Aisha Amuda, Josephine Chu, Rep Chris Gibson, Daniel Bowman Simon, Cara Fraver, and Steve Etka meeting on November 3rd, 2011.
A few weeks ago, the National Young Farmer Coalition asked if we would be interested in flying to Washington DC to lobby for a Regional and Local Food Act. We were elbow deep in our Friday harvest and washing and without giving it much thought, I answered, “Well, why not?” In the days that followed, I came to understand that this was a fly-in with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (Lindsey had mentioned this on the phone, but I don’t always absorb things well when I’m multi-tasking), I had lots of answers to why not as started to doubt whether I should try to represent sustainable agriculture or farmers from my region. Like many beginning farmers, we are very small this year and our household income is generated off the farm while we try to use our farm income to capitalize. Farms in my county are large, mostly dairy and run by farmers from farming backgrounds. However, as I started to research my representatives’ districts, I became a bit more comfortable with my understanding of how the Local Food, Farms and Jobs Act would benefit all kinds of farms.
The Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act was introduced by Representative Chellie Pingree and Senator Sherrod Brown this month. This act is suggestions for legislation that would tweak parts of the Farm Bill to address the needs of those of us who market our farm products within 250 miles of our farms.
On November 3rd, I rode Amtrak to DC and met the staff from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. NSAC had gathered an impressive group of farmers and advocates from around the country to speak to their representatives. With Steve Etka from the National Organic Coalition, Aisha Amuda and Kathy Mulvey from the Community Food Security Coalition, Daniel Bowman Simon from SNAP Gardens and Josephine Chu Master of Arts Candidate in Global Environmental Policy at American University, I met with two New York State Congressmen.
Chris Gibson is the Congressman from my district; in fact, he’s from Kinderhook where we lived for two years. He is also a new member of the Agriculture Committee, which meant that he was a high priority for this fly-in. He was quite receptive, chatting with us about his support for farms in his district, his concerns about GMOs and his focus on solar power. Rep. Gibson is politically conservative, but he listened to our concerns and seemed interested how the Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act could benefit his constituents. This was a surprising moment for me—it felt as if by making our voices hear we actually might be able to change the direction of government.
Our second meeting was with Rep. Bill Owens who is on the Agriculture Committee as well. None of us were from Owen’s district, which includes lots of the Adirondacks and northern New York. I’d say that the meeting felt a bit chilly, but I would add that I was impressed that both of these Congressmen met with us themselves. Yes, staffers were present, too, but they both took time out of their days to meet with us face-to-face. Owens signed onto the bill in the days following this meeting. Perhaps he was expecting to co-sponsor prior to our meeting or maybe we had an impact!
I took the train back to Albany that day and was back at my house just 34 hours after leaving. We’re pretty busy around here and I don’t spend much time thinking or reading about the Farm Bill. I have always found the minutiae of the Farm Bill’s 1500 or so pages overwhelming. However, in learning a bit about this act, I felt that almost all of the changes mentioned addressed parts of the Farm Bill that apply directly to our farm or farmers we know. I was happy to have overcome my doubts about speaking to the politicians who represent me and I hope to see more support for this Act in the following weeks, especially as the Farm Bill process is more confusing than ever with this year’s Super Committee process.
Sweet potatoes! We hadn't planned to grow them this year, then did so on a whim when some friends had extra plants. Digging them without a mechanical harvester is back-breaking, but I'm sure looking forward to eating them!
It's getting to be a bit of a monotonous refrain, but things have been busy here at Quincy Farm.
According to the National Climatic Data Center, our total rainfall for the months of June, July, August, and September combined is usually 14.2". This year, our rain gauge here at the farm recorded more than that in just 30 days thanks to Irene, Lee, and the interminable rains that followed. To say it has been wet is putting it very gently.
Fortunately, we finally caught a break in the form of a several days of dry, sunny weather this week. A number of opportunities came and went for fall crops in all that rain, when it was too wet to prep beds or seed,but at least we've got a quick window now to put some last minute cover crops down before fall. We also finally got to our sweet potatoes, which have been growing in the sandy upper fields and seem great despite the wet summer. With a little luck we'll finish that harvest tomorrow morning and have a great crop curing in the greenhouse by evening!
