Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Icicle Race

T & I managed to get ourselves off the farm for a portion of the holidays. thanks to D for keeping track of the farm during this period where the farmers are being negligent of their duties...

So, we drove to Florida from Iowa. Starting on Christmas day. Yes, that's when that monstrous storm was dumping rain, snow and ice in Iowa. Happily, we got out of "Dodge" with minimal issues. Though it was interesting to note that on every bridge and underpass the car wanted to move slightly sideways until we were well south of Iowa City. Happily, the rest of the roadways were clear, so this was an issue we could handle. Speeds were a bit slower than maybe one might expect, due to the weather - so we only made it to Paducah. Hey, Paducah is cool.

Besides that we visited FIVE states in day one of driving: Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky AND confusion. Hey, that's what happens when you try to try to pack a car, outside in rain/sleet/snow with slush/snow on the ground.

Day two of the drive saw us get all the way to Tampa from Paducah. Ok, part of day 2 ended on day 3 as we got there after midnight local time.

The real kicker of all of this is that we had to deal with a surprise truck repair (distributor), a surprise furnace issue AND water in the electrical breaker box for our house. All on Christmas Eve day. Add to that the nervous energy that comes with impending storms and you have two wired people trying to get everything done and trying to decide whether to scrap the trip or to drop everything and get out ASAP.

We chose to stick with the original plan - and here we are.

Decompressed yet? Almost. Just in time to drive back. YAY!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!

R & T - Genuine Faux Farm

Thursday, December 17, 2009

NOT Rudolph

11:30 PM - The lights are still on in the house. It is finals week. The schedule is a bit topsy-turvy. It is the way of things during finals week. The humans will placate the cat and go to bed soon. Tomorrow is an early and long day. Must get some sleep.

12:15 AM - One human takes a while to wind down, but he always takes longer to fall asleep. Don't worry, he'll...zzzzzzzz

1:00 ZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

1:29 AM - Something is going on...huh? wha? Must wake up. Why does it seem like there is a pulsing light?

1:30 AM - clock rings the half hour. Pulsing light still there. R's brain is still confused, but becoming a bit alarmed - literally. Don' t all of our smoke detectors make loud noises if they go off? I wonder if the speaker went bad in one and it is just blinking. Better get up and investigate!

1:31 AM - Hmmm. That light isn't coming from inside the house. It is OUTSIDE! What's going on here?

1:32 AM - Arg! All of these older windows are covered in frost and I can't see out, but the lights are right outside on the road. And they are very bright. Was there an accident? Santa come early with Rudy?

1:40 AM - now you know the lights are bright and annoying. Even T has been awakened by this. We now have identified the source. The trail groomer for the snowmobile route is STUCK in the ditch in front of our house. It is REALLY cold out there tonight and he's out there shoveling away in an effort to get out. I'm not sure that I'm feeling sorry for him right now. Thoughts about calling...who?... I don't know... the sheriff? enter our heads. Conflicting feelings about how difficult it must be to work in -15 degree F weather vs the annoyance of continued blinky lights, lost sleep and periodical loud growling as he tries to rock the vehicle to 'unstick' it don't help me to feel sleepy either.

1:45 AM - Ok, fine. He hasn't come to the house to ask for help. It seems as though he's been on a cell phone. We don't have a big tractor to pull him out. We need to get to sleep (if we can). Close some additional doors and try to drown out the light.

1:50 AM - white snow outside and really bright lights. grrrrrrr (was that me or the machine out there?)

2:00 AM - clock rings in the hour. T appears to be asleep again - at least part way. R is still annoyed. blink blink blink grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr blink blink blink...

2:10 AM - sounds like the thing is moving now. Oh no.. he still has to go all the way around our property (where the trial runs)! Oy. Blinky lights for a while yet.

2:20 AM - blinking is fading into distance. quick check - no presents under tree. drat.

2:30 AM - clock rings in the half hour.

2:40 AM - One human takes a while to wind down, but he always takes longer to fall asleep. Don't worry, he'll...zzzzzzzz

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Prepping the Farm For White Stuff

It becomes clearer to me each time I try to answer the question "So, what do you do on the farm during the winter?" that I must do an inadequate job of answering.


Well, for one, I am sure I never quite make it clear that there is plenty to do and that we don't sit on our hands all winter.

For two, I am often asked the question by the same people - so I must have failed in try number one.

For three, I feel like I'm giving a generic answer - maybe because I'm never sure how much the person asking the question really wants to know. In a sense, this question is akin to "How are you?" The person asking probably doesn't really want to hear a complete and thorough run down....

