Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Back at it on the Barn

Shortly after the first of March MDK came back and started replacing the missing and damaged siding on our barn, then moved on to removing the damaged shingles at the gable ends.
We tried unsuccessfully to acquire more grant monies to complete the barn project. We met this winter with our employees and I pitched a number of different projects for the farm to pursue this season. Everyone got behind completing the barn. With limited funds available I begged and pleaded with the contractors, and volunteered myself and dedicated some field crew to try and get the exterior finished. While MDK replaces the shingles we scrape and replace siding and trim.

MDK finished the East gable today and we have prepped the North and South sides for paint. By the end of next week if the weather cooperates the old girl should have a fresh coat of paint to match the house.

Against my Better Judgement

Well, despite the fact that I have been a hold out against season extension, and have always advocated shortening the season to a point that we actually only farm for a week to ten days in the middle of September, after the heat of summer has passed, I was finally prodded into erecting some inexpensive cold frames. We set PVC pipe at 8 foot intervals and have covered roughly 8000sq feet.

First we prepped and fertilized the beds, then we planted out early lettuce and green onions. Everybody got in on it; some planting, some tilling, others setting posts and anchors and still others building sand castles.
The design borrows heavily from a Kentucky County Extension design and gains most of its strength from the use of earth anchors and rope. Thank you Tim Coolong for your help and your patience.
I have to admit I am pleased with how the structures turned out and excited to see how well they work for early crops and even more so how they will help with some of the heat loving crops that we just barely get away with in the North West like tomatoes and peppers.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Here we go Again

Well here we go again. I have not posted for some time, in part because many of the activities here at the farm over winter are less than exciting. We meet a lot, we set schedules, order seeds, define and refine job descriptions, make tons of copies, meet some more, brainstorm, perform maintenance on equipment, create budgets, meet some more, evaluate employees, reorganize, refine our safety program, attend meetings (meet some more), create advertising, stare and compare the farms performance relative to years past, then meet some more.

Then suddenly one day we seed in the greenhouse. Then, usually in mid February we get some unseasonably warm weather and all of a sudden it feels like spring. Our greenhouse is starting to overflow with plants, we will begin moving flats to greenhouse 2 this week. Patrick and I could not stand it and went out and seeded some early greens, then went back and seeded an early planting of roots; beets and carrots. We often experience less than ideal germination followed by weather that makes these early seedings impossible to manage successfully but our fingers are crossed. Everything in the field is nesteled under a layer of row cover and early indications show much better germination than expected. We have weeded the perennials and garlic and have a good jump on early cultivation. Yesterday I signed with our house contractor and this week we will begin prepping the barn for paint. We will be repairing and or replacing all the exterior trim and siding and should be painting late this month or early next; more on that as it happens.

Above you can see Boistfort peak sporting a dusting of snow this morning. Local lore dictates that you not plant a garden until there is no snow on Bawfaw. But well, I never have been a good listener.

Thomas Jefferson on Agriculture

Having spent a full half hour trying to craft a clever introduction to the following quotes, I give up. They stand alone; thoughtful, timely and inspiring.

"The class principally defective is that of agriculture. It is the first in utility, and ought to be the first in respect. The same artificial means which have been used to produce a competition in learning, may be equally successful in restoring agriculture to its primary dignity in the eyes of men. It is a science of the very first order. It counts among it handmaids of the most respectable sciences, such as Chemistry, Natural Philosophy, Mechanics, Mathematics generally, Natural History, Botany. In every College and University, a professorship of agriculture, and the class of its students, might be honored as the first. Young men closing their academical education with this, as the crown of all other sciences, fascinated with its solid charms, and at a time when they are to choose an occupation, instead of crowding the other classes, would return to the farms of their fathers, their own, or those of others, and replenish and invigorate a calling, now languishing under contempt and oppression. The charitable schools, instead of storing their pupils with a lore which the present state of society does not call for, converted into schools of agriculture, might restore them to that branch qualified to enrich and honor themselves, and to increase the productions of the nation instead of consuming them." (TJ to David Williams, L&B.10.429-30)

And another thing:

"Those who labor in the earth are the chosen people of God, if ever He had a chosen people, whose breasts He has made his peculiar deposit for substantial and genuine virtue. It is the focus in which he keeps alive that sacred fire which otherwise might escape from the face of the earth. Corruption of morals in the mass of cultivators is a phenomenon of which no age nor nation has furnished an example." --Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Virginia Q.XIX, 1782. ME 2:229