Resting and Regrouping!


After a busy fall on the farm, we've been silent on the blog for a few weeks as we work on re-tooling the website and regrouping from the season.  We are working to get the 2013 CSA sign-up material up (hopefully this week)... it's held up as we decide which additional farmers market to add for 2013, since we try to space out market and CSA harvest days!

Folks have been asking what happens on the farm in the winter, and our answer is, "A lot!"  First, we do relax a bit, sleep in (well, farmer sleeping in, which means until 6 or so!), and eat a lot more farm food (since we have more time to cook).

We do still have a few things going on in the field.  This week's warm spell will likely be our last harvest window to get in the final turnips, radishes, carrots, and beets.  After these crops all come into the walk-in cooler (which now doubles as a root cellar), we will roll up all our protective row cover and call the vegetable fields done for the season!

Wood is a big winter project--right now we are bringing in the wood cut late last winter to split and dry further in the greenhouse.  We need wood for our house, for our greenhouse (we are switching from propane heat to a wood/oil boiler this winter), and for boiling down maple syrup.  Right now, we are just cutting wood at the south edges of the fields (which will reduce shade in the edges of the growing area) and in a section where some of the trees have lots of galls.  As the maples grow larger, we will start doing more selective thinning to improve the sugar maple stand (but that's a few years off!).

Out of the woods, we are working on a few building projects, including a permanent wash stand and storage area, a new hoophouse, a better potting area and propagation chamber for the greenhouse, and a slew of smaller construction activities.

The most important work we are focusing on now is in the office!  Besides working to revamp and improve the website, we are assessing how things went this past season to see where we can improve things for next year.  After this assessment is done, we start working on our crop planning.  This is a huge task since it essentially entails figuring out the timing of every planting of each variety of crop we grow--which for some crops is up to 20 plantings and 15 varieties!  We need to complete this by early January in order to get our seed orders in.

We'll get some more winter pictures of the fields up soon!

Patience, and the last big push...




... inside before the season begins.  I keep saying that we will start our outside work (and we certainly will) with all its exciting pictures and stories any day now.  Yet Matt and I find ourselves busy wrapping up the last inside loose ends despite the warm spring weather.

(Arlo is outside, supposedly chasing our evil nemeses [geese] out of the pond... however, they quickly learned that the water is too cold for the dog and are taunting him from the middle.  Clearly he needs to step up his game a few notches!)

We are also focused now on practicing patience.  I really, really want to start seeding things that I probably shouldn't.  It's just so nice and the soil (even here at 1400 feet) is actually pretty warm.  But... we are almost guaranteed to get cold again, so we are trying to be patient... for at least one more week!  It's just hard not to get antsy with days like today!  This used to be a big problem of mine, especially with starting seeds.  The year that cured me was in NH when I started all my tender seeds and threw in snap peas a couple weeks early since it seemed to be warming up faster than usual.  Of course it ended up getting VERY cold in late May, and I couldn't get my tender summer crops in until 2 weeks later then normal (and I had started them 2 weeks earlier than normal).  The plants survived and didn't get too root bound, but I had to spend a lot of money and time re-potting them.  Twice.  The pea flowers, however, did not make it through the frost, and we lost a lot in yields.


"What DO farmers do in the winter?" is a question we hear a lot.  In sort, recover, regroup, re-plan, and get prepared.  Winter is a great chance to reassess how the season went, what we liked or didn't like, and where we want to go from there.  It's also a time to put together your vision and goals for the farm in the next season, and assemble all the things you need to make that happen.

This winter (and this early spring) were certainly busy for us.  In the past week, I have been working on finishing the orders for most of our spring supplies and seeds.  Typically we would do this last month, but we didn't want to buy anything new knowing we'd just have to move it again!

Where do we order our seeds and growing supplies from?  Our favorite places for seeds include:

Johnnys Selected Seeds (out of Maine)

High Mowing Seeds (out of Vermont)

Wild Garden Seeds (West Coast)

We try to work with companies and seed houses that breed (or at least test) seeds for our northern climates.  We also like places that offer a mix of hybrids and open-pollinated/heirloom seeds, to give us a good balance between new and old crops.

For growing supplies, we use Johnnys again (link above), as well as:

Nolt's Produce Supplies (no website, but out of PA)

Fedco Seeds

And for when random parts are breaking, FarmTek

This year we are trying out some NY vendors and hope to find some local places!

Matt, meanwhile, is focusing his energy on finding a tractor.  We have a great little cultivating tractor, but now need something with a bit more power to work the roto-tiller.  Unfortunately, our scale seems to put us in the black hole of tractor sizes.  There are tons of sub-35 hp and over-90 hp machines out there, but not a lot in the middle range (which is of course what we are looking for).  He hopes to decide on something by the end of the week!

Look for notes and seed starting pics tomorrow!

Rule One: Everything takes way more time than anticipated!





Well, we *are* on the ground, but...Sunset

... we forgot rule one!  We rapidly remembered it as our first weeks post-closing were filled with cleaning and painting and unpacking (and then yet more cleaning, painting, and unpacking).

Cone of ShameSome of the highlights for this past week:

...We learned that there is a sweet up and coming sugar-bush in the back of the woods on the farm.  Hooray!!!

...We met some great people at yesterday's Shades of Green event in Madison County. ...Arlo helped us find a large amount of barbed wire in the woods (using his face), which led us to find a very nice vet in town!