Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What’s New at the Farm? Chomping at the bit to plant

We’re all anxious to get out into the field and get our fieldwork started but so far the weather isn’t cooperating. Today, as I write this, it’s 35.4 degrees and raining. I’m thinking about firing up my boiler tonight for the first time in a couple of weeks – I thought spring was finally here!

The calendar says spring so I’m figuring it will come all at once, which it often does and we’d better be ready. The fertilizer has been ordered and should be here tomorrow. The field planning is primarily done but is subject to change as the season progresses. Several farm crew members have come over from the other departments they work in the off season as well.

Did I mention last week that I enjoy raking? OK, I’ve had enough raking now, but at least it’s all done before the blackflies come out! Now there’s something to look forward to -- blackflies! I remember some years back we were interviewing a young lady from “out-of-state” for a position here on the farm and I mentioned blackflies “ hordes of tiny, blood sucking flying insects that can block out the sun”.  I think I remember this didn’t dissuade her from the job. There is some speculation they won’t be as bad this year, they actually haven’t been bad in the past few years. And they don’t bother in the evening so when I get home from work they’ve all gone away.

It seems the height of blackfly season is also when the fiddleheads are out in good numbers. Fiddleheads are a northern favorite for many people and we are no exception. We’ve still got some in the fridge (pickled) left from last year we haven’t consumed yet. Two years ago I purchased a mosquito net that covers my upper body and found it ideal for use while fiddling. I never liked those things – it makes one look so silly, but no blackflies can penetrate it so whilst everyone else is spending their time swatting I’m picking fiddlies undisturbed from those hordes of bloodsucking flies.

More signs of spring are showing up daily now. Peepers late last week, a bat yesterday and coltsfoot in bloom nearly everywhere there’s a patch of poor soil:

Coltsfoot is a funny little spring flower that appears this time of year. As it flowers and sets seed early in the spring it almost seems it blossoms from nothing but a stem. The leaves appear later in the season and is generally a non-descript plant of little notice.


As in the picture above it is usually found in clump of many individual plants and can spread although not a lot. It thrives in poor soil as this photo shows it growing in a gravel pit.  Coltsfoot is a perennial so once you have it you have it. Bees like it for its an early season bloomer giving them something to eat once they come out of their winter slumber. Coltsfoot is a sure harbinger of spring!

And now on to the farm:

This is a view of the hoophouse as of yesterday.

Spinach overwintered nicely

The spinach is ready to harvest and many of the greens have gone by. All these crops were planted late last fall and overwintered just fine. As soon as the weather straightens out the spinach will bolt and we’ll grind it up and plant something else there.

Until next week, Brian

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