Seedlings, Sneaky Pooches, and Shoveling!

This week was the start of the get-in-shape weeks on the farm, which is an annual realization that all our winter workouts to be ready for the fields can prove inadequate in one day of serious digging. Over the last few years, the beds in our high tunnel have migrated south a foot, so we needed to double dig them out to realign them. At the end of the season when we are in farm shape, it only takes a day to do this (and it doesn’t feel too hard). This early in the season, it takes a day to do a quarter of it, and considerable sweating is involved! [The soil below looks a little reddish—we added a bit of peat moss to it, which will help boost it’s organic matter and water holding capacity—we are interested to see the results!]


Fortunately, we have some nice days coming up this week to finish the shoveling and bed reshaping to get the earliest of spring crops in, which are these babies down below that are ready to go to their bigger home (spinach and greens for the May farmers markets).


Besides early greens, we are busy in the greenhouse, with the biggest week for seeding coming up ahead. We seed many of these early crops close together in open flats (see below), and then after they have a few leaves, transplant them up to bigger trays. This system takes a little longer, but allows us to make better use of our tight greenhouse space and lets us fit all the crops into the germination chamber (a box with extra heaters, that helps seeds germinate more evenly).


I love the sunlight and cheeriness of the greenhouse work—it’s a great place to zone out and get excited for the season. I also appreciate the chance to fuel my podcast addiction (this week I’ve been listening to the new season of The Uncertain Hour, Reply All, and The Dropout, but I’m always looking for new recommendations, if you have a good one!)


Despite the snow today, it was gorgeous last week, leading to what feels like the earliest ice melt date yet for the pond. Early melting is helpful because it means we can start getting our irrigation system put back together and tested before the season, which saves us time in May.


Ice melting early also means Beulah has been hard at work this week chasing off the geese, and learning to differentiate between geese and ducks (we are cool with a mallard mom or two). The poor geese, Harold and Maude, don’t know what to do with a dog back patrolling the yard, and there’s been considerable honking and angst between snow rolling sessions.


Since she’s working so hard, Beulah has been taking liberties to slowly ooze herself up onto the furniture when she thinks you don’t realize what she’s doing (below is the end of a several minute long process that started with all four feet on the floor… if her eyes are closed and she can’t see you, then you clearly can’t see her, right?). Also pro-tip for beginning farmers, don’t buy white couches (I have no idea how we ended up with all white furniture, but it was clearly a poorly planned decision given farm dogs and mud…)


We are also squeezing in a few last pre-season (non-farm) things. Matt’s still helping sugar on weekends (you can catch him at Critz Farms for the last Maple weekend Saturday and Sunday), and I caught an interesting full day training on food safety techniques for farms (yes, I learned about cleaning equipment all day and how different brushes work better, which was actually super interesting!). I’ve also been squeezing in a few last roller derby tournaments (I’m a referee) before things get too busy on weekends!


And that’s the news from the increasingly less goose infested fields of Hartwood Farm this week… Happy April!