Any of you that follow our blogs will recall that there are a few farm tasks which I dread each year. Each year I do them and each year I dread them. The few that you already know of are planting strawberry plants (500 more will go in this spring) and planting potatoes (100 lbs of seed potatoes ordered). While I do dread these tasks I think mushroom log inoculation now takes the cake.
In the next few weeks log inoculation will take place. We inoculated 100 logs last year. This year we will be inoculating approx. 400 logs. This is a daunting task and unfortunately for the fingers, it is still cold outside when this inoculation happens.
The mushroom inoculation series of events….
If all goes well and the weather cooperates we will have our first shitake harvest in April or May! Look for them at the farm store!!
We have been dealing with so much snow. It is out of control. Today, Dylan took the tractor and made a road to the greenhouses so we could get the snow off the sides. The snow was almost to the tops..... feet of it... and we were in danger of some caving if it wasn't removed. That took awhile.
We love snow and we are so happy to live in a climate where we get (a lot) of it... but we're at the point in the year where we constantly ask questions like; where is all this going to go when it melts? When it snow again, where are we going to put it? How much more snow can we really get at this point? What if the snow isn't gone when we need it gone so we can get in the soil? And on.... and on....
It's kind of comical, but mostly sad.
The big benefit to the snow is the awesome snow hill for the kids. It's amazing, and they love it. This afternoon, Dylan took the little ones out and made a snow tunnel/fort. They thought it was the best thing ever.
We also managed to get some herb plants started from cuttings and some micro greens going. YAY!! Things are growing... and looking great.
I also took a few minutes today to order some new labels for our microgreen and salad green containers that we'll be transitioning to this season, and a sprayer that we desperately need for watering in the greenhouse... and the all important two 5 gallon camp jugs for carrying warm water from the house because the well water is too cold to water plants with.
I am so excited for market season to start! And spring... and SUMMER! Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself, but with all the market meetings and preparations for spring... it's hard not to get prematurely excited. BRING IT!!
I'm also very sad that my mom is leaving tomorrow. She has been here for a week and things are so much smoother when she's here. So.... until she's able to move here full time, we are accepting applications for a live in nanny (but we can't pay you). Ha. :)
Until next time-
The blizzard that was forecasted missed us, thank goodness, but the wind DID NOT. The paths are gone. Doing chores was absolutely horrible this afternoon. I braved the wind and blowing snow and went with Dylan to do chores around 4pm today. Barn chores were no problem. The sheep and goats were fine and actually quite cozy in their pen. After doing the chores in the barn, we start to head out to the greenhouse and chicken coop. Dylan was in front of me with a sack of feed on one shoulder and a sack of pellets on the other shoulder and I followed with an (empty at this point) egg basket, 3 sheets of hay and a bucket of water. We took off a little slower than normal due to the few inches of new snow…turned the corner at the first fence…and then everything went downhill. The snow had drifted so high that even Dylan was having trouble staying on his feet. It was nearly impossible for me to stay upright in the deep drifted snow with what I was carrying. I was cussing like a sailor and mad at everyone who had anything to do with this situation (which was no one….except for the wind and snow). Dylan made it to the greenhouse and the chicken coop before I did. Once the chores out there were finally done, we headed back towards the house. The trek back wasn’t quite as bad, considering the significantly lighter load…and foot step holes. I’m so done with the snow. I love it and think it’s pretty, but at this point, I’ve had enough. So ready for mud season (yea, I said that). Dylan and Alan got a lot of work done on the root cellar in the basement today. It’s looking great. Makes me want to fill it with vegetables!!
Our chickens are really starting to pick up their egg laying frequency again, and we have several dozen in the fridge. I decided to boil some eggs for snacking and possibly egg salad for lunch tomorrow. I always hate boiling eggs because farm fresh eggs are usually SO HARD to peel. I have tried so many tricks and some of them work, but not really. My mom is in town this week from Kentucky and was helping with dinner. She said that all you have to do is boil the water first then slowly add the eggs in one at a time to the boiling water…boil for 12-14 minutes…then cool and peel. I was very skeptical. I even added a little baking soda to the water (one of the “tricks” previously mentioned). Sure enough, those eggs almost FELL out of the shells. I peeled 2 dozen in no time flat. So exciting. J Thanks, Mom!! (It’s the little things….)
Dylan woke up painfully early again today because of the chores that need to be done before he can go to work. Today, as always, he trekked out to the greenhouse to make sure all was right with the pellet stove. He filled the pellets, emptied the ash, and checked the moisture level of the plants. Once all that was done, he moved on to the chicken coop to give them fresh, unfrozen water for the day.
Today was also the day that we had a woodstove installed in the backroom. This room is essentially unheated and barely (if at all) insulated. It was previously (many years ago) a shed that connected the barn to the house. The previous owners moved the barn up the hill, updated the room and added a kerosene heater to heat the space. That kerosene heater went out about a week ago and everything in that room basically froze solid, including about half of our kitchen. So we made the decision to heat that space with a wood stove (instead of repairing the kerosene heater and filling the 500 gallon tank). Best decision ever. The back room is cozy and warm, as well as about ½ the house. We were already heating the main portion of the downstairs with a woodstove, so this is just even better. So that was most of my day, dealing with the installation and cleanup after.
Once Dylan got home from work, we decided that we needed to get the very large amounts of snow off the top of the farm store roof. The roof is old, and the snow had drifted. It had to come down. Dylan started off with the roof rake, which just wasn’t doing the job. Because the snow was so deep and heavy in places, we realized pretty quickly that it would have to be shoveled off. Dylan went to the barn for a ladder and climbed up on the roof. Once he moved some of the snow to the front of the building, I could then rake it off. This took forever. And then we had FEET of snow to shovel and move because it was blocking 2 of the very few parking spaces we have left….and access to the farm store. The drifts are so high on the sides of the parking area, that the snow had to be shoeveled and each load walked and dumped to a place that wasn’t so high. This task that I thought would only take 30 minutes or so turned into a much bigger job. That happens a lot with farming.
Kade filled the wood rack when got home from school. Now with 2 woodstoves, he is having to fill it more often. While Kade did the wood, Dylan did the evening chores. And during that time, I cooked a meal to feed 7 people (Dylan’s Dad arrived today for a short visit).
We enjoyed (and devoured) our dinner and desert (carrot cake made by Dylan yesterday) and talked about farm tasks coming up in the next few weeks. By the end of the month, we have a pretty long list of things that need to be achieved to keep us on track for spring. I’m pretty confident that we can get it done, but am also the constant worrier.
Until next time…
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. : )