Lots of good work done this week on the farm, and lots more still to do!
In the vegetable fields, Julie is feeling excited about the progress of the potatoes. They were planted on April 15th in the pond field garden which has struggled a lot with grass. Even after ripping, there was still a lot of sod still left in the area. We were expecting them to come up earlier, but in their wisdom they waited it out through the cold weather and snowstorms. In the meantime, the sod came back with a vengeance. The work of hacking up and killing the sod across the planting area of sixteen 75-foot rows was finished on Tuesday. Some of the potatoes have been hilled and mulched. That work will continue, and the potatoes are on their way to being well taken care of.
The onions and leeks have grown big enough to weed and mulch with oak leaves gathered from the property and side of the road. These crops in general are fragile and hard to work around, and can be hard to manage for that reason. For now, we’re staying ahead of the curve and hope to have that weeding and mulching done by next week.
Our re-seeded cucurbits are coming up, and that area is about half mulched. The celery is in and doing well.The beets are weeded, and will be thinned next week (CSA members will get to enjoy the thinnings in their shares). Soon the remaining beets will be mulched with hay.
We finished harvesting the spinach this week and turned those plantings over to lettuce, peppers and sweet potatoes (to replace the ones that froze off last week). After scraping the spinach plants off the surface, we dig trenches to plant the new seedlings into, minimizing the disturbance of the soil. Julie narrates this process (and Ari demonstrates) in the video below.
Thursday we were able to fill holes in the chard plantings, where some didn’t make it. While in the neighborhood, we weeded and transplanted some corn. We were also able to weed and tie our peas and finished planting the rest of the basil. We also put in some more winter squash – Delicata – which we’d not gotten around to planting that fateful day in May. Right as the storm hit, we dashed into the yellow hoop house and ripped out what was in there, then planted watermelons and muskmelons. We have two more hoop houses to fill with melons, and we’ll have to wait until the next time it rains to get in there – it’s very hot inside, this time of year. Today we also planted some annual flowers, for beauty and enjoyment around the farm.
Elsewhere on the farm, we’ve started the work of cutting hay, a bit at a time, with a simple rotary mower and a very old ground-driven rake. Hay is collected with the tractor and a wagon converted out of a manure spreader purchased in the 1980s, and all that has been cut has been brought over and piled up, ready to mulch tomatoes and corn (when we get around to it).
Our 250 meat birds came last Thursday and are growing in the brooder, where they’ll be for another two or three weeks. The pigs are working along the fence rows, and have made a move to their second location (they move every two weeks). The five houses of laying hens move after hay is cut so that they can fertilize the area and help the next cut of future hay grow up strong.
In staff news, sadly, recently arrived WWOOFer Ariana slipped in a hay cart, cracked a few ribs and has left us. But as Providence has it, WWOOFer Simon showed up today (Friday), and looks to be a keeper through the end of August. Another staffer, Chloe, starts this week as an paid intern from Mt. Holyoke College, she’ll be with us three days a week. Anthony started as a working shareholder this week, he’s working on a farm in Petersham and is joining us for some training. Thanks to Ahna, who volunteered this week. The comings and goings continue to amaze us! 🙂 Finally, Cathleen started this week. She has greatly bolstered the day-to-day management, oversight and leadership of the farm work and the many people who pitch in – either regularly or occasionally – to get it all done. Now that she’s on board, Julie is feeling “much more relaxed about how we can get work done on the farm”.
Julie wanted to add the following: “Many of us at this time, when police brutality and unfair treatment of people of color in this country come to light in a very visceral way, are trying to think about how we can best stand with people who have had that challenge. As a farmer, I have my own land to grow on and have been treated well by govt agencies and authority figures. It is important that we all recognize that there hasn’t been equality for generations. We can all stop and think about how we address that inequality in our own lives. As farmer and educator with NOFA and on the farm. I feel grateful that we keep seeing a stream of people coming to learn about how to raise food – college students, WWOOFers, working shareholders – I am always thinking of how to be more of service in the world and appreciate that we have this farm where we can help provide food and the education and empowerment to grow it. As my grandmother once said, we should count our blessings and share our blessings with others”.