A quick (quack!) spring update from the farm. Spring gears are in full motion.
We did some minor construction on the greenhouse and added two new beds on the west end. If you are familiar with the space, this is where we had our chicken coop. After sitting empty for a couple of years, we raked out the space, removed the nesting boxes and roosting bars, delineated beds and lasagna-ed straw, compost, worm castings and soil. Cob from the south wall was hammered out and recycled (re-wetted, straw added) into an additional course of cob on the inside north wall. We’ve installed a big fan to help better manage air flow in the summer months and we plan on adding double-wall polycarbonate panels to the end wall as well.
And we finally finished construction of one of our field tunnels. It’s been a good challenge to reacquaint ourselves with growing in a tunnel and working with this kind of sheltered ecosystem. There are radishes, carrots, beets and spring greens getting started in these tunnel beds right now.
Our farm shares sold out in record time this year, in just a couple weeks – THANK YOU! We are especially grateful to have such a high return rate from last year’s share members. We also received many generous donations towards our Double Dollar share program and we feel honored and appreciative for the opportunity to provide these again this year. We’re looking forward to opening the farm stand for vegetable pick up here shortly. The drop in temperatures this last week seemed to pause growth on many of our spring greens, but things are coming along and radishes especially are looking great.
This year’s seed swap was …well, let’s just say: there’s always next year. We have this quote from Alice Waters scribbled on a post-it note on the wall above our computer: “This is the power of gathering: it inspires us, delightfully, to be more hopeful, more joyful, more thoughtful, in a word: more alive.” We’re grateful to have been able to use space in the Little Free Libraries around town for seed exchange sites and it was a delight to collaborate with our local public library, our favorite local creamery, the Master Gardeners group, and, most of all, our rockstar “lets do this!” friend, Raeann. But seeds are really just a part of a seed swap and, to us, this year’s swap felt hollow without the community, stories and connections, all the diverse, creative, engaged, thoughtful energies and inspiration of people gathered together. So, folks, go get your vaccine shots, let’s gather.
Almost immediately following a surge of soil blocking and seeding, we discovered a mouse had gotten into the germination chamber and made rather merry. In re-seeding we opted to try something new: seeding into strip trays (giving us space to get them started in the living room – no mice) and then potting-up into soil blocks. We didn’t get photos of this process, but imagine playing Operation, tenderly, precisely, and with muddy fingers, setting a tiny, bareroot tomato seedling in a ½” diameter hole. So far, everyone looks good. Except the mouse.
Despite last year when we lost most of our seed to rot before planting, we’re growing ginger and turmeric again. In mid-February, the seed were spread out to pre-sprout in flats of coir. No sign of the turmeric yet, it’s slower to get going; the ginger is popping up with gusto. Some shoots are putting on 2” a day – this may be in response to poor light and/or excitement at being shuffled back and forth between the house and the greenhouse as temperatures shift.
The very best bit: we have ducks! Ten 2-week-old ducklings, of “assorted breeds.” These are meat ducks, an extra special addition (a lanyard, so to speak). We have much to learn about pasturing ducks and butchering ducks, we’ve signed up for an immersion program (see what happened there?). AND in a webbed-foot related moment of weakness, we (to be more clear, that’s me, Trish) adopted three one-year-old laying ducks – “these are really good layers, so many eggs!” In my defense, we can handle lots of eggs (duck eggs!? dreamy) and we’re going to have to figure out the water on pasture situation here soon, so why not immediately? Jeremy hesitatingly accepted my batting ducky eyes. The ducks were dropped off on Saturday afternoon as we finished building a super sweet duck cabana for them. On Sunday as we were watching them get settled in, we quickly noticed that just one of these ducks is a laying duck. The others are drakes. Jeremy was very kind in letting me go duck-wild, but this adoption really was against all the rules. No after-Easter cast-offs, no butchering service for old or male birds, no sanctuary for long term senior living, no adopting other people’s problems. Sure, I feel like a champion sucker, but these “ladies” are exceedingly fun to share space with.
In other fully expected, yet nonetheless heartily anticipated, springy news – the rhubarb is bursting forth with earth trembling abandon, along with Jeremy’s ever growing bulb blitz of early crocuses and hyacinths and daffodils. Rows of peas are beginning to appear in the field. Garlic beds are now sporting greens 8-10” tall. We’ve seen 4 types of butterflies already this spring, but curiously only one bee. Garter snakes have been appearing in the sunshine in the field. The seemingly ceaseless task of brome removal in our field beds has begun for the season. And as for birds: robins, grackles, goldfinches, killdeer, red-winged blackbirds, crows, seagulls, hawks, vultures, and even a couple of meadowlarks, which have been rare visitors for us. Yesterday the sun was shining and today we have snow, springtime just as usual.
Thanks, all, we hope this note finds you, like us, with dirt under your fingernails and sun(wind?)kissed cheeks. We are wishing you heaps and gobs of good health and joy, t and j