Posted on

Hoping for a Gully Washer

Actually, I am looking for a good rain to clean the air and end the fire season early or at least allow a respite for all the fire crews and families directly impacted by all the forest fires. And for the rest of us breathing this smoke, it would be most appreciated too. Lord, please send the rain.

Last week, Joelle and I and a few of the kiddos snuck off to Moclips for a few days before soccer starts, school begins and the final push to the Fall farm season. Fortuitously, it also happened to have the best air quality in the state, not great but not above 100 either.

We just played at the beach.

The waves just kept coming and coming and coming! Awesome power and rhythmic. When all was quiet during the wee hours of the morning, (I might be on a vacation, but I still get up at 5am) you could hear the constant roar of the ocean, like a freight train, but it is never accompanied by a crossing signal or the faint coming or going of a train. What power, magnificent power!

Most of us reading this newsletter, appreciate the tide coming and going as it pertains to the Puget Sound of Salish Sea. And for sure the sound can be very stormy, but it is a tame beast compared to the Pacific Ocean.

We wandered out into the Griffiths-Priday state park and waded the quiet waters of the Copalis River. We made our way to the mouth of the river, a completely different experience than the Stillaguamish and Skagit Rivers. There we came across the biggest hoof prints I have ever seen. Definitely not coastal black tail, or horses, they belonged to an elk. I guess Elk Creek was appropriately named after all! The tracks were huge, and the gait had to be 6 feet between hoof prints. We followed the tracks in the wet sand till it crossed back over the Copalis River and though we searched and searched, we couldn’t find the tracks on the other side of the river. But it was fun to look and since we are on vacation and no need to be anywhere at the moment, looking was perfectly acceptable.

Nature is beautiful. It is beautiful at the ocean, and in the city and on the farm. There is so much intricacy on a centipede or a robin or skate. Leaves floating above the water and leaves jostling below the water both making their way to the ocean or the bottom, but both destined to rejuvenate the ecosystem.

It is a privilege to participate actively or passively with nature and all its wonder.



Last week wanderer, this week farmer

Posted on

Rain – It’s Overrated

Water. Who needs water?

We just passed a record without rain for the Seattle area that has stood since 1951. YES, 1951! My parents were wee lads and lasses back then. I wonder if global warming was the talk of the day. They were probably more concerned with the Russians coming through Canada or maybe it was how North Korea with the help of China and Russia invaded South Korea?

One could conclude that not much has changed since 1951. What are we talking about in today’s local and world events? How dry it is, North Korea, China, and Russia. Hmm, I guess I don’t have to worry about wondering what my grandparents were thinking about in the 50’s anymore. I am reliving it.


Oh, and of course the Modern Supermarket got a solid stronghold on the American marketplace. And our cheap food model has been exported all over the world to the detriment of local communities everywhere. What about today? We see a mini renaissance of local food outlets. Victory gardens and eating locally were still widely in use in the 50’s and lots of small farms dotted the landscape. But once again, we see the big getting bigger with Amazon buying Whole Foods and the PCC’s building another new store every year or another local farmer selling out and a larger farmer taking over.


But we are not seeing the local farm community keep pace; it is as if the American populace has chosen industrial food all over again, only this time it is even more convenient – you don’t even have to leave your home to get what you want!


In 1997, when we started a home delivery company based on a local farm and farm-direct model, quality and convenience was our niche. Back then, we knew that if we were going to make it as first-generation farmers, we needed to serve local families and that’s what we did. We chose to serve one family at a time, to provide the freshest ingredients at competitive prices. We built our farming methods around variety and quality and our business model around customer service.


These are the things that Joelle and I wanted for our diet – variety and quality – as well as actually being appreciated for being a customer. We extend these basic tenets to you, our customers, every day, in every interaction, whether it is through email, Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, or a phone call or when you get a box of good delivered.


The only reason that Klesick Farms is even a farm today is because a local family said we want the freshest, best quality, farm-direct fruits and vegetables. There was no other way for us to be able to farm unless a family like yours said “Yes” to a local farm and our delivery service.

And that is a good thing that I hope never changes, because local food only comes from local farmers and organic food only comes from organic farmers. I have the best of both worlds, I am small family farm serving local families in my community, just like it was in the 50’s.


May this never change.