We're also counting our blessings on having narrowly missed another frost this past Wednesday--friends of ours just slightly north were a little less lucky, but all we experienced was some tip burn on the sweet potatoes' leaves and unhappy basil--neither of which matter too much. It's a real blessing to still be harvesting tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants this late, and while it doesn't undo the season's setbacks, it sure helps. On the other hand, rather than mellowing out, our harvest days have gotten even more hectic, as we've now got our fall crops stacked on top of the summer ones! It's too dark to see much before 7 or after 6:30, which means we really have to hustle in between... It's an alright problem to have, though.
Luke and Tucker, digging our beautiful fall carrots so they won't rot in the muddy ground.
In the midst of all this frantic cover-cropping and harvesting of warm weather crops, we're also walking a fine line on the cool weather vegetables growing in the flats--a portion of our fall carrots, which we usually don't harvest until after a good frost, are starting to rot in the ground from all the waterlogging. The impact of constantly saturated soil on the plants has been far worse than the initial flooding. Roots need oxygen, and when the soil is saturated with water, whether from actual flooding or just never-ending rain, they can't get it. Plants get sick and things are unhappy. We want the carrots to size up and sweeten, but we also want to provide high quality product to our customers... and we want to not have this additional labor burden just yet! So we're taking a gamble, harvesting the border areas immediately and hoping the beds on slightly higher ground will hold tight. Other things, like cabbage, broccoli, and brussels sprouts, are a mixed bag--some plants are doing nicely, while further down the bed things seem very sad. Even an inch or two of elevation makes a difference when things are that wet for that long.
To keep it interesting, Cara and I finally got married this past month! Yes, after 8 years, 2 houses, 2 apartments, 3 cities/towns, a tank of fish and now a dog, we finally tied the knot here on our farm on September 24th! It seemed like we'd have plenty of extra time our first season farming, so why not throw our own wedding?! We'll try to put up some photos of that once there's a moment to breathe... it's not exactly farm business, but we value the personal connection we have with all you who loyally come to us each market, and this is a big deal for us!
She's much taller in real life.
An enterprising arachnid spun this web across some cabbage of ours. We're doing our best to mimic his optimism.
I sometimes feel a bit like the itsy-bitsy spider from the kids' rhyme--you know, the one who gets flushed out of the water pipe by the rain, only to go crawling back up again? Sometimes literally, like earlier this spring or last week with Irene, and sometimes a bit more metaphorically. It sure would be nice to just get to the top of the darn pipe and relax in the sun a moment.The floodwaters finally crested here late Monday, somewhere around 5 or 6 feet above flood stage... which means the river rose around 10 feet from it's pre-Irene level. That's a lot of water for a river that big. We lost a good portion of a number of things, but only a few plantings entirely. A lot of recently seeded crops--lettuces, arugula, etc--have been drowned or washed away, but at least we didn't have greenhouse and transplanting costs invested in them. By Tuesday morning I was able to walk out to the fields in regular knee-high boots as long as I was gentle, and on Wednesday we could get out with vehicles. It took most of the week for the worst of the ponding to soak out, during which time the clover mix in those spots surely died... unfortunate since those low compacted spots are where we most need the clovers' aggressive root system to open up that compaction.
We made it to market with a reasonable harvest this weekend, as the affected crops were not yet ready for harvest. We'll see how the fall plays out.As things settled down, we began to learn more of the damage on other farms. Many growers in the Schoharie Valley are all but wiped out
, as the waters overflowed dams and inundated the valley. Nearer to home, neighbors Brian and Justine Denison
in Schaghticoke had a rushing torrent destroy their field, taking not only much of their crops but a good portion of the soil, too. Over in Vermont, the folks at Evening Song Farm
saw the flood recede to leave a river rerouted directly through their fields, with rocks and debris where the beds of veggies had been. Aside from such sensational examples, it can be pretty much assumed that anyone farming the fertile bottomlands pretty much lost all or a portion of their crop last weekend. We're not going anywhere, but it certainly make you reconsider the sanity of growing on river bottoms. Yes, it's some of the most fertile ground in the northeast, but with so much at stake, maybe it DOES make more sense to just pump water and dump fertility onto higher ground and sandier soils. Hard not to wonder.In other news, we finally fixed our flail mower, whose roller bearings had blown. The parts people sent us the wrong part, then took a while to get the right one out. I got it buttoned back up, did about an hour of MUCH needed mowing, and then the 2750 blew a steel fuel injection line, drizzling diesel everywhere and thwarting me. Out came the rain and washed the spider out.
