Thursday, April 10, 2008

Farm Happenings

We've been cool and rainy, making it hard to motivate myself to get outside and work. Still, we've managed to keep up with a fair bit of farm work.

Jenny and her daughter were out visiting over the weekend, and while we ate and drank a lot, we apparently didn't get enough work done for Jenny's taste. I kept assuring her that we got all the necessary stuff done, but she said I didn't work her hard enough. (Note to self: next time she comes, work her like a dog and maybe she'll stay warm.) We were able to take the plastic down from the high tunnel, which went really well. We'll leave the hoops up to support shade cloth this summer, hopefully enabling us to grow lettuce through the season.

Everything inside the tunnel is growing beautifully, but the plastic was making the days much too warm for the cool season crops inside, causing many to bolt too soon. Although our last frost date isn't until early May, these crops should do fine, and the cool, overcast days have enabled them to acclimate to life outside the plastic quite well. We're supposed to get rain tomorrow, so I'll hold off a bit on watering in case. That's another advantage to removing the plastic, as it will hopefully help prevent salt build-up in the soil from constant irrigation and no rainfall to flush the soil.

We got the boar and the goats out on pasture this weekend, which went incredibly smoothly. It was great to have a third set of hands moving our boar, Big Boy, and Jenny was unflappable with her professional zoology background—big, unpredictable animals are apparently no big deal. She's a useful person to have around, let me tell you! Of course, the goaties didn't go nearly as smoothly as Big Boy. Oh, they're happy to go out, for sure; it's just that they don't stay put. Our little Nigerian Dwarf doe, Latte, insisted upon jumping the 35" electric net fence, so I put her into the 42" poultry net. She insisted upon jumping again. I spent some time trying to train her to the fence, but the problem is that she already knows she can escape. Now, fyi, the smaller netting kept them contained nearly all of last year, until she got it into her head that she could escape. So, now it's back to the drawing board as we figure out what to do with the goats. Jim's all for selling them, but I figure once we fence in the market garden, we can just let them roam about the pasture. Of course, that cuts into our managed grazing plan, but the best laid plans of mice and men...

We also got all my tomato and pepper seeds planted, and I got my mobile seed greenhouse put together. Sheer brilliance on my part, this will enable me to easily start seeds, moving them in and out of the garage for nighttime protection. The great thing about the cart is that it obviously means I don't have to give up precious tunnel space for seed starting, and I can take advantage of the heatsink that is our driveway. You can see that the cart will fit two 50 pod seed trays per shelf lengthwise, but I can also fit four across the short way with negligible overlap, allowing for a boatload of seed starting! I used some of the more tattered edges of plastic salvaged from one of the winter low tunnels to make the plastic covering, and I simply used clamps to secure it to the bottom of the cart. The wheels lock in place to prevent the cart from rolling down the driveway and into the road, though Jim's taking bets on whether it will go rolling one day anyway. He has no faith.

Over the past couple weeks I've gotten several rows planted down in the market garden. Peas were the first crop to go in and are already popping. After that, I put in broccoli, red and yellow onions, purple bunching onions, radishes, michihli, bok choi, white kohlrabi, beets, turnips, leeks, carrots, and spinach. I'm hoping to get another sowing of peas, radishes, beets, and turnips in tonight as well as parsley, lettuces, celery, colored carrots, and raab.


El said...

Busy busy! Oh and I am jealous of two things: one, knowledgeable help who goad you to do more (wow! lucky!) and two, that seedling cart! It's getting me thinking, I tell you!

Jenny said...

You give me way too much credit, Danielle! Mostly I was just feeling guilty because I know how much there is to do this time of year and I was enjoying all the hanging around, eating and drinking (which didn't help with the getting up and working, you're right).
We had such a great time and really hope that we can reciprocate soon. And I've already ordered the geese!

It feels good to say that I WAS THERE when this week's farm photo was taken. Can't wait to return.

Look for photos of the visit on my blog tomorrow. I think I'll have time to get to it tonight. Speaking of being goaded to do more.......

Madeline said...

How great for both of you that you got to get together! Made me want to visit, even more, seeing you in the farm photos, Jenny. It is surreal when we far-apart unschooling mamas can actually be located on the same acre. Surreal to see you together IRL, and so wonderful. About the goats, I have a local homesteading friend who is really ready to get rid of her goats about now as well. Spring goat fever?

karl said...

nice progress. such a lovely garden.