So today was pretty ordinary as far as winter farming goes. But I’ve been meaning to start this blog “series” for a while now and I guess today is as good a day as any other. This series is meant to give you a glimpse of our journey as a farming family. I’m sure it will be entertaining, to say the least. Either that or incredibly boring.
Today started out like most Fridays do. Dylan’s alarm went off at 5 a.m. (it is SO LOUD). He jumps out of bed like a spring and heads to the greenhouse to fill the pellet stove for the day. Currently, in the greenhouse, we have our herb stock plants that we take cuttings from for new plants this spring and a round of early greens, etc. for our earliest markets in May. This would normally not be as big of deal as it is, this trek to the greenhouse, but with the FEET of snow we have on the ground (and the enormous drifts), it is kind of a big deal. We have paths laid out all over the farm (to the barn, and then on to the greenhouse and chicken coop…and even further out to the skating rink/aka frog pond) but they drift over almost every night and in some places are not passable until cleared again. This makes the morning chores take 3 times as long as they should, or longer, depending on the amount of snow we had the night before….or how strong the winds were. I’m not kidding, yesterday when I did chores some of the drifts were up past my knees. And this was on a previously cleared path.
After making sure the stove is running fine and everything is as it should be in the greenhouse, Dylan then moved to the chicken coop. In the morning, the frozen water has to be banged out of the rubber bowl (no electric out to the coop) and more water given to the chickens. This water has to be carried from the barn, a good 300 feet or so away. Once the water is set, the eggs have to be checked. In this kind of cold, eggs don’t last too long before they freeze and crack. Right now, the snow is almost as high (and has drifted higher in some spots) as the fence around the chicken yard. Needless to say, the chickens are “coop bound” until warmer weather. It’s a good thing they are in such a large, nice, warm greenhouse. They have plenty of room to roam and are warmed daily by the sun. They seem to be happy there.
After chickens, work is continued on the root cellar in the basement. This is a space that is perfect for winter storage for our root crops and potatoes, it just needs some fine tuning. Dylan and Alan (our employee who lives on the farm) have been working hard to construct walls and shelving, add some insulation and construct a natural venting system to make the space useful for next year’s crops. The project is coming along nicely and should be finished in the next few weeks.
In addition to my personal duties today (children, groceries, minimal housework, etc.), I filled out 2 more market applications (5 or so total new ones this year)…and signed up for our second CSA fair. We will be attending the Hallowell CSA fair on March 1st and the Viles Arboretum CSA Fair on February 27th. These fairs are a great place to meet and greet and get the word out about our CSA programs. Also dealt with some farm paperwork (i.e. replied to emails, checked overdue accounts, etc.) and worked on the flyers for the CSA fairs. All this with the kids running around like crazy in the house because its winter and they have cabin fever.
Chores are done in the afternoon as well. Today, Alan and Kade (our 13 year old son) did the chores while Dylan worked on rearranging the back room for a new wood stove to be installed on Tuesday. The afternoon/evening chores are much more involved than the morning. Greenhouse has to be checked again, and pellets filled. Ash emptied, if needed. Chickens fed and watered. Goats and sheep fed and watered and hay refilled. Paths shoveled again if needed. Kade also has the constant chore of keeping the wood rack in the back room filled, which is pretty much a daily task in these temps.
After chores, we finally settle down for dinner. Dinner is a time to come together as a family and reflect on the day…and settle down (hopefully) for the evening and night to come. Lots of discussion about the farm happens at this time, especially with the addition of Alan at the dinner table. I feel like sitting around the table is a very important part of the day. It pulls everything together in a way that works for our family.
Hope you enjoyed our first installment of A Day in the Life. More to come soon.
Dylan and Harmony, whichever of us have the time to sit down and write for a few minutes. : )