Beautiful and New

With the first day of spring just a little over a week away, we are seeing lots of new life here on the farm.  The biggest new little guy is keeping this farm mama very busy, and with him always in my arms, taking pictures has become a challenge.  But we are managing a few here and there, and I feel like we have a lot of fun stuff to share.  For today, just a few pictures of a small part of what is new and beautiful on the farm right now.

The greenhouse is full, and the starts much bigger since I last took the camera out.  So much new food growing, its always so exciting, especially at this time of year when our overwintered goods start to wear thin.

Animals, both of the feather and fur variety, are also responding to the change in seasons.  We finally have more eggs than our family can eat (which is quite a lot); feeding 50+ chickens for close to a year without any eggs to sell and sometimes none to eat is always enough to try our patience.  Thankfully, we always forget all about those grumpy poultry feelings once we hear those egg laying songs throughout the day again.   And our eggs really are the best! We are all in egg heaven right now, and have promptly fallen for those pesky birds once again.

And although there will only be one mammal giving birth on the farm this year, it happens to be the kind that makes the next cutest babies to me!  Our sweet goat, who came to the farm this winter already bred and was somehow named nothing more than Mama, had one lovely baby this month.  Goat kids are incredibly endearing, and although this crinkly nosed wonder still doesn’t have a name ( I am thinking he will just be Baby), he sure has stolen our hearts.

And although he’s not doing any farming quite yet, here are a few pictures of our little baby, halfway through his first year here on the farm!  Indeed, all this new life is enough to kick winter on its heels.  The energy of life bursting forth from small seeds and little hearts and hands is contagious.  I know we are all ready for it over here, how about you?


Fall Update

Well, despite much grumbly mumbling and heavy feet dragging, I have to admit that I must have been temporarily out of sorts when I begged summer to stay longer. This autumn is proving to top all expectations I could have had for it, so many sunny, crisp fall days exploding with gold and amber. Even the foggy, cloudy days with the changing trees on the horizons, dark mountains to both sides….I can’t believe how beautiful this place is. And the fire truly is a wonder unto itself, the toasty warmth it brings to a home when the cold is knocking on the doors from without. More time during the day for walks and explorations, more time in the night for our family to be together, each quietly engaged in our loves….reading, quietly playing the guitar, drawing, building, and telling stories.

There is farming to be done too, but it isn’t done in the fields so much, except on harvesting days. There are animals to feed in the morning, and planning for next year, and although the list is long and won’t all be attended to, there are farm projects to take care of during these cooler months. Right now it is the new greenhouse that we are focusing on, which is moving forward with the help of our good friend/farm member/farm helper extraodinaire. After losing the plastic greenhouse last spring while it was still full of tender seedlings and throwing away more plastic than I ever care to again in a lifetime, we have decided to build a glass greenhouse. It will be great to have a more permanent place to start our seedlings, and to have this concern covered for the time being. It is really not long before we start seeds for next year, as crazy as that seems now!

Meanwhile, we watch the leaves fall to the ground offering the promise of new growth next year. We begin to celebrate in earnest the holidays that see us through the dark and cold months of the year, focusing on the sweetness of the season, as plant compounds turn from starch and bitter to sugar and sweet, the warmth and light we can create in our homes and communities through giving and receiving, the importance of gratitude, and the continuation of life even with death. At the heart of these celebrations, we find our own home filled with special foods and special meals. Summer has its picnics and barbecues and very exuberant holidays too, but the fall and winter holidays are of the home and the hearth. We are happy to have the opportunity to offer two by order holiday harvests this year for those of you who will be cooking extra or making special dishes to celebrate this year! We will have details for Thanksgiving week orders soon!

Busy, Busy, Busy!

growingwildfarm

Busy, busy, busy! We are busy planning and planting for the fall, winter, and early spring, keeping starts and new plantings wet in the heat. We have a lot of decisions to make in the next week or so as we plan our second season of growing year round. We learned a lot throughout last year, and we are happy to be able to apply first hand knowledge to the plans we are making this year. We are excited to plant some of the things we didn’t get to last year, things like chicories and parsley root. We are taking extra care with our parsnip planting, using soaker hoses to keep them nice and wet, and
while we do this really trying to keep the bed clear of weeds to facilitate a good start on these, they take almost three weeks to germinate! We are so happy with the increased amount of potatoes and onions already growing for winter harvest, and we are discussing and evaluating storage options for the winter.

