brazil, most of you in the northern hemisphere welcomed autumn and the shortening of days, here we have been welcoming warmer and longer days. With spring has come lots of rain and the grass has turned from yellowish-brown to a beautiful green. Yes, spring has come and with it an abundance of work, seeding, planting, weeding, and soon lots of wonderfully tasty vegetables to be harvested.
Although spring for us means a quick kick into a higher gear – more work – our growing season does not stop throughout the calendar year. We can grow vegetables throughout the whole year and even during the winter we can be found working outside in t-shirts sweating away. The difference between winter and summer for us is that during winter there are fewer vegetables we can safely grow; frost is common at night. So, with spring in full swing we are planting many more vegetables. Tomatoes, zucchini, cucumber, potatoes, and melons are among some of the vegetables that we only grow during the spring and summer months.
The month of October brought with it a lot of planting on the farm. It seemed that from one day to the next we had a giant pile of vegetables that needed to be seeded into the ground and it doesn’t really feel like we have stopped planting since. The farm has gone from looking bare of vegetables to vegetables growing everywhere. Our planting streak started with potatoes. Oh potatoes how I love to plant thee in the ground. One of my favorite things to plant, by far, are potatoes and definitely a wonderful way to begin a busy planting season. Why? Probably because it seeding is pretty fast and easy (my husband will get a good laugh from that), but also because right before the potatoes are going to be covered with soil they look so beautiful sitting in their nice straight rows.
Planting somewhat goes the same for almost all vegetables. We first need to make the beds, this often takes the longest as it means setting up strings to make sure that we make the beds straight (I have the tendency to be lazy and often can’t be bothered to use strings which leaves me with beds looking like snakes). Next we need to come a long with a large hoe and dig a path on either side of the bed. Next it is time to put some lime dust on the beds to help the soil and plants grow (our farm is organic so there is always a lot of extra things that we need to build-up the soil). Once all the extra good stuff is on the bed we rake it flat. At this point the beds always look beautiful and I never want to mess up the tidiness of them. Next, depending on what we are growing we either dig holes for the plants or make a trench for the plants. Once holes are dug they are filled with dark yummy smelling compost. At this point the bed is completely ready for the plants to be planted and the fun part of putting the small seedlings into the earth begins. Once everything is planted we need to give them some water to help them get off to a good life of growing tall, big, and healthy.
Making beds, spreading organic fertilizers, spreading compost, and planting is always a daily happening around the farm, but these last weeks have definitely been more busy than usually. We got potatoes, onions, tomatoes and cucumbers in the ground. We managed to plant zucchini, beets, radishes, lettuce, spinach, broccoli, chinese cabbage, carrots, eggplant and lots more. The fields are getting full and slowly all of the plants are growing. Hopefully soon we will be harvesting all of these beautiful vegetables.
Now, planting may sound easy from what I have described above, but when you are the only female with two men on the farm it can be pretty tough. I do my best to carry weight and show that I can dig paths between beds, carry compost, and prepare a bed all on my own, but I don’t think I have quite managed to prove to my husband and our employee that I am able to do everything on the farm without their help. Ok, so I am not going to be carrying heavy bags of compost or potatoes, but really, I can make a bed without any help. I think my husband is starting to have more faith in my farming skills and ability to do heavy work and I hope that with my potato planting and onion planting I am beginning to prove to our employee that I can do the heavy work too (but, when I scream at a rat and our employee needs to help me load wood into the wheelbarrow I am not doing a good job of showing my abilities to manage all aspects of farm life). But, with time and more planting I will show the men on this farm that I can do everything that they can….well almost everything, they can still carry the really heavy loads!