The early spring rush is upon us!
Things are starting to pick up pace fast around here on the farm! A week ago last Thursday G-Jean and I got all the supplies together to make soil blocks to plant seeds in and made about 300 mini blocks. The following day I had a few small projects to tackle in the morning, then mixed up some more blocking soil mix and made up some more blocks ahead for G-Jean to plant. All total from the day before and Friday we made and planted approximately 3,330 soil blocks! Most of what we planted has now been transplanted into the hoop houses for early spring harvest. Lettuce, spinach, curled mustard, arugula and radicchio are in the hoop houses and an early planting of broccoli and cabbage are headed outside.
Saturday we put our new hydraulic muscles to work and used the Kubota to clean up on the east side of the garage. As we dug through the multi layer stacks of stuff it was like…hmmm forgot we had that! Oh yeah! That’s where that piece of scrap iron went!
We need to clean our farm more often so we know all the recyclable materials we have available! This particular cleaning spree was to get the side of the garage cleaned up enough that we can build a lean-to addition on the garage.
Monday I had to divided my attention between so many different projects it didn’t feel like I got too far, but it took up the day! I had a whole slew of e-mails to respond to, the seeds had started to germinate so I got the plant shelf lighting set up (we’re running project-to-project on emergency basis now) worked on hinging the hoop house doors which Dad helped me almost finish after dark with lights and Granddad needed help moving a barrel of wood ashes and mounting our homemade wire winder onto the little red trailer so he could roll up wires in the big pasture. Whew! My main goal was mounting the hinges for the hoop house doors, but as I mentioned Dad was helping me with them by the light of big halogen work lights before we quit! : )
Plants are coming up in the soil blocks. I sure have a tolerant mother that allows me to use the back room of the house for a block making room/ seed starting rack/ supply storage etc. (Mom’s Note: And I have a thoughtful son that feeds us from his garden!)
I was finally able to finish mounting the hinges on the doors of the hoop house Tuesday and installed boards along the base of the end wall so we could fasten the plastic at the bottom. After Dad came home he helped cut lath while I fastened the plastic down with it.
After supper I bottled honey. I was very thankful that Jena was there to help me when the 5 gallon bucket of honey I was pouring lost its handle! The bucket lurched over, but Jena had good reflexes and caught it before we lost too much!
Getting around early Wednesday I did chores and rounded up chain saws so I could cut some wood before going to my eye doctor appointment. By one o’clock I was back home from the eye appointment and worked on screwing some lath to the end of the hoop house again while Granddad got another bottle of acetylene for the cutting torch. I had to do chores a little early since there were a couple appointments I had in the early evening.
Mom opened up the chicken’s pen to include the cow’s paddock as well and both Anyque and the chickens have enjoyed the extra running room!
Can you tell Anyque is growing fast?
Friday I went on another road trip to Missouri. I took the southern route this time going to Springfield (about a 3 hour drive when you know how to get there) for seed potatoes and onion sets (to grow for green onions) then dropping down to Nixa for some cover crop seed, going back up and over to Mansfield to visit Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds www.rareseeds.com and then back through Seymour and on home. Over all I was gone about 12 hours. This country boy still hasn’t learned to appreciate places with lots of asphalt, concrete and street lights with people and cars whizzing by in every direction… No siree, I like this calm, peaceful farm and growing plants much better!!!
It was neat how the Lord worked out the trip to Baker Creek and back through Seymour. Originally I hadn’t planned on going all the way to Mansfield as I hadn’t recalled Baker Creek being that near, but after seeing signs for Baker Creek along the highway I decided to swing by since it was only a few miles out of the way.
A friend at church had mentioned there was a large Amish community in the Seymour area so I was planning to stop by on my way back through just to see if I could find someone who’d know if there were any teams of horses for sale in the area. After I parked in the Baker Creek parking lot and walked through the gates of their “pioneer village” I saw some Amish men working. Going up to one of them I asked if he was from around the area. He said, “yeah, we call ourselves the Seymour Amish.” Hmmm…I decided to ask if he happened to know if there were any teams of horses for sale in the area, but he didn’t. After thinking for a little bit he told me where a gentleman’s place was just north of Seymour that would know if there were any horses for sale.
After looking around at Baker Creek for a little bit I headed back out and took off for Seymour. After adding the 300 pounds of seed potatoes, 32 pounds of onion sets and around 200 pounds of cover crop seed in Springfield and Nixa I could feel the difference in weight taking off and stopping with the Subi!
