Apr 232009

Clouds-Rain-Sun-Produce available!

A cool cloudy, rainy (and now drying) sunny, rushed greetings!

Seems as though our spring rush is about full out now (that’s one reason the update is late) but I know it’s probably going to get busier for a while yet!

4-8-2009 (107)

Produce available!!! All the cloudy weather we’ve had has made for an unexpected development! Since the plants need sunshine to grow, the cloudy weather caused the produce grow slower than we’d originally anticipated. We had stager planted most of the produce so it would come on in succession. The plan was as we harvested the first planting the next planting would be ready when we got through harvesting the first. Well, most of the plants have been growing ultra slow above ground because of the lack of sunshine, but apparently they’ve been doing some undercover work below ground because all of the produce shot up at once since we’ve gotten a few sunny days! Our stagger planted lettuce and onions are all getting ready at the same time! While we won’t be able to have the succession of harvest as planned, this does mean we have produce available for sale now!

So, we need YOU to use this beautiful produce before it passes its prime! All produce is available on a first come first served basis. You do not need to be a CSA member to order. Please place your order by 8 a.m. the day before you plan to pick up your order. Our regular hours are: Tuesdays 5 – 7 p.m and Saturdays 9 – 11 a.m.

Beautiful lettuce and spinach is ready for harvest!

4-17-2009 (6)

Produce available now: Leaf, bibb and buttercrunch lettuce (specify if you have a preference), spinach, green onions, arugula, mustard greens, parsnips and kale.

For more information on prices and pick up times check the "This Week" page on our website at: http://www.mitchellfamilyfarm.us/this_week.htm

Another view of the big hoop house!

4-17-2009 (1)

Well let me see where we left off last time…Oh yeah, it didn’t take the snow long to melt off, but it was sure pretty while it lasted. Never fear though old jack frost wasn’t done coming around! We’ve had a few more freezing nights and several other frosty cold nights. Thankfully the produce is looking good and hasn’t seemed to take too much of a beating with all the cold. It also seems like we’ve been rushing the planting that needs to be done in tiny windows of time because just as soon as the soil dries up enough to plant, it rains again! Sometimes not much, but enough to make everything sticky and a big mud ball mess!

I really did appreciate Jena and Leah’s help a couple week ago when it was raining. Freezing weather was predicted and they braved the cold rain to help me cover the mini hoops with plastic again. I was able to transplant a little tatsoi (a new green for us to try this year) into the mini hoops just before the ground got too soggy.

I also appreciated Ezra Willis coming over the following Thursday evening and helping Dad, G-Jean and I set out approximately: 110 asparagus plants, 60 fall-bearing red raspberries and 30 summer-bearing red raspberries. Jena and Leah had helped me earlier that day as well by transplanting about 150 strawberry plants with the transplanter. We were trying to beat the rain again with that planting day!

Ezra helping G-Jean plant asparagus.

4-8-2009 (94)

Jena and Leah on the transplanter with Caye "helping."

4-8-2009 (17)

While transplanting those strawberries with Leah and Jena, G-Jean came up with an idea that I’m not responsible for! She must take full responsibility for her own actions as I tried talking her out of it… If you were doubting that G-Jean is still young at heart this picture should settle all your doubts!

4-8-2009 (56)

G-Jean finally made me lash her orange scooter onto the back of the transplanter so she could roll along behind the transplanter and use her hoe to cover the strawberry plant’s roots that the transplanter didn’t do a good enough job on. The transplanter was still much easier to use than hand planting with a dibble!

Dad and I were lost for about four days while Mom and Jena went down to Alabama. Jena spent a day with a certified AANHCP (natural hoof care practioner) mentor and they went to visit a friend we’d met at the workhorse workshop in Mississippi last fall. Our friend, Jamie (the friend who loves cross country skiing and talked us into the ski adventures), had some horse harness that she was willing to sell and it was actually cheaper to go down and pick the harness up than to ship it! Since Jena needed to do the mentorship anyway, it only made sense to make one trip do it all.

