Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What's New at the Farm? 12/03/08

Everything looks pretty dead on the farm, that's what's new. Not really new as we've seen it many times before but new for this growing season.

We're finishing up last minute tasks before the colder weather sets in. I think the field work is done as the ground is frozen in the morning and mud in the afternoon. The crops that are left in the field are at a standstill, not much hope they'll grow anymore.

I've seen turkey tracks, along with squirrel and mouse tracks but no deer tracks. That's good news with the fence we had installed this past summer. This is one year there are a few crops left in the field that can stay there throughout the winter without being devoured by the deer. I look forward to next spring and the absences of deer tracks through what we have just planted.

Planning for the 2009 growing season is in full swing now and for the next couple of months. Kelly measured and mapped out all our fields before she went out and now we can transfer them to graph paper and get an accurate feel for how the field dimensions have changed over the years. Yes, they change. Some get longer from plowing more of the field, some have their shapes changed as rocks or ledge show their faces, some lose space that was wet or otherwise not good land for farming. When planning the fields it's nice to have accurate maps so we can determine exactly how much ground to prepare and how much land certain crops will take. Nothing quite like going into a field to transplant and finding out at the end of the day we don't have enough ground ready.

Since we made field maps last time; probably at least ten years ago, we dropped some fields and added some new ones. We've added the “Wiggins” field and dropped the “Gilberts” fields over the past few years. We've renamed some and will add new ones as they become available. Good crop land is in demand so we've got to get out there and do some active looking; another winter project.

And on the home front, I got lots of things done on my vacation last week. I spent a day at camp getting that ready for winter, a day in the woods getting some wood out for the kitchen stove, a day washing windows before the window washer (me) froze, three days in the henhouse and a day picking up supplies for winter. The hens are pretty much done laying for the season; good thing I got some new hens this spring or I'd be buying eggs now. And yes, I got a big round bale of hay for the goat.

Although I got a lot done around the house I didn't manage to get into he garden for the last little bit of harvesting. I hope the mangels will be OK this weekend and I'm sure the Brussels sprouts are fine. We're still eating them from last year's larder. I've taken my soil test and have the results from the lab; I guess the garden will get those two barrels of wood ashes this weekend. Considering the ground was pasture for many years and then abandoned and left to grow up into goldenrod and milk weed, the garden plot is slowly being improved with compost and other soil amendments. I think next year I'll cover crop half of it and plant the other half in vegetables and flowers.

Until next week, Brian


Anonymous said...

you mentioned eating Brussels Sprouts from your "larder". I understand the term larder but I would like to know how they were processed or stored? First season growing with moderate success and yes snow was covering many of the plants when harvested. Blanching and freezing is a small pain but worth the effort. Like to hear more on growing techniques and storing or processing. Thanks for all your hard work.

Anonymous said...

I blanch and freeze them although they can be pulled up, stored in a bucket with some soil and kept in a cool room where they won't freeze - like an unheated room. They can then be harvested and eaten as needed, at least for a few weeks.
I find one of the most important issues in growng a good crops of sprouts is to control the cabbage worms and flea beetles. I use floating row covers from transplant day to mid-July for flea beetle control, then spray usually twice with Garden Insect Spray for cabbage worm control. The best brussels sprouts to process are nice and clean; without any frass. Although frass can be cut out, it's a lot easier to process if you don't have any in the first place.