Monday, May 27, 2013

Many hands make light work - sort of!

I cannot believe what the crew has accomplished around here!  The garden is nearly completely planted - or anyway we have done as much as we can for the time being.  Now we must just wait on Mother Nature.  There are a few more rows of stuff to plant.  I like to wait with beans, as they really do like warm soil.  And I always plant tomatoes and peppers the first week of June, after all chances of frost are past. 

The experiment with the potatoes is still just an experiment.  They went in very late.  Androo is focusing Adam's and Clay's efforts on them - keeping them clean, hilling them and hopefully getting a good harvest - for a good return on our investment in time and organic seed potatoes!

We still have a little old fencing to clear up, and I'm hoping we can move the beef cattle to the new paddocks on Friday.  We need to get them on some new ground.   They have eaten up almost everything available in the south-most paddocks and it is time to get them out of there.

I had a pretty slow day today, took it easy.  Was supposed to go to a picnic in my new neighborhood, but it got canceled due to the rain.  So even though I missed being with my new neighbors, I am very thankful for the rain.  It is making the grass grow, something every farmer using rotational grazing loves to see.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Dealing with adversity

My farming partner has quit the operation.  He was falling farther and farther behind, missing more and more days.  I was not surprised when he walked out.  He is feeding the pigs daily until they are shipped on June 5, then he is done. 

The greenhouse was in tough shape.  I took it over, replanted 2,000 seeds 2-1/2 weeks ago, and we began potting up the first of them in only a week!  Some of them are already salable, thank goodness.  I am missing a lot of the early market, but I will make up a good bit of it at the tail end. 

Krystal, Androo, Kim, Clay and Lisa are all working when they can.  Of course none of them is full time, but between them, they are doing a great job.  A little here, a little there, it all adds up!

Krystal will finish potting up and labeling the second seeding of greenhouse plants today.  She literally saved the greenhouse.  There will be enough sales to cover the expenses, so there won't be a loss out there. 

Androo is here all day Friday and half of Saturday.  He has worked here for years, so he knows the ropes.  He is supervising the others, and he is quite good at fencing and the water system.  His expertise is invaluable.  He is helping with the garden layout.

Kim is learning the greenhouse, got all of the "tender" seeds done yesterday.  Melons, cucumbers and squash are the ones that don't like to be disturbed by knocking them out of a pot when planting, so the seeds go into special certified organic biodegradable pots that go right into the garden.  (The little peat pots most use have an unapproved glue in them, so we do not use them in our organic operation.)  He is also doing some cleaning and organizing, and has given Krystal some further instructions on how to milk.  He is very efficient in the dairy. 

Lisa is very small (wears size 4), but she is strong!  No one else could run the tiller (Kim has a back problem, Krystal tried and couldn't do it, and Androo is only here on Fridays), so she gave it a try.  I had removed irrigation lines, mowed the north half of garden right down to the dirt with my Bad Boy, then took up the trash with the Sears mower using the grass catcher.  Lisa then used the tiller to get that part of the garden in shape.  What a miracle!! 

Clay finished up the last of the onions on Tuesday.  There are at least six rows of onions out there.  We ALWAYS run out of onions.  Hopefully this year will be different.

We are about a month behind.  Other farmers are already selling lettuce, spinach and radishes.  Our early stuff just went in, and we still have to plant turnips, beets and the large greens like kale and collards.  But we will catch up.  Thanks to an excellent crew (and putting in about 16 hours a day by yours truly), we will triumph over adversity.  That is the name of the game in farming.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Some days turn out better than you expect.

Life has been pretty hectic lately.  Steve has quit the partnership.  Enough said.

Thank goodness for a couple of very good new milkers.  Krystal is taking over in the greenhouse and much of the garden in addition to milking twice a day, eight days out of 14.

I called Androo, who has worked here for five years but quit to go back to school full time, and left a message on his voice mail that I was crying - for him to come back!  Oh, Androo, I said, I need you!  He called me back a couple of hours later to tell me he was available for up to 16 hours per week, as a job he didn't like had not panned out, and so he had another that afforded him more time for a few hours with me at the farm.  He started on Friday, and the results are just short of miraculous.  Lettuce is in, radishes are in, he started on the onions that were sprouted in the greenhouse.  Krystal carried on with the onions today.  It is starting to look like a garden. Good news.

I managed to move the Highlands to a fresh pasture today, all by myself.  I was a little nervous about doing it alone.  They must be feeling more at home here now, because I had them moved in about 10 minutes.  They are happily munching on a fresh paddock with grass nearly to their knees.  Beef cattle are different than dairy cattle.  We are not measuring their performance by how much milk they give on a daily basis, so we can leave them on a paddock a little longer.  They are really eating them down, and that is very good for the soil and the grass and herbs that grow there.  The eight paddocks I'm using for them were pretty poor, but they are already exhibiting the goodness of that hard grazing by the Highlands.  So that is more good news.

My doorbell quit.  (Yes, I know, totally unrelated, but it follows the theme.)  I went out on the internet to see how to fix it, took the cover off, then got interrupted (this was about a week ago), and never got back to it.  Troubleshooting guide said it was not the wiring, but probably the transformer, since neither bell worked. Today when Allen showed up to clean, he rang the bell and it worked.  So did the one on the front door.  I did not question it.  I put the cover back on it, praised the powers that be, and was thankful for more good news.

I was having trouble with my alarm system.  The first person I talked to a few months ago said that it couldn't be fixed over the phone, that I would have to have a technician out (and pay for it, of course).  It has gotten worse, and I couldn't program in a new code for a friend who is staying here.  After many calls, and talking to several different people, the third one called.  I said, "Do I have to tell ANOTHER person the whole story?"  Yes, he said.  He had me go to the panel.  "Push these numbers."  "Now push these numbers."  "Now try to program your new number."  It worked!  You have no idea how happy I was!  More good news.

Okay, here is the final good news.  My friend Lisa, who will be here until the fall, helping out with garden and greenhouse on weekends and filling in to milk every now and then, called after her work day today to tell me she had found POUNDS of morel mushrooms, did I want any?  Is the sky blue?  Is the Pope catholic?  Be still, my heart, soon I will be eating morels sauteed in butter.  What a bedtime snack is that?  BEST good news!!!

Hope your day held some good news as well.