Now the first tentacles of tropical storm Lee are snaking up, giving us 1.4" last night and forecasted heavy rain for the next several days. Like the little spider, we're optimistic: The worst of last night's rains looks to have pushed up the St. Lawrence to the north of us. Hopefully the b
ulk of the storm does like-wise. In the meantime, we're grateful to have so much of our crops spared by Irene. We did a tomato tasting in Glens Falls last weekend with TWELVE kinds of tomatoes, to rave reviews. Eggplants and peppers are producing like mad; the tomatoes are remarkably healthy, all things considered; we've got arugula and mesclun and lots of other crops coming out our ears. What's left of fall cabbages and kales look good, and the broccoli and cauliflower that didn't get Irene'd are bigger every time I glance over. The flats didn't need that rain last night, but our oats-and-peas and rye-and-vetch up top loved it, as their roots hadn't yet found moisture below the sandy upper fields.
Rain isn't a great follow up to flooding, but things are on the upswing here at Quincy Farm.
Tucker, swimming out our driving lane to inspect the mayhem. It's nothing like this spring's flooding, but it's high enough that Cara was mid-hip in places.
Yesterday afternoon, as the storm was winding down into a dismal grey funk from the howling deluge we'd had earlier, the phone rang. It was a farming friend from Columbia County calling to check in and see how we were doing with the rain and flooding. It's not like any of us can do anything to help each other when Mother Nature gets cross, but there's some solace in sharing. The creek at his place hadn't quite come out of its banks, but he shared the bad news that several of our other farming friends were sitting under a foot or more of flood water. Getting ponded with rain is bad, but when a creek or river floods a vegetable field, it renders most crops unsaleable, and brings huge disease pressure to the ones remaining. Depending on the crop, those farmers might have gotten some or even all of the harvest to market by now... but for others, they're right at the sour point where all the season's resources had gone into something that was nearly marketable, and now those expenses are just soaking in river mud, waiting to drain away.
At the time of this conversation yesterdat, I had just come back from a walk through our fields. Yes, there was horrible ponding all over the place... but with a full six inches of rain in less than 24 hours, that's normal. The river, though, was scary high, and definitely above flood stage. The only question was, would it go up or down, and by how much? As it got dark we had a friend over for dinner, enjoyed some warm company, and tried not to worry.
This morning the sun broke clean and clear, with none of the fog and mist we so often get here at Quincy Farm. And the river was UP.
We went down to check it out and had to strip out of our pants and wade across to the higher ground. As of this morning, NOAA was calling for a peak at 96 feet, which is a full six feet of flood water... counted after the river had risen a good 5 or 6 feet to reach flood stage from its normal mid-summer level.
As of this morning, this is the only spot the flooding is actually up onto the veggies. These carrots are junk. Luckily, the beds on either side were already harvested, and the floodwater just barely got into the fourth bed... yet.
Things are not good... but they're not horrible. As I type this, the river is right at the balancing point where it could screw us or go back down. It's way, way, way out of the ditches, but has just barely come up out of its banks directly onto the field. It's swamped some of our carrots and a little of the brussels sprouts, but that's all. To be sure, the rest of the carrots are very unhappy with their saturated muck beds, but if the river goes back down they ought to hopefully be alright and not rot. Aside from the flood, though, the 65+ mph rain has destroyed most of the lettuce on the farm--it all looks like someone shot it with a pressure washer... so even though those beds aren't underwater, the product is likely not salvageable. Pretty much everything that isn't trellised has blown over, but most of it should perk up with some sun, and we're prepared to go trellis the lodged eggplants and peppers as soon as we can get a vehicle out there with supplies.
Arugula and a lot of just-transplanted fall broccoli has very wet feet, but isn't actually flooded. The clover in the background is experiencing some pretty heavy ponding, though.
