Spring. Pie and guineas.

march_pieday_etc

Hooray for pie! and pi! Big thanks to everyone for helping us celebrate such an important day and for your generous support of the Spearfish Bicycle Cooperative. There were a couple quiches standing tall for the savories, but sweet pies dominated. Get a hold of this line up: a smoked salmon and a chipotle mushroom quiche. Pudding pie, peanut crisp apple pie, ginger rhubarb pie, mocha creme pie, peach pie, sweet potato pie, pumpkin pie, blueberry pie. Whipped cream. And gluten free brownies. Mercy. So much fun to meet new people, tour around the farm, and eat. Thank you, friends. Cultivating community proves again the most rewarding part of farming.

Pi/e Day also inspired a furious bout of spring cleaning at the farm. We’ve decided that celebrating Pi/e Day should occur annually, if only to encourage us to tidy up after a long winter hibernation. It’s remarkable how piles of remay and tools, seeding trays and buckets seem to grow in corners when you aren’t looking.potato pruning

Our most favorite big, fuzzy Amelia came by for a quick visit last weekend. She and her man, Barton, helped us get started on pruning the fruit trees and put in our very first plantings in the greenhouse (early potatoes, radishes, arugula and spinach).

We planted a small field of barley, in the area where we had garlic last year. This area is thick with Creeping Jenny (I wrote a song about it). This year, our plan to deal with this is to get a good thick stand of barley which will germinate at a lower temperature than Creeper Jennifer and out compete it. As soon as the barley is harvested (mid- late June), we’ll 1-2-punch the Creeping Jenny with another smother crop, this time in the ring: Creeper Jennifer vs. the hometown favorite Sweet Potatoes. TKO. Take that, Jenny. We’ve never grown sweet potatoes before. They thrive in warm soil – and sweet potatoes in SoDak can be done as our good farming friends at Bear Butte Gardens demonstrated last year). By planting later in the season, soil temperatures will be welcoming for them, and hopefully we’ll have left enough time to get a good yield of potatoes. And we’ll keep up the cover crop punches, weeding out that creeping Jenny.

Already now the greenhouse is growing things. Little radishes, bold and determined. And, radix, seemingly ever so appropriate a beginning for a new greenhouse.

sprouts in greenhouse
The chickens have two new coopmates. Our wonderful friend and neighbor Holly brought over two birds last week. Guinea hens are fierce insect predators, excellent grasshopper and tick eaters, organic pest control. They are still acclimatizing to their new home and family. They seem pretty comfortable in the coop, although they did spend one night perched, sleeping up on the apex of our neighbors garage. It turns out they are even harder to herd than the chickens, and they will not be picked up. They are completely wicked looking and gorgeous, and they sing so sweet. We’ve named them Opal Fly and Annette Hanshaw after our two most favorite skrawnky jazz singers (if you’re interested, check out Ms. Fly and Ms. Hanshaw). Thank you Holly. Thank you, thank you.

Other fun bird news: a mottled java caught a snake the other day. That kept the whole bunch of them busy for the entire afternoon. It was a wily, tireless game of keep-away. No teams, every hen for herself. Blood thirsty pile-ups, flapping and screeching. Flex offense and fast cuts. The unnerving part is that they found a snake out and active in March – but as I’m writing this, it’s back down to twenty degrees and we are getting a good dose of snow. It’s March Madness is all.

Happy happy spring!

light-stressed seedlingsOh yes! and Cycle Farm was in the newspaper this week. Local farmers lobby for aid in D.C. 

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Warm days and a fierce headwind

Last week we had a few days in the 40s and 50s. We took advantage of this and finished the short cob wall on the south side of the greenhouse.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The snow-free days also allowed us to inspect the state of our cover crop trials and prep several rows with straw mulch. In checking on the state of things, we discovered that quack grass in the back field is already on a roll. Rats. And early onions planted last fall have survived and are going strong (there’s a photo, below). Jeremy got to try his hand at cutting glass for the coop window. It’s an old pane from the Smith’s house. The glass itself might not be from the original construction of the house (late 1800’s) – but it’s still pretty brittle and took a fair amount of tender, delicate, James Bond-style breaking and entering finesse to cut without shattering to bits. The birds are enjoying the extra light in their coop. They are also enjoying spent grain (photo below..) from Crow Peak Brewery down the street.

