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!
The howling wind and frigid temperatures makes everything difficult to do. Our tractor is stalling out when trying to spread manure and our water pipes have frozen by the chicken coops. So when I am an old man I can say that I carried buckets of water up a hill on single digit degree days to nourish our chickens. Not quite walking to school up hill both ways, but enough of a drudgery that should command respect…at least from my son. Farming teaches life lessons all the time and makes me grateful for everything, especially a warm house and loving family to come home to everyday. I have completed our Organic Certification application, crop plan, livestock plan, and fruit and berry plan. Lots of plans have been checked off the list. This is the last week to tie up lose ends until the season officially starts. When is that you ask? Well of course when you fire up the greenhouse and and plant your first seed in a cell to begin the process of another growing season. This will be our fourth year in operation and I am still constantly learning, getting better, and taking more on. Getting through the cold makes the warmth so much better.