Things We Learned in the Heat: Veggie Share Week #13 – Aug. 30, 2023

 In CSA Newsletter

Strange Things We Learned in the Heat

Last week’s heat was wild.

The thing about farming is the crops don’t stop growing, don’t stop ripening just because it’s hot out. And the customers don’t want their food any less.

This means we have to work EVEN WHEN IT’S BLAZING HOT.

The heat forced us to learn new things last week. Just like a Texan dealing with 6 inches of snow, we continually learned things about intense heat that we’d never known before.

Here’s a list of the few of the things we learned:

  • Even when we shifted schedules to work early starts and half days in field with more concentrated pack shed work in the afternoon, there’s only so much we can do to avoid the heat. Unless we wanted to work with headlamps at 3 am (which many of us wish we could have), there was no avoiding the heat.
  • It can get so hot that the waxed coating on our harvest boxes melted. I literally had wax-coated hands as I was harvesting last week.
  • The bathroom gets used very little. Even though we drank and drank and drank water, it’s like we couldn’t keep up with the amount of sweat our bodies were producing.
  • Every piece of fabric that can be avoided on the body is worth it. Madie was excited when we realized she could roll down two inches of her wet boots to gain just a tiny bit of extra skin that might experience evaporative cooling.  Many of us were jealous of Charne and her tennis visor… She was able to keep the sun off her face, but not keep her head hot. Even the mesh covering of our baseball caps felt like too much.
  • People needed extra direction. Not because people weren’t trying, but because for all of us, it was just so hot that we could barely think about what it is we were supposed to do. Heat muddles the brain. My crew needed lots of reminders about what we were doing, because the heat made one forget.
  • Transitions in the heat were tough for us all. As long as we were moving, sloth-like as we felt, movement made sense. When we had to transition, finding the motivation was difficult.
  • Sweaty skin and clothing caused chafing injuries on just about all of us.
  • Every breeze was a welcome gift. Never have I ever paid so much attention to little breezes. Each time one came it was such an incredible relief.
  • Many of us had to summon different levels of willpower than we have ever had to summon before. In my twenty year of farming, I have never worked in heat like this. I had to give myself constant little affirmation chats that I could do the work.
  • High heat made the scallions spicy. Spicier than any onions you have ever cut in your kitchen. So spicy that as we were trimming scallions, many of us had to stop because we couldn’t even see. Our eyes were burning and tearing. This has never happened with scallions!
  • Be careful when you grab your metal water bottle – you’ll burn your hand!
  • Cold lunch is where it’s at. Barely anyone heated up their food. We just ate it cold because the thought of putting anything warm in our bodies felt like too much.
  • Popsicles were a downright miracle.
  • Is the walk-in cooler broken? Why is it at 70 degrees? Oh yeah, because we put in lettuce that was 100 degrees, that even hydro cooling couldn’t cool. Cooler is not broken – the veggies are just HOT.
  • Air-conditioned vehicle cabs are not your friend. They make the heat seem way worse. Most of us did deliveries with windows down to try and lessen the shock of the heat.
  • When you promise your employees that for two days of the week you will not make them work in the fields past 12:30 pm, it is the farmers that have to do the rest of the field work alone. The orders still have to be met. I did just that. A promise is a promise.

Mad respect for our farmers to the south who deal with way more of this extreme heat than we do here.

The #1 thing I learned? I will never ever farm anywhere south of here.

Farmer Cassie