We opened the farm for the first time yesterday, with just enough of the early HardiBlues ready for picking. It was good to have some business, and I was reminded of what a happy place a u-pick blueberry farm is in season. Lots of kids running around, brilliant sunshine, cool breeze. Awesome. At the end of the day, we walked the rows to assess and decided we needed a few more days of ripening before we can re-open. So we wait. Again.

In the mean time, the dahlias are rolling along and providing a small bit of income, which at this point, is certainly welcome. They also provide something more–a kind of mood lift from their sheer beauty. It’s tough to work around flowers like this–and I am not generally a flower guy–without stopping to look and enjoy. I snapped this shot late the other day. Can’t remember the name of this particular kind, but it’s a good one.

A brief commercial message: If you live in the Puget Sound area and want to pick some berries or flowers, come by the farm and say hello. Or, actually, probably best to call the harvest hotline (206.855.0947) to find out when we’ll be open, especially since we’ve been going in fits and starts so far. We also have a website: Okay, that’s it for the sales pitch. Thanks for reading.

What’s For Dinner?

King salmon, of course. These early fish are loaded with fat and absolutely delicious. Last night between processing and brining fish for the smoker, we took a break for one of my favorite meals. This is salt-broiled salmon shioyaki. The fish is scaled and salted a day ahead of time, then put on a sizzling hot grill, so the skin and exterior meat gets crispy and the interior melts in your mouth. Fresh snow peas from the garden and a mix of Japanese white rice and brown and wild rice on the side. I was going to take a picture of the collar or kama, but Skyla pounced on it and started eating before I could get the camera out. It’s her favorite part of the salmon and she couldn’t resist. I don’t blame her.

Putting Up Salmon

This is a quick shot from the other day as we were processing some of our king salmon bounty. We like to eat as much as we can fresh, then vac-seal and freeze the prime, center-cut fillets for future meals. The ziploc bags in the picture contain tails and skeletons for crab bait. I also brined about 15 pounds of king strips and collars in a salt/brown sugar solution last night and put it all into the smoker this morning. It should be done in a couple hours. Even though we’ve been eating salmon for a week straight, I can hardly wait.

Man Plans, Mother Nature Laughs

We thought we’d be able to open the blueberry farm two weeks ago. But the average daily temperature over the past month has been two degrees below last year’s, which was already below normal. This “unscheduled” weather has us all feeling a little anxious. (I knew farming would take a lot of work, but I had no idea about all the worrying…) While the rest of the country swelters, Puget Sound shivers. It’s raining and chilly again now as I type.

We’re getting close, though. There are already some nice berries in the field, just enough for us to snack on while we work. Mostly HardiBlues, our earliest berries, and a few Darrows. As a u-pick operation, we need enough ripe berries to make harvesting fun for our customers…so we wait. And worry. And wonder. And weed. I think we should be able to open later this week, but who knows? Mother Nature doesn’t seem to be looking at the calendar this year.

A Box Full Of Kings

Just home from our annual multi-family camping trip to kick off the king salmon season.  This year, we’ve been so busy, we almost bailed. Between the farm and my book work, the last 10 months have been overwhelmingly hectic. The process of getting ready to go camping seemed like it might just put us over the edge. And on more than one occasion, while frantically trying to pack up all our gear, Stacy and I both thought, “We’re not going next year.”

But as soon as we pulled out of the driveway with boat, bikes and enough food to feed an army, we were stoked. As we set up camp, the threatening rain clouds cleared and warm sunshine came streaming in. The Sweeneys were already there and Candace and Glen arrived just in time for dinner. Nothing like old friends to lift the spirits. Weston and I put the tent together while Stacy and Skyla got the campfire going. And then it was four days of kids zooming around on bikes, playing on the beach, sitting around the fire, s’mores and time to just kick back in the company of great friends.

And fishing. This year, the blind hog lucked into a bonanza of acorns…or in our case, king salmon. A great start to the season and plenty of delicious, fat-laden fillets to fill our dinner plates, freezers and smokers. Each day we piled more ocean-bright kings into the big ice chest, and on Wednesday, Glen had to go to town to buy another cooler. Yesterday, Skyla and Weston teamed up to boat two gorgeous kings in a short, one-hour session before we had to pack up camp to head home. And today, as Stacy and I faced a mountain of gear to clean up, unanswered e-mails and farm chores hanging over our heads, we both thought, “We’re definitely going again next year.”