Monday, February 22, 2010

I think you missed one

Well, we are officially 'cat-sitters' for a while as P,A & E move to a new location. And, we are finding life is a bit different with two five-year old cats as opposed to the 17 and 19 year old kitties that previously lived with us. At least we have experience with settling cats to new locations and have a pretty good idea of what to do. After all, we moved Stryder & Eowyn seven times during their lives.

A brief visit from P,A & E resulted in the arrival of some of the cats favorite toys - those little 'mice' that come in multiple colors. There was an open box of approximately eight of them. Clearly, the cats only need a couple at any given time. And, so they were given a couple. There has been great happiness since that time.

It's pretty amazing how TWO toy mice seem to appear ALL OVER the place. Like many cats, these two will 'gift' them two us by dropping them where they know we will find them. But, things got a little out of hand last night.

It started with the mouse we tied to a string. This was brought upstairs while we were working in the office. The gift was rewarded with a play session with the mouse on the string.

Apparently, this was appreciated. Because, as the humans again focused on work, a NEW gift was brought up the stairs and presented. Sadly, this one did not result in the anticipated play session.

So, another attempt was made....with another mouse.

And another.

And another.

And another.

Ok. Where did all of these toy mice come from?

Well, whatever the case may be - the cats got the humans to play a bit more.

It also caused them to realize that the box with all of the EXTRA mice was sitting where the cats COULD get to them. Inspection revealed a box devoid of toy mice. Guess we'd better check our shoes for presents in the morning.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Farm Misc

Since it has been a while since we've done this...some news of the farm.

EQIP Funds for High Tunnel

We have applied for funds under the federally funding EQIP program in order to get some cost share help on a high tunnel. Also known as a hoop house, the concept is to have an unheated greenhouse-like structure to extend the growing season. We are looking at a movable high tunnel to support our desire to rotate crops and integrate cover crops into the mix. We'll keep everyone posted if we are accepted into the program, etc.

New Boiler

It wasn't in the farm plan - but we have to get a new boiler for our house (water heat). Ah well, that's the way it goes. We're hopeful that this will be done in the next week. Our thanks to Tripoli Plumbing & Heating for all of their help on this.

Planting Season

It is time. Onions and leeks are due to go into trays this weekend or soon after. We're not sure we're ready for this...but that's the way we feel every year.

Seed Orders

Nearly complete on this front. This will be a nice thing to put behind us. There were several varieties that were not available this year, so we had to make some adjustments. But, that happens every year and we do just fine.

Organic Certification

Oy, is THAT deadline coming up too?

CSA Signup

We still have plenty of slots. Currently we are sitting at approximately 80 subscribers. We would like to end at 120. We are not terribly worried about reaching that number since many people are just now beginning to think about Spring and fresh produce.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

You Keep Saying That Word....

I don't think it means what you think it means...

(a little Princess Bride anyone?)

Given recent events we're beginning to wonder about a couple of words on the farm.

Word #1 FIXED

We are, of course, referring to the concept of repairing something that is broken. Other definitions of 'fixed' need not apply for this blog post.

Case in point - the truck. In December, the truck was hesitating a bit - just not up to its normal chipper self. So, we thought we'd have it looked at. First, it was the distributor cap. In order to expedite matters, we even drove to get the part. Unfortunately, it turned out to need the entire distributor replaced. Ok, now it is FIXED, right?

Nope. That clicking noise it makes when we try to start it. Ya, that one right there? Can you say starter? I thought you could. What can we say - it's a piece of machinery - we're not sure 'fixed' applies.


Anyone who has done projects around the house KNOWS this word is a false hope. One project simply begets another - or several other - project(s). In fact, those other projects often prevent the absolute completion of the first project.

An example - the roof. Yes, a little under a year ago we had the main part of our roof replaced. Wonderful and most appreciated. But, it's an old farm house - there were other parts to the roof - including that flat area over the porch. Leaked like a sieve. So, we had that changed to a slanted roof just recently. But, of course, it isn't going to be entirely finished until all of the siding issues, electrical issues and insulation issues are completed. So, it is completed except that there is still more to do!


This one simply had to be added because of the movie reference. Just the rules of the game that is blogging.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Oh no! The Death Melon!

