Monday, March 30, 2015

farm tetris

Mid-May is the frost free date here. As we head into April we plan and plant in effort to be harvesting then, and weekly until November. And all winter long too! We count forwards and backwards on our year. How long have those hens been laying? How old are those pigs? How many weeks until that vegetable can be harvested?

Today many things intersect. Weeding, seeding and harvesting in the hoophouse continues. Watering too. Baby chicks: future egg layers and meat birds are growing. And an off farm trip results in another game of farmer Tetris: how does everything needed fit?

Barrels of compost. Poles for roll up sides. Seed potatoes. Peat moss. Drip tape. Walkway covers. All there.

And the post office drops more chicks. The compost folk drop 40 yards of compost. The old hoophouse cover goes over to protect from weed seed.

And lunch. And a nap. And then back at it.

Compost under cover.

Box of chicks.

Full cab.

Full bed.

Not much extra space.

Time to unload!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

we wish

We wish that everything growing here was growing intentiontionally. Not so much.

This bed is closer to what we hope for.

This is our reality. 

The sun has been out a little, and all is growing with abandon. 

Homer is clearing the walkways while Claire and I free up what is intended to be in the beds.

Garlic. Spinach. Salsify. Snow peas. All looking good!

Friday, March 27, 2015

shopping the junk yard

Last fall, with the help of lovely friends, we were able to get our second hoophouse erected. And covered. Additional generous souls visited, sorted the beds out and planted spinach, garlic and salsify. Recently peas were planted.

Now the amount of daylight is increasing. The vegetables are all growing. And so are the weeds. Part of each day is spent pulling weeds.

And the dogs are finding their way inside. One will remain nameless. Dug a hole into the plastic to get inside. We don't want the dogs in there, but they like to be where we are. Especially where we all are!

So the fencing, removed when the second hoophouse went in, is being reinstalled. Tposts driven in. Fencing stretched and attached.

At the junkyard last year we found a tool. We fished it out of the pile, asked how much it would cost us. $2 was the answer. This piece of equipment usually costs $45-$65. And is not needed very often.

Pulling the fence tight onto the tposts is just the job. It grabs hold, and ratchets the fence tight. A tight fence helps keep the dogs (and everything that likes fresh vegetables) out of this area.

The $2 tool, known as a come along, is making this a quick job. Then it will be stowed away until needed again. Probably 5 years from now.

It is shockingly easy to spend more than you make operating a farm. Paying someone to construct a fence, or full retail for a come along are 2 ways just today that we could have spent too much money. Instead, we watch and pickup on sale or for free tposts, fencing and more. The same with tools.

Under the fence line is plastic used to keep weeds down. It will serve as a walkway here. We will plant flowers and herbs on either side of this path, and keep mowing to a minimum.

Now it is nap time.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Sumac trees or tree of heaven? We are not certain which stood here. It was an impressive patch when we arrived here. And it spreads in the scariest way: into every garden bed we formed.

The actual grove of trees has been outside of where we grow vegetables.

Yesterday what was left (which has been less and less each year) was eliminated. Today the soil was prepared. Into this will go a variety of native flower and grass seeds. Home for insects, birds and butterflies of many kinds.

We will replant and weed on an ongoing basis. Next fall we will seed again with native seeds. And start some in winter so plants can be set out. We will keep the livestock out of this spot, and let it just be meadow.

And we will see. Maybe this speeds up or slows down the number of those invasive, fast growing trees. We will be watching for them.

while it is tiny

Already the weeds are getting a jump on us. And it is still very cold at night!

Garlic beds.

Lambs quarter in tiny size, and more weeds of larger size.

Here are those most dreaded weeds, lambs quarter begins so tiny and small, and yet grows like something right from a horror movie, overtaking the vegetable and herb beds. We have a system in the walkways that keeps the weeds down, and the vegetable beds stay clear for a good while. But when you turn your back the weeds jump up!

If you need us, look for us seeding and weeding! And in 6-7 weeks, harvesting!

Monday, March 23, 2015

reduce, reuse, recycle

We feed our pigs no commercial feed. There are a number of places that save food for us rather than throwing it away. Reports show that close to 30% of food goes into the landfill, and that more is wasted all along the supply chain.

In our little way, we pick up food that has gone out of date, gone stale or just left over long enough.

We picked up individual milk containers after there were snow days that threw off inventories.

Empty milk bottles, going out in our recycling bin tonight.

Full, as we emptied them out.

Bucketsful, ready for the pigs.

The pigs live it, we make use of food humans can't eat, and help keep the trash out of the landfill. Love it!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

sprouts and more

Last week it snowed almost a foot. We already had snow on the ground, with below freezing temperatures day and night. All that has changed. Temperatures are above freezing both day and night now! And the hoophouse is responding!

Seeds go in all year. We like to harvest as often as we can. Multiple tines weekly is best. Right now not much to harvest, but that job will soon be added to the list!

Overcast today, so only in the 70's in the hoophouse.

Lettuce, garlic and spinach are growing well!

Just emerged spinach, leeks and even tomatoes! 

Maybe even peas too. With about 6-7 weeks to our frost free date, we have to remind ourselves to only plant the hardy things, to really cover and protect the more tender vegetable plants. When it warms up it can be so tempting to try and push the season...


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