Season is Firing Up (Maybe too Quickly)

Twenty waxed boxes are piled next to the bin of moldy winter squash ‘seconds’ we set aside for home use, just next to the dozen dirty harvest bins and tangle of tools in the corner. This was the early spring scene inside our packing shed, a window into my state of mind at the end of the season. I remember saying many times, “I’ll get back to that later….later…later.”

High Tunnel SprinklerWell, it’s half a year later and the exhaustion of fall has given over to the fresh energy of spring. Little projects that I couldn’t muster the power to tackle, now take only 10 or 15 minutes. I don’t know if you’ve experienced this revelation of “that wasn’t hard at all…why didn’t I do this earlier?” Like a plumbing issue you just ‘lived with’ for years, there was no reason for not fixing it earlier.

In April we started to turn over the idle engine of Lida Farm. Seedlings were growing to plants in the greenhouse, greens were germinating in the high tunnel, and we’re undertook the spring rituals to ready ourselves for summer like organizing tools and sharpening hoes.

Surprisingly, however, nature had other ideas. We went from snow on the group just three weeks ago to over 90 degrees last week. We’ve had to take it from leisurely spring rituals to planting at breakneck speed and irrigating. Hold on tight…

Working between the Rains

The veggies are growing, although not at the rapid clip one would expect this time of year.  We were able to cultivate once with the tractor so far just before a rain about ten days ago – that first rain was much appreciated but it doesn’t seem to want to stop.  Rain keeps out of the fields and we just stand by and watch weeds grow.  

Mulched High Tunnel Planted to Tomatoes
Still, we are making headway.  Last weekend’s heavy rains gave us a nice opportunity to really dive into work in the high tunnel where all our cherry and some specialty tomatoes are planted.  We hoed, weeded, trellised, and mulched all eight rows and things look great.  It’s now just a matter of giving them some time, and, in that environment which plants love (they are kind of like couch potatoes in the high tunnel), they will get as tall as me and just pump out tons of perfect tomatoes. I really can’t wait.   

Disaster Strikes Again!

July 4th typically brings some fanfare…fireworks, that kind of stuff. This year I thought I would just get an interesting show of lightning as I
watched the bolts scrawl across the night sky on my driveway. But when I was sleepily moping my way down to feed the chickens just like I do every morning, I had a quite a surprise when I looked past the barn to our high tunnel all torn apart by high winds. This was soon followed by me kicking a couple feed buckets and words I won’t repeat here.

Although not the best development of the season, after I cool down, I always find the positive side.
1. The frame of the high tunnel didn’t get blown away or damaged.
2. No hail. Maree and I thought hail would be a real possibility when the front hit.
3. Generally the crops are looking good this year-that’s what matters. Even the plants in the high tunnel weren’t damaged.

I fully expect I can repair the plastic with greenhouse tape, a strong and clear tape used in situations just like these.

Otherwise the rest of the week was fairly normal. I did spend last night haying our few fields with my neighbors even though I really should have rather been picking peas for the box.  But when bales need to come in, they need to come in.  It’s all ok with me, regardless, since it’s a job I always love doing.  It’s one of the toughest jobs on a farm physically, but a person just feels good getting the bales stacked in the barn and nice and dry.  A person also sleeps really well too.  I told my neighbor Marv that I think anybody who currently needs sleeping pills for a good night’s rest find some baling party they could help out with.

In the box:
Mammoth Melting Snow Peas
Arugula: The ones that look like little oak leaves.
Packman Broccoli
Napa Cabbage aka Chinese Cabbage: I thought I’d throw in a recipe video (below)…you really can’t go wrong with this by sauteing it.  I like a basic recipe which is only cabbage, sugar, rice vinegar, and cayenne or red pepper flakes.
Green Onions
Red Sails Lettuce
Green Lettuce
Zucchini: Hey, first of the year.
Braising Mix (colorful bunch of greens): Some last week, but this stuff is “ready” and wouldn’t last another week.

Chinese/Napa Cabbage Video Recipe:

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Dead Chickens and a Half Completed Greenhouse

Well, a typical spring season so far. I wish the produce were growing better and further along-another cool spring isn’t helping matters. I’m behind on most things that need to get done and if it’s not one challenge it’s another.

Today’s Challenge
This morning as I sleepily went out to feed the laying hens like normal I noticed big piles of feathers all about the coop. Being the sleuth that I am, I followed the trail out into the pasture where I found not one, not two, but four dead chickens. Argghhh! Whatever came in last night wasn’t even courteous enough to kill off the old laying hens, but went for the young ones now just begging to produce eggs. Don’t these predators
know I’ve got better things to do this time of year than to play security guard to some laying hens?

Typical Incomplete Spring Project

Like most people who farm, I dream up how the spring season will unfold every winter from the warm confines of my home. This winter I was thinking that I would leisurely put up a new 26 by 96 foot high tunnels and have it planted with tomatoes, cucumbers, and pepper by early May.
Hah…three weeks ago we finally finished the frame and it still sits there without any plastic covering (a greenhouse is pretty useless without a covering).
Winter plans never foresee the crazy planting schedule that explodes in my face every spring. It’s a lot of waiting and waiting because of cold, rain, and high winds before trying to plug in as many seeds and plants as possible in a whatever window of time nature gives me. I also have to juggle this with the beginning battle with weeds which erupts in June as well as the first forays of insect mercenaries who try begin their invasion on all fronts. Typical…
Dad and I working on high tunnel in April (note snow on ground!):

Still, it always turns around. The plants will grow. I’ll fight the weeds and bugs. Produce will be harvested and delivered. It’s only a matter of time, but I know we’ll get there.