Sandi, the 9 year old Jack Russell terrier we adopted from an ad on craigslist, is really earning her keep. At sunrise Homer and Sandi head out to the hoophouse to move, water and make certain all the livestock are doing well. Homer and Jerry fenced the area around the gardens with a small gauge opening..this way the geese can't eat each bean as they sprout, and the ducks can't get in to eat the onion and garlic shoots. It is also a tight enough fence to hold the dog while Homer is working. Sandi searches every inch of the area: she hunts for mice, rats, moles, voles and any other furry varmit that might be out there. And when she finds something she quickly dispatches it. And old dog who lived inside and did not really dig has found out she loves to hunt and be an "earth dog", what a Jack Russell is bred to be. Glad to add her to the farm.
Homer and I had the pleasure of witnessing Kyle King's Eagle Scout induction this weekend. We first met Kyle when his family moved next door to us when we lived on the other York Rd, the one in Wiltondale. Always an interesting and engaging kid, Kyle did a project for the zoo in Baltimore, where he has volunteered for the last 3 1/2 years. He works with the penguins. For his Eagle Scout project he recycled used fire hoses into toys that animals can use in their enclosures..what a great example of reusing! So glad to for his achievement, and proud to know him.
It is such a beautiful day, predictions are 70 degrees this afternoon! Homer filled the cement pond with water and everyone got in. We purchased an incubator that can hold a variety of sized eggs in it, it is now holding 4 duck eggs and a goose egg. The geese have been walking the farm, searching for a good spot for their nest. Homer made a little hut for them, covered but open to the sun, and the 2 of them built a nest yesterday right inside there. Inside the hoophouse Sandi, the 9 year old Jack Russel who arrived a week ago, is fighting off mice. Every day she has been out there she has caught at least one..we think the population must be dwindling! And Jerry is here helping Homer set all the rain barrells in place, it is just about time to start saving all the water we can. Earlier this week, Jerry helped Homer get a very small gauge fence up around the vegetable garden/hoophouse area. Seems the ducks and some chickens were able to pop right through the larger gauge fence and were eating the tops off the garlic, onions and leeks planted last fall, just sprouting now.
So different from last spring! At this time of year Homer was struggling to get the entire hoophouse clear. While most of the ground ended up clear, there was still lots of stuff in there: left from the previous owner, some of our stuff..it just looked messy. He has cleaned all of it up, installed spots for tools to hang and has much of the ground area ready to plant. And has a number of things planted already. Vegetable production will be good this year.
What is that stuff? There is a writer/farmer, Eliot Coleman, how lives in Maine. For years he has raised vegetables through the entire year there, with just a break between Christmas and New Year. Most amazing, as he grows in mostly unheated hoop houses, and is really the father of what you see so many of these all over the country. And city too! He discovered through trial and error that many things can be grown through winter. And many things cannot. So here is our hoop house, plastic covered, and then fabric row covers over metal hoops over the vegetable beds. These 2 layers keep the air just around the vegetables warm enough that they survive even sub-zero temperatures. Combined with seed sowing in August/September, we can have vegetables all year long. Fresh. No heating bill. Just the warmth of the sun. Thanks for being the pioneer Mr. Coleman!
Last year at this time the cover was on the hoophouse but it was full of poison ivy, grass, trees. trash, vines of every description and assorted other growing things that were not welcome. March 2011? Ready for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and cucumbers that are going to sprout under grow lights inside. As clumps of grass start to reappear Homer is digging them out. We have a small push mower (human powered) to mow between the rows..when the chickens are elsewhere. Drip tape is in place already. So much progress in 1 year time!
I am the lucky woman who gets to be the farmer's wife to Homer Walden, the hardworking, creative and innovative force behind Sunnyside Farm. The farm is a pasture based intensive grazed farm in Dover, PA. We grow heirloom, open pollinated vegetables, chicken, eggs from heritage breed chickens, beef, heirloom breed turkeys for Thanksgiving and pork with no commercial feed, and gorgeous flower arrangements!