Jena now needs to work with two more mentors and take the final exam, then she’ll have completed the AANHCP program. Her mentor in Alabama was impressed with how well and exacting she trims. Below she’s checking out one of her mentor’s horse’s hooves. He has a paddock paradise set up which helps promote healthy hooves resulting in hooves that need trimming less often. If you have questions on natural hoof care Jena is happy to discuss all the details with you.

4-6-2009 (58)

Jena trimming one of her mentor’s client’s horses. It was a cold morning…especially for Alabama!

4-6-2009 (7)

Between Dad and I we managed to keep things half way staked down around the farm, but it just wasn’t the same and we sure did miss our girls…for more than one reason. One of the reasons was just because they were gone, so we missed their company, and another was the chores took longer since there were only two doing them instead of four!

I ordered some rope halters for the draft horses and they came in. Unfortunately the halters didn’t fit properly when they arrived, so I had to take time and get the knots adjusted so they’d fit better. Did you know that by moving one knot it just about makes it a necessity to move all the knots in order to make everything even?! It took me a few hours of figuring out which knot led where before I was very efficient at adjusting them. Even then it took quite a bit of time!

Jena found the first tree frog of the year! We’ve been hearing them chirp for a while but hadn’t seen any. Since Jena found this one I’ve seen two others. One green and one grey.

4-15-2009 (20)

A week ago last Friday Dad, Granddad, and Jena cleaned up the area south of the square granary so they could move Jena’s tack room. Cleaning up included moving several pieces of equipment, cutting down two big box elder trees which had huge rotten spots through the middle and getting the trees hauled off after they were down! I was stuck inside catching up on e-mails and paperwork I hadn’t gotten around to while Mom and Jena were gone. No fair! Oh well…life doesn’t seem fair sometimes, but that is usually just the person’s perspective on things.

That’s Dad in the green coat standing behind the tree. Since he’s 6’1" does it give you a little bit of an idea how big the trees were?

4-10-2009 (14)

4-10-2009 (20)

4-10-2009 (45)

About the time they got all the fun stuff moved I went out to find Dad and Jena hooking up to the beams Jena’s tack room was setting on. Dad was on the Ford tractor while Jena was on the Kubota each hooked up to a beam. It took a little finagling to get everything going, but we finally got the show rolling. Did you know it’s a little tight trying to get two tractors through one gateway at the same time and making sure not to take the angle too sharp so the tack room trailing along behind wouldn’t wipe out the gate posts? Dad and Jena are excellent drivers though and made through by a frog’s hair…those are really fine hairs just in case you didn’t know!

4-10-2009 (83)

With some work they pulled the tack room into position so we could jack it up, pull the beams out and slide it over to the final location before jacking it back up and putting an extra set of 4×4’s and concrete blocks under it. Dad had us lay some boards down on the ground and going over to the pipe pile he got some pipe to use as wheels. After getting the beams out of the way we set the tack room down on the pipe which made rollers so we could push it over into place. Whew! It’s now all set and in place just the way Jena wanted it!

There was a rush Saturday to try and get the onions, broccoli and cabbage transplanted before the rain that was predicted for that night! While I worked on some other things Dad got started rigging up a water barrel to go in the tractor’s loader bucket so we could water the transplants as we went along. It was afternoon by the time we got everything set, but it didn’t take nearly as long to transplant with the tractor and transplanter as it has in years past by hand!

We did have a complication in that our soil blocks were too large to fit down through the "shoe" of the transplanter that opens up the furrow… After some discussion on how to spread the shoe wider and other possibilities G-Jean thought the plants would be ok just crushing the soil blocks enough to fit through the shoe. While it wasn’t ideal we made it work for the broccoli and cabbage.

Transplanting the onions we raised from seed this spring

4-11-2009 (48)

When I checked on the draft horses that evening I noticed Blaze had a limp. It appears she sprained her front left ankle so I’ve been doctoring that to the best of my ability. She still isn’t back 100% but has been doing much better the last few days.

I’ve tried fitting the harness on both horses and I think they’ll work great! I do have a problem in that one of the collars is too large so I’m trying to find another one that fits correctly… If the collar is too large it’s like us wearing shoes too large, causing the horse to develop sores on her neck when working.

