panoramdemonium 2015

Another year, another panoramdemonium. So far, each year, we’ve been recording happenings, growth, messes, projects, seasonality through a series of photos at monitoring points around the farm. We have 13 monitoring points, some with multiple photo directions or panoramas. During the winter, we compile the photos and use them in reflection on successes and failures of our previous year(s) and planning for our next season. Previous pandemoniums can be found here(2014), and here(2013), and here too(2012). You might think that after four years we would have established a pretty solid routine. Nah. This year we forgot to take our mid-summer photos. (insert Captain Haddock exclamations of bewilderment and frustration here.) We could fuss around conveying all sorts of pitiable excuses, but in the end, there you have it. It will forever be a mar in our record keeping.

So in the theme of the Library of Alexandria, the lost films of Georges Méliès, and Schubert’s unfinished symphony. The Nixon tapes. Perec’s A Void. And the Dear Kit letters of 1976. We present to you: panoramdemonium 2015.

A view of the orchard and hop yard from the beehives over the course of the year.[whoopsie. June 2015]

And a view of our main vegetable beds from the north gate.[…June 2015…]Some mid-summer gaps can be filled in pretty easily, with our keen powers of interpolation and because Trish takes a crazy number of photos. For instance:

The greenhouse over the course of the year (w. a stand-in photo from 7/8)greenhouse panoramdemonium

and the chicken yard (w a stand-in photo from 6/6) *note, our new solar panels.chicken yard panoramdemonium

the farmstand (stand-in photo from 6/15, photo credits to our buddy and wicked-good writer, Sean Prentiss)farmstand panoramdemonium

It’s neat to see the farm change over the course of a single year, but the real strength of photo monitoring is tracking how the farm changes, long term, comparing seasons over the course of several years.

Here are photos of our front herb and flower beds taken on September 21st, 2012 through 2015. Progressively, we’ve been adding beds, putting in perennials and reducing lawn.sunnyherbbeds panoramdemonium

and photos in (of) the greenhouse (September, 2012 through 2015). Jeremy and Dave are putting in the frost-free hydrant, in this 2012 photo; straw bale walls went up the following month. We replaced roof polycarbonate (from 8′ to 12′ sheets) this summer (2015) to increase light. Cobbing is still not quite yet complete (more Captain Haddock exclamations).Sept greenhouse Pandemonium

Days are getting longer as our to-do list grows. Before too long, we hope to share more reflections on our 2015 season, namely farm finances, our experience with pastured poultry, and additions to farm infrastructure. Happy pandemonium.

Panoramdemonium 2014

Woolly socks. Sleeping dog. The tea kettle, spitting, hot on the stove. Seed catalogs stacking up. Jeremy scheming crop rotations. A productive, yet wonderfully restful winter.

It has become a tradition, in the beginning of the year, to reflect back on the previous year through photos from our quarterly monitoring exploits. Here we are, panoramdemonium 2014. If you’d like to start from the beginning, check out 2012 and 2013. Like traditions tend to do, ours has morphed, it’s evolving – a smidge. We embrace tradition and revolution equally around here, after all.

Here is the view of the orchard and hop yard from the beehives over the course of the year.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA



2014Dec_hopyard and bees_11x4And here is the view of our main vegetable field from the north gate.




OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASince starting, we’ve added a number of points to help better track changes on the farm. We now have just about 25 spots that we take photos from four times a year. One of the photo points we’ve added, for instance, is a shot in the greenhouse.2014photomonitoring_in the greenhouse Also, since establishing points, we’ve made the somewhat frustrating / disappointing / unfortunate / we-should-have-known-better discovery that due to the dates we selected (solstices and equinoxes), we are missing much of what we are trying to monitor – peak growth during the summer.  June is early yet and by September, frost has already hit. We initially chose the solstice and equinox for monitoring dates because they were evenly spaced dates and easy to remember. Additionally, there seemed to be a certain poetry or romance with monitoring the passage of time on the farm according to the celestial seasons. Now, three years into this, we’ve concluded the monitoring dates are cute, sure, but not entirely effective and will need revisiting.  Perhaps photos from CSA week no.x? or Labor Day weekend? August 14th? We’ll figure something out and report back. Tradition, revised.

Winter gives us an opportunity to spend time working on plans for the next season, reflect on things that have worked well and things that haven’t worked and need tweaking. Having this bank of photos from the past years has provided fodder for ruminations and stimulated some good conversation.  Namely, when will we have time to get the back wall of the greenhouse cobbed? why is there always stuff (piles of wood chips, straw bales, folding tables, upside-down lawn chairs) in our front yard? how do we better manage our planting calendar to maximize yield from the greenhouse beds? and why doesn’t everyone plant fruit trees in their backyard? We’re putting together more thoughts about the year overall and are looking forward to sharing that  here soon.

Wishing you all a wildly happy and delicious New Year!  J&T


Panoramdemonium 2013

Every three months, we lap around merrily with a camera and our good dog, taking photos of the farm. Having photos throughout the year gives us a chance to reflect on the seasons and our progress on various projects. Here are a couple of the panoramic images over the course of 2013. (Maybe you remember, we did this last year too).

This is a series of photos taken back by the bee hives and the hops. The photos are looking west to east. Behind the hives is the orchard where we planted 32 fruit trees this spring.March2013_bees



Dec2013_beesThe following series are photos taken by the north gate looking east to west, towards the sweet potato field and the main vegetable rows.


June2013_looking south



Special things to note in the photos are the appearance of an additional bee hive after we caught a wild swarm in June, all hand-prepped beds and application of thick straw mulch for weed suppression/soil moisture retention, and using re-may row covers to help manage soil temperature for the sweet potatoes and pest pressure on the mustard greens (as a bonus, the re-may also made for ever changing and lawless, wind-crafted farm art). You will also certainly observe one of the biggest drawbacks to our no-till management: weeds. In excess.

Here are another couple compilations of shots, all from the same vantage. This one looking east from the house (where the new herb garden is). These are photos, taken every three months, starting in March 2012 to December 2013. 12-13herbbedAnd a similar series, this one of the front field:12-13front fieldWhat is most remarkable to us is the how visibly different our first two growing seasons were as regards moisture.  Beyond the visible differences, we both felt that 2013 was a more difficult year.  We had new weather challenges of late spring snow that delayed planting, hail storms, and a heavy snow in early fall that flattened most crops still in the field as well as prematurely ending the farmer’s market season.  We did better at growing high quality and diverse crops, but flea beetles still were a persistent pest and our beloved arugula has yet to make it into our CSA shares.  As we are planning for year three, we both feel more in touch with the farm, but also more aware of how little we know.  It is humbling to to realize how dependent our success is on that which is totally beyond our control, but at the same time we feel fortunate to have the opportunity to work on the endlessly fascinating puzzle of building a diverse and resilient farmstead and the community that supports it.