But, here is a glimpse at what has been going on at the farm the last few days in preparation for the first big winter storm of the season:

Issue Number 1: Wind
For those who don't know - the wind can be a bit more brutal in the country than 'in town.' As a result, we find ourselves looking to move things to locations where they don't disappear over the winter. It's one thing if the wind moves something around in the spring or fall. We're outside ALOT more so notice these things. We also know that there are places in our outbuildings where the wind can reach in and 'grab' things. So, we move things away from those locations.

Issue Number 2: Cold
Any plants or produce must come into the house proper. Roots such as cannas also need to come in. We've had a few things hanging on in the garage up to this point, but it all must move in now. But, don't forget things like paints, glues, batteries, potting soil etc. The house is now a bit cluttered and messy until we get everything settled into some semblance of organization. While we are at it, the cold freezes the chickens water and we have to do something to help them get through it. So, changes are made to their living area that involve heat lamps, water heaters and covers on open windows/doors.

Issue Number 3: Snow
We've learned from prior work that things migrate ALL OVER the farm during the growing season. If left outside, we run the risk of forgetting them and being unable to find them again. Worse yet, we DO find them again with equipment such as a mower or tiller. So, these things need to get under shelter. But, even things like our cages (used to protect lettuce, etc) need to be moved somewhere. We learned last winter that they will sink into the muck under the weight of snow - requiring repairs to nearly all of them. They are on ground that is much more solid this year. OH - and I suppose we should put the snowblower attachment on one of the tractors. After the tiller is removed...

Issue Number 4: Critters
Deer like to beat on trees (especially apples). These all need some sort of fencing protection. And, our remaining seed inventory needs to come in and be protected as well.

Issue Number 5: Frozen Ground
Anything that was left to be done with planting or prepping for winter with respect to crops had to be dealt with. The garlic got a nice hay mulch placed over them. A few rows of lettuce, kale and arugula were identified and covered with low tunnels. The grafted apple trees in pots were sunk into the ground. Remaining root crops were dug. And, stakes were pounded into the ground as needed.

Now that it has snowed, everything will change on the farm to do list. We'll report on that one later.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Learn about the Farm

By way of a "Farm Report"

And - because we are in our 1 year blogaversary....we thought we'd link in a representative list of posts from our blog that might give you a window into what we do on the farm.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A whole year of Genuinely Faux?!?

Really? This is not possible - but there it is. And, just to make the reference seem more tangible - here is a link to our first set of posts in the month of December, 2008.

And, just to celebrate, here are some other things that might be enjoyable to all:

Our TOP TEN POSTS post from September is here. Go take that link and then visit our top ten posts and enjoy. But, pay attention - there is more to this....

Candidates for new "top" posts:
Why make a big deal of this? Well, I'm thinking I'll put a 'Top X' list on the left side of the blog - to be updated about once a year. So - here's where you all come in.

Respond to the blog and VOTE for your TOP THREE blog entries. They can be any of those listed in the old top 'ten' or from these three. OR, if you feel REALLY strongly about something else, include it in your vote. If you don't have an account to post on the blog - send it to us in email at gff@genuinefauxfarm.com

I admit - part of the reason for this is to determine if there is still interest in the blog. And, another reason is that R is going through people interaction withdrawal (no CSA deliveries). But, the biggest reason? It sounds like fun!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

COLD crops

Please note the date. Yes, I am writing this post on the day that it will appear on the blog. So, it is, in fact - December 2.

What did I do today on the farm? Take three guesses and the first two don't count.

Okay, okay, I'll tell you.

I harvested veg today. And, no, we don't have a high tunnel/green house. No, these were not in a cold frame. But, it is a good reminder that crops can hold in the ground for quite some time as long as:

a) the soil temps are above freezing (typically 40 degrees F & up)
b) low 20 degree temps are followed by over freezing temps during the day
c) reasonable amounts of sun and moisture is provided

Our next Waverly Harvest Market is this coming Saturday. So, ideally, I would have liked to have waited to pick until Friday. But, rule (b) is about to be broken (decisively). That makes (c) moot and will certainly change (a) to a lower temp. In short, the crops might not last much longer in the ground.

the most difficult thing about this is the cold temps on hands. I use fingerless gloves because I need to be able to use the full dexterity of my digits. But, as you might guess, the dexterity goes down a bit as I get progressively colder. So, it usually means working for an hour followed by some indoor time to warm up - then back out into it.

Today wasn't too bad until about 3pm - that's when the northwest wind kicked it into gear. It can be a bit difficult to wield a lettuce knife when tears are running down your face (as a result of the cold wind - c'mon now!). Of course, I got smarter and turned my back to the wind - but you can't always face the way you want to.

In any event, I was able to pull in a fair amount of baby lettuce, kale, pok choi and leeks. I also found some smaller turnips and rutabegas and some baby carrots. The surprise was the number of modest sized, but good looking, beets I was able to coax out of the ground. Now, we must work to clean it all and keep it fresh until Saturday. Good thing the garage has become a full-sized walk-in cooler.