We took advantage of one rainy day and planted tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, celery (an experiment this year) oregano, parsley, and sage in plug trays. After planting all this, there were still some empty plugs, so I got the flower seed out and filled the rest of the spots with flower seed for Mom and G-Jean so they’d have some pretty posies to plant later in their flower beds.

4-10-2009 (9)

Toward the beginning of the following week Granddad got some gravel to put in the wash station. Last year I had only put gravel in about 3/4 of the floor area and this year we needed gravel over the entire area so we could have a little more elbow room! Once again we cheated (cheated fair though) and used the Kubota to unload the gravel. That little gadget sure saves a lot of scoop shovels! After the gravel was in place it took us a couple days to get the wash station arranged for the start of CSA.

I intended to get a curtain up on the south end and east side, but didn’t get that done before harvesting produce for our first Saturday pick up of the year! Thankfully it was a cloudy day when we were harvesting!

Dad is building a work sled built to use with the draft horses. He comes up with a lot of the ideas around here and this is no exception! He’s using an old three point bale fork made for use with a tractor that we’ve just had sitting around here for years! There is still more work to be done on it, but it’ll sure be a deluxe model when it’s finished!

I’m standing in front of the tack room’s new location with Belle and Blaze.

4-14-2009 (15)

However, never, ever, ever send Dad to an auction with horse drawn machinery! Last Saturday was our first CSA pick up of the year so I couldn’t go to an auction that I wanted to go to in Rich Hill Missouri. I’d heard that you could pick up some good deals on harness parts, collars, equipment etc. and thought I might be able to pick up several collars at a reasonable price and find one that would fit Blaze. Since I was unable to attend the auction Dad went to the auction for me.

After CSA pick up I headed up to Iola so I could meet my good friend, John Crisp of Shepherd’s Valley, who was passing through on his way back to his farm in Americus, Kansas. I was picking up some of the all natural poultry supplement we use in the chicken feed, but we decided to grab a quick lunch together so we could talk a little before parting company again.

When we said our good byes and John left I gave Dad a call to see how things were going…He told me I needed to bring the truck and trailer!!! It wasn’t very efficient, but I had to go from Iola down to Coffeyville so I could get the truck from Granddad since he was working, drive back home to pick up the trailer and then up through Iola and beyond to Rich Hill!

The collars had gone for more than what they were worth but Dad had picked up piles of stuff at really great deals. There were several cultivator parts I plan on using to fix up the walking cultivators I already have, a rotatory hoe, a little bee equipment, a corn stalk chopper, scrap iron and wagon parts etc. etc. etc.

The auction is held every year in an Amish community just a little ways outside of Rich Hill. It sounds like the auction basically the Amish community’s fund raiser. Dad had met one of the gentlemen from the community, Jacob, and found out the entire community raises a market gardens on each of their farms. They have a community produce stand and then have a wholesale outlet that they ship semi-loads of produce out of!

Jacob had worked on a CSA farm in Kentucky and was interested in starting one of his own. With our common ground interests, Jacob and I visited a while and had an enjoyable exchange! However, by the time we got everything loaded up it was after dark and getting late. Dad and I drove through some pretty good rain showers coming back home and Dad had been in the rain most of the morning throughout the auction. It was about 1:00 am. Sunday morning by the time we drove back in our drive. Needless to say we slept in a little the next morning!

A Killdeer’s nest we found in the gravel by the sawdust piles.

4-15-2009 (4)

A side note on the auction… As I mentioned, the morning of the auction was very wet and rainy making everything a muddy mess with people tramping around all day. Four wheel drive trucks and trailers were getting stuck. Also as I’d mentioned, this was an Amish community. When the trucks would get stuck an Amish gentleman would hook up a team of horses to the truck, tell the horses to "get up" and they’d walk off pulling the truck and trailer out of the mud without any problem! As one of the Amish gentlemen drove by with his horses Dad said something about the mud and the guy nodded to the horses with a smile and said "four wheel drive!". What do you think about that?! :-)

Have a great week!

Farmer Josh and the Mitchell Family Crew

Bloom Report:

Wild tulips in all colors!

4-3-2009 (15)

4-3-2009 (13)

4-9-2009 (114)

Parrot Tulip

4-3-2009 (19)

Creeping phlox

4-9-2009 (102)

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