So the rain is starting to get us down a bit, but despite that we've managed to get quite a bit done. We've consolidated plants in the greenhouse and planted whatever we could in the fields. We managed to free up half of the space which we quickly turned into a workshop for building a mobile turkey shelter, a chick brooder, and a small shade shelter for the chickens so that we can stick their feeders at the opposite side of their paddock and encourage them to come out of the coop and into the fresh air (and spread that nice manure around a bit).
The Brooder was done and set up right on time, we got our chicks the next morning and got them settled in. They're off to a great start and are looking happy and healthy. Our brooder this time is set up in the greenhouse, so we can keep an eye on them easily and cut down on our electric bill. During the day the greenhouse heats up to about 80-90+ degrees, so instead of running heat lamps all the time to keep them warm, we're currently providing them with a little extra shade by putting a plastic sled over one side of the brooder. Make sure to stop in the greenhouse and have a peek at the cute little devils the next time you stop b
The same day, we moved the turkeys over to their new home, and out into the fresh air from Jesse and Caitlin's place. It was a stressful ride over in the back of the truck, and they were a little worried at first since they had never seen a blade of grass before or been rained on, but they're looking pretty happy now too. They're still figuring out where the door to their coop is though, so sometimes I'll walk by on my way out to the fields and see one of them trying to get to the rest of the flock by running from one corner of the coop to the other. If they don't figure it out soon I might try to stretch a tarp around the lower two feet of the coop to help them find the door a little better.
The tomatoes are looking better after getting beaten up in the big storm that hit not too long ago (the day that there were tornadoes down in Springfield), so hopefully in the next few weeks we'll have some tomatoes, maybe we'll have some to share even sooner from our test patch in the greenhouse... :). A few of those bad boys are pretty substantial plants and are already starting to flower...We've got a lot of herbs ready in the pick our own, the Epazote, peppermint, lemonbalm, and silver sagebrush are all ready for picking, so we'll have to get some recipes together and get some of those picked and into everyone's baskets.
After we FINALLY got some decent weather, we had a strawberry planting workday yesterday since Jesse's dad was around to help. He has ample experience planting strawberries since he had to fill that job for a number of years on his father's strawberry farm when he was younger. The four of us got another 600 plants in the ground in just a few hours and the only reason we didn't finish the thousand is because we ran out of bed space! As soon as the soil dries out we are going to til up what we need to and finish up the planting. So 875 down... 125 to go...
So if you didn't know, we're planting 1000 strawberry plants this year for everyone to enjoy eating and picking next summer! We've been sooooo busy with all of our other planting that we haven't really had time to get the rootstock in. Now that we have all the peppers planted (finally!), and have gotten back up to speed on a lot of odds and ends plantings we can get back to planting strawberries. After our first planting of 175 plants, which took about half a day to plant with three people, a shovel, and a watering can, we're trying to streamline our system a bit. We strapped a single sweep onto our cultivator drawbar and used the tractor to dig a trench down each of the rows in our strawberry patch. This makes it a lot faster since we'll be able to put two people on planting and one person on watering. Today I managed to get 100 plants in by myself in about an hour and a half. Soooooo.... 275 down.... 725 to go!
Here is a slew of photos that some of our shareholders took at the farm recently to get you excited for the first week's harvest! (photo credit: Somara Zwick and Paul Madalinski)
So I had an idea to start listing some of the greatest successes and struggles of the farm thus far and decided on this format. I'll post everything that's been going well under "the good," everything that's been rough under "the bad," and one of the most ridiculous and hardest moments we've gone through under "the ugly." Here's the first post.
The MANY varieties of lettuce all are looking GREAT
Beautiful and numerous varieties of Kale
The Beets are bulbing up
A lot of nice cabbage plants
Our 60 hens showed up in fine and healthy form
The potatoes are growing like gang busters in all this rain
We've had lots of support from the local community
The Pick-your-own cut flower patch
Lots of healthy (though late) peas
Our 2-wheel tractor does a pretty good job of weeding
We've had a nice balance of wet and dry weather since May ended
The tomatoes are all staked!
lots of very nice looking pepper plants
Our chicken coop pulls smoothly and looks like it'll be easy to manage
The turkeys are finally over the hump
Pests!!! Squash bugs, flea beetles, potato beetles, and some unknown yellow and black beetle that also likes squash related plants. As our first year farming here we were hoping for a honeymoon from these guys, but I guess they found us right quick...
A really really really wet May
The Spring Broccoli got put out into the field a bit too early and bolted right off resulting in a lot of small heads of broccoli that we have to freeze instead of eating fresh
A finicky seeder that doesn't plant densely enough
Turkeys are really hard to raise from poults
This last storm knocked over a good 10% of our tomatoes breaking the stems at the base. Fortunately we saved all of our extra's after planting, so we can at least still go out and replace all the ones that don't make it.
Dealing with biodegradable plastic...
Not having sold quite as many shares as we'd hoped
Jesse, Caitlin and I all running around frantically in the middle of the last thunderstorm trying to collect all of our tools and bury the exposed plastic we'd been working with while lightning was touching down about a hundred yards off. I've never felt more like a lightning rod than when I was running to the greenhouse through a wet puddle filled field with rain pouring down on me and three scuffle hoes balanced on my shoulder.