News and blog
With the arrival of warmer weather we have finally been able to get into the fields and start planting. Peas, beets, carrots, lettuce, salad mix, kale, spinach, onions and radishes are all in the ground and are at various stages of growth. here is a picture of our latest lettuce and or spinach planting, which should be ready by mid May. Amazing how fast they grow!I even planted a little yellow mustard seed (as in the popular condiment) -not as a commercial crop, but just for fun. Sometimes you to live it up a little. Apricots and plums are in bloom and fill the air with their intoxicating fragrance. The goats are enjoying the green grass and the myriad birds of field and forest sing all evening long. Springtime is lovely.
We welcomed our first intern of the season this April 5th. Stephen hails from Kutztown, Pennsylvania and is signed on to stay with us the whole season, if he can stand it that long. Every intern is required to take on a special project of his or her choosing, and Steve has chosen a static aeriated pile composting system, about which I am very excited.
Also new to our farm is this handsome sheep, shown here before shearing.The little fellow in front is a lamb. I named her "peaches" (the sheep, not the lamb, who is a future ram named Agamemnon) because got her from a farm in Peach Bottom, Lancaster County. She is an East Friesian milking sheep, which is a pretty unusal breed, even in East Friesia. Most people dont think of sheep as being milking animals, but such famous cheeses as mozzerella, romano, and roquefort were traditionally made from sheeps milk. Probably, though, I'll just drink big frothy mugs of it, still warm from the udder.
In other news we finished our moveable chicken coop (in this case when I say "we" I actually mean "Hannah") and the high tunnel is moving right alond. Here is a picture of me perched atop a piece of expensive rental equipment, doing the job and trying to smile. Thats all for now!
The title just about says it all-- we're primed and ready, eagerly awaiting some halfway decent weather so we can get started. Not that we have been completely idle-- oh no, far from it. Our new chicken coop is almost done, including some very nice detail painting done by Hannah's mother who came to visit one day. I am waiting for it to be full of hens, though, before I send you another picture of it. But here is a picture of two baby goats, Inky and Binky, which Ramona delivered into the world two weeks ago.
Okay, that didn't work out so good. Trust me, they're very cute. The kids are fun to have around and of course the milk that Ramona gives is out of this world. Our other doe, Tulip, is due to kid any day now.
We're also moving ahead with out second high tunnel, shown here with the rafters up behind the stubble of last fall's crops. This new tunnel should enable us to grow well into the winter and offer a winter harvest share for the first time in 2013.
Despite the cold weather-- does anyone remember March of 2012, when it was 70 degrees?- we have managed to put a few things in the ground, which we then cover with plastic over wire hoops to create a kind of mini greenhouse. Some of them are even growing a little, but all in all this March is making me glad we start our harvest share deliveries at the end of May, not at the beginning. Speaking of which, we are filling up rapidly, so if you are planning on joing the harvest share this year, but have not yet done so, I reccomend acting sooner rather than later.
Other farm activities this time of year include pruning the fruit trees and currant bushes, sending soil samples to the lab, and seeding all sorts of crops in the greenhouse. Also we are cleaning up the fields and making sure our tractors are in good working order, or at least able to start. We can't wait for some real Spring weather-- won't be long now!
Now that the days are getting longer and the sun brighter, signs of life are beginning to revisit the barren earth, and the farm begins slowly to wake up. We humans, too, are gradually emerging from our winter torpor and are getting back to work. I find that the nicer the weather, the more energy and enthusiasm we have and more gets accomplished. Fortunately there is plenty to keep us busy this time of year as we hurry to complete our winter projects before Spring truly arrives. As you can see from this photograph, our five star mobile henhouse is nearing completion (roosts to the left, nesting boxes to the right).
We have 50 pullets ordered for May, and although that probably won't be enough eggs to satisfy all our customers, harvest share enrollees get first "crack" at them, as it were. Also our greenhouse is in full swing, with most of the 20,000 onions we planted up and growing and in addition to early spinach, chard, beets, lettuce, kale and John's favorite, escarole.
I even forgot the trauma of 2008 and decided to try spring cauliflower again.
I'm also hard at work constructing a new high tunnel (that's just an unheated field greenhouse). Some assembly required. We received a NRCS grant for the thing, which is great, but it puts us on a tight schedule with regards to actually finishing it. We should be ready to set up the rafters next warm day we have.
In other news we are getting ready for the arrival of baby goats sometime in the second week of March and harvest share signups are ongoing-- see website for details. Your early signup is always appreciated, as it helps me plan out the season and purchase the neccessary supplies for the same in a timely manner. Plus, I just spent my last $400 on a sheep. Maybe not the wisest thing to do, but if there's one thing I learned these last ten years, it's that if you wait until just the right time to follow your dreams, you never will. how's everybody doing? Drop us a line!
John, Dana, Simon, Evelyn and the Jade crew
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