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.
Every Spring is filled with challenges. I plan all winter long, trying to improve what was accomplished the previous year, but always run into problems right out of the gate. I post a lot of pictures on Facebook of wonderful looking vegetables and beautiful farm shots to get my community excited about farming. There is also the other side of farming that can be very humbling. I have been working 14 days straight to get all the projects planned completed. My tasks have been varied such as going to Home Depot to pick up supplies 4 times, going to Finkles Hardware to pick up supplies 4 times, going to the lumber yard to pick up supplies twice, picking up a wood stove, figuring out how to install a wood stove, spreading manure in a wet field and getting my tractor stuck, building a 2nd mobile chicken coop, and fixing the plastic on our greenhouse because of a mishap with our new hardening off extension and high winds. I need to do all of this and still focus on farming and seeding in the greenhouse! I have never had to split my brain in so many directions. In like a lion and out like a lamb they say…and that reminds me we are getting 8 lamb in two weeks so I will need to complete our livestock plan, set up a water supply, order minerals, find a trailer, and train our crew on how to take care of them. Spring is challenging.
This winter I built a mobile coop for our laying hens. It was great to have a project like this to keep busy and brush up on some old skills. I studied furniture and product design in college and went on to open a design company I ran as a side job while working in wood and metal shops. Farming allows me to use these skills through laying out irrigation, crop planning, building high tunnels, and mobile coops. I found a used running gear for a hay wagon as the base of the coop. A friend of mine helped me mill out the foundation planks from an ash tree on his saw mill. The rest of the design was taken from simple construction techniques. The whole design is informed by taking care of chickens for the past three years. Most importantly there is a solar powered door that opens and closes based on daylight, which should provide a lot of freedom for the farmer!