Farmer, Health Advocate

Posted on

Never Plough More Than You Can Disc in a Day

This is sage advice from a bygone era of time. Yet, like most advice that has stood the test of time, it is timeless. Essentially it means don’t start what you can’t finish. Anybody relate to that???? As a farmer in the Stillaguamish Valley who is blessed with “heavy” (more clay and less sand) soils, you learn a lot about patience. If you happen to be travelling through the valley, you will notice that the farmers are busy as anyone can be. Often, they work around the clock or use two or three tractors at a time in the same field. Of course, most are still using humans to drive the tractors, but many are using GPS systems to steer them. It is only a matter of time before driver-less farming takes hold on the mega operations.

But I digress. You might notice on your trip to the valley that the farmers sure spend a lot of time working the soil before they plant. Soil preparation is pretty foundational to what we do. But, if you were to drive by that same field a few days later, you might take a double take. You might even say, “Didn’t they just work all that soil a few days ago?” And you would be right. Because our soil is so heavy, the farmers in this valley work the top 6 inches and get it ready to plant. Then they plow it over and repeat the process. This gives them about 12 inches of deeply worked soil. Then they plant the potatoes or carrots or cabbage.

The only wrinkle in the operation is the weather. If it rains too much, we get to start all over again. And this year, we have had lots of “practice” working our soils and even replanting a few times. The other reason many farmers use multiple tractors is that if you plow too much ground up and let it sit for a couple days, the clods that are plowed up become as hard as rocks and you will spend a lot more time trying to bust up those clods. So, when a farmer plows a field, most of the time we start discing the soil immediately. Better to do a little well than a lot poorly.

Of course, if you have light (sandy) soil, none of this matters. Instead, you will spend a whole lot of time moving your irrigation. 🙂

Good Food Farm Tours

Our first farm tour is this weekend. Tours start on the hour at 10am and 11am. On this tour, we will be focusing on the orchard (apples, pears, plums) and the berries (raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and kiwi berries). Please register for a tour time here, for planning purposes. Every tour this summer will be different and will reflect the changing seasons. Looking forward to seeing you on the farm!


Tristan Klesick, Farmer and Health Advocate

Posted on

Thoughts with Ashley

I have decided that this is the year I really fall for gardening. If you have been a Klesick subscriber for a while you have probably heard me boast about my tangling sugar snap peas or my sweet strawberries which often got snatched by the squirrels before we have a chance to enjoy them. This year I’m feeling optimistic and I have a windowsill filled with little starts eager to live in the garden to prove it. At least I hope they are eager. Visions of tidy rows of carrots, radishes, beans, beets, lettuces and fresh herbs fill my mind as I sprinkle fertilizer onto the garden beds doing my best to ensure success.

Already my garden dreams have had to deal with some harsh realities. Our number one predator currently is our 9 month old terrier who has a knack for digging and a hunger for freshly planted broccoli starts. I know this isn’t the first problem I’ll run up against as I work hard to make my bustling garden dreams a reality. There will be bugs, too much rain, not enough rain (which is hard to imagine right now isn’t it?), and there will be many lessons to learn along the way as I am far from a seasoned gardener. But I’ll consider this garden a success if I’m able to pluck something, anything from its rich (newly fertilized soil) and eat it with the sun on my face, and at the end of the season if I’ve learned something new.

In the meantime I’m even more grateful for the work of farmers like the Klesick’s who have spent years honing this craft. The one thing I do know about gardening and farming is that it is incredibly hard work and as I set out to roast my rhubarb or eat freshly plucked sugar snap peas I feel immense gratitude for their work.


Ashley Rodriguez

Award-winning food blogger

Author of Date Night In

Posted on

Excuse Me, Pardon Me

John, the intrepid Klesick farmhand, is all too acquainted with his rain gear this year. As Seattle Mariner announcer, Dave Niehaus, used to say, “My, oh my.” This is an amazingly wet year. Just as I start to get the itch to fire up the tractor and plant some peas, it rains and then, rains some more. Or it snows or hails or gets sunny and snows or hails and gets sunny again. About the only thing I can count on is that it will get dark around 5 p.m. and be dark at 5 a.m. when I get up.

