Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What's New At The Farm? 3/24/10

The first day of spring reached 67 degrees and this week it looks like we're back into late winter. The tulips and daffodils are up in good shape, the ponds are free of ice and grass is coming up but the weather looks rather cold and wet. Can't hurry spring; it's finicky and comes when it wants to.

I saw my first killdeer at the farm on Friday last week, although I'm sure they were back before then. Without any frost this year the winter rye we planted last fall is growing; it's nice to see some green this time of year. The ice is out of the ponds and I'm sure the water is warming up. It will be interesting to see if the fiddleheads are earlier this year given the spring like conditions.

Lots of ducks and geese this week and a few eagles cruising around looking for carcasses. Haven't seen any deer yet but I expect they'll be in the fall planted cover crops, speaking of which, I was walking in the fields on Friday when I stepped on something - a turnip of about a pound or a pound and a half - looked good enough to eat. I may go back and get it; I know where it is. Turnips make excellent feed for deer during the winter and they easy and cheap feed, unlike buying bagged feed, lugging them home, spreading them out and etc.

The ducks at home are laying up a storm. We get 7 or 8 eggs nearly every day. I am surprised that no duck seems interested in sitting on them yet. Perhaps they will later in the spring - it's still pretty early. They discovered the pond on Saturday with a trail of bread chucks as a temptation. Daily baths are now the norm for the Muscovies and the Toulouse goose; the African goose and the Call ducks haven't ventured out of their yard yet. I am anxious to see the Calls find the pond; they have spent the better part of the winter swimming in a 55 gallon drum cut down by three quarters.

Ticks are out. I found one on the couch last week and Peggy found one on Annie. They'll be early and they'll be hungry so beware! Chickens, ducks and guineas all relish ticks but even with a healthy population of predators we seem to still have plenty. The tall grass around the pond gives them a place to hide. With the increased activity from the ducks visiting the pond I hope to see a reduction in their numbers although I'm not overly hopeful. I have ordered more ducks; some Pekins to round out our collection and set an incubator full of bantam eggs that should start hatching next week. Peggy's thrilled.

The poly tunnel is filled with all kinds of greens we planted last fall. There's tons of spinach and some other greens that will be ready soon. Let's see; fresh greens mid March through December - not too hard to take. I'm already tired of the greens from the supermarket; I wonder about them at times. I bought some "organic" greens two weeks ago and they still look like they were just picked. Oh well, fresh greens are coming. Parsnips should be available now; I didn't grow any this year. I should - that's one thing I think I'll grow in my garden. Some years back a vegetable grower friend explained to me how they harvest parsnips commercially; seems they pull them in the fall and hold them in cold storage for the winter, then sell them in the spring. Spring weather conditions are often such that they can't get into the fields when they need to so they harvest in the fall. Unfortunately, when harvested in the fall they don't get frosted like they would if they were left in the ground all winter. Therefore they're not as sweet as they otherwise might be.

Speaking of parsnips - I'm headed out into the field to see if we planted any here at JSS last spring.


1 comment:

Barb Mann said...

I hope you found a parsnip or two! It's hard to grow those well in my climate, but we have three brothers who farm up in the foothills near Las Trampas (on the way to Taos from Santa Fe) who manage it. They say their topsoil is about four feet deep, and the rest of us drool in envy. They brought loads of winter carrots, parsnips and beets to the early winter market--I don't know if they had been in a cooler or under straw in the garden, but they were huge, sweet, and tender. Nice to know somebody can do it here! Oh, and if you refer to the brothers as the "Norwegian bachelor farmers," everybody knows who you're talking about. Even though they are actually from Poland.
Happy spring; it's snowing again.