Thursday, March 27, 2014

Raising Beds

After a frustrating start to the week, an awful lot got done around here yesterday thanks to the help of the college students, the loan of a trailer from another farmer and Robert taking two afternoons off from work.

Last year we bought a new piece of equipment for the farm that raises beds, lays irrigation and covers it all with plastic mulch.  And while that is a pretty fantastic piece of equipment that can do a lot of things in a short time for us, we've found that to make it work the soil has to be just right and every setting has to be spot on.  If either of these conditions is not met the results are more than frustrating.  The most frustrating part of using this equipment though can be knowing that our lack of farming experience is usually the biggest factor we need to overcome.

Tuesday morning met me with a series of vehicular and trailer malfunctions that kept me from picking up the load of fertilizer we needed to get on the ground before raising beds.  After giving up on what should have been an easy errand to run, the boys and I made our way on to the farm we buy meat from.  My morning was salvaged when my farmer friend sent me away not only with meat but with a trailer hooked up to my ride and I was able to pick up fertilizer.  Thank you!

Shortly after I made it back to the farm, two interns and a volunteer college student showed up despite being on spring break.  Robert came home from work early and we all set in to pull beds.  With the bed raiser already on the tractor and all of the necessary adjustments made the night before, this should have made for an easy afternoon.  Instead, it turned into several frustrating hours that went no where.  No matter what we did or what adjustments were made the plastic continued to pull up out of the dirt resulting in an extremely messed up bed and a lot of work to be done by hand.  The frustration of using this piece of equipment is always made worse knowing that we are usually in a time crunch to get beds raised before the next rain comes and we have to wait for dry ground again.  After a long day working I sent the college students on their way.  Robert stayed with the tractor.  He came in at dark, successfully having raised one bed.  Now we were ready to go.

Wednesday morning started with greenhouse work.  With the greenhouse busting at the seams, we moved every flower and every remotely cold-tolerant veggie transplant to the caterpillar tunnel until it had no open ground left in it.  This made just enough room to sow trays of spaghetti and butternut squash, cucumbers and the first round of sunflower seeds.  We finished sowing the last of eight rows of green beans...8 more rows than I feel like picking but worth all the work when they make it to a kitchen.  Early afternoon Robert made it another short day at the office and came home to direct the bed raising show around here.

With the help of the interns and Milan, the entire north field of beds was fertilized and and covered.  Gus and I were literally no help.  We did provide some moral support while making laps around the north field taking pictures.  Have I mentioned Gus doesn't like to stop moving?  When I do stop he cracks a little whip and lets us all know about it.  My contribution to the afternoon is simply documentation.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Catching up Since January

So much has happened around here in the last two months!  I've put off writing any blog posts because the things I have to write about deserve so much attention but I can't seem to find the time to give it.  I'm going to try to catch up on some of it in one post.

The biggest news and the reason everything else slowed way down around here in January was the arrival of our newest farmhand, Baby Gus.

Now almost two months old and with the arrival of some warmer weather. he's starting to join us in our work around the farm.  

The second major happening on the farm in January was the completion of our high tunnel project.  

We're excited about the season extension this 30x72 foot structure is going to give us early in the spring and late in the fall that we haven't had before.  A blog post dedicated to building this high tunnel will come in the very near future.  

Finally, the reason we are not only caught up around the farm but ahead of where we've been in the past has to do with the arrival of our spring interns that started work out here in February.  This will be our fourth year as part of Hendrix College's internship program and we are more involved than ever.  

In the past we have hosted as many as three interns on the farm during a semester.  This semester we are hosting five in addition to hiring two of our former interns as part-time employees on the farm.  They have been a super crew and a pleasure to work with.  They all have taken on major roles on the farm and have made working out here a team effort.  Not only do I appreciate the help they provide but I really enjoy the energy and company they bring every day.  And Milan does too.

I'm excited that they also want their voices heard.  Soon they will begin writing blog posts for me regarding their experience here at the farm over the course of the semester.  A great way to help me keep up to date with this blog and provide more than just my perspective.  

That catches me up on major news.  Now to begin the process of catching up on our spring planting progress.  Today though, it's way too pretty to stay inside on the computer!