Finding the place near Seymour that the Amish fellow had referred me to, I got out and the gentleman (Big Sam) I needed to talk with walked up the drive to meet me. I asked if he knew of any teams for sale in the area, but after thinking for a little while he couldn’t recall any, so he took my name and number in case he found a team. I was finally ready to go back home! It was a big blessing not having to run all over the Amish community to find someone who knew if there were any horses for sale.
Calling all soda pop drinkers! We reuse 20 oz. pop bottles for bottle feeding lambs and goat kids! If you live in the area we’d be happy to reuse your old pop bottles for a good cause! Come by at the right time and we’d be happy for you to use a bottle to feed the lambs! All the lambs are growing fast!!!
Warning, Warning, Warning!!! G-Jean can drive the Kubota! Nothing around the farm will be safe now! We’re glad she can drive it, but I hope she doesn’t have too much fun moving things with that front loader… She’s liable to scoop me up for transport!
Last Saturday the hoop house ends were priority since a lot of plants in the mini blocks were already up and ready to transplant… As I mentioned earlier, projects are getting getting done on an emergency basis now! I had a lot of great help Saturday when Dad and G-Jean came out to help and then we drafted Jena and her friend Leah to help with the clean up and bed preparation! We got done in record time and by the end of the day we had two of the 4′ beds and half of one of the outside 2′ beds planted, watered and settled in!
The stove had been covered up with tools and supplies from fixing up the hoop house so I hadn’t had time to check and see if it was working properly since I’d quit using it in December. Sure enough I couldn’t get that thing to work right for anything! I could get the pilot lit, but when I turned the gas on it would shoot up these huge yellow flames (an indication of a lack of oxygen) instead of the pretty blue flame it should have had. After running a few wires up the burner trying to figure out if there was something plugging it I still couldn’t get it to work right and after burning for a little bit the flame would suddenly flare up in the burner! Getting the portable air compressor I tried blowing air up through the burner to see if it would clean anything out, but with no luck. I really didn’t want to take the burner out, but that was the only option I could see.
Unhooking the gas line etc. etc. I got the burner out, took the controls off and played around with a light until I could peer down the burner part way. Wow! How’d that get down in there?! A big wad of fiberglass insulation was down in the burner! With the pliers in my pocket and a piece of scrap wire I custom fashioned a hook to go “fishing”. After repeated tries I finally started getting hunks of the insulation out.
With the air compressor I’d blow down each of the holes in the top of the burner trying to get all the insulation to fly back around the curve in the burner to the air inlet where I could fish it out. It took quite awhile, but I finally managed to get the entire wad out! After hooking everything back up, there was the pretty blue flame I’d been looking for!
I can only surmise that a mouse thought the burner might make a nice cozy home when it was lined with insulation!
By the time I hauled in all the cover crop seed, onion sets and seed potatoes it was about midnight and I still needed a shower. I had wanted to do some other things that evening, but decided it had been a long enough day and it was time to go to bed.
Working on the hoop house…
Preparing the beds…
…and then transplanting into the freshly worked beds!
The pounding rain a little over a week ago made such a thick, heavy crust in the mini hoops that I tried to break it up last week as soon as the ground was dry enough. My hope was to make it easier for the seeds to come up. However, the crust was so compacted it came up in hunks before crumbling. I’m afraid the pak choi seeds were disturbed too much as I broke up the crust because none of them have come up yet. I plan to work the ground lightly and replant as soon as possible… On the other hand some of the spinach and even the lettuce has started coming up now despite the clods!
The CSA is now closed for the 2009 season! However, if you missed getting in the CSA remember, you are welcome to purchase produce that we have for sale throughout the season above and beyond the needs of the CSA. I will announce if there’s produce available each week in the weekly update and it will be listed on the “This Week” page of our website. If you would like to be on the 2010 CSA waiting list now let me know and I’ll put you down!
The pigs are growing too and finally are getting big enough to start rooting on down deeper!
This past Monday I helped G-Jean get the rest of the transplants set out in the hoop house and then helped her start direct seeding the rest of it except where onion sets and radishes will be planted later. Late morning I had to rush around so Jena and I could make it back up to La Harpe to look at some Shetland ponies and one of the team of horses I’d seen previously. The Shetlands ended up being like “mini” Shetlands instead of the full size and both Jena and I weren’t real impressed. We did pick up so valuable information while visiting with the gentleman with the full size drafts though, so it wasn’t a wasted trip.
It cooled off a little then started to warm back up, but it is February after all!
Have a wonderful week!
Farmer Josh and the Mitchell family crew
Cell: (620) 330-1966
Bloom report going and growing again! I believe we have enough flowers starting to poke up we can start the bloom report up again!
Blooms seen on the farm in the last week or so: