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Monday, July 07, 2008

Oh, lass-a-asinine...




The only reason Martyn is smiling in this picture is he has subcomed to lavender overload, a common disease of lavender growers, brought on by a mixture of bending over for more than 8 hours and listening to bees buzz.

Harvest season is here, and to be brutally honest, I will not feel badly when it's over. This year we will have double the crop of last, since 1/3 of the field is mature. That means in two years we will double this years. There is only way to describe this. Oh s..t. I don't usually use cuss words in my blog, for I grew up believing what my grandfather told me: "Swear words are for people with little imagination." So I have created my own swear word for harvest overload: "Oh, lass-a-asinine". That one's for you, Grandpa.

We worked all week on the Angustiflio, seen here. It really has a lovely aroma, and after a couple of hours in the field, I give in, my mind starts accepting my fate - I will be in this field for some time today. And then tonight I will have to hang it all in the drying room. We ended up with 2100 bundles. And there's only another 1 million bundles to cut. Are we crazy? Naw. Stupid? Perhaps.

I am excited at how far we've come. We are getting to know what products sell best. We understand the process much better. And our name is definitely getting out there. We are also part of the Portland Wholesale market now and that is going pretty well. I am going to be working on some new bud product ideas, and my goal is to have others sewing them.

I always get a bit spent at harvest. You have to get the product off the plant, and you don't get to pick and choose the time. This year the heat brought on the Anugustifolia fast. It's a happy accident that when we planted our varieties, they mature at different times, so we get a tiny break between varieties. We had three man crew come on Saturday and that helped a lot. My goal is to have a crew for most of the harvest, but we aren't there yet. I brought down a pie in a picnic basket for everyone. One of the those romantic notions of the novice farm woman - oh, I'll grow lavender and feed everyone fresh pie...and eat it in five minutes and get back in my bent over position of choice.

The bees were lovely. No shortage here. It inspired me to do an illustration of the harvest, and today I'm in the studio and I'm not leaving.

8 comments:

Cathy said...

I didn't love the scent of lavender until I spent the weekend with you. Yours seems so much more subtle and nuanced than what I've experienced before.

How many varieties do you grow, and why did you chose those above others?

shepherdgirl said...

I love this variety of Angustifolia. It's our main bud varity, although we use the Grosso and Provence too [the long stemmed]. You have probably smelled those two varieties, they are much more camphor like. I love the fresh cut Angustifolia, sweet but subtle. It seems more intense in the dried bud state. We have about 7 varieites, but honestly they can be hard to differentiate. In the front garden where we were sitting at night - the white Alba variety just started blooming and you can see it at night. I should put you on a mission - cooking with lavender. You can't use too mush, M. always does and I hate it. It's very subtle flavor , or should be. We had lavender infused salmon at our wedding, very good. I've used it in cookies and it's different - most people can't tell it's lavender, takes on more of a spice flavor.

Cathy said...

Yes, it's the camphor note that I find off-putting in some commercial lavender.

I've had lavender ice cream and custard. The salmon sounds amazing!

Mare said...

Your lavender fields look beautiful. I visited my daughter's Mother in law today and she grows a small patch of lavender too, and cut some for me. She told me to bring it home and put it in water, but what would you recomend? Should i hang it to dry?

shepherdgirl said...

Hi Mare- well, it's complicated! You can put it in water, and the fresh quality usually lasts about 2-4 days depending on heat, and variety. The long stemmed varieties hold up nicely. When we cut for fresh cut, we cut at a certain time, but when we want to cut our bundles so we can dry them, about 2/3 of the buds should be open, and those petals will fall out when dried. You can put a bundle in water, and then dry it, but the bud will fall out more when dried, and the best driedn bundles should br hung right after cutting.

Zan Asha said...

Ahh, I know it's hard work, but the fields are beautiful!

coloredsock said...

wowweeeewowserswhyohmymy. wishin i could zap myself into the fields all bent up over lavender and eating pie with yous. patrick makes killer choco-lavender cookies. i think i'll ask him to make those tomorrow...mmm. xo

Amy C Evans said...

beautiful, just beautiful. i can smell the lavender--and the pie--all the way from mississippi...

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Thank you for reading! The farm and my art/writing keep me hopping, so might not respond immediately. Thank you for understanding. ~Katherine & Apifera ~