Stone's Throw Farm final CSA share, 2022.
Final Stone’s Throw Farm CSA box of 2022.

Much of vegetable farming revolves around listening to the land. Soil should not be worked when it is too wet. Crops must be irrigated before their roots get too dry. The presence of certain weeds, bugs, or diseases can tell a farmer a lot about what is going on, and why, if she listens.

Timing is crucial for the success of crops, and for the health of our precious soil. I didn’t always get it right by any stretch of the imagination, but I did learn to trust my observations and respond accordingly.

Farmers have to listen to their own bodies as well. I still remember Jane Fisher-Merritt insisting on finding a band-aid and antibiotic ointment for a small cut on my finger, back when I was an intern at Food Farm. She wisely said that even a small injury can turn into a big problem if you let it get infected. Self-care is important.

My lower-back issues began in the summer of 2021 … or they began in 2010 with a minor hip injury, depending on how you look at it. Regardless, my assumption that my sacroiliac issues would subside after a few months of rest in early 2022 did not pan out, and discomfort began taking a lot of the joy out of farming for me this past spring. Treatments and therapies that I tried did not solve my problems, and by June, I needed to focus on the work instead of running to appointments.

At some point, I tuned it to my inner voice, and my spoken words as well, when I found myself saying things like, “I wish I could just grow a market garden,” “I wish I could just grow cut flowers this year,” and, “I do this work because I enjoy it. If I ever find that I’m not enjoying my work, that’s when I’ll know it’s time to quit.”

I finally told myself that I was not locked in to Community-Supported Agriculture, and though my love for the model had not faltered, I did not have to continue offering CSA shares, just because I had started on that path.

I began doing my work with the knowledge that perhaps this would be the last time I would do these tasks, at this scale, or perhaps not. It was a gradual decision, but seemed more and more like the right one. I let my 2022 CSA members know at the end of the season that I would not be offering CSA shares in 2023. Perhaps I will come back to it, but probably not.

I won’t stop growing things, and I won’t stop caring for the land at Stone’s Throw Farm. There are many options for the use of the fields I have cultivated, though they also are in need of some rest and rejuvenation. I am looking forward to growing my own food, at the home garden scale, and finally having time to do some landscaping around our house. There is other paid work I can do, and, I hope, enjoy. Change is good. This is not a sad story, but one that I hope might encourage others to do more listening, too.

I’ve been taking a few photos around the farm during puffy cloud days, which we’ve had quite a few of lately. I’m a fan.

Stone’s Throw Farm veggie CSA shares start today.

June weather can vary so much in northeast Minnesota, even through the course of one day! No variety lately on the precipitation front, however; we are ready for rain, and more than a trace amount.

My family was just here for a visit, and while I enjoyed seeing everyone, Shelly is oh-so-happy that she is the only dog on the farm again!

Google keeps showing me photos from one year ago, and it’s a little depressing how much farther ahead things were in 2021. But, every year is different, and our plants are growing as fast as they can. The “hot crops” have been transplanted, and the greenhouse is nearly cleared out — just some succession plantings waiting in the wings. Britt and I have started hoeing and weeding in the fields, and will begin trellising. While we were cold in our sweatshirts and stocking caps out there on Tuesday, we’ll no doubt be sweating in sleeveless shirts by the end of the week. Such is June.

Christine and Graham

My sister is one of my favorite moms, and if she lived near Duluth, you can bet I’d get her a Flower Share for Mother’s Day.

If you know a fantastic mother around here, sign her up for a Stone’s Throw Farm Flower Share, and delight her with Certified Organic blooms every week for 8 weeks this summer, or every other week if you’d like to give her 4 beautiful bouquets.

Flower Shares start in mid-July and run through the end of August. You know what the say — April showers bring July flowers, right? They do in northern Minnesota, anyway!

Another great mom, Paula, with a bouquet

After the snow melted, but before it soaked into the ground (which is still frozen!), we had small ponds of water sitting around the farm, and an unexpected visitor, likely flooded out of its burrow, showed up in the hoophouse where our seven laying hens spent the winter.

