April 23, 2012

April News from Provider Farm

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Dear Friends,

It is with great pleasure that I sit down on this rainy day to write this newsletter! I have been watching the radar and checking the forecast for what seems like every hour for the past few days in great anticipation of this much needed rain

It couldn't have come any earlier since for the past two weeks we have been busy planting broccoli, cabbage, chinese cabbage, scallions, lettuce, chard, kale, kohlrabi and beets out in the field. Two long season crops, our onions and leeks also went in this week. By far two of our favorite crops, we grow almost an entire acre of these pungent staple crops to ensure that your peppers aren't lonely, and you have leeks for your potato leek soup! It is kind of funny to be thinking about fall in the first few weeks of spring but in order to ensure that our harvest buckets are full all season, we always keep an eye on the horizon.

Max has been busy putting seeds in the ground, including peas, greens, carrots, spinach, radishes and spring turnips, rounding us out to about 2 acres planted so far. When he's not driving the seeding tractor, he's been out preparing the land for planting and spreading our back pasture with compost to get it ready for the cows.

I have been scurrying about setting up irrigation, trying to keep up with the sun and drying winds that refuse to quit. Even our wet fields have been looking dry, our dry fields look like desert and the swamps have been getting lower by the minute. Without irrigation, we would not have been able to plant, end of story.

Still, most growers would agree, if you have a good irrigation system, a dry season is preferable to a wet one. You can always add water but you can never take it away. Excessive water can cause all kinds of problems, transmitting disease, drowning plants, and making it impossible to get tractors into the field. Too much rain can literally bring farm operations to a standstill.

We have inherited a great system set up at the Bailey fields that has been hard at work watering in all our broccoli and cabbage. However, as some of you returning members know, water has been an issue at our far fields in the past. Well not this year! Through the countless hours of dedicated hard work and a bit of much appreciated familial financial assistance from Larry(Kerry's father), it looks like we will have an ample water supply for all of our crops this year. Larry has been hard at work designing, assembling and implementing a very practical, functional irrigation system for all of our previously, unirrigated land and we thank him for it!

The past two great big weeks of work wouldn't be possible if it was just Max and I here on the farm. We are grateful to welcome our two wonderful apprentices to our farming family. Kara is a real local girl, hailing from Waterford CT. She has a degree in horticulture from UCONN and managed the gardens at the Mystic Seaport Museum. Tana has come all the way from the Pacific Northwest to join us here at Provider Farm. Last season she was the assistant grower at Overlook Farm in Rutland Mass. Our apprentices are really the back bone of our farm, we couldn't do anything with out them. They have been undaunted by every task we have thrown at them, from picking rocks the size of our hatch back, to transplanting literally thousands of transplants in just two days.

Victory with baby Vinny.
By far the most exciting news of the week is the arrival of our two baby boy calves. It sure was refreshing to see some new life when everything else looked like it was ready to shrivel up. On the two hottest days in a row this spring, we came home from the fields to find Mamas Victory and Juno deciding it was a good time to calve. Juno was the first to go. Her progress was slow, but after two hours and with a little final coaxing from us, she was up and cleaning off her new calve Joe-baby. Victory, continuing to prove herself as a fine cow, popped Vinny out in just over a half an hour and was up and caring for him right away. We have one more calf to go . With the rain, we hope to see some good pasture growth and have the cows out grazing soon.

That's it for now folks, we will see you all in about five weeks for the first share! I hope you enjoy this rain as much as I am.


On behalf of our farm crew,
Tana, Kara and Larry


Your Farmers,
Kerry and Max