Despite all this attention: the additional light, their certified organic feed, malted barley, and our daily dotings, they are producing 4-5 eggs a week. It seems the birds have become a very expensive hobby – at least until the days lengthen and egg production picks up.

birds and onionOur seed orders were placed just a few weeks ago, and already we’ve been getting packages in the mail. Onions and leeks have sprouted. And trays of asparagus are germinating. Last year we experimented with planting green onion seeds in clusters of 7-8 seeds together. This method allowed for quick, easy transplanting into the field and harvesting, washing, bunching – chop chop. This year we’re going to try out this cluster seeding technique with bulbing onions as well, with 4-5 seeds together. We’ll see.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We’ve been keeping an eye on the hives during the unseasonably warm days these past few weeks. There has been limited activity outside the hives, a bee or two will fly out, sometimes one will scoot in. Lots of dead bees below the entrances to the hives. This is not terribly pleasant, but it suggests that the queen is still laying, and they are just keeping the hive clean.
beehives in february

We have not yet opened the hives. By looking around inside, we can get a better sense of the health of the hive:  is the queen laying well? how much honey reserves do they have left? do they need supplementary honey to hold them over before spring flowers set? So it might be smart to check out what’s happening inside.

However, by popping open the hive, we are breaking the laboriously installed propolis the bees have sealed their hive with. Bees do an incredible job maintaining temperature and humidity in the hive, to keep the queen and brood healthy. By opening the hive, we fuss with this. So we’re not going to fuss with this. (I’ll just bite my lip and hope they are keeping on ok). We did not harvest honey from the hives last year. Instead we opted to let them keep everything as reserves for winter – hopefully this will be enough to carry them through. If there’s anything left in the spring, we’ll collect some for ourselves.

And lastly a fierce headwind from Pierre. Here are some examples (links) of what happens when legislative action is made without involving long term or whole systems thinking.  South Dakota state legislature on net metering and on uranium mining.

So we will continue to make phone calls. And write letters. We might even keep on with our wishful thinking and faith in democracy. But more importantly, we’ll sharpen our shovels. Ride our bicycles. And grow food for our neighbors. If we can’t demand conservation or good stewardship, maybe we can inspire it?

January, in photos

Here is a quick photo update of the farm(chickens) these days.Jan10th

The photos above were taken before the snow last week. A sunset over Crow Peak. And here’s the farm today:January at Cycle Farm

The birds are spending a lot of time in their coop, grudgingly making their way out to explore the snow during the day. The chicken tractor is set up on cinder blocks with the door open, the birds are using this dry area as their dust bath.

The strawbale walls of the coop help keep them out of the wind, but it still gets cold in there, with the rest of the greenhouse unfinished and no cob yet for thermal mass. We haven’t put in a heat or light lamp for them. They are laying well and don’t seem to mind cuddling up together for warmth. Though investing in a heated waterer would be lovely.

jan chickens..and more bird photos. We have a few more named ladies. Winter is for naming the birds, it seems. Athena and Uncle Vincent. And Polly. Athena and Uncle Vincent are the two, full-figured White Orpingtons. Athena is typically the last hen into the coop at night, she likes to stand on the pop-door and muster lightingbolts at any would-be owls. Jeremy’s father named Uncle Vincent, after a dear relative. And Polly is one of the Mottled Javas, the biggest one. She’s so named because she likes to hop up on my knee.. and my shoulder. She gets comfortable, nestles into my neck, and takes a fair amount of persuasion to get rid of. It would maybe be cuter if her feet weren’t covered in mud and chicken shit. Jeremy enjoys this a great deal and calls her Polly.

broodyhenOne hen went broody, just for a few days. Squawky, she screamed at us if we got too close. And then she just sat there, settled and poofy. A feathery, partially deflated, black basketball. Patiently sitting. Deliberately rotating the eggs beneath her. More meditation than incubation, as the eggs aren’t fertilized. She got over it quickly.

bolitabeansCleaning beans and cutting blocks.