Chickens free-ranging along the driveway — so happy!

I always move the chickens out of the hoophouse into pasture around this time of year, but the ground has been too frozen to set up the electric netting I use to contain the hens. To get them acclimated to the wind and weather again, I had been opening the door of the hoophouse during the day and letting the hens out. They almost always stick to the grassy areas and the woods in the spring (and spend plenty of time scratching through my compost pile), so I don’t worry about them wandering into our vegetable fields. I’ve only lost one free-ranging chicken to a predator over the years, and these hens are getting old. I’m willing to risk it for a few weeks in the spring – they clearly enjoy their freedom, and I figure they deserve it after a long, boring winter. The hens always find their way back to the hoophouse come evening, and all I have to do is close the door.

One day, I didn’t get around to closing the door until about 8 pm – later than usual. As I entered the hoophouse, I noticed the hens were roosting on the outside of their coop, instead of inside like usual, and one of them was way up on a hoophouse truss. I thought that was odd, so, very cautiously, from as far away as possible, I raised the hinged lid on the coop that allows access to the nesting boxes. It was fairly dark at this point, but although I couldn’t smell anything, I was pretty sure what I saw inside was the white stripe of a fluffy skunk. I very carefully closed the lid again, and left.

The nesting boxes, after the skunk vacated.

I left the door of the hoophouse open that night, hoping the skunk would leave come morning, but it was still curled up in the nesting box when I went out to feed the chickens the next day. I knew that it probably didn’t have room to spray in the chicken coop, but I really did NOT want it to spray inside the hoophouse, for obvious reasons. I didn’t really want to kill it, because skunks aren’t bad to have around, unless your dog, like mine, doesn’t have the sense to leave them alone. But, that’s another story.

On this particular day, I propped open the lid of the nesting boxes, hoping the skunk would feel too exposed with the lid up. Elden said he had heard skunks don’t like noise, so I found an old radio and set it up near the coop, letting it play all day. Oddly enough, one time when I went out to check, I saw a hen in the nesting box right next to the skunk’s nesting box, readying to lay an egg, no doubt. Apparently, the chickens no longer felt threatened by their furry visitor. That evening, Elden found a partial box of mothballs in the garage and set the open box near the nesting boxes. Again, I left the door of the hoophouse open.

Shelly checking out the skunk’s and my tracks later that morning.

The next morning, I headed out to the hoophouse. We had received some fresh snow overnight, and my spirits lifted as I crossed the driveway and saw what I was pretty sure were skunk tracks in the snow. At the hoophouse, I peeked inside the coop, and breathed a sigh of relief. The skunk had vacated. I then followed the tracks past the other hoophouses – which the skunk had clearly knocked on the doors of – over to the compost pile, across the driveway, past the greenhouse/potting shed (again, the skunk had checked out the possibility of staying there), and under the deer fence, into the fields.

Needless to say, I set up our electric netting inside the hoophouse that morning, encircling the hens in their winter quarters, despite my plan to move them outside just as soon as possible. I continued letting them out during the day, but became quite vigilant about shutting them in early in the evening! Luckily, even if they’re not yet ready to roost, our hens will follow me if I shake a can of sunflower seeds or other treats as I walk toward the hoophouse. So, folks, always keep some mothballs on hand, don’t wait too long to tuck your chickens in at night, and always be alert while you’re gathering eggs.

A feast for the eyes

We are sold out of Stone’s Throw Farm veggie shares for 2022, but we still have flower shares available — treat yourself or someone you love to beautiful blooms this summer!

Sign up now for your 2022 Vegetable and/or Flower Share from Stone’s Throw Farm.

Eat and be well this summer!


I am grateful for and to our Stone’s Throw Farm CSA members, customers, and friends of the farm all year round. May you all be warm and safe, full of good food and good feelings. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tumbling into Fall