Friday, April 10, 2009

What's New At The Farm? 4/01/09

The snow is leaving Foss Hill in a hurry with the only remnants of winter being a few snowbanks and some snow where the sun doesn't hit it; like the south ends of fields 11 and 13. Field 13 is where we had the pumpkin workshop last year. With the new deer fencing, there were no deer to eat the pumpkins last winter, so now there are hundreds of very flat fruit in the field. The turkeys and squirrels have been busy eating the seeds but there are only so many they can eat. The blue jays have also been in the pumpkin field as are what I'm sure are tons of little critters enjoying the seed feast.

More signs of spring appear daily; flocks of geese and ducks, blackbirds, and lots of movement by non- migratory animals and birds. I've seen lots of deer moving around; with the grass peeking up they should be able to regain some weight they lost this winter. The coyotes have been howling up a storm most every night; perhaps they're celebrating the coming of warmer weather. They sound like they're right out behind the henhouse; although I'm sure they're not quite that close.

Here on the farm we fire up greenhouse number three this week. Greenhouse three is our newest greenhouse and by far the more efficient for heating. It's also our smallest greenhouse so it's the easiest to heat. We'll start some flowers this week and veggies next week. On a sunny day temps will reach 90 degrees in the morning in the greenhouses - what a great place to work!

The snow is mostly gone from the fields; exposing what we didn't get dome last year; lots of plastic out there to pull. I don't think I'd classify pulling plastic as a great job; not even a good one but in the spring it's not a bad job either. In the fall once the crops are done with, pulling plastic entails lifting wet and nasty plastic from "frozen soil in the morning to mud in the afternoon" fields. Rotting fruit covers the plastic; it's a cold, wet and miserable job anyway you cut it in the fall. In the spring however the weather is usually cooperative. A warm day with a light breeze makes all the difference in the world. The plastic pills easier and dries almost instantly. The fruits is gone or at least dried and flattened and the vines are pretty rotten so they break apart easily. Just do it before the blackflies come out.

Two or three weeks should see us into the field getting ready for spring planting. I don't think there's any frost in the ground; the snow seems to be melting and draining nicely this spring. April will be a good time to plant really early cool weather cover crops for the 2009 growing season. I've got some new peas to try and a possible new clover. I've also got some mixes in the back of my mind I'd like to do this year; mixes are very popular. I rarely plant one cover crop but usually use mixes; oats and clover, oats, peas and clover, soybeans and buckwheat and you get the picture.

I think I'll plant some peas for the local deer again this year. I planted about a quarter acre last year and they never got more than a few inches tall before the deer mowed them off; they like peas. I'll plant early this spring and then till under what's still there in early August and plant some turnips. I think I'll plant the turnips two to three weeks earlier to see if we can get more bulb size before cold weather strikes. Planting turnips for deer is not quite as refined as planting them to eat. Deer turnips seldom get weed or insect control, never get irrigation water and are at the mercy of the elements and we still expect them to grow and make bulbs that are going to freeze and die over the winter. Doesn't sound like much fun to me, but then again I'm not a turnip.

Until next week, Brian

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