We have decided not to plant in the new field we planned to use for fall/winter. This field needs more work to be a good growing space, and in the end, it will be better to do that work before trying to use it. Things will grow better in the old field, and although we had hoped to switch to rotating back and forth seasonally, the truth is that our main field’s soil is continually improving, rather than degenerating, so we have relaxed about using it this intensively. On the other hand, our lower field is looking great, and although our plans for growing pumpkins/tomatoes there weren’t realized this year (mostly because of how behind in time we got with that week in June that took me to Nebraska), we are going to get to use this for fall planting, and the soil is lovely. The water rises here right around the first of the new year, so this space will be filled with roots, roots, and more roots that we will harvest for cold storage both for the CSA and restaurants, but also for fall feed for the pigs and winter treats for the goats. Next year, we will likely do pumpkins and tomatoes there as we planned to this year. That looks especially promising after how well our tomatoes did in a similarly wet spot in the main field this year!

We are also beginning to make plans on the new greenhouse for next winter. After going back and forth between putting up a more permanent plastic hoophouse or a glass greenhouse with a foundation, we finally decided on building the glass house with a modified passive solar design. We are so blessed to have help with the designing of this from a fellow farm member and Monday farm helper. Andre continues to learn more and more and building as time passes on the farm, but it is always so reassuring to have a helping hand, especially a very smart and hard working one.

This week has also so quickly brought us into summer squash craziness, and for the first time ever, we have harvested these both today and on Sunday in order to keep up. We will check out the quality of those picked on Sunday, and will not give them out if they do not still seem super fresh, but we are committed to nice, mid-sized zucchinis and summer squash this year, aiming for consistent sizes for the CSA and market. With warm weather and the nature of these plants, sometimes overnight and especially a day or two can result in a mammoth squash. And although these are great for the little
piggies, there will be plenty of those by the end of summer squash season!

And as I mentioned last week, it is time for a farm open house and CSA potluck! We are busy with various summer plans just like the rest of you, so we ended up deciding on AUGUST 8th as the date for our first get together of the season. Mark your calenders, and don’t worry if you already have plans, we will definitely host another get together in October as well! And as it is the time for summer activities, we encourage you to check out the upcoming fundraising concert event on August 1st to benefit the efforts of Waste Not of Yamhill County, a group working against the landfill expansion as well as for alternative methods of waste disposal that could be employed at the existing dump. For details about this upcoming event, visit http://www.wastenotofyamhillcounty.org/.

This is an issue that is of vital importance to our community, so whether or not you can attend the concert, do take some time to become familiar with the efforts of this great
group.

Nice night gives way to bad day…it must be spring!

As Scott’s comment on Andre’s picture post on Saturday of last Friday’s beautiful weather warned, the day to come was terrible on more than one level. Sure, the sun gave way to grey clouds and rain…in a way that was welcome. We had been able to get a bunch of tilling done while the ground was dry and the days were warm, and with some of that work done, we didn’t mind the drier than normal Willamette Valley getting some much needed rain. But more than the grey and the rain replacing that wonderful sun and warmth, it was the incredible wind, so very windy on our own very unprotected piece of the pie. I came back from town and spotted the crushed, broken, ripped, and ruined greenhouse as I rounded the last bend towards our home. I don’t curse and didn’t this time, but the word did sound in my mind. I was sure I would find Andre upset, but he wasn’t. The seedlings were fine…they just didn’t have a home anymore. Now we have them in our small tunnel hoophouses and back in the front room by the south windows were we started all of our seeds our first year around. This is all less than ideal, though not terrible. The brassicas we put in the tunnel hoophouses are now going to be much warmer as the smaller space will heat up quicker, we just can’t walk in and water/thin/fertilize in an easy, efficient manner.

And it is in the midst of seeming contradictions that we can be assured we have made our way to spring. The ever changing weather, the new season’s steps forward and back, the beginning of something new albeit old….March, the ambivalent month. Still, it is a forward moving month, and although we are trying to stay in the moment, in the very beginning of it all, the first buds and new growth, rather than jumping ahead to the thick of it all, soon we will have rounded the corner and come more squarely into more predictable times on the farm. Hopefully we can move forward ourselves to more predictable farming. We can start with a well anchored, durable greenhouse come next spring’s winds!