And, does anyone else think that Daylight Savings time is early this year? Is it really already time to roll the clock ahead? Thankfully, cell phones make the adjustment automatically, or some of us would be waiting till Fall to get back to the right time. 🙂 Some of us will even actually spend another 6 months subtracting an hour every time we look at that clock. (You know who you are.) The irony of it all is that it will take about as long to do the math as to change the clock!

But I digress (a writer’s prerogative).

Back to farming.

In really wet years like this, it feels like a sprint when Spring actually arrives. In fact, John and I have been preparing by just climbing up into the tractor. Ten reps a day. We check the fuel, the oil and have our rain gear and boots all cleaned up and ready to go. We’re just waiting for the starter’s gun to go off or the spigot to turn off!?!?!? Tongue in cheek, of course, but rest assured, John and I are ready and eager to get going when the mud dries and the weather warms up. But, if you would, pray for two things: 1. that it happens sooner than later, and 2. it won’t be the first day of fishing season or on Easter Sunday, because, well, it’s complicated… or it’s competing priorities or it just wouldn’t be fair!

Thank you for being a part of our Organic Home Delivery service. Small to medium size farms like ours need local eaters in order to remain viable. Every time you order a box of good food, it encourages a whole lot of local organic farmers to press on and continue growing nutritious food for you and your families.

Cheers to your health,



Tristan Klesick,

Farmer/Health Advocate

Posted on

The Orchard, the Rain, and the Race

Week of April 26, 2015

I really enjoy being involved in my kiddo’s activities, so whether one is playing ball, running track, or at play practice I am “moving mountains” to make it to their events! And this time of year, when farming is pressing it literally feels like moving a mountain! I am sure most of you can relate! Who isn’t busy?! I find myself farming between games and practices and at night! I am hoping to get more peas in the ground next week in between rain events this and get a good chunk of potatoes planted. I remember thinking “Who needs headlights on their tractors?” A farmer who has active kids, that’s who needs headlights on their tractor!

Well the other night, Stephen and I had just returned from little league practice and as is our nightly custom, we wandered out to the orchard to check on the mason bees, blossoms, gold finches, sparrows and tent caterpillars.

I love the orchard this time of year; the trees are waking up and the blossoms smell incredible and look amazing. I love all the activity from the birds to bees. Stephen at the ripe old age of 8 has a good eye for the orchard and often beats me to our usual check points. Bandit our new lab/collie puppy (being a collie and being a puppy) is usually out ahead looking for moles, voles, or field mice while Chungo, our old timer lab, takes his time to get out with us. In fact more often than not, Chungo and I are traveling together and Stephen and Bandit are out in front J.

For this mission, the clouds were foretelling a wet adventure and we knew it. As the clouds were getting darker and filling with water, and as night was encroaching, the natural progression looked to be a downpour! We were busy hunting hard for those defoliating caterpillars, working to remove them from the trees, when one big drop hit, followed by another big drop and another until it was going to be a soaker of an event. Before us in the branches, there was one last caterpillar nest to pull off the trees, and then another and another! At last Stephen says, “My sweatshirt isn’t very good in the rain” and in an instant, he takes off for the house!

Since I have an equally strong desire to not get any wetter and also have longer legs, I was able to catch up and get back to the house first. Now, if truth be told, I had a little help here:  as soon as Stephen took off running, so did Bandit our mostly collie puppy, who quickly caught up to Stephen and then began to herd him towards the barn and not the house. VICTORY was mine as I arrived at the house first – marginally drier than Stephen, Bandit and Chungo!



Posted on

Will Wonders Never Cease?

On a drizzly midnight, the house was all quiet, not even a mouse was stirring. Joelle and I were winding down from the day’s onslaught of activity or maybe it was ramping up for the next day’s adventures. Okay, we were cleaning up from dishes and laundry, so we wouldn’t have to do it in the morning. Anyway, as we were playing some Chris Tomlin in the background we went about our chores. Our home is a constant buzz of activity, like many of yours, but on this night we were treated to a special announcement.

Many months ago, we got two new farm kittens—a male and female, of course. And the children all clamored for future kittens. Outwardly, I was reluctant to concede to those dear faces. I think they had been taking lessons from our labs, with those pleading eyes. But inwardly, I was on their side. So I let nature take its course and our dear sweet Bessie, who has the markings of a Holstein cow, was soon an expectant mother. The children were so excited.

