With the Agricultural Fair beginning on Thursday, it’s another busy week ahead for Island farmers. For growers and animal raisers, the Ag Fair is a chance to show off months of hard work.

We spend the day and night before the fair begins selecting the most perfect vegetables and fruits to submit, cleaning and delivering them before 8 a.m. on Thursday morning. Along with dozens of others, we carry our entries to picnic tables set up outside of the Ag Hall where we carefully tag and arrange our entries on paper plates.

We do all of this while glancing surreptitiously around us at the other tables, comparing our fairytale eggplants and heirloom tomatoes with those grown by friends but that we now see as competitors too.

After we are done tagging and selecting our final entries, we carefully take each plate to volunteers who will set them up inside the Ag Hall for judging. Then we go home, back to our fields, and wait until late afternoon, when we clean up and go back to the fair grounds once more, eager to see what we won.

I have learned that the best chance at a blue ribbon is to enter the more obscure, less common categories. For instance, there are not very many okra growers on Martha’s Vineyard, and the “Vegetable Sculpture” category rarely has more than one or two entrants. But, be warned, it can be challenging to come up with a vegetable sculpture that does not resemble art made by a first-grader. and the judges have been known to forgo issuing a ribbon in this category altogether. Vegetables shrink, toothpicks fail, and the whole thing can collapse in on itself.

The fiber tent is always a special place at the fair. At night it is quiet, low-lit and cozy, the earthy smell of hay and manure filling the air. Barbara Ronchetti tells me that Island Alpaca, home to over 40 alpaca, is the only local alpaca farm represented this year. They will have a fiber table filled with raw and combed and carded samples of alpaca fiber, a lanolin-free fiber, as well as other types of fibers including llama, baby camel, dorset sheep, yak and angora. Interestingly, they will also have samples of various plant-based fibers, including those made from bamboo, soybean, mint, bananas and pineapple tops.

In other farming news, it has been dry the last few weeks. Animal farmers have been struggling to find fresh pasture, and I have started to notice the strain on a few crops in our vegetable field. We have irrigation, but even the best irrigation set-ups cannot compare to the thorough soaking of a good rainfall.

Weeding in dry weather is dusty work. Yesterday, I came home from the carrot beds with a solid layer of dirt from head to toe. It gets everywhere: your nose, your eyes, your ears, your hair.

With all this dry weather, I was pleased to awaken the other night to the rumble of distant thunder and an occasional flash of lightning. I began fervently and silently hoping it would turn to rain. But my hope was muddled a bit by a few concerns. I am a nighttime worrier, particularly during the growing season, when I awaken with anxious thoughts about tasks left undone. I could not simply wish for rain, but also had to worry about what a too-strong storm might bring. Had I remembered to close the greenhouses? Would it hail? Will the wind be strong enough to damage the dahlias, bending them at their stems?

Thankfully, my concerns were unwarranted. The thunder and lightning remained distant, but a warm summer rain arrived, breaking the late night humidity.

In the morning, all was renewed.

Early light on a farm field just after a rain is breathtaking. It is the kind of gold that makes you feel like anything is possible and that the day is bound to be a good one. The crops, with dew drops still glimmering, look their best, and somehow the weeds seem smaller, less threatening. In these early hours, I feel a bit like superwoman. I am moving fast and can accomplish anything.

Lily Walter is the owner of Slip Away Farm on Chappaquiddick.