Friday, March 9, 2012

On a light snowy day

I spent a relaxing morning indoors since it's snowing out at the moment and there are lots of little chores to do in and around the farmhouse that don't require wading out in the slick muddy field. Mending one of my favorite sweaters, planning yet another construction project, and remembering to write a blog entry before my relatives have to remind me.

Earlier in the week I managed to run a plow along a few of the new beds where I had planted buckwheat and then rye as cover crops last year.
For about an hour, the ground was frozen just deep enough so that the tractor tires didn't sink down in the soil, but the plow could still penetrate and flip the earth. As the sun rose above the tree line to the East, it quickly became too muddy to continue. Even so, it was a good test of the Farmall, which has been sitting idle all winter. Other than the generator not keeping the battery charged, it ran great. We knew this was a problem last year, but just recharged the battery between uses. I changed the brushes on the generator and starter this winter, but that clearly didn't fix the problem. So, a few more self-directed tractor maintenance lessons are in order. All part of learning how to farm.

Before we add the composted woodchips and manure to the beds, I moved some of the electric fencing and allowed the chickens to feast on the bugs and worms that the plow brought to the surface. The chickens' importance on the farm as pest reducers and in helping break up the soil is only matched by their ability to produce great eggs and LOTS of manure. Selling the eggs this year has been a lot of fun since most people have forgotten what real pasture-raised eggs taste like: "As though they have cream in them," according to one customer. Oh, and the round bales in the photo above are being composted, and will be added to the beds under the high tunnels next year. On top of each bale is a mound of household kitchen scraps, wood chips, and composted chicken manure; each time it rains, the microbes and nutrients get pushed a little deeper into the hay to speed its decomposition.

The first trays of this year's onions have sprouted and the leek trays will head out to the unheated greenhouse soon to make way for additional trays. This is the first year we're making extensive use of artificial lighting in the house to get the seedlings going. Our previous years' efforts at starting plants in the greenhouse and covering them every night was only partially successfuland we really need good germination to keep up with our customers' requests. There are also a few early trays of tomatoes and peppers germinating in an old refrigerator in a corner of the tractor shed. We put a lightbulb inside and it keeps the soil at a good 80-85 degrees till the seeds germinate, and then we'll bring them into the house...which we keep significantly cooler.

Sharon has written a few times about our amazing business customers and the individuals who regularly stop by our market stand. But last night after telling a friend about our customer's choice CSA -- pay $100-and get $110 dollar credit -- and having him immediately hand me a wad of bills just reinforces my view of how lucky we are to be starting a farm in a community that cares about the success of its farms. While it certainly hasn't been easy getting the farm started, having people really value (and not just monetarily) what you produce makes all of the hard work worth it.

No comments:

Post a Comment