Planting in the greenhouse this week I was presented with an amazing reality; the incredible diversity of life we have manipulated through agriculture. This past week we planted over 40 varieties of annual flowers and a dozen different types of hot peppers. This, of course, was just a small fraction of the possibilities available to us through our local seed companies. One testament to the resurgence of locally based and sustainably sized agriculture is the regrowth of regionally adapted varieties, both plant and animal, that are bred for our scale and markets.
Today we got our first beef cows of the season, sturdy Herefords, which we will keep on the green pastures of Scott Farm in Dummerston. We are excited about our new relationship with the Landmark Trust, which owns the Scott Farm. We are leasing pastures amongst the Scott Farm's orchards to graze, hoping to improve the pastures with intensive rotations and minimize the farm's fuel use by eliminating their need to mow. Stop by the Scott Farm on Kipling Road to say hello to the cows!
The farm met a milestone this week, selling out of summer vegetable CSA shares. It's a good feeling to know that we've only got the growing to do now! There are still plenty of milk shares and animals for reservation and Fair Winds eggs, which have gotten much more expensive at the coop lately (more on that later) are still the same old $5 at the farmstand.
What do April Showers bring???? Hopefully May flowers, but at Wild Carrot Farm they've already brought:
****"Brand New Baby Goats"! I've been delaying writing this post, hoping that Melba will give birth to the calf (calves?) that are bulging out of her sides so far that she can barely go from standing to lying down without laborious breath. We have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of her calves for many reasons - baby cows are so cute(!)..... and also it will start the season of milk! (Goat milk excepted... already available weekly!) Whilst waiting for Melba to calve, Calamity Jane had two beautiful kids- a doeling and a buckling. They are so healthy and happily skipping around that no picture can do them justice.
**** PLOWING the fields for the first spring planting! As of this writing, we have seeded peas, carrots, beets, and transplanted kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and swiss chard.
****BABY CHIX get their first excursion onto fresh grass! When the chicks are born, they need to be very dry and very warm, and are kept in a brooder with appropriate temperature control. Today, we moved the brooder out of the greenhouse and put up some portable fencing. Onto greener pastures!
****SHEPHERD training! OBIE (Obediah) our sweet border collie has found his calling, and his instincts are quite keen. He loves bringing the ewes and lambs out to pasture in the morning, and back to the barn each evening. Now we need to start training the ourselves to communicate to Obie which direction to take them!
It would be fair to say that all of us at Wild Carrot Farm have a little bit of social justice and activism mixed into our blood. This week were able to combine that with our farming in a meaningful way. Not only are legislatures looking into GMO labeling for products sold in Vermont this year, they are also looking (again) at whether or not to allow raw milk to be distributed by Tier 2 raw milk producers at Farmer's Markets. The bill is S.70, and although it may not be the bill that should be passed to reform current raw milk laws it is a good vehicle to keep the raw milk conversation going and in the mind of our legislators.
We are lucky enough to have two great House members on the House Agricultural and Forestry Products committee: Tristan Toleno and Carolyn Partridge.
They both seem well versed about the pros and cons of current raw milk legislation and willing to work with raw milk producers to create a safe and scale appropriate set of regulations to serve the growing demand for raw milk and raw milk products. If you get a chance to talk to any of our elected officials make sure you let them know how much you care about small diversified farmers, and that anything from carrots to charcuterie is something you want to be able to get fresh and locally from Vermont's small farms.
We continue to be pleasantly overwhelmed by all that is happening around us here at Wild Carrot Farm. Our two milk cows are due to give birth soon, the ground is bare!, and the smell of green grass teases us now and then. We tried to extend this excitement to a bunch of new customers this past weekend at Post Oil Solution's farmers market held at the River Garden center in downtown Brattleboro. It think having one of our rabbits there really helped:
More signs of springs have started to arrive, namely a multiplication of green things and the arrival of our first baby chicks. The chicks are the amazing Freedom Rangers that we have been using at Wild Carrot in the past years. They are built for pasture, and their flavor is amazing! We'll be doing at least 4 batches of chickens throughout the season to satiate the demand for these wonderful birds.
The green house is quickly filling up and the more cold hardy plants like Kale and Collards are leafing out in earnest, followed by "lawns" of onion starts, and the beginnings of our delicious tomatoes!
And on top of all of this fun we had Jesse and Caitlin's friends from college who are apart of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange staying at the house for their "spring break". These are high-tech folks who helped us place the high tunnel with a fancy app on their iPhone that can use a picture of a location, coordinated with the GPS, an give you and accurate read on the effects of shadows and angle of sunlight in different times of the year. Pretty wild.
And just incase you are worried we are buckling down, getting serious, and taking care of buisness...
... well, sort of. I think we need to adjust Caitlin's diet, she might not be getting enough micro-nutrients.
There are still shares of everything available, but there are fewer and fewer spots everyday. Make sure to get in touch with us if you would like to participate of our awesome shares!
Time for chores, see you soon!