SPRING?! and are the project lists really shortening?

WELL, we got another snowfall up high last night.  It's been bizarre to have buds breaking and birds chirping when the weather seems to keep pushing back into winter.  Then again, we are hitting the high 70s later this week.  Maybe we'll skip spring and launch right into summer?  Geez, I hope not.

We got our first plants outside last week.  Some were transplants that badly needed to get in the ground (kale, chard, fennel, parsley) and some were early seedings of salad greens, spinach, radishes, and carrots. It's interesting to have done something for so long, and then to change contexts and feel like you're doing everything for the first time.  I have felt that way a lot this month about little things- how we shape our beds in the field, how we transplant, how we harvest, how we display our produce.  Pieces of everywhere I've been carry forward but there are so many new factors, as well.

Two weeks ago, my cousin Phillip came over from Vermont for a weekend and helped us put the woven wire fencing up around our main field. We've got serious deer pressure, and our hope is to deter them from the outset. Eat all the day lilies, but PLEASE stay away from our plants. Little did we know that Phillip was a fencing consultant in his youth so we got expertise, another set of hands, and great company for what could have been a long and lonely task.  Win-Win-Win.

The last (?!) major projects for this spring are to tidy our indoor barn space so that we can use it for wash/pack and storage, and to grade and gravel the outside space for more wash/pack and storage.  We're hoping to complete these projects this month and to be organized for the summer craziness. I'm trying to channel the 'lean farm' philosophy as much as possible in the first, inevitably chaotic year. It feels like we're doing a-ok.  

Tomatoes are in the ground and we're in our last weeks of harvesting greens from the greenhouse before they've got to make way for peppers and basil.  This week we seed our first round of plants to go out after the last frost date- cucumbers, squash, and some tender flowers.Despite what feels like an interminable winter, there are sure signs of spring and we're pretty excited about all that is to come.

 

Chasing spring, but savouring winter a little

Everything's still covered in snow here in Keene Valley, but we've had enough dripping, melting and bare ground sightings to know that Spring will come eventually. We're taking the opportunity to finish up some major infrastructure projects and get ourselves organized before the season gets busy and there are plants to tend to, bugs to encourage, bugs to fight off and veggies to sell.

The most exciting project this month has been the building of our small but mighty walk-in cooler.  Steve has been busy with the cooler for the past two weeks and it is almost finished (!). The cooler is located in part of the old 'sheep barn' on the farm which is actually an old dairy barn.  We chose a spot that will provide easy access from our processing area and also truck access when loading for markets and deliveries.  The sheep barn was neither square nor level so Steve had to use all his magic carpenter powers to build a square and level box within this barn. He built 2 x 4 framing, layered on OSB, two layers of insulation, and a layer of plastic paneling to create a well-sealed cooler that will be food safe and washable on the inside and water and rodent-proof on the outside.  We are using some smart farmer technology called a Cool-Bot to cool rather than a traditional compressor to cool our veggies.  The Cool-Bot connects to a window air conditioner and overrides the thermostat, allowing it to cool down to 33 F.  Cool-Bots are more energy efficient than compressors, less expensive and easier to maintain for regular people like us.

March has also brought the first harvest of shoots and the planting of beds in the greenhouse with spinach, radishes, salad greens, green onions and spinach.  We've been busy preparing for our first employees, selling market shares to the community, cleaning indoors spaces, ordering supplies and PLANNING. Next up: installation of deer fencing around the new field and last minute blueberry pruning.  It may be hard to imagine right now, but soon, the snow will melt and we'll be out in the field planting, watering, and holding the weeds at bay.