The 8 acres of mixed clover we have down as a cover crop isn't going to be happy with all the ponding... but that's why we sowed the mix: yellow clover is a stronger cover, sending down deep aggressive tap-roots to open up subsoil, but isn't too tolerant of flooding. Red clover is less aggressive, but much more tolerant of flooding. So hopefully we'll hold onto some decent amount of something there.
All there is to do now is wait, fingers crossed, and hope that the river goes down, and soon. With a forecast of sunny weather all week, if the water table drops a bit then the crops that aren't actually submerged should be salvageable and we can move forward with the season. Rough as it is, we're keeping our heads up and being grateful that things weren't worse.
But jeez--what a first year.
Edit: At 1:30pm Tucker and I went back down to reinvestigate. NOAA says the river has crested, but they must be asleep at the switch or something, because it's obviously still rising. The Hudson has topped its bank into the field pretty badly, swamping at least part of a lot of crops. At this point, every inch is critical. While I was down there, I also saw a ~30 foot piece of floating dock drift by, with the patio furniture still set up on it! Maybe a boatload of money will wash up in our fennel? A man can hope.
100% junk. Thanks, Irene.
Thankfully a lot of this isn't in veggies right now. Won't be good for our infant clover mix under there, though...
It'd be beautiful if it wasn't a crop field. This was Tuesday night as the water was (finally) receding.
...and some days, the bear eats you.
It's August. It's racing season in Saratoga and Cara's working 4 shifts a week, trying to stockpile funds. I'm still taking days in the city as an electrician (had a doozy of an 18 hour day the other week, before counting the commute!). And of course, we're trying to run this farm. And we're supposed to get married here in a handful of weeks. And did I mention it's August?
Despite the fact that we're hanging on by the very last shreds of super deep reserve energy we didn't even know we had, Cara and I both feel like we're over the hump and control is in sight. The days are shorter and shorter, which means fewer workable hours but also fewer weed-growing hours. We're running out of energy, but so are other things. We can talk optimistically about getting caught up (even if we're still doing triage on the to-do list). I finally found us an affordable chisel plow, which I've been searching for since January. The tomatoes and pepper and eggplants are finally coming in, and we're getting nothing but great feedback at our markets, and we're meeting our targets for the business.
Every time we feel like we're getting our balance, though, something pops up: First, we had a surprise visit from a particularly nasty bug that is threatening to destroy our otherwise thriving winter squash. Even conventional guys have few defenses to this one, and we're hard-pressed to save things. Then our hard-drive fried itself (which I hadn't backed up in months, because I didn't want to leave the backup drive connected to protect it from surges and lightning). Amazingly we were able to salvage enough information off it to keep moving, though a lot of our applications are wacked out now. The guy at the "genius" bar showed me how to make our computer run entirely off an external hard-drive, so it's a nearly seamless fix and hugely cheaper than a new computer.
The clincher, though, came this afternoon--I'd been in the van all day on a mix of highway and back roads, hauling a borrowed trailer to pick up this new chisel plow and a load of fall cover crop seeds. At the end of this long high speed day, mostly on I-90 and in heavy traffic with the commuters, as I was backing into position here on the farm to unload the plow... I stepped on the brake, heard a loud PSSSST!, and lost the brakes entirely. A quick inspection showed brake fluid pouring from two different ruptures, one in the front circuit and and another in the rear. I haven't yet figured out how or why it blew two spots at once... and am terrified of a more complex problem that over-pressurized the system, making it a more difficult and expensive fix...
While it's hard to be happy about a massive brake failure on the only market vehicle on a vegetable farm in August, I'm keeping in mind how absolutely more horrible it would have been to suddenly lose all brakes at 65mph on the highway with a loaded trailer.
Now, having been up since 4, I'm headed back out to the shop to soak everything in PB Blaster before turning in for the night. Tomorrow I'll wrestle with Chucho's rusty brakes instead of doing my obligatory half-day-a-week of wedding planning, then we'll either rent a van for this week's markets or run to the DMV and plate/title/register the 82 F250 we have sitting out by the barn... and then I somehow need to return this trailer that was so kindly lent to me.
While this brake thing has very definitely trashed any hope we had of getting on top of things, at the end of the day, I think that we ate the bear on this one... but it was a tough, nasty, over-cooked bear. I would've much preferred a BLT.