BLOCk printign

We are spending lots of time planning for the upcoming season. Our hope is to increase the number of CSA shares we fill this year. This is taking a great deal of strategizing in terms of row spacing and rotation, varieties, timing, budgets, etc. We’re both going dog-ear happy with the seed catalogs. Jeremy is collecting a wish list of trees for the orchard. Radish is enjoying her days snoozing at my feet under the desk where I’m plugged into work. I’m enjoying the days being able to full-heartedly focus on off-farm work, not feeling torn or guilty – like I really should be outside. Jeremy is baking bread. We are connecting with our community in ways that are hard to do during the growing season. We’re reading Rudolf Steiner and Buffalo Bird Woman, Edith Hamilton and Michael Phillips. We are having fun working on projects in Jeremy’s father’s woodshop and fiddling around with blockprints. And we’re eating squash.

Happy 2013 everyone! We hope this is a joyful year for you all, full of peace and good things growing.

Bolita beans and Stone Barns

Little by little we are getting to cross things off our long and ever growing to do list: processing dry beans and taking stock of our seed inventory. Check. Check.

Our good friend Jill and Jeremy’s brother, Nick, came by to the farm just in time for processing the dry beans. The beans were harvested months ago and have been spread out in piles in the workshop behind the garage. Bolita beans and Colorado River beans. Just after the first frost, we clipped the plant stem at ground level and, starting at one end of the bed, rolled the plants up like loose, unwieldy tumbleweed/sushi rolls. These tumble weed sushi rolls (whole plant, pods and beans together) have been hanging out in the workshop ever since. To shell the beans, we initially tried using a borrowed leaf mulcher, this didn’t work so well as it ended up breaking most of the beans. Plus the leaf mulcher is loud and electric.

Our second method was more fun and efficient – certainly on our scale. We pulled out clumps of bean plants and laid them out on a tarp, then burrito-rolled the tarp so as to contain everything. Then we danced. A sophisticated study of jumping, pacing, stomping, twisting, and boogie woogie – all to find which resulted in the most efficient bean shelling. Then we unrolled the burrito tarp and manually sorted out the large bean plant debris, and poured the beans and chaff into a bucket to be winnowed. After cycling through this process several times, a tight procedure was mastered in the end. Lucky for us Nick has just returned from university in Norway, where he has spent long hours studying late into the night at dance clubs in Trondheim. Having a dance team on the farm not only provided us with the motivation to finally tackle the beans, but it made the process go quick quick and very merry. Thanks Jill and Nick, you both dance something fierce. We have an estimated 10-15 lbs of each variety.bean dancers

bean winnowing

We’ve also finished sorting through our seed inventory. Taking stock of our seed is important and will help guide us in making orders for new seed for next season. It’s also been a good chance to reflect on how well certain varieties grew over others, and decide on whether we want to grow the same variety next year. But primarily, poking through crinkly, folded up envelopes to peek in at BEAUTIFUL seeds is just ridiculous fun.

We have been able to save a good deal of seed from our crops this year, which is very exciting. This is seed from plants and varieties that did especially well here and we enjoyed growing and eating. We spent a considerable amount of time learning about the procedures for selecting for and saving seed, mainly from the good book “Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners”. Farming with only 3 acres and lots of neighbor gardens, there are limits to what seed we can reasonably save. Some of the seeds we’ve saved this year include different varieties of dry beans, blue corn, popcorn, fennel, tomatillo, a few lettuces, and amaranth.

One more thing as relates to seeds: some good people are looking for help putting together a film about seeds. The same people who brought us “The Real Dirt on Farmer John” and “Queen of the Sun”. Check out their kickstarter video here and maybe consider helping them out if you are able.what a good dog.

