Monday, May 28, 2018

The Heat is On

 Everyone in Iowa is saying, so we can too.  Don't blink... that was Spring you just missed.

Sadly, what that means for us on the farm is that we're still trying to do all of the Spring stuff in peak of Summer weather.  It's hard on the plants, the poultry, the farm supervisors (the cats) and the farmers.  But, this is the hand we are dealt right now, so we'll work with it.

We'll start by giving you a farm report with pictures that were taken about a week ago.  Where are the newer pictures?  Well, we haven't taken them because every picture I try to take is dotted with all of the blackflies (aka buffalo gnats) that like to swarm me when I am outside right now.  Ok, the real reason?  I don't WANT to take pictures when I am surrounded by those irritating (and painful) critters.  I've tried a couple of times and gave it up for a bad job.

A little field cleanup left, but mostly done.
We did a pretty good job in the late Fall/early Winter last year cleaning up fields so we would have less to deal with this Spring.  We still had some broccoli residue to pull out (the sticky stuff in the picture above).  Jocelyn told us she wanted to do a little work about a week ago and she showed us she still has the chop hoe technique required.  Between the two of us (Rob and Jocelyn) we had these things chopped out in no time.

Garlic IS looking good.
 The garlic crop is looking to be a pretty good one this year.  They came up with a very high germination rate and very good consistency.  We are finding that one of the three beds is looking a little bit weaker than the other, but that is to be expected.  Why?

Well, we are trying a little experiment this year (who us?).  Two of the three beds had a light layer of compost applied just after planting and before laying the straw mulch (in November).  The third did not get the compost.  We are seeding a visible difference in plant health.  We're more interested in head size at harvest, but healthier plants are likely the right direction.  So, we'll keep you posted.

The nuggets' home for the next month or so.
 We call our broiler chickens "nuggets" when they are smaller and then they graduate to the "boyus."  I think they might be at the "boyus" stage right now, but neither Tammy nor I have been consistent with our reference.  so, they must be in transition.

The boyus/nuggets are not particularly fond of the heat, nor do they care for the gnats.  So far, we have not lost any birds to the gnats.  However, some of you might remember a few years ago we lost a significant number of ducks to them.  We're moving the building as often as we are able (about every other day) and we keep them hydrated and we move things to optimize the breeze when we can.  They aren't the fastest growing bunch we've ever had, but they do seem to be pretty healthy despite the current issues.

Apple blossom festival at the farm?
 We may have had the nicest fruit tree bloom we have ever had at the farm.  Many years, the trees all try to start too early.  But, with the late snows, the trees were remarkably patient.  And, this year, we didn't have howling winds during the bloom, so the flowers stayed on longer.  We saw many more pollinators checking them out as well and we got many more days enjoying the colors and the scent. 

While we don't want to count our apples before we harvest them, I think it is safe to say that this was about as good as it could get on our farm for a good pollination scenario.  We'd really like a good apple year on the farm.  And, we wouldn't say no to pears, plums and apricots.
 We've tried to stay on top of the little things that sometimes catch us every spring.  One of those things is trying to control critters that like to mow down our trays of seedlings.  It is oh, so easy to say, "I am tired.  We can put that fence up tomorrow morning."

Uh uhhhh!  Not doing that anymore.  Every time we utter those words, we regret it.  When trays go out to the cold frame area, fence goes up.  So there.
Preparations for Eden's move.
 Conditions in the West position for Eden (our older high tunnel) have been problematic due to water issues.  We need to address it, so we moved Eden back to the East position for this season.  We managed to get this done in the morning hours a little over a week ago.  The picture above shows the tunnel after the move.

I had intended to have someone record the move with pictures, but we got so busy just moving the darned thing.  Well, you get the idea.  In any event, the basic idea is that we have to undo all of the anchors, lift up the flaps on the end walls, take off the doors, take out the T-posts on the end walls, clean off the track and put any of the wheels back on the track that may have come off during wind events.  Once all of that is done, we use rope and hook up the tractor to help move it.

Once moved.... redo everything you undid before you moved the high tunnel... in reverse order.  Of course.
The grass be outdoing our peas.
Apparently, this has not been the year for peas?  Several people have reported poor germination.  Sadly, all of the grass surrounding the peas seems to be doing reasonably well.  No.  We do not want that grass there.  We want peas and carrots.  Someone messed up our order.  We want to talk to management!

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