March 18, 2012

March News from Provider Farm

Kerry writes in from the farm:
Well here it is 65 degrees outside and its only the middle of March. This has got to be the earliest spring we have ever seen here on the farm and we are making good use of it. Last week we started all of our onions, leeks, scallions and the first lettuce in the greenhouse. We are just starting to see the first onions poking up out of the ground. We grow all our own seedlings and over 60% of our crops get started in the greenhouse so we have many hours of seeding still ahead of us. This week we will be seeding beets, chard and cabbage.

Our greenhouse adventures began with a late Saturday afternoon recovering of our greenhouse. Every four years, the plastic on greenhouses needs to replaced as it is weakened by the sun and light does not transmit well through it. We had plans to cover the greenhouse early on a Sunday morning (calm mornings are important when you are pulling a giant heavy piece of plastic over a structure. Don’t want it to end up in the trees with one gust of wind!) but after sitting on our duffs all day at an organic agriculture conference, we were energized to get started on a Saturday afternoon.

We started by detaching the old plastic from the frame. By 5:00, we were ready to pull the new pieces onto the greenhouse. We debated it knowing full well we would be working in the dark if we started but decided to go for it since it was calm. So one by one, we pulled the sheets of plastic over the greenhouse (greenhouses are typically covered with two layers of plastic. A fan blows air in between the two layers to create an insulating bubble which helps keep the heat in the greenhouse). To get the plastic sheets over the greenhouse we tied ropes to the plastic (using a tennis ball to keep the rope from pulling off the plastic) and then all three of us grabbed a robe and pulled it over the greenhouse, hard! By nightfall, we were reattaching the new plastic to the frame and completed our project in the truck headlights. Not bad for an evening of work.

Max has started plowing up our early fields, getting the ground ready for peas, carrots, early greens and lettuce. It is still too early to seed anything but it is nice to get into the field and get things started. It is incredibly satisfying to turn over new ground at the beginning of each season. It feels great working late into the evening with the sun still out and a warm breeze blowing.

Our cows are not quite sure why we're feeding them an hour earlier, I guess they don't know about daylight savings time. Our girls are watching the pastures with interest, waiting for the first flush of new green grass. We have three pregnant heifers on the farm right now. They should be having their calves in the next month and we are looking forward to the new additions to the farm.

We have also started pulling some of the bigger rocks out of our field. I've heard rocks referred to as 'New England potatoes'. They are always the first crop we pull out of the field in the spring and the last crop we pull out in the fall. We are in the process of organizing a rock picking party. Many hands make light work and it will give us a chance to share a meal together and enjoy some time in the fields together.