We had a chance to attend the Stone Barns’ Young Farmers Conference in the Hudson Valley of New York. Holy smokes. Stone Barns is glorious. We are grateful to have both received scholarships to attend, we learned a whole bunch, energy levels are high. It was also a excellent chance to reconnect with close friends doing magical things. During the conference, Jeremy got to try his hand at cross-pollinating pea plants. There were sessions on seed saving as a farm enterprise, swine husbandry, CSA management plans, composting, and orchards and pruning. Crop rotations, cover crops, chicken and pig butchering, farm business management plans, growing in greenhouses, soil nutrients, the Farm Bill. And more. Even a work songs workshop, in which we sang together and harvested turnips, possibly nothing is quite as fantastic. The conference offered us an incredible diversity of topics to explore, a huge community of motivated, beginning farmers, delicious foods prepared from the farm, a seed exchange, fun-spirited contra dancing, and unequivocal exposure to hipster fashion sensibilities. Thank you Stone Barns.

Slow tools, seed exchange, LOTS OF BEGINNING FARMERS!!, and very straight rows in the greenhouse.

We also did some walking meditations in the city. Lots of bicycles. And people. And pretty kale in planter boxes.

NYC bicycles Blue hubbard squash on door step, decorative KALE in planter boxes, and blooming roses(in December?!). New York is a magical place.

Blommefrugttræ and a banshee.

Despite the recent tepid temperatures, the seed catalogs have started rolling in. We are spending the days clearing and mulching vegetable beds, moving rocks, chopping wood, baking bread, broadcasting clover cover crop seed, winnowing amaranth and popcorn. seeds and sleep

Our friend, Gordon Tooley of Tooley’s Trees in Truchas, NM honored us with a beautiful South Dakota plum tree while we were down visiting for the Quivira Coalition conference a couple weeks ago. Gordon grows heirloom fruit trees, organically, on a north facing slope, at nearly 8,000′ elevation. His reverence and enthusiasm for fruit trees has inspired us to make orchard plans for the farm. Trees are important. There is something sacred about tending to something, a being, that will likely outlive you. Perennials deserve extra deliberation  We have been studying several orchard books and have consulted with the field itself. We are looking at existing, larger shade trees, wind direction, aspect, soil moisture. Pear trees generally grow taller, so plan on room for them towards the north side so they don’t block sun for anyone else. Wind comes from the west, so arrange the rows skewed from that as to divert air flow up and over the trees, not down the rows. Consider your root stock. And so we go.

The South Dakota plum, Prunus americana, is a variety originally bred in the early 1900’s by the head of the Horticulture Department at South Dakota State University, Niels Ebbesen Hansen. Only wish he’d have given it a good Danish name. Ours has been planted in an excellent spot, near a cluster of wild plums, towards the very south west corner of the field. Planted at grade, graft union to the north. It’s got a burly deer fence protecting it. And a fantastic view of Spearfish Peak. Thank you Gordon.

planting south dakota plum

A few of the highlights of our recent orchard studies include the following: fruit trees are described as precocious. It is advised that one makes thorough ski tracks and/or snowshoe trompings through one’s orchard after winter snowfalls, to ensure adequate collapse of vole/mole/critter tunnels which might otherwise be girdling your trees. Add that to the to-do list. Have to go skiing.

December has brought us a few challenges. The deer have discovered they can rip down the fencing and help themselves to the remaining goodies in the field. We had been looking forward to krauting a short row of cabbage – but it’s gone now. The frost-sweetened kale, collards and brussels have been mowed. The daily routine now includes a check and repair on the fencing. The warm temperatures mean that the hives have not completely tucked into winter hibernation. The more active they are, the more honey they consume. The danger is that they will exhaust their honey reserves before spring time. The huge winds of this past weekend blew the tarps covering the straw bales on the greenhouse all to hell. It’s exhausting and completely futile to try and weigh down a 14 x 30′ sheet of vinyl canvas that’s being lifted by the wind. We spent more time that we should have out there battling the banshees. It’s essential that we keep the strawbales dry, otherwise they will rot and mold beneath the plaster. Gales, heavy tarps, lots of yelling, murky clouds, hastily piling straw bales, rocks, wood beams. Helpless and absolutely miserable. In the end, a board holding an edge of one of the tarps was ripped off the roof beam. No structural damage. And not too much strawbale damage.

