Summer Rains Helped Livestock But Hurt Produce

CHAPEL HILL – This summer’s heavy rains caused flooding in Chapel Hill and Carrboro, but helped some farmers around North Carolina while providing challenges to others.

The heavy rainfall that came this summer shocked many people from around the area, but had various impacts on farmers growing crops.  Owner of Walter’s Unlimited farm, Roland Walters, said that the rain only made new seeding a little more difficult.

“It was just a little harder keeping things seeded or putting down new seeding,” Walter said “the produce that was already seeded, nothing growing, wasn’t any problem, wasn’t harmed or anything; we weren’t excessive enough in any way to be flooding or anything of that nature, it just delayed some seeding.”

Walter’s Unlimited raises cattle, hogs, chicken, and also grow a small amount of produce.  Walter’s said that although seeding was delayed, the livestock benefited from the rain this summer and the grass that grew out of it.

“This was actually probably the best year we’ve ever had, we rely on a lot of grass.” Walter stated “It’s actually made for better environment and better growth for all our animals.”

Other farmers have had different experiences this summer dealing with the heavy rains and cloudy days.  Wild Hare Farm’s owner, Lean Cook, said that the rainy season provided some challenges when growing many outdoor crops.

“It made it a pretty challenging summer with the cooler, cloudy weather and all the rain,” Cook said “it really increases foliar disease in particular, fungal diseases really escalate.”

Wild Hare Farm is not certified organic, but they still do not spray their produce to prevent fungal diseases. Cook grows some flowers and plants indoors which allowed for the rain and weather to not have as big an impact.  Cook says that with the rain she encountered problems making out into the fields and dealing with diseases and weeds.

“Yea, spotty foliar diseases, the other thing is when it’s as wet as it was this summer it’s hard to get out an weed” Cook commented.

The weather this summer has been different from the past few years when we had high degree days and little rain.  Walter’s says that because of the weather this year his livestock has been doing great.

“Hasn’t been excessively hot like it has the past few years, so I think it’s been a very good year, very good summer for our animals” Walters commented.

Although the rain’s this summer made some of the seeding for the next rotation of crops difficult, more grass has been available for livestock.  Walter’s Unlimited had a successful year with the cooler weather and abundance of grass for livestock.

The Ultimate Gazpacho

This is the last week of summer. In years past when I found myself overwhelmed by single parenting three kids I would daydream wistfully about the day I would put all of them on the bus and walk home to leisurely get ready for a non chaotic day. This year my youngest, Leo, starts kindergarten, and my oldest, Amira, is going to middle school, which feels like a big step to me.

But now that this day has nearly arrived, I am almost sad. For over 11 years, I have always had someone at home or out of school, other than little snatches of time here and there. Rather than anxiously waiting for them to grow up, I now want to slow down and savor each moment. So I decided to savor this particular summer day by making gazpacho with my daughter.

 Summer always makes me think of gazpacho. I spent my junior year of college abroad in Seville, Spain. I lived with a Spanish family and learned a few crucial Spanish dishes from the mother, Meli. In Seville, as soon as it warms up you see gazpacho being offered in the cafes and tapas bars. They normally drink this cold soup out of a glass.

Here is the recipe she taught me:
5 large tomatoes
2 cucumbers
2 cloves of garlic
balsamic vinegar, 3 tbsp
extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 cup
salt, to taste, maybe start with 1 tsp

Core and then blanch the tomatoes in order to easily remove the skins. Peel the cucumbers as well as the garlic. Put all ingredients in the blender. It will most likely take two batches to do. When I made this in Spain we would offer a sip of it to the man of the house, Manolo, so he could tell us what it was lacking. Almost always the answer was, “Mas sal! Mas vinagre!” Translation- if it tastes bland, add more salt or vinegar. Chill the soup before serving. It tastes better the next day.  

I ran into my friend, Nice Pollido, when Amira and I were shopping for the tomatoes at Weaver Street Market in Carrboro. She eats only raw foods. She said she just cores the tomatoes and includes the skins in the soup. She also suggested a variation of adding either one ripe avocado or some basil for a different flavor. In Spain they also sometimes add bread to thicken it up. Enjoy and be sure to savor this summer day!
Thanks for reading! I am always looking for great photo stories to tell in the Chapelboro area. If you know of someone or something that should be documented please write to me via email here.

Who Said Summer is Relaxing?

I’m hardly in that blush of youth (first or otherwise) but, up until this summer, I think I still had some sort of romanticized view of summer.  Even if I wasn’t partaking, I’d picture lemonade by a lake or sailboats at sunset.  I’d imagine less schedule pressure and fewer demands, but it seems as though those may be fantasies brought on by too much viewing of the Norman Rockwell exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of Art a few years back.  

I don’t know about you but it seems like I run twice as hard during the summer.  Part of the problem is that week to week, I don’t know where I’m supposed to be.  Not only where.   But when am I supposed to be where?  This would be problematic if only a bunch of adults were awaiting my arrival but generally I’m checking a spreadsheet to find out which summer program is hosting my son on any given week and its particular schedule.

Each week also has different requirements for lunch and snacks.  Refrigerated or not.  Send money or not.  Plan to be at a culminating event or not.  Does it involve finding a sleeping bag?  What about goggles and a towel?  Sunscreen?  Bug spray?  Both?  Will he re-apply?  

I know the tired joke that parents are glad to have kids return to school because school will have them but I’ll be glad to have school return because I know the rules.  And because I’m tired, not just the joke.  

As usual, I have to find a way to rationalize fitting this bit of musing under the heading of Savvy Spending.  So why don’t you help me?  Tell me how you spend your summer and if you’ve managed to find the sweet spot of serenity in yours.  Leave a comment below or write to me at