Then one day she had the kittens, but could we find them? No. We told the children that sometimes first time momma cats don’t know how to take care of their litters, but we did hunt around like private detectives trying to find those kittens, but, alas, it was not to be. Yet for some reason, she was still overly protective and had the signs of a nursing momma. She had to be hiding them, but where?
So as Joelle and I were finishing up and getting ready to retire, with the June rains gently dancing upon our roof top, the clock struck midnight, and to my astonishment what did I see? My-liss and Bessie curled up on front porch chair with not one, not two, not three, but four little kittens fast asleep. A pleasant little surprise indeed for us all. Now the children want to keep all of them, of course.

Other Farm News

What is growing on the farm is really doing well and what isn’t growing is not so happy. It all depends upon when they were planted and whether it rained or got hot or cold. Which is why we just keep planting. Some plantings are better than others and some make it and others don’t.
We will have peas soon and lettuce and spinach. The potatoes are making me nervous because the plants are already huge. But the onions, cilantro, carrots and dill are in desperate need of some heat units, like every other living organism in Western Washington.
Here’s to local food! 
Posted on

Feathered Friends & Farming

As I sit to write this newsletter, I have to stop and marvel at a pair of hummingbirds. I wonder at how fast those wings beat to stay stationary in one place (up to 80 times per second with the smallest species). Talk about amazing creatures! This year we have had an explosion of feathered friends. Multiple species are now calling this place home. The other day, when I was mowing some hay, I had a bald eagle land not more than 15 feet from me. Shoot, around here, those birds are about as domesticated as my chickens. I think my favorite neighborly bird is the American gold finch—what a striking color contrast to the green backdrop of the apple trees.

Wouldn’t you know it, as soon as I set up my irrigation it rains and, boy, did it ever! I will have to try that trick more often. The rain is both a blessing and curse. For many of my friends, it means they are unable to make hay and they have hundreds of acres to put up. We have been fortunate this year and  been able to get our most “pressing” hay fields cut, tedded, raked and baled between rain storms. If you need hay this year, talk with your farmer and let them know you are interested, it looks like it is going to be a tight year.

This week we are finally harvesting lettuce and spinach. With this cold season, things are not coming (growing) quickly, but now we get to harvest. YEAH!  On the flip side, the weeds are loving life and living large, so this week I am bringing a big crew to weed the carrots, basil and beets. The beautiful thing about the rain is that it makes weeding a ton easier. When the ground is dry, it is almost impossible to pull the weeds and get their roots, but with this rain the roots will come easier.  Conversely, so will the roots of the carrots and basil, so the crew will have to be slow and steady. And the last blessing about weeding and the rain is that the dirt clods will be easier on our knees, much appreciated after a few hours of crawling around.

Farming is so much about managing the weather you get. Hopefully we will get some sunshine to go with this moisture and the crops will really start to come (grow).

I hope you have our farm day on your calendar. For this year’s event (August 20th) we are adding music. I have several friends coming to play and if you have a fiddle, violin, guitar, banjo or djembe, bring it along and maybe you can getting in on the jamming. As always, our farm day is a blast—part old fashioned picnic, part educational and part historical.

Farming really slow food this year!

Posted on

Oh my!

I just looked at the extended forecast for this week and there is no rain in it for the next four days. Four days without rain! Somebody pinch me! There hasn’t been four days without rain since September! Truth be told, it hasn’t been the rain itself that has been the problem, but the volume of rain and the lack of sunshine. A spring shower here and there is normal, but these every other day torrential downpours mean waiting a long time before the soil is dry enough for us to get back out into the fields.

I was visiting with a retired farmer and I said, “I bet you are glad you are not farming this year?” He smiled and responded, “It is going to take a whole lot of equipment and man hours to get the crops planted this year.” He understands that in a year like this all the work stacks up and when the weather breaks, every farmer will be working around the clock trying to get two months of work done all at once!

We are really far behind in our plantings. Last year we planted our first lettuce starts on April 6th and our third planting was this same time last year. This year we had to compost the first lettuce starts. On Saturday I planted our second and third plantings of lettuce at the same time! What I planted the starts into would be considered “mudding” them in. Hope they make it!

I hope my headlights are working on my tractors and nothing breaks on any equipment this week, because if the weather holds we are going to be in the fields every waking moment. ☺