We also have new positive challenges. Our chickens are laying in abundance, which has increased the pressure to find a market. Legally, we can sell our eggs direct to consumer, which is great. However, being primarily occupied by on-farm chores and not having a weekly winter Farmer’s Market, our ability to network and market our eggs is a time-challenge.  We’re looking into the licensing required to distribute our eggs through a local grocer. This involves “candling” the eggs, a term which conjures a little bit of Archimedes, and a little voo-doo. We’ll see. In the meantime, please contact us if you’re in the need for some extra-delicious, farm fresh eggs.

bearded lady and coop shots

Hooplah, last CSA day, greenhouse, garlic, and snowfall. Ramping up to slow down.

We had a wonderful time at the farm Harvest Hooplah last Saturday. Thank you everyone for joining us, for sharing good food and excellent company. Here are some highlights from the afternoon.

A delicious feast of locally grown, lovingly prepared foods, including our own young roosters, a flight of 9 different varieties of winter squash, and fresh pressed apple cider.

THANK YOU ALL for your support and enthusiasm this first year. We’ve never worked so hard before, never learned so much so quickly, and never had so much fun.  We’re looking forward to seeing you all around the farm next season.

The squash mandala on the floor of the living room has shrunk significantly since our CSA pickup last week. The final week’s CSA newsletter is posted online here. And we have a popcorn update since the newsletter was written: the toss-a-whole-cob-in-a-paper-bag-and-into-the-microwave trick actually works. Incredible.

Our new friend Jason came to help harvest and clean carrots and fingerlings. He does magical things with film and video, and introduced us to the aperture settings on our camera. SO MUCH FUN. Thank you Jason.

Jeremy, Radish, and our A-1 good friend Thomas have been busy building the stone wall for the greenhouse. It’s stunning. The wall is dry stacked rock sourced from an especially rocky hillside property in Spearfish Canyon, the gravel pit in Beulah, and from right here on the farm (from the frost-free pipe trench we dug earlier this summer).  The chickens will be cooped in the western end of the greenhouse, their pop-doors built into the stone wall. Pretty elegant set up. If we time things well with the weather, we may get straw bales and cob up this next week.

We were able to get most of the garlic in before the snow this week. We’ve saved seed from the three varieties we grew this year; Persian Star, Korean Purple and Music. And we’ve added Chesnok Red and Spanish Roja. We’ll get the rest in the ground here shortly. We have to.

The birds have started laying. Under the spruce trees. They have free range during the day and until the walls are up on the greenhouse/coop, they are over-nighting in the tractors. There are nesting boxes in the tractor, but they clearly prefer to snuggle down under the trees and send us out for a daily egg hunt.

..and a photo of the Dakota Black Popcorn. Wow.

And now with the snow and short days, wintertime reading has begun. A little bit. Tom is sailing through any and all Ivan Doig available at the Spearfish Public Library. I’m in the middle of Bill McKibben’s Deep Economy – in which he references this article from Orion about Mayapedal. Smart farmers use bicycles. And Jeremy finally has time to catch up on a stack of mail that’s been accumulating all summer. Radish is working on crossword puzzles.

Aquí, allí, allá

Buttercups, sweet as can be. In fact, buttercups were originally bred in North Dakota by folks excited about its sweet potato-like flavor, homegrown in the up north – or so we’ve read. A taste of Polynesia in South Dakota. Here is a link to this week’s CSA newsletter and an update as to happenings on the farm these days. And here is a link to a very pretty video recipe for buttercup squash and maple syrup tatin.

Jimmy Nardello and Hot Portugal peppers. In the photo of the share above, the Nardellos are on the right, Hot Portugals on the left. We knew they would look similar. They are planted in separate rows, we’ve been able to keep them apart with much deliberation. But side-by-side it’s silly. Hopefully this hasn’t caused too much trouble for our CSA members. At the on-farm pick up these past couple weeks, we’ve offered folks a rubber band to group the Jimmy Nardello peppers together, like they are cuddling. Because they are sweet. Otherwise, tossing Nardellos into a bag with the Hot Portugals would certainly lead to some questions later on in the kitchen.

