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Archive for the ‘Water’ Category

We are starting to get excited for our 2009 season. We can’t believe we are only 2 months away from going to our first farmers’ market this spring. If all goes well, we are aiming for the first couple of weeks in April. Most of all, we are hoping that we get some snow and moisture some time soon. It has been such a mild winter so far. I mean, it was almost 70 in Ashland the other day!

There is still room in our CSA, but we are filling fast, so don’t forget to sign up!

We’ve been working in the greenhouse alot so far this year. This is one of my most favorite parts of the year. Starting seeds in the quiet of winter. I think we have started over 20,000 onions & leeks. We found that we just didn’t grow enough of these last year and with our increase in markets this year, we are bumping up these 2 crops. Now, we just have to find the space to plant them. We are currently working out some leased land agreements, so they should find a home before planting time.

The first round of salad mix, spinach and bunching greens have germinated and will hopefully be ready to go out into our new hoophouse by the end of February. This will be our first year experimenting with season extension with a really large hoophouse. We hope to do early greens followed by early greenhouse tomatoes. We learned last year that because our site is a bit cooler at 1,800 feet, we rely on season extension for quicker maturity on a lot of crops, especially the warm loving vegetables like peppers & tomatoes.

Josh is about to start a four-week class on designing a farm mentorship, so that we can be better farm mentors for our interns this year. We are so excited about teaching eager, young new farmers and hope we can design a really productive and interesting learning and work experience for folks this year. We are increasing our labor this year to three interns who live and work on the farm. And then adding an hourly laborer to help with weeding and harvesting. We are expanding our markets this year, so we definitely need more help.

We are curious to see how the recession is going to impact our farm this year. We were astounded at the support of our farm in last year’s market season and we look forward to seeing everyone again this spring.

I have posted some new pictures here of our new pastured poultry Eggmobile! We finally got all 200 hens on pasture and the results have been amazing. The egg yolks are so beautiful and richly orange this time of year. We are looking at leasing more land next door to increase our pasture abilities for the hens. Right now, they get about a 1/4 acre in space to wander and eat bugs and grass. It took them a few days to get used to their new house — Josh was out there every evening putting the hens into the house for the night, but they have finally got the hang of it. Josh has been diligently researching alternative poultry rations and has found a farmer who might contract with us to grow certified organic grains for the flock. Josh is going to be talking at the OSU Extension Small Farms Conference in a few weeks about this very same topic. Go to this link if you want to hear him speak: http://smallfarms.oregonstate.edu/.

I spoke on panel last night on local farming and climate change in Grants Pass. That was a pretty interesting discussion. The questions went all over the place from GMO canola to horse farming. I had fun.

There’s the update. I love this time of year.

Eggmobile

Eggmobile

Eggmobile & hens

Eggmobile & hens

Everett in the Hen Brooder

Everett in the Hen Brooder

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I guess those are the key words for the week.

We’ve been stressing about water lately. Annual vegetables take so much water to grow and we can’t seem to keep up on the high water demand. We’ve enlarged our irrigation pond quite a bit and while it is recharging quickly, it just isn’t quick enough. We’ve also been transitioning more to drip, which is great because it saves a lot of water, but it just isn’t as pretty and green as overhead. I’ve been salivating over the forty or so sprinkler heads that run on these huge pasture fields out on Hwy 238. If only we had that kind of water. I know our yields would be better. Alas, we are working with what we’ve got and trying to figure out some sort of sane irrigation rotation. It isn’t easy. We hope to turn in our irrigation ditch in the coming weeks. We think this will help our situation considerably.

It has been an exciting week on the farm. Solstice is quickly approaching. Tomorrow actually. The longest day of the year. I love it. We’ve got almost all the summer crops in the ground. Tomatoes, corn and winter squash are looking lovely. Cucumbers, zucchini and beans are all up. Eggplants and peppers are going in today. Melons and basil tomorrow. Just in the nick of time.

In other news, on Monday, we left the garden gates open and at 9pm, I looked out the window and three deer were grazing in the garden. Uh-oh. We reacted quickly and Luna took off after them. Bad idea. The deer got frightened of course, and could not jump the fence (it is deer-proof obviously). The mama got out and after Josh and Patrick ripped a portion of the fence off, a young doe got out as well. Unfortunately, a beautiful young buck got caught in the fence and broke his neck. Of course, it was 9:30 p.m. and we had to get up at 4am to get to the farmers’ market, so we called our wonderful neighbor, Jacob, who is 17 mind you, and he came over and showed us how to gut and dress the deer. Sigh. Josh was up until 1am working on the deer (hanging from our deck and then into the barn) and then up at 4am packing the market truck. What a day. The deer is now at the butcher and we will soon have 35 pounds of venison in the freezer. Wow. This business of farming is crazy sometimes. Well, I guess all the time.

Another thing we are finding is we can’t quite keep up with the high demand for our produce. We are quite surprised. We weren’t really expecting that this year, but we are finiding we can’t bring enough to the farmers’ market and the restaurants want more than we can give. The Siskiyou Coop CSA has also started and we’ve been selling a whole bunch of food through that channel as well. The CSA membership is up to 140 families, so Patrick, Katherine & Josh were in the barn until 9:30 last night bagging 135 8-oz bags of frisee, salad mix and spinach. Thanks guys. You rock.

I guess this high demand is a good problem to have. We do wish we had more space, or at least planned more effectively to be able to access our markets more fully, but I guess that is what next year is for. In general, we are happy with the way the season is shaping up. We had a really good week this week and pulled a lot of food out of the ground. It feels so good and rewarding to be supplying so many people with organic vegetables and eggs. Thank you for your support!

I guess the other theme for the week is lack of sleep. Josh is going off very little sleep and I’m not far behind with a nursing toddler and off-farm job. The hope is to rest a bit this weekend. I think I’ll push Josh into the creek if I can.

In veggie news, the broccoli is on and so good. I swear I’ll post some photos soon.

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