Thursday, March 1, 2018

March Newsletter

Mud Season
Every person I know that actively farms refers to "Mud Season."  For those people who do not farm, you can probably guess exactly what we are referring to, but I suspect you might have a difficult time fully appreciating the significance Mud Season has for those of us who farm.  There is no getting away from the mud and you can't just stop doing farm chores and wait for it to dry up.

Mud Season starts when it decides to start and ends when it is finished.  Sometimes, you can get a reprieve from Mud Season only to have a recurrence of Mud Season and you can get reminders of Mud Season at times that are not actually Mud Season.  Mud Season is a time to give up on keeping the entryway clean in the house, keeping the car or truck clean is a hopeless task and a trip outside without the muck boots is NOT advised.  A farmer might think that she has managed to go form point A to point B on the farm without getting muddy only to realize hours later that there are mud spatters on the back of her pants leg as she stands in front of students in the classroom (yay for Tammy!).

On our farm, Mud Season could begin any time there is a thaw after the frost has really set in the ground.  But, it normally starts in earnest in late February into early March.  There is still plenty of frost in the ground, but the top couple of inches have thawed out due to warmer temperatures and stronger sunshine.  The combination of snow melt (assuming there was snow) with a little bit of rain can get Mud Season going in earnest.

At present, we are at the stage of mud season where our farm is covered in puddles that have ice chunks floating in them.  You can take one step and sink into the mud about six inches and in the next step the ground is rock hard.  Much of our ground is a soft and slippery 2 inch layer of top soil over the still frozen dirt (at last report our frost line was 3+ feet deep).  The gravel roads around us work hard to pull vehicles into (or out of) the wheel tracks and we are unlikely to drive our tractor anywhere on the farm unless we REALLY need to for fear that the vehicle we need to pull things out will also get stuck.

So, welcome to Mud Season.  See you all on the other side - whenever that is.

Picture of the Month

Just a taste of Mud Season

Farm News Shorts and Announcements

  • Chicken shares are nearly completed for all participants for this round.  We will be taking reservations for the upcoming year's chicken shares as of now.  These will start when our first batch of broilers are processed around July 4th.
  • CSA Shares are now available.  We will be offering the same set of shares as 2017 with the same price structure.  Information is RIGHT HERE on this blog if you are interested.  Don't let the year date stop you if I don't catch all of the 2017's and change them to 2018!
  • Speaking season has come to a close for Rob with his completion of speaking engagements at Wartburg, UNI and Hawkeye Community College.  At this point, we typically change to farm tours with an occasional exception for other speaking opportunities.  Thank you to all who have given him an opportunity to share.
  • The annual Nota Conference is held by the "Gang of Five Farms" every January/February to give us a chance to enjoy each other's company and help each other plan and handle life's challenges on our farms.  It was a bit later than usual this year, but it was every bit as valuable as it has been other seasons.  We're not sure what we would do without our peers' support and kindness.
  • The season of "Service Trip Groups" is beginning at the farm as well.  A high percentage of Wartburg students participate in service trips and they are required to do something to help fund these trips.  Each Spring (and often Fall) we have from one to three groups come out to the farm and do things that many hands can accomplish sooner than just two or four hands.  One example of a group visiting can be seen in this blog post.
February Calendar

  • March 14 (Wed) -  Egg sales Waverly and Cedar Falls
  • March 27 (Tue) - Egg sales Waverly and Cedar Falls
Weather Wythards
Rob is writing this post AWAY from the weather station and the farm.  It is difficult to get the information from it when you can't see it (and it is not internet enabled).

But, if you want a summary.  It was cold for a spell and warm for a spell.  There was rain, snow and ice.  Some days were windy.  Others were calm.  We saw the moon and stars sometimes.  One day, the sun came out and we were happy.

You are welcome!

Song of the Month
King's X is a group that has been a long time favorite of mine.  In my opinion, they've never settled for easy - which gets my respect.  This month's song is Fly - a reminder to me that I don't need everyone to agree with everything I do and say. 

Time to Have Pun
It's been pretty cold the last several months.  Cold enough that we've been forced to use the furnace much later than usual (and much more than usual).  The extremes to which we have gone this Winter (and early Spring) to stay warm are best illustrated by a recent trip a couple of friends took kayaking down the Wapsipinicon River.  In case anyone cares, that river is only a little over a mile away from us. 

In any event, the river was open, but it was pretty cold.  And, of course, they hit a snag and flipped the kayak.  They righted themselves easy enough, but now they were very cold and had a ways to go to get out of the river.  So, they floated close to shore, grabbed some dry twigs and proceeded to start a fire on the kayak to warm up.

Of course, the kayak sank and they had to wade to the bank and hike to the road.

Why am I telling you all of this?

Remember - You can't have your kayak and heat it too.

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