On the topic of pretty peppers, Jeremy just strung up the Chimayo chiles. We planted them as a test to see how well they would fare in South Dakota. They don’t have the traditional Chimayo Valley terroir, but they did fabulously. And we’re grateful to have these ristras to help keep us warm this winter. If you are interested in reading more about Chimayo chiles, here is a beautifully written article on Chimayo Chile Culture.

In the rush of harvest these days we’ve been discussing the merits and drawbacks of the varieties we planted this season. Somethings are still growing and it’s too early yet to make any reasonable reflections. Valuable assessment is also made more challenging with the various eccentricities of this season (our initial poor watering system, the early high temperatures, the drought conditions, and this being our first year farming). We are ultimately most excited about growing regionally adapted seed varieties. We deliberately chose varieties with short growing seasons and seed from similar growing degree day zones. However, being our first year farming (not knowing what would grow well, not really knowing much at all..), with some varieties we tried to push the limits a bit.

We grew two varieties of cantaloupe. Neither of them had quite enough time to get all their precious fruits full and ripe. But of the few that ripened, Charentais is definitely the taste test award winner. SO GOOD. These were direct seeded this spring, maybe next year we can get them going earlier in the greenhouse and see if they yield better.

The Taos Blue corn did fantastically. Seed for this came from a cob given to us by a gardener and beekeeper at the Arco Iris Permaculture Institute in New Mexico – longer daylight hours, but a comparable growing season length. We’re saving seed for several cobs to grow out again next year, but as we started from a very narrow genetic pool (one small cob of seed), we’ll have to keep an eye on this.

The thai pea eggplant was a test, it was a stretch, and it didn’t pass. Pea eggplants grow like a cluster of grapes, and they grow to be about the size of a pea. Mom (Trish’s mom) gave us seed. And wishful thinking. The eggplants grew dense and massive. But never flowered. In their case, setting aside a difference of 30° latitude was a bit too much to ask. Sorry eggplants. Sorry Mom.

The tomato selection this year has been a hit. We may replace a couple varieties with some new ones next year – but for the most part, these are all keepers. We are saving seed. We’ll also save seed from the tomatillos. (Lesson learned: don’t let beautiful tomatillos selected for seed start to rot on the kitchen counter. Aside from the fruit flies, the seeds may actually start to germinate in the rotting fruit mass. At which point, there goes your seed. Blend up the ripe tomatillo with water, sieve out the seeds, and dry them BEFORE the fruit starts to go.)

There are countless considerations to make and numbers to crunch over the next couple months in preparation for next season. In order to make the farm sustainable we will need to increase our production, our share numbers, and share cost. Figuring out how to do that best is a puzzle – a good, sort of exhilarating mind teaser.  Essential, if we want to continue farming.

A challenge. Like all these black walnuts.

Seed stories, a new Lexicon, and an ode.

We’re planting a lot these days. It’s head spinning to think about how many hundreds of little, tender things have made their perilous journey, their exodus to the field.

Kale and collards, broccoli and celery, radishes and spinach, peas and lettuce. Jeremy is pretty pleased with the lettuces. There are 15 different varieties of lettuce. Head lettuce, and butterhead lettuce, and leaf lettuce. Green lettuce, and red lettuce, and green with pretty red spots lettuce. Some varieties were selected and carefully bred over seasons and seasons, and years and years, by a fellow in Oregon who really fancies delicious and beautiful lettuce. It’s fun to be growing seed attached to a story, a farmer, a place.

The fava beans are from farmer friends and mentors David and Loretta, who have a beautiful organic farm in La Mesilla, NM. Pretty much anything we know about what we’re doing around here, we gleaned from David and Loretta, two of the worlds’ most warm and generous people. The favas were some of the first we put in the ground over a month ago, now they’re getting all thick and leafy. Gorgeous. They are planted in the bed between the back field and home, where we have to walk by them several times a day.. seeing them in all their crazy green glory is a strong dose of confidence.

The marigolds we have that are riotously charging out of their little starter trays, fists in the air, demanding transplanting for all, are grandchildren to marigolds grown by dear friends and neighbors in Santa Fe – a couple who are reclaiming their urban property, nearly all outside space is being put into food production, save for the spot where they park the canoe.

