Sunday, January 29, 2012

November 2011 : Harvest

This might be my favorite photo of the year. Francie is helping harvest the broccoli. The farm to fork distance doesnt get any shorter than this!

Even though we are done with markets for the year, we are still growing for our own table. We underseeded the cool weather crops with a winter rye cover crop, so there are few disadvantages to letting these hardy crops grow as late into the season as possible.

This is Francie's first full year on the farm and she already gets it. When she wants some food for dinner or a snack, I head towards the refrigerator and she points to the farm. Now I get it too!

We walked out to the broccoli together and while I was busy trying to harvest a few heads she was already busy snacking away.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Week of October 17 2011 : Drainage

Here is a photo of Nathaniel helping with the drainage. The plastic snow shovel is certainly not an effective digging tool but is much safer than a steel dirt shovel. All he really wanted to do was get muddy anyways. And this year there has been no shortage of mud!

Moments after this photo was taken, he also got his feet stuck.

This year Berta the rotary plow served another purpose. In addition to the usual tasks of plowing and making raised beds, this fall she also made drainage swales. With two passes lengthwise through the lowest area of the field, we are able to drain nearly all the surface water. Surface drainage is no substitute for underground drainage but the time vs. benefit ratio justified the extra minute of labor.

This fall seems to be warmer than normal, particularly overnight temperatures. The first frost still has not occurred. (Update - the first frost did not occur until October 27). Although the summer crops probably would still be growing and producing had we not turned them under, the quality and taste would be disappointing. The broccoli and cabbage, on the other hand, are still growing well.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Week of October 10 2011 : Bluebirds

Here is a photo of our male Eastern Blue Bird. My "camera" is really a Blackberry. The photo function works well but has an annoying characteristic: there is a several second pause between clicking the button to snap a photo and the photo actually being snapped. Produce doesnt move very fast, so the photo function works well enough to capture photos of sweet corn, etc. But birds move much faster. So I am particularly pleased with this photo ... which is to say I got very lucky.

This year was another successful for our Blue Birds. There were two broods. The first brood contained five eggs and all 5 fledged on June 2. The second brood contained four eggs and all 4 fledged on July 26. The Tree Swallows also had one brood with seven eggs and all 7 fledged on June 26. The protective guards worked as intended and we lost no eggs or birds to predators.

We finally planted the winter rye cover crop. Ideally we like to finish fall tillage and plant the cover crop second to last week of September. But we will delay tillage and sowing if the cash crops are doing well. This year we didnt have a choice and had to delay due to significant rainfall.

The conditions never were ideal and more rainfall was always in the forecast. I had a very narrow window to get it all done so I put fresh batteries in the headlamp and worked until 3:00 AM to turn under the crop residues and sow the winter rye. Let's just say no neighbors stopped over to thank me for getting the work done. But it did rain every day for the next six days and conditions only dedgraded from there.

We wont get much top growth this fall or next spring, but will get sufficient root growth to make it worth the effort.