Sunday, April 22, 2012

Mulch nightmares

It is hard to admit it, but we are really battling our mulch. Last year we thought we had hit the jackpot with chopped leaves and sheep-manure-hay. As we prepped the vegetable beds for their winter dormancy, we slathered on the stuff... I mean, trailerloads of mulch, piled on every bed. And when we got back out in the fields this spring... a farmer's nightmare came true: everything looked exactly as we had left it.

We are not the only ones dealing with the aftermath of a mild, snowless winter. Other farmers I've talked to have said the same thing. None of the expected organic matter got broken down these past few months without a snow cover. And coupled with almost no rain in March, we are all scrambling to prepare our beds... some farmers around here are even starting to water their garlic (almost unheard of).

We have wasted spent many person-hours this past month removing the mulch, only to see that none of it has composted, that the lime we worked in hasn't even dissolved, that none of the sod has rotted. Woe is us, we are now hauling trailer-load after trailer-load of mulch to our already humongous piles of compost material. And almost no organic has been added to our beds.

Mother Nature, won't you give us a break? Bring us some rain and we'll take good care of your land.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The hand is coming back

Or so says celebrity chef, Mario Batali, in a well-written call-to-arms article in Lucky Peach. He's referring to the return to American craftsmanship, where we actually make things with our hands... take pride in cooking a fantastically delicious meal, transplanting seedlings or building your own bookshelf, buying stuff from someone you actually know, learning how to fix things, using your fingers for more than just tapping away at the qwerty keyboard.

I used to think it was weird that I didn't have any "hobbies" to speak of, and when someone asked I would say, "I cook." But now that I can look at it as my opportunity to dabble in the artisan world, I feel even more inspired to be adventurous with my ingredients and taste combinations.

We have a lot of friends and acquaintances who do amazing work with their hands. Some of them have "gotten out of the corporate world" and are getting down and dirty by starting their own businesses, working in forgotten fields, renovating their houses, building green roofs, making music and art. I think more handy-work is just what this country needs. It not only creates work opportunities, it restores a sense of purpose.

And that's what we're all about... re-purposing life.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The chicks are out

Our chicks have been growing strong in their brooder boxes for 5 weeks now. In fact, they've been out-growing their boxes, so we decided to move them out into their bigger home in the red pine field. We finished the mobil-coop last night - tarping off the top and adding a door - and dragged it up with the ATV to a grassy spot. As soon as they had the chance they starting flapping their wings and flying around, at first pecking their feeders for food, but quickly realizing that the entire ground was a potential food source. Be free and be strong! 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Spring transplanting

 We've been transplanting out lots of our early sown seedlings - kale, collards, chard, spinach, lettuce and leeks. They are all protected under hooped-up greenhouse plastic. And even baby Seneca came out with us to enjoy some sun and spring breeze.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Have a heart

Jason found two large holes in the ground near our compost pile and we knew there was some critter just waiting for us to plant out our delicious little spring seedlings. So we set out the hav-a-hart trap with some green beans and salmon skin last night, and behold, we found a nasty creature in it this morning. The bare tail, claws and rather large teeth gave it away: an opposum. This kind of trap lets you release the animal somewhere without having to kill it. So we're checking with local regulations to see if there are any restrictions on where it can go... we're hoping it will be across the Hudson River, far from our kale and collards.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Garlic's up

Our garlic is looking great. I was worried with the warm weather we've been having that they were growing too quickly, but our local garlic expert told us not to worry, that the shoots should be coming up about now. Looking forward to a July harvest.