Weeks 15 & 16: June 12-23

19496385_10154376272432574_1139315768_o (1)

remember that mustard photo from 2 weeks ago? now in full bloom!

19496167_10211122491392510_902215333_o

blooming field peas

19496075_10154376272622574_1452859990_o

a bouquet of cover crop flowers

The CSA has begun! Last week we started off with a harvest of scallions, radishes, bok choy, Happy Rich asian greens, broccoli raab, kale, chard, head lettuce, mesclun mix, spinach, arugula, and cilantro. This week, we added to that dill, garlic scapes, and U-pick sugar snap peas! At Natural Roots, everyone comes out to harvest, kids included, and we finish the whole harvest before taking the wagon full of produce across the river ford with horses and bringing it to the washroom. At many other farms we have worked at, produce comes back to the washroom in waves; we usually have picked several crops and then one or two people stay at the wash station and washes things as they come in.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Natural Roots is somewhat rare in that we only have an on-farm CSA pickup, so no produce is packed into boxes. This obviously reduces the time and labor spent on packing and travel, as well as owning a delivery vehicle. We display all of the produce on shelves in the share room, which is open for pickup from 3pm-6:30pm on harvest days. It was so much fun watching the members coming to get their share; many families came with kids in bathing suits ready to swim in the river, and it was clear that this is not only a source of food but a community center. This past Friday, I subbed for Anna in the share room, which means I restocked veggies from the cooler all afternoon and was able to get a sense of how popular certain items are.

19495685_10154376272032574_686223681_o

chickens congregating at a feeder in the 5-foot-tall oats and peas

Last Monday (the 12th) was Owen’s birthday, and we had not only rhubarb pie once when his mom brought it, but rhubarb pie twice when David and the kids made it! Maggie (Gaelen’s mom) also made chocolate chip blondies with vanilla ice cream, which made for a double dessert, perfect for Owen’s famous sweet tooth.

19495990_10154376272887574_1672044945_o

Owen throat singing with his pal Fred

Last week we picked up more hay on a day with temperatures in the mid-90s. After picking up straw from a mown-down cover crop of rye in the field, we picked up four and a half loads of hay. A load, in our case, is when the 8’x12′ bed of the wagon is stacked about 8 feet high with loose hay. It feels like a miracle to me, still, that all of that loose hay stays together in a pile. It was so hot out that Owen and I both got cold sweats and felt pretty dizzy from a lack of electrolytes. Even so, it was a fun and exciting day, and we’re looking ahead to a lot more hay making in the coming weeks!

19531623_10154376274282574_166653982_o

field next up for haying

Brian has been mowing quite a bit with the sickle bar mower, not only cover crops but also clipping pastures. The pasture edges are mown before setting up fence so that the fence line is clear of tall grass, and then the entire pasture is clipped post-grazing to bring it down to a uniform height. This is not necessary following ruminants, but horses do a rather poor job of uniformly grazing, instead they leave random patches of uneaten grass. Brian has also been working on our second cultivator and developing a flame weeder that will hopefully be up and running by our next writing.

19495954_10154376272572574_552460781_o

This week I got to spread fertilizer with the drop spreader on our next two crop fields, ensuring that they have enough nitrogen going into the season. The drop spreader is basically a big, wide box with holes at the bottom that let the fertilizer fall down onto the field as the horses pull it. The task is to keep the horses walking at a steady pace up and down the field so that the material is distributed evenly.

19495768_10154376274197574_2000321556_o

riding horses out to pasture in the evening

In the livestock department, we have successfully put our boar and sow back together following weaning, and given all of the hogs a preventative wormer. Reuniting Red and Fred was quite a dramatic process, because she was in heat the first few times we tried to put them together. Fred was so aggressive at first that she jumped the fence, and then finally the fourth time we put them together, they were both calm and civil. This week, I did a bunch of math on wormer rations, and then fed wormer mixed with food for 3 days to Red, Fred and the piglets. The piglets, by the way, are not yet 3 months old and nearing 100 pounds!

19489971_10154376273112574_550784270_o

Fred and Red, muddy and back together

19490013_10211122491432511_1403061887_o

baby robins living on our porch 🙂

Owen continues to fit in milling lumber every week, amidst the dozens of other things we have going on. He is also regularly scouting all of the fields for flea beetles, Colorado potato beetles, and other pests and spraying them as needed.

19531590_10211122491632516_777430788_o

Colorado potato beetle at work

19490166_10154376271877574_1748132761_o

Owen, hard at work on the mill

We are doing less and less seeding in the greenhouse, and so there are fewer and fewer seedlings to transplant. In fact, of the 9 fields we are growing in this year, we have planted in 7 of them already and the 8th is disced, plowed, and fertilized. Transplanting these last 2 weeks has been mostly fall broccoli, storage cabbage, and tomatoes.

19490243_10154376274892574_182452451_o

field is filling in!

Last week, our friends from Vermont, Claire and Emily, came to the farm for a visit. Over the weekend was a big celebration marking the 250th anniversary of the founding of the town of Conway. It’s very interesting to be in a place with such deep roots; I learned from a plaque in the Historical Society that one of our neighbors is a 5th generation Conway farmer.

19490133_10154376274502574_286232302_o

old fire engine on display at the Conway 250th celebration

19495950_10154376274727574_1569370820_o

Brian and Owen goofing off at the Conway 250th celebration

Last Monday, David cultivated all of the crop fields as usual (every two weeks), but this time in quite a downpour! We were racing the rain at first, but after a certain point it was clear we would all be soaked. Then we were in and out of the field several times as the danger of lightning waxed and waned. Before the heavy rain, though, we managed to thin all of the winter squash, parsnips, sunflowers, and cucumbers. As the icing on the cake, Gaelen and I got something done that I never thought we would: weeding and mulching the raspberries! We even managed to weed blueberries while we were at it. Bees are buzzing in the bramble patch, and I am hoping for a bountiful berry harvest this year.

19490107_10154376275057574_452773635_o

Amos with a crown of Siberian irises

19478771_10154376273272574_1384168148_o

Elsie’s favorite spot for an afternoon nap: beside the chopsaw

19495990_10154376275182574_1562507934_o

a pesky groundhog, nonetheless photogenic

 

~Sidney

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s