I finally got the gumption to go out with the camera today and then nearly forgot I had it with me. Of course, once I realized I had it and started taking pictures, the battery ran out of juice. Sometimes that's just how it goes. But, I did get enough to take everyone on a little bit of a tour of the accomplishments of the last week or so.
Our recent flurry of activity started before the 16th, but I do think that's about the time I was able to participate a bit more fully than I had been. Our good friends from Blue Gate Farm came up and helped us get Valhalla moved from the East to the West growing position. Moving the high tunnel is a pretty decent task that has many steps, so it always feels good once the process is completed.
You can actually see a couple of accomplishments if you look at the picture above. Valhalla in its new spot AND the field to its right has been prepped for planting. The area closest to the building is 75% planted and has even been cultivated once. The swale in the middle is getting some decent clover established at the West end at least. And we ran a few rows of sweet corn to the right of the swale.
This is more sweet corn than we need - but we figure the extra sweet corn is Rob's opportunity to learn how to use a new piece of cultivating equipment! (more on that on a later date)
When we moved Valhalla we uncovered some crops that we had started INSIDE the building. They are now OUTSIDE the building - which was by design. The snow peas are really getting going with the flowers and the potatoes and green beans are way ahead of where crops like these would normally be on May 25. The lettuce at right looks pretty good too! Let's just say we're feeling pretty good about how we are handling the high tunnels this year so far.
Unfortunately, as I looked back West when I trotted on out to Valhalla, I recognized some clouds that were a little less encouraging from my perspective. What we really do not need is hail, now that we've uncovered these wonderful looking crops.
The inside of Valhalla in its new position is now 80% planted. We've got four rows of bell peppers (Napoleon Sweet) that we are growing for seed (Seed Savers). At the far left are a row of tomatoes. And, there are a couple rows of crops that we've seeded... so needless to say, you can't see plants now.... be patient, they'll show up eventually!
Our good friend, Mark Quee, from Scattergood Friends School came up and helped us prepare the ground and repair the roll up side on the left side. It was really good having a chance to touch base with him AND we managed to get some things done we really wanted done. It's hard not to be pleased by things like that!
Once the high tunnel was moved, we changed our focus to moving the broiler chickens into their portable buildings and onto pasture. Tammy and her sister Brenda (also our good friend) pretty much handled this task. There wasn't much more I could do than drive the tractor and pull the buildings into place.
The process is essentially to place the buildings, catch the chickens in the brooder room and put them into crates and then move those crates to the buildings and let the birds out. Sounds simple until you realize you need to bring out feeders and waterers...and food and water. And, oh yeah... we need to set up the electric fences and the solar chargers so we can protect the birds.
Since that time we've moved the buildings every other day - that process is for another day.
Then, there are the bees.
We have had one active hive for several weeks now (at right above) which we were able to acquire soon after we realized all three of our previous hives had collapsed over the Winter. We had two more on order and we had to pick them up sometime last week.
That meant a nice long drive to Mt Vernon for Tammy and then some quality time in the bee suit setting them up. One went in the same location as the first hive.
The second hive is in a new location by some of our apples in the orchard area. We like this location right now, but we're trying to figure out if we'll need to do something more during the Winter months for this location. I think we have time to work on dealing with that...
But, we all know how things sneak up on you when you work a farm!
Are you getting tired of this update yet? Well, if you need a break, that's fine. Go use the restroom or get something to drink. I'll wait....
Ok. Time's up!
So, the plot you see above is called "Middle Earth" on our farm. We planted some sunflowers and corn earlier and had some germination issues with those. So, in the past week, we tilled most of that under to try again. We also planted a row of pumpkins, watermelons and winter squash (and a few flowers). There are borage seedlings at the right too. We've even managed to cultivate this field once are replant the corn and sunflowers.
We're hopeful that this field will turn out the way we want it to.
I didn't get a picture of the southwest plot where we put in summer squash and zucchini and cultivated the carrots and beets. I almost forgot that task happened in the last ten days too!
Eden has gotten the royal treatment as well. Five staff members from Practical Farmers of Iowa took a trip to the Genuine Faux Farm last Friday and provided willing hands to make numerous tasks just that much easier. They also made sure I wasn't trying to lift too much too!
Sally, Liz, Alisha, Lydia and Michael provided us with good conversation and helped us complete a long list of tasks - even with wetter conditions limiting our options. Once again, good friends (both old and new) made us feel as if we were valued. It's pretty hard not to feel positive after all of this.
The edges of the high tunnel needed attention, both inside and out. We cultivated all of the beds, put up fencing for the melons, cage the tomatoes and put up some poles for the tomatoes that will need trellising.
It's looking really good now! And, it is completely planted.
Now, for some truth in advertising. Yes, both farmers DID participate in the labor here. Rob can effectively wield a wheel hoe or a trapezoid hoe and he can even run Barty, our tiller. But, there is no way we get all of this done (including taking some old chicken buildings apart and organizing a couple of areas in our buildings) without the help.
Yesterday's tasks included desperately trying to get things put into the ground before the fields were made too wet once again. Rob managed to get the broccoli and cauliflower in (the small green dots at the left) by himself. The two 400 foot rows of cucumbers were completed with help from Kory and Daniel (and Tammy of course).
These cucumbers are serving a double purpose. We are growing A&C Pickling cucumber for Seed Savers AND we are using them for a PFI research trial. They needed to get into the ground!
In the background, you can see the red roof of the 2nd broiler chicken building. As we went out last night to close their door (after the storm rolled through) we were able to check on the new plants and they looked fine. We appear to have dodged the hail and pounding rains - thank goodness!
Rob even ran the wheel hoe by the onions.
I know I missed a whole host of things and I hope I didn't miss anyone who lent a hand during this flurry. If I did - call me on it. It's my blog and I can fix it!
Have a great day everyone!