Spring felt about three weeks late this year. It is always challenging playing the hurry up and wait game. Once we were able to get into the fields we have been planting ever since. In the ground we have potatoes, lettuce, radishes, turnips, artichokes, peppers, beans, corn, zucchini, tomatoes, kale, swiss chard, cucumbers, ginger, turmeric, collards, herbs, and carrots. With all of these vegetables in the ground we were hoping on an occasional rain, ideally 1″ per week. The rain never came and we have been irrigating around the clock. When one field is shut off, another is turned on and we repeat the cycle endlessly. I think about California and the devastating drought out West that will surely affect our nations vegetable supply and conclude that no one has a handle on the weather these days. It reaffirms that making a connection with your local farmer is important because they may be the ones that feed their local community when other parts of our country dry up or flood. As I write this it is raining outside…the rain dance worked…and now it’s time to stake the tomatoes, hill the potatoes, and weed, weed, weed. It is all so worth it, eating fresh greens everyday and seeing everything bursting with life.
The crew has been on a roll with planting over an acre and a half of greens and potatoes. We even are trying a couple beds of artichokes this year. Our new employees are settling into their focus on the farm with Parker taking on the daily greenhouse duties such as watering, keeping an eye on any pest outbreaks, and setting traps to catch mice from eating our squash seed. There must be something the way the seed smells because every year we find mice damage to our newly planted seeds. Melissa is focusing on irrigation, livestock, and soil conductivity readings and brix tests to monitor how healthy our plants are out in the field. Andrea’s focus is on livestock and has recently become our go to worker for spreading compost. That entails using our large tractor to scoop from the pile and carefully dump it into our spreader. The spreader drops the compost directly on one of our field beds. Andrea has already composted about 80 beds! The whole crew comes together with everything from planting out in the field, seeding in the greenhouse, washing eggs, moving our mobile coops, to harvesting. There are many facets to our operation and each one of the crew is an important part that keeps everything moving forward. One of the most fulfilling parts of farming is when everyone is working together, helping one another learn, and being there to share in the joys of simple pleasures like harvesting radishes for the first time in Spring.
Challenges have been presented in March and a steady work ethic has proved that anything can be overcome. To clear my mind I breathe, in and out, in a slow rhythm. Then I decide what is the most important task that needs to be done and try to execute. So far the asparagus has popped up, our garlic is looking nice, and we have done a lot of planting. Our first succession is in the field with collards, kale (4 varieties), and swiss chard in the ground. We direct seeded radishes, salad mix, turnips, and carrots. I notice the wild garlic in our forest is almost ready to harvest and we have been producing pea tops in our heated greenhouse. The chickens are in the mobile coops and are scratching and eating the new growth of grass that is finally making a appearance. Our damaged greenhouse has been fixed and our employees are being trained on every aspect of the farm from shoveling scoops of soil to hold down row cover to how to properly fuel all of the machinery on the farm. Lastly I make time to enjoy my family and some time “off”, which will only be a portion of the day on the weekends. Farming takes a lot of sacrifice of time yet I still feel like I have dropped out of the rat race and live a very full life. I love my job, my family, and look forward to everyday. Recently we got 8 lambs. I have never spent anytime around lambs but now I must become an expert. All it takes is self education, surrounding yourself with the right people, intention, and care. My son Van loves to visit the lambs and says “Hi baba! Hi baba!” which fills my heart with joy because he will know plants and animals as he grows. Nurturing the lambs and vegetables we are growing overlaps with nurturing a child. The farm is growing, I am growing, and our family is growing. It does not get much better then this.