Monday, May 16, 2011

Planting season 2011

With blackfly season halfpast, all the seeds in the ground, and a half-inch of rain tumbled down to get them started, we're basically sitting around drinking lemonade and sunbathing. But when we're not busy doing that, we're weeding the garlic and blueberries, building and fixing horse equipment, waiting for calves to be born, deworming sheep, working on the barn roof and floor, doing chores, and plotting what we will do differently next year. So we're not exactly lollygagging around, but I, at least, have a little more time for contemplation than I have had over the past few weeks.

One "how did I get here?" moment hit me yesterday: sitting in the kitchen of a house on a farm in Maine of which I am part owner, pre-chewing boiled roadkill deer for my eight-month-old daughter who is standing on my lap, crowing at me, and driving a matchbox army tank across my face. There's a snapshot of life for you.

But to back up a couple of weeks, before the grass really started growing and when the cows were still in the barn, Tyler, April and May did a lot of chicken manure spreading in the pastures and hayfields. Here are a couple more shots of that activity.

Seth's Herculean task for the spring was twofold. With some skilled assistance he planted both one acre of high bush blueberries for a future pick-your-own patch (that's near on 800 blueberry bushes) and about four thousand young trees in his tree nursery.

The Demere great-grandparents are back in town!

...and the blackflies are vicious. The sun-hat-bug-net combo is effective but not popular with Ada Ruth, who has three tooths (and countless opinions).

The winter vegetable CSA planting is complete save 750 cabbages, 100 kale, and 50 broccoli that need to get transplanted out in two or three weeks. We've had a dry spell for the last week and a half and got the last of the seeds in the ground just as a thunderstorm opened up on us yesterday afternoon. Red and white onions, leeks and garlic are all growing well, as are celeriac, Brussels sprouts and a first round of kale, broccoli, and red cabbage. The winter squash; sweet, dry and pop corn; potatoes; carrots; beets; parsnips; rutabaga and dry beans should all be popping up out of the ground in the next week or so. In the home garden we recently transplanted out all our cantaloupe, watermelon, honeydew, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, summer squash, zucchini, and cucumbers. Elsie's early plantings of spinach are getting big enough to eat and the lettuce is not far behind. Edible podded peas are also in the offing; rhubarb and asparagus seasons are coming to a close. As I walked down the driveway with Minh last week, he gave the perfect guided tour/summary of the season: "New spruce needles coming out. Sugar maples. Rasperries are blooming!" And this morning he and I checked out one more sign of the times: a big snapping turtle laying a nest of eggs, somewhat inconveniently, in Lucretia and Oai's pile of compost they purchased for their garden. So that's the word from the field, until next time.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Tyler the Magnificent

Everyone works hard around here at whatever it is they're doing, and this post is a special Ode to Tyler. Tyler has undeniably made a lot of things possible, including:
-reflooring the barn, by recruiting Graham for the winter so that he would have a safety backup while working horses and felling trees, by leading the milling up of 8000 board feet of 2" thick hemlock, by leading the work of moving all crap in the barn from one side to the other and back again (or in the case of the piano, shoving it over a bank), tearing up old and rotten floorboards, and putting down the fresh new floorboards
-Seth and I living off the farm while we build our house, by taking on even more of the livestock responsibility, including chores and reviving steers sick with hay belly and making sure there will be enough hay for all critters to stay fed until grass season arrives
-getting bills paid on time (without him, who knows if they would get paid at all)
-having all the right fields prepared at the right times for things like grazing, blueberries, and CSA vegetables
-getting a greenhouse set up this year
...and the list goes on indefinitely.

Basically, Tyler is generous, smart, strong, capable, knows how to strategize and work towards a goal, and has no fear of responsibility that I am aware of. Thank you, thank you Tyler! Three cheers for Tyler. Here is a picture of Tyler with April, May and the manure spreader, fertilizing pasture (and himself) with chicken manure. While Tyler may, at times, find himself covered in poop, he is never, ever full of it.

Easter Saturday, a well-known holiday, was celebrated by the usual meal of Eggs Benedict and a hard-boiled egg hunt. Both took place indoors due to inclement weather.

Moms of new babies reveled in being fed by others and relaxing.

The pregnant cows have today marked their one week anniversary of Spring as defined by living outside and no longer having to stick their heads through metal bars to get food.

One of the new baby lambs born in April on the farm. We have four girls and eight boys, and a mix of black and white ones. If anyone wants to see some good sproinking, come on over to the sheep pen.

Last and least (in size, not spirit): Ada Ruth on a ramp-hunting venture with Seth and my parents. She is no longer the proud owner of a toothless grin, i.e. Ada Ruth has a tooth! Cinco de Mayo!

Thank you one and all for your kind readership and infinite patience. Happy Mother's Day to all!