Farm update… what’s getting planted, what’s growing
Mid-April, and beautiful weather makes it real tempting to plant faster than planned. After all, the sooner we get things planted, the sooner they can grow, and the faster we can have a greater assortment of veggies for Farmers’ Market, right?
Not so fast, rookie.
It might be 80 degrees in the afternoon, but with blue skies, not a cloud in sigh… the temperature can easily drop below freezing by dawn of the next morning. All it takes is a storm moving east hundreds of miles away and let it’s little cold tail swing through the atmosphere… and boom, we’re below freezing.
At over 5000 feet elevation, the surface cools much faster. Add to the fact there is next to no concrete or blacktop, no large trees, or massive shrubs, and the air simply goes up, up, and up. The faster it leaves, the colder it gets. And… that can happen in any month around here, even June, July,and August.
So, we are plodding along, following the planting plan, and hope to have a bumper harvest in July.
Here’s what’s growing. We have little leaves showing on the Savoy Cabbage, Red Cabbage, and Broccoli. The celery is peeking up. I no longer need a magnifying glass to see them. Also,the cauliflower is breaking through the planting medium.
We had purchased several plants (not organic, and to be planted in a separate area or pots) a couple of weeks ago. Sadly, we left them in the greenhouse (unheated), and they got frosted pretty badly. They included several kinds of mint, some strawberries, an artichoke, and some basil. Some of these plants were to be transplanted into Cindy’s aquaponics setup.
Speaking of her aquaponics project, she has peppers growing, and lettuce coming up through the pebbles. All the goldfish have been transferred from the house aquarium to their new home in a very large tank (better than 100 gallons). They don’t seem to mind the colder temperature. Once I’m done with the south bed (seedlings), she will rebuild the old blue barrel system, giving her even more room.
The sheep are raising their young very nicely. We ended up with one “house lamb”, who is back in the big pen but is getting a couple bottles of milk each day. We had to rebuild the lamb feeder as the little lambs got to where they could jump over the top… not good!
We got five “dogie” lambs for our efforts at the neighboring sheep ranch. They’re occupying a small garden area adjacent to the chicken pen. We built them a little pen using pallets, and then covered a portion with plywood and a warm blanket hanging to the ground. That keeps the wind at bay.
We have three lambs pre sold, are keeping a couple of ewe lambs, and one ram lamb. That means that right now, we have 12 lambs available for sale. They should reach 100 lbs in July.
There are still four “springers” to lamb. Hopefully with the warmer weather, the survival rate will be better. There are never any guarantees as to what a first-time lamb will produce. We hope for twins, are ecstatic if we get triplets, and satisfied if we get a single, healthy lamb that they feed.
In the goat department, we have three one little boy for sale from our Pygmy goat. His daddy is a Nubian/Boer cross. I would think he could be a very tasty spit-roasted treat.
Among the Nubians, we have three little boys, each of whom are available for sale.
We sold “Buttercup” our cow. Some folks in Enterprise were looking for an animal to add to their freezer. They also happened to have a Beefmaster bull that is about 12 months old. He will come to our farm and breed Coco,the heifer calf. They’re about the same age, so this should be a real adventure.
They were first going to pick up the cow last Saturday, but we had a snow storm. Here, not there. That’s right, we got more than 5 inches of snow and 17 miles down the road, they got nothing.
We did move her on Sunday. It only took 3 of us in the pen to encourage her to the trailer. I got the “Coco” duty. My job was to keep her separated from her mother… not a particularly easy job. Thankfully, she chose to stand back and not push me around as usual.
We’re continuing to plan for and source our high tunnels. Since it’s acceptable for us to install them ourselves, we are being extra careful to get the best deal possible, not necessarily the lowest price, but best overall deal. The NRCS requires a 4 year warranty by the manufacturer.
We have neighbors who are building hoop houses as a side business, but we can’t use them as they source the pipe for the supports separate from the cover. The nice thing though, is they have offered to help us. We’ve already made some changes in our plan based on what they’re doing for a neighboring farmer. We’re going to install separate frost-free hydrants in each tunnel with their own shutoff valves.
Lastly, I’ve been cleaning animal pens, stacking the manure and spoiled hay for future use in compost and erosion control. Sure glad we have the only man around… John Deere to help with that task. The cow pen is done, except for adding some sand back to the pen. The French Alpine Goat (who we think is pregnant) got her pen cleaned last week after a second escape. No, she didn’t go over the fence, she climbed out her little window… no more window to watch the other goats. An extra piece of plywood keeps her pretty secure.
Looking forward to May when the patio furniture goes outside.