Oy, where does the time go?

I have the farm’s blog set as my home page, so I’m reminded every time I log onto the net, when the last post was was published (October fer cryin’ out loud!). Every day I tell myself… “Self, you really should write something and post it, people are going to think you’ve dropped off the face of the earth or somethin’. ”

Well, I sort of did there for a while. A serious family illness (my dad), which ultimately resulted in his death. Never a good thing, but I repeat that old saying – ‘That which does not kill us makes us stronger’. This does seem to have made the family stronger, strengthened the ties between me and my two brothers and my sisters in law. At least I hope so. Terrible that it would take something like this to do that, but there you are. Or rather, here I am.

But enough of that, y’all are probably wondering what’s going on here at the farm? Hope so, because there’s a lot going on right now. You’d think that this being the tail end of February, that things would be in something of a lull. Well, not so much…..

My original plan for the farm was to grow/sell produce year round. The strategy was to start spring crops in the greenhouse, plant, etc., then for fall/winter to grow greens, etc. in low and high tunnels, to supplement winter squashes, and other crops such as potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes that can be stored in the ground. Would have worked too, if I’d have paced myself properly. Instead, I got burned out at the end of summer, didn’t get my fall planting, the end result of which was that all I had to sell over the winter has been eggs and Jerusalem artichokes. Nice, but a person gets tired of that day after day.

The other bad thing about this is that spring’s almost here, only a month away, and I had nothing started for the new season. PANIC!!!!! Yikes! the new season, Spring/Summer, begins on the first day of Spring, which this year is on March 20th.

Enrollment is open now for the Spring/Summer CSA season, and I’ll be advertising begining soon, so it you are interested in signing up for share deliveries or know of someone who might be, please feel free to pass on the info. I’d like to have between 10 and 20 weekly subscribers this year. Deliveries will still be on Saturdays, but I’ve expanded the hours to 10:00am – 4:00pm (from the old 11:00am – 2:00pm), and the delivery area has been expanded from the Mulino/Mollalla area and now includes Canby/Aurora. If there is interest, I will be adding deliveries to Oregon City businesses during the week and perhaps to the SE Portland and Milwaukie areas during the week as well.

So, what’s going on down on the farm?

New greenhouse film is on the cube (the greenhouse), with plans for an extension which will be built either this week or next. Seed was started in the cube the first week of February, and I have heat in the cube, so the greens, onions, radishes, kholabi, and lettuces won’t get frosted or frozen. Fortunately, it’s warm during the day (is it me or are we a whole month early with this warm weather?), so that I can turn off the lamps for at least 12 hours in every 24. Helps immensely with the electical bill, which our laying hens are paying for right now with their delicious eggs.

On the livestock front, we’ll be raising a couple of veal calves this year, and the rabbit was bred on the 1st of Feb., so she’s due to kindle (give birth), the last day or two of Feb.. We’re also expanding the laying flock and I’m preparing for meat bird production. We have 40 layer breeds – a selection of Americauna, California White, Light Brahma, and black Jersey Giants. For meat production as well as eggs, I’ve ordered Dark Cornish, which are one of the parent breeds for the Cornish Cross broilers. My plan with these birds is to raise hens and cockerels, the hens I’ll keep, the cockerels I’ll keep the two best and slaughter the rest. The plan is to trial the purebred cockerels for slaughter, while keeping one for breeding and one for a spare. I’ll see how they turn out as far as rearing time to slaughter, flavor, tenderness, etc. I have 15 each of pullets and cockerels ordered, for a total of 70 chicks between the cornish and layer breeds, all of which are due to arrive either Tuesday or Wednesday, as they ship tomorrow.

The goats were bred a few months ago, so they shouldn’t be due to kid for a nother couple of months, hopefully. And, his nibs, Gizmo the Lipizzan stallion got out of his pen a month ago and bred Melora, the Lipizzan mare. I had been planning on breeding them this year, just not that early. I dred sitting foal watch in December, which is probably what will happen this year. Oh, well, as dad used to say “If it was easy, anyone could do it….”.

I got a lot of pea seed planted last week – Mammoth Melting Sugar and Dwarf Gray Sugar, both snow pea varieties. The mammoths I like as they can get pretty big and fairly mature, yet still retain their sweetness and tenderness without developing a string. The dwarf are nice as they are smaller and tender, but you do have to be dilligent in picking as they have a tendancy to toughness and string if you let them get very big, at which time they’re more like a shelling pea. Both are great fresh or cooked, and the greens from both are tender and sweet, wonderful in salads, or stirfry.

Low tunnels are up, and with plastic on them, the ground should be warm enough to receive the seedlings in the greenhouse by mid March. This year I’m using a combination of PVC hoops with their foot boards and top rails and #16 wire wickets. The wire is pretty reasonable in price, and helps hold the plastic cover away from the edges of the tunnels.

I’m currently trialing several methods of plant protection out here. My never ending quest to outwit the landsharks, er, chickens….. It’s a kind of intellectual arms race between me and the hens. They’re either working hard at scratching up new plants, (everyone knows that the absolutely best dirt for dusting is right next to a newly transplanted seedling), or eating the new plants, (hey, they like peas just like we do!). So, one of my ongoing projects out here comes under the category of poultry confounding…. Hey, I think I just named a new discipline!

Look for new articles on all of the current projects in the next few days. I’m in the process of writing the intros for all of them.

Other projects I’ll be working on this year are rabbit tractors and using rabbits for weed control in the row crops, pastured rabbit vs pen reared and how they differ in taste, management issues, etc. Yeesh and I still need to get that incubator built so I can hatch poultry this year. I had planned on building it last year so that I could hatch emus, but with all that has happened over the past few months, that just didn’t happen. And then there are the experimental crops for this year – a couple of varieties of rice, peanuts, ground almonds (Chuffa), black sesame, heirloom field corn, dry shelling beans and other pulses and dry legumes, ginger, barley, hops and Yacon – most of which I’ll be growing for seed, but some of which I’ll be growing to use.

Look for articles on those as well this year.