We just put in a couple wildflower beds to serve as insectaries or biostrips. For the pollinators. And birds. ..and me. The seeds were broadcasted over the beds and lightly raked in along with happy thoughts and hopes that the seeds might get established before the birds and rabbits start in on them. There were maybe fifteen different types of seed, each collected on a walk somewhere, carefully collected and pocketed, tucked into a scrap of paper folded up and labeled “pink composite on the way to Babu’s”, “sweet pea from Skinnner’s Butte”, “Pamela’s zinnias”, “orange”.

And we’ve got a few fun types of corn waiting to go in the ground too. There is a black popcorn from friends who have a bean and grain CSA, Lonesome Whistle Farm in Eugene, OR and there is an ear of Taos Blue Corn given to us from a beekeeper friend at the Arco Iris Institute in Santa Fe, NM.

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Lexicon of Sustainability

I just recently checked out the Lexicon of Sustainability, and wanted to share. Those of you with TV may already be familiar as they are now showing films on PBS (everyone else: these are also available to watch online, so you’re still not missing anything). Neat project, fun photos, http://www.lexiconofsustainability.com/images/

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evil nasties making lace.

Lots of good things happening. I keep thinking at some point I really ought to share some of the woes. I mean, we don’t have woes. Not really. But we have flea beetles. And we need a new irrigation system. And a fence. And time.

Hiccups, that’s all. Mainly, it’s just good things happening.

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As another side note.. I started writing a song yesterday, an ode to Creeping Jenny. It’s to the tune of Jay Z’s song “Lucifer.” It goes like this: “Jennifer, Jennifer choking the garlic / I’m going to chase you out of earth.”  I’m working on some good lyrics, but they’re not all PG, so I’m not posting them on the interwebs. It’s catchy though. For certain.

Freedom of the seedlings.

Quick quick.

The pace has picked up. Substantially. It seems everything needs to be done, right now. It’s all very exhilarating. Pulse quickening. And nerve wracking. Maintaining the successional planting schedule. Planting in the beds outside.Transplanting tomatoes and eggplants into larger pots. Trellising the peas. Figuring out an irrigation system. Purchasing and installing the irrigation system. Hose watering in the mean time. Watering. More watering. Weeding. Still working on the hop trellis poles. And the greenhouse.

And then there is a growing list of things that we want to do, and should do now – but maybe are less of a priority. For instance, getting a batch of dandelion wine going, mulching the monster pile of tree pruning debris, mowing the croquet court, playing croquet.

We have already started in on the harvest. Very exciting. Meals these days have been including early French Breakfast radishes, sauteed hop shoots, garlic greens, arugula and radish greens. We even foraged a healthy bunch of asparagus from the wild patches along the irrigation ditch last week. A sack full of Grandma Ginny’s rhubarb went into ginger rhubarb jam, Cycle Farm’s first preserves.

The farm bike is being put to good use, running errands to town and hauling loads back and forth down the field. Flats of plants, boxes of potatoes, and tools. I was able to catch a couple shots (below), the glory of human powered machinery.

More on smart tools: Jeremy designed and built a tool to help in planting rows of onions at smart 4″ spacing. It’s brilliant, I’m calling it an onion fiddle, see below. The fiddle neck supports strings set at 4″ spacing, and frets on the neck are Sharpied with marks at 4″ as well. Looking for someone to play washtub bass, and a grass-leaf whistle. We can start a band.

We’ve had a few CSA members come out to tour the farm, meet the bees, help plant peas, taste radishes, check in and ask questions. Thank you all for your interest and enthusiasm! SO GOOD. We are excited to get to know our community better and equally stoked to share the farm with everyone.

And finally, things we’ve learned recently: It turns out irrigation equipment is very spendy. Cross-combing on topbars in Lolita’s hive is a mess, straightening those comb out isn’t as easy as it would seem. The honey mess that results in the comb-straightening is absolutely as sweet as it would seem. Hop shoots are delicious. I can play a mean onion fiddle. And above all else, having friends come visit and help – is the most wonderful thing. It gets me all warm and wiggly, misty-eyed, knowing there are other people as excited about this as we are.