Let’s talk about squash

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garden squash
Behold, the squash. Planted as part of the community garden at Farei Kennels, it's taken over. (Courtesy of Farei Kennels.)

I am going to step away from dogs for a moment and talk about food. Fresh garden food, to be exact — and squash, definitely squash.

I am not a gardener by any means. I have no house plants. They have all died and gone by the wayside, despite my good intentions. I always feel bad when gifted with a plant knowing it will meet it’s untimely end at my hands.

Fortunately for me, there are other persons on this property with greener thumbs than I. My sister and my mother set out to “have a garden” this year, and I contributed labor and sheep manure to the endeavor. I also contributed to the “style” of gardening. I may not do plants, but chemistry and ecology I can do. No-till planting seemed like the best method for our setup.

Garden preparation

They ordered seeds, all heritage ones. We prepped, planted, watered and nurtured the garden throughout the summer. Mostly I helped where I could, and tried not to look at the plants too much lest they drop dead on the spot.

One of the plants my sister ordered was a type of butternut squash. Flavorful and good for storing over the winter. She could tell you its country of origin and how long it’s been around. I just know it’s squash.

I also know it’s amazing. The garden area is 100 feet by 30 feet and we got about half of it prepped and planted this year. The squash is planted about halfway down, almost at the end of the utilized portion. Not happy with this arrangement, it has proceeded to take over most of the garden area. Even climbing fences to get out and expand. There are butternut squashes popping out up to 30 feet from its original location.

Behold, squash

I am intimately involved with the squash, because there is a row of green beans in there. This is a vegetable I can be trusted to recognize and pick. I also have long legs, which help with stepping over and around the squash plants.

Despite regularly wading in among them, they have continued to flourish and expand. I have cautioned: no one goes in the garden alone, in case they become lost or taken down by said plants. I apologize in advance if the world is taken over before the frost hits.

I share this because farming is very much attuned to the seasons. I stopped and read my previous articles from around this time of year. While some might find it repetitive, there is a certain amount of security and comfort in the ebb and flow of life. The garden has added yet another aspect to that rhythm.

Stocking up

In previous years I’ve split my flocks for breeding in the fall and spent a large portion of my time winterizing and prepping for snow. This year, we have “production” during what is normally a low key season for me. I am lugging, tasting (maybe they shouldn’t have me pick) and helping put up produce for the winter. We are adding more sustainability to our operation. A joint venture in keeping everyone fed well.

All of the “tailings” are going to the stock and poultry. I noticed there was left over zucchini in one of the LGD’s dog dish recently. There is plenty to go around and nothing goes to waste.

I thought about all of this as I helped pick tomatoes recently. Mostly, I lugged and my sister picked. She’s amazing with this stuff and I got a good taste of what it’s like when I start talking about my sheep. While we worked she explained a lot about the types of vegetables, why she had picked them, and the improvements we could make to the area for next year. I’ll be adding more trellises for climbing and better support for the tomato plants.

I’ll also be adding a separate area for the squash. Possibly with better fencing. I’ve also considered purchasing a machete just in case I’m asked to harvest any of it. It’s a jungle down there.

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Tarma Shena is an accountant, a certified dog trainer and behaviorist, as well as owner of Farei Kennels. She raises Turkish livestock guardian dogs, Jacob and Navajo-Churro sheep.

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