It's been a while since we featured this in a newsletter or otherwise. It's STILL funny. Even funnier if you know the Star Wars storyline.

Best parts:
Darth Tater: No, I am your father.
Cuke Skywalker: That's.... really impossible!


Obi-wan Canoli: The farm is what gives us our power. It's a kind of....field. That creates all edible things.

and, of course

The Death Melon - that giant fruit threatens us all!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

One Down...too many to go

The field planning for 2010 is moving forward. And, I'm proud to say that I have one figured out.


Out of nine.

Uh oh.

Actually, it isn't that bad. Several fields will not be planted much differently than 2009. So, the reality for those fields is that we'll make some little tweaks and proceed. And, actually, the field that has long been in need of some real work is the one I've been spending time on. It's all part of our incremental farm improvement. It's too much to ask for us to get everything fixed all at one time. So, we focus on something different to improve each year.

This year, we're trying to get the brassica/allium plot worked out. For the uninitiated, brassica includes broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussels sprouts, cabbage and kohlrabi. Allium includes our onions and leeks. Three years ago, we had a great year for brussels, kohlrabi and onions. Two years ago, it was broccoli, onions, kale and brussels. Last year, it was kohlrabi and... um. Well, we do have to remember that we have high standards, I guess....

Part of the problem is the simple fact that we have been working on succession planting (multiple plantings in one season to extend the harvest). The other part is determining which varieties we feel work for our fields and our needs. So, without further ado:

Cauliflower varieties for 2010: Amazing (op), Cassius (f1), Early Snowball (op), Fremont (f1), Snow Crown (f1)
Broccoli varieties for 2010: Belstar (f1), Calabrese (op), DeCicco (op), Early Dividend (f1), Gypsy (f1), Packman (f1), Thompson (op), Umpqua (op)
Kohrabi: Eder (f1), Kolibri (f1), Superschmeltz (op), Winner (f1)
Cabbage: Red Express (op), Copenhagen Market (op)
Brussels: Diablo (f1), Long Island Improved (op), Roodnerf(op)
Kale: Dwarf Blue Curled Scotch (op), Lacinato (op), Red Russian (op)

There will be 3 cauliflower successions, 3 kale, 4 cabbage and 6 each for broccoli and kohlrabi.

Wish us luck.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Weather Norms

Weather is an integral part of what we do at the farm. Thus, we might spend a little more time learning about it and observing it than others. Recently, I was exploring the National Weather Service's site and found the following graphs available for summarizing the temperatures and precipitation for a given year.

The dark blue line for temps indicates the range of temperatures traveled during a given day. So, you can get an idea as to whether a year was warmer/cooler than usual by looking at how much of the normal range is covered/not covered by the actual temperatures. For example, if you look in the area of the graph for January 2008, you will see lots of green under the actual temperatures - so we had a warmer than average period at that time, followed by a dip to below average temperatures. There looks like there was even a record set for a low towards the end of that month.

The green areas show rainfall and then snow fall amounts. The light green curve shows what an average precipitation year might look like. The dark green shows places where we were above the average total for the year up to that date. A tan-ish color indicates periods where we were below average total for the year. So, 2009 started a little dry, but was generally a 'wet' year. You can find dry periods by looking for points where the graph flattens to horizontal (see September for example).

What do these show us?

We know 2008 was a difficult year and we can summarize it by saying it started out cool and very wet. But, we were saved by a warmer than usual fall (with average rain amounts - since it's curve parallels the average at that time). Of course, we KNOW this because we LIVED it. However, if you can get the data in front of you, you can confirm the facts and consider what sorts of 'windows' in the weather we one can exploit during difficult (and even good) seasons.

For example, the past four years show a trend for dry weather during the second half of June. While this may not fall exactly at this point every year, we do see a two-week period where things dry out. Often, we are still putting in transplants and crops to maintain succession plantings in June. So, if we hit the dry spot we need to either irrigate or delay the planting to get past that dry spot. It also means we should hit cultivation and weed control hard in the first half of the two-weeks before soil gets compacted.

While we may do these sorts of things during this time of year anyway, knowing this can give us more conviction in our tasks because we know what the trends TEND to be.

Of course, this is the weather we are talking about, we'd better take all of this with a grain of salt.