I keep meaning to update this blog with at least a picture, and keep not doing it. Today I got rained out of the field and figured I might as well poke my head into the “blogosphere” for a moment before I put on dry clothes and rain gear and get back out there.
Life has been insanely busy, as anyone who knows anything about farming would imagine. There was a point in mid-June when it occurred to me that eventually the days would start getting shorter, and we’d *have* to work a little less. I don’t know why I thought that, since we were working much longer than daylight hours back in March, but I did. Now, though, I feel like the shrinking days are a noose around my neck—a few weeks ago, it was totally light at 5am. Now the horizon’s just lightening… and while before I could work in the field til 9:30 or even 10, now it’s too dark to do much after 8:30. Yes, it’s forcing us to work a little less, but at the cost of getting less done. Kind of a lame trade-off… and the couple weeks of scorching weather we got in exchange wiped out any relief there may have been.
Baby in the Mist: Our F250 at dawn.
In the spring, when it was constantly cold and rainy, I wondered what in the world we’d been thinking to spend a squillion dollars on the Frankenstein patchwork irrigation scheme we have. We put together something in between hard-set and a traveling gun-- we have a massive run of 3” layflat with camlock joints every 100’. We have a single tripod with a gun on it, and we run it an hour at the end of the line, stop, move it down to the next joint, hook it up, run it an hour, stop, etc. I was supposed to build a pallet-mounted reel to hold the hose so we could move the system from one field to another efficiently, but it never happened. It’s a nuisance compared to a spendy traveling gun, but it’s saved our butts, and it lets us get away with a tiny little pump.
Is this what they mean by a "travelling" irrigation gun???
Learning new ground is not just learning new soil, but also flora and fauna. We’ve been greeted by the usual cast of vegetable weeds (purslane, chickweed, pigweed, lambs’ quarter, weirdly small and sporadic bursts of galinzoga, velvet leaf, bind weed, wild mustards and radish, etc). Bind weed, which we have some experience with, is rampant here. It regenerates when its roots are cut by cultivation, and it climbs neighboring plants, making it hard to pull. It's in close competetion for Public Enemy #1. We also have some new weeds, the chief of which is dog fennel:
Dog + Fennel = this thing?!
This guy looks like the Christmas tree from a Charlie Brown special, and grows up and down with uncomfortable speed. The Christmas tree part outcompetes crops, and when it’s small cuts easily along with salad mix, where it is thin and hard to see and fish out. The tap root makes it a pain to pull out of the beds and impossible to effectively hoe. I hate you, Dog Fennel.
(EDIT: While trying to identify a new, different weed, I discovered this thing is actually Field Horsetail. Worse name, and worse plant, as it turns out. Also, famously resistant to nearly every herbicide in current use, which explains why it's rampant in our previously conventionally-farmed fields. So, now: I hate you, Field Horseweed. More.)
We also have a crazy menagerie of wildlife. The pond is packed with frogs (as are both the upper and lower fields—don’t they need to be near water? What the heck?) and we have more different songbirds that you can shake a stick at, perhaps because of the river. It’s nice right now, but when we one day grow sweet corn I expect to loathe them. We also have the usual boring mammals. The cold-blooded guys are the stars, though—one day there were several huge snapping turtles sunning themselves on our black mulch… or so I thought, until Cara saw one of them lay an egg! We left that bed be for a while, so hopefully Turtle Jr. got off to a safe start. When we went to turn on the irrigation, though, we saw the hell Momma had wrought:
The downside of a bio-diverse farm: Snapping turtles indiscriminately destroy your irrigation. This section was so bad I had to cut a 3 foot piece from the drip line and splice in a new strip.
Another cold-blooded guy we met was a squiggly little fellow the dog turned up. He didn’t seem interested in playing with Tucker, maybe for the best. I didn’t know we had these up here!
It's hard to see unless you blow up the thumb nail, but this a baby timber rattler. I didn't want to get much closer for a better pic... something about the rattley tail just says BACK OFF... Unless your mom was a labrador... then it says, PLAY WITH ME!
