Thursday, January 24, 2013

Seeds and snow

Morning temps in the negative degrees (F) and the last seed order submitted with a group of farmer friends. We're ordering from four seed companies this year (Johnny's, Fedco, Seed Savers, and High Mowing, with some Seeds of Change and Kitazawa seed packets leftover from last season). Fingers crossed that none of the 'winning' varieties are sold out. We spent a lot of couch time over the last few weeks debating disease resistance, customer appeal, and how certain varieties might grow well with others.

We'll again experiment with several combinations of corn, beans, and squash in our fourth year of "three sisters" trials. The Native American tradition of planting corn in mounds, surrounded by trellising bean varieties with squash on the ground at their feet, is one of the multi-species plantings that we're working on. We'll try some recently released varieties of sweet corn that are specifically bred for organic production, as well as some less aggressive vining beans and even a section with fancy soybeans in place of the traditional climbers.

Not much outside work getting done this week. Too cold to replace the Jeep's brake lines in the unheated and windy three-sided shed. At least the chickens have a heat lamp at night in their insulated coop and a well protected area inside and beneath the pig shelter. They also have an electric water heater to keep their water from freezing up. They haven't liked the 40-plus mile per hour wind gusts the last couple of days, but they cluster in the shelter and occasionally peek out to make noise whenever they see me out.

I used a plastic kid's sled to skid a bag of organic chicken feed and whole grains from Oechsner Farms to give them a little extra something to scratch for amidst the hay on the floor of the shelter.

The other fun thing we're doing with our indoor time is gathering together with other organic farmers at NOFA-NY's winter conference. It will be good to catch up with our farmer friends, share dreams of the coming year, see what we can learn to improve our methods, . . . and wait patiently for the seeds to arrive. :-)