Farm chores as the year comes to an end

StrawberriesDecember 30, 2015

First chore … look at the website! Wow, only two blog posts last year, that is pathetic. Why have the blog on the front page of our website when it never gets blogged. Time for some new year resolutions … more time in front of the computer instead of being distracted by all the physical tasks always present on the farm? I’ll try to update the blog at least monthly.

This eerily balmy warm weather is causing unusual things to happen on the farm. Chickweed, a notorious winter weed, is growing to heights usually reached in late February or March. Luckily Isaiah noticed the problem in the strawberry patch, so we hired a crew of our children, other locals, and some cousins to weed around each plant. We did see a couple of blooms, but nothing too serious yet. Now we do need a little bit of colder weather to hold them back from flowering, that would be bad.

Strawberries are a risky crop for small organic farmers. They are the first fruit to be ripe in the spring, so they are easy to sell if you can overcome all the obstacles that tend to crop up during the journey. First, they have to be planted in a timely way in the fall; after the field has been prepared, laid with plastic and cover cropped with white clover in the paths, always with the weather as a wild card. Then there is the winter to get through, hopefully with only a minor chickweed issue. Then spring is the real hurdle, when there is a threat of early bloom and late frost, resulting in less fruit. Remay on at night to protect the blossoms from forst, remay off during the day so that the flowers can be pollinated. Hopefully we’ll be able to deal with that when it comes!

Farmers are a stubborn breed. We just won’t give up, no matter how many hurdles we have to overcome. In this coming new year, we are determined to give it our all (again, like we do every year) to bring you awesome food from the farm. We will also strive to take care or ourselves, our kids, our crew, our animals, and the land we are blessed to steward for many more prosperous years to come!

All the best for 2016!

Greenhouse is filling up

Annie-n-Isaia1140X450We are planting tiny seeds and stepping up the little germinated seedlings into bigger flats every week. Many of the seeds are started in 288 cell flats so that lots of seeds can be started in a small amount of space on a heated mat. Once the seeds have sprouted, we move them into 50 cell flats to give them more room to grow and a boost on the season. With these super cold temperatures, 4 last night, and perhaps even colder tonight, we have divided the greenhouse to only heat the area we really need. The sprouted plants are covered in triple layers of remay, all the doors are sealed with insulation, the walls of the greenhouse are inflated, we have some extra space heaters in there to keep the big propane heater from working so hard.

This morning we woke up to frozen water in our house, but the greenhouse was fine. We filled pitchers from the greenhouse to use in our home and even set up a desk in there today to work in the warm, balmy environment and to escape cabin fever! We’ve got our priorities right … got to stick to the schedule if we hope to have produce to sell by early May and full CSA boxes by the middle of May. We are grateful for all the CSA payments we have received, although we still have more to sell if you are interested.

We have lined up a great crew to work with us this year, Kat is returning from last season, Lucas volunteered here when he was 15 and 16 and now wants to work a full season, and Teresa and Christin seem enthusiastic and eager. Several folks who have worked for us in the past are helping a couple of days a week to help us get started. We are grateful and looking ahead with cautious optimism.

Take care,

Annie Louise and Isaiah

January Blues

Sleeping PupsThese long, grey January days are just the ticket needed for some rest and restoration after the intense busy season that we have just finished. It is up to us to embrace these days and not to get too distracted wishing for warm, sunny weather. The lovely catalogues with promising pictures of summer gardens are a welcome distraction and help to inspire us to plan for the season ahead. Seeds for the vegetable, herb, and flower crops have been ordered. The calendar is being prepared with the phases of the moon, the signs for each day, and particularly auspicious days for fertilizing, pruning, weeding, transplanting, and direct seeding both above and below ground crops. On each week we will write what we hope to plant that week, weather dependent of course. We have absolutely no control over the weather, but do watch the forecasts and try to plan around it and work with it as best we can. It is time once again to sign up for a CSA share for the 2015 season if you wish. Of course, our produce will also be available at the markets and at our roadside stand if the weekly box does not work for you. Happy winter!