This week's view doesn't look much different from last week's, although I think it's a bit warmer. The days are getting longer now and there's more heat in the sun. The woodpile has gone down quite quickly since that warm, rainy spell we had and it looks like we'll clean out the woodshed again this year. With the weather getting warmer, we're getting down to our camp more now; last weekend I was there both days, all day. Our camp is located on a local pond which gets much fishing activity in the winter but not much goes on the rest of the year. It is 329 acres in size and surrounded mostly by woodlands and swamp; so there's usually lots of wildlife around.
The wildlife report for this week includes a bunch of eagles and a few deer. The neighbors feed the eagles and ravens so I see many on my way to work each day. There are both mature and immature eagles that congregate in his field along with many, many ravens. I also see some down to camp keeping an eye on what the ice fishermen leave behind. If they're hungry, they're not too shy about taking fish off the ice, but usually don't take the ones right near a hole, but rather the ones we've put out away from the fishing traps. After we pull our traps they'll land nearby and feast on dead bait and fish left on the ice.
Deer sightings were all on Thursday last week. I had left my laptop at home so I had to go home and retrieve it around eight o'clock Thursday morning. Coming back two does crossed in front of me about half way back to the farm and another one about a mile closer to the farm. They looked pretty good for this time of year. A lot of people feeding them this year - a practice controversial at best.
Lots of animal tracks on the way to camp this weekend; mostly squirrels, rabbits and partridge. Some fox tracks; I suspect they're looking for the before mentioned snacks. A porcupine ate the extension cord that goes to the generator. Lots of tracks of something living under the camp; guess we'll leave him undisturbed.
We used to keep a logbook of the days we went to camp, lots of important information like: who was there, who showed up to visit, what the weather was, how the fishing was and what we were eating for meals along and the wildlife report. We kept this log for nearly 15 years, up until someone broke into our camp in November of 2008; that was one of the only things they took. I suppose they read it and tossed in into the woods somewhere. Oh well; we can remember the good times anyways.
So, anyways , what's happening at the farm right now is that we're gearing up for planting season. The potting soil has been ordered and it's here; 22 yards should be enough. I'm working on fertilizer requirements and ordering of such. Kelly's cleaning seeds and working on the field plans for 2010. The fields are mapped out onto separate sheets and all pertinent information is recorded like field orientation, acreage, number of beds and what is going on in neighboring fields. Once we have a list of the crops we're going to grow this year, we plot their locations on these field maps.
There's a contingency plan is case we get a wet year, or some other crisis develops. There are notes attached to some of the fields like they're wet, or unfertile, or need some work before any amount of planting takes place. Some crops just do better in some fields; it's as simple as that. Some fields tend to frost earlier than others so we adjust our crop locations for that - some crops don't mind getting frosted but others may be highly susceptible.
Each crop has a estimated number of bed feet; this is the number of feet a crop will take, the beds being six feet wide. The bedfeet of the crop will be compared with the bedfeet of the field we want to grow it in. Say we have 300 bed feet of onion trial we'll have two 150 foot beds in field 1 (field 1 is 165 feet long so we'll have room for the trial and also some extras on the ends). We'll map that out and then we know that two beds in that field are spoken for. All this information goes on an Excel spreadsheet and then it is printed onto a large sheet. It is then posted for all employees to see; if there's any question about what goes where, or what is planted where then this chart tells all. This also plots out exactly how much room we need in each field so we can plant early season cover crops in the unneeded plots.
A couple of weeks ago I mentioned one of my least favorite insects: the tick. Actually they're not insects; they have too many legs. They are arachnids; they have eight legs and no antennae; insects have six legs. Had an interesting talk with a local vet last week - thought I'd share it. Seems that in a normal winter the adult ticks will die with the cold, freezing weather. This year however, the ground didn't freeze so the ticks won't die. Once the weather warms they'll be active and hungry! Be especially vigilant in looking on your pets for them; their numbers should be right up there this spring. Here's a good excuse to add more guineas to the flock.
In less than a month we'll be planting in the greenhouse; we'll start onions and flowers in a couple of weeks. In a month we'll be seeing lots more signs of spring, and in two months we could be in the field. Each day brings us one step closer to planting time.
Until next week, Brian.