Otherwise things are great here at Quincy Farm. We’re feeling the effects of the fields’ not being limed last fall (there was standing corn into late fall, and standing water into early summer) which is having textbook effects on some crops, especially cucurbits. While it’s a bummer to see the plants struggling, we’re still managing to get enough harvest out for market… we just don’t expect each planting to produce as long as we’d want. Other crops are thriving despite the low pH and calcium issues, though, and we keep getting great feedback at market. We're burning the wick at both ends, and in the middle for good measure, but it's almost August, which means it's almost Sepetmber, too. Weeds are growing more slowly, but they're setting seed, so it's still a war out there.
In the flats, we have a mix of sunn hemp and sudex growing as soil-building summer covers in what will be our mid-season ground next year. The dry weather gave us a window to use a neighbor's subsoiler ahead of a broad swath of red and yellow clover, which will go in shortly.
It takes kind of a long time to plow up this much ground with a little 3 bottom plow. It turned over beautifully, though. Hopefully the subsoiler and clover combo will help it drain out better next year.
The upper fields have buckwheat that’s about to plow down in preparation for oats and peas for the fall. The last of the upper ground that isn’t yet plowed has just been limed and will be broken in anticipation of sweet clover shortly. I keep saying this, but I really mean it—if we can just get on top of the weeds right now, I think we can hang on through the end of the summer. Honestly, though, for a first-year I think we’re doing alright.
Cara with a full case of broccoli--the hot weather pushed several plantings on top of one another. A lot of lettuce bolted before we could sell it, and we were nearly buried in big, tasty broccoli.
A couple weeks ago a woman from the Young Farmers' Coalition asked me a for a photo of Cara and me farming together. Photos of us together are pretty rare, and finding one of us farming together is even rarer. Somehow, in the insanity that is summer on a vegetable farm, there's just not many pictures taken.
While searching, though, I found just such a photo from our first year at Roxbury--it was early fall and I'd decided to carry a camera for a couple days. I don't recall what I'd been up to here at Quincy Farm the day that I was looking back at that photo, but I was beat and demoralized... it just kind of happens sometimes when you work as hard and long as you can every single day, and never quite reach your expectations. Anyway, in this photo from four seasons ago, everyone looks like they're having so much fun! I thought, man, working for someone else (provided it's the right someone else of course) is such a good time, everybody's laughing and enjoying themselves. Starting out on your own is just masochistic.
Cara, Jody, and Justin picking sweet corn at Roxbury in 2008.
Mixed in with the flooding and failures and challenges, of course, there's moments of satisfaction--peeling back row cover to find huge healthy cucumber plants, finally getting an improvised equipment solution to work great, talking to people at market who are thrilled to get such great produce. And sometimes, there's fun. Just plain old little kid style fun.
Tonight the sun was setting through the trees as we finished up our task down below, and we whistled the dog in out of the river. Next thing you know, there's a full tilt game of dog tag going on, and all three of us are panting and grinning (maybe the dog always grins? Hard to tell). It didn't matter that I'd been up since 4:30, or that if this were last year, I'd already be showered, fed, and enjoying a cold beer by 8pm. We were filthy, exhausted, and behind schedule... and having a damn good time.
We created these raised beds by carefully misusing our tandem disc, then following with a modified flat-bed mulch layer (we removed a bunch of stuff and used some new brackets and spacers to hold the shovels backwards and outside the machine). Pretty good for not having the right tools for the job!
One of the many challenges of this year has been finding ways to do what we want to do when we're lacking the "right" tools for the job--how to stale seedbed efficiently, how to set up a good wash station without a fixed water supply in the barn, how to run irrigation up a hill without a high-powered pump. One of these struggles has been how to form nice, clean raised beds to seed and transplant onto. With soil like ours, raised beds can really be the difference between a good crop and a mess--they allow heavy rainfall to gather somewhere other than right around the plants' roots. The soil right around the plants stays moist but rarely saturated, so even heavier ground performs nicely. But we don't have a bed former. So instead we've been trying to misuse other tools into forming beds for us.
Today, at last, I think we've hit upon success: We misadjusted the disc and then carried it through the field very crooked so it formed long lumps of beds ("rough forming" them). Then we took our plastic mulch layer, removed a bunch of stuff, and used some purchased brackets and scraps of wood to mount the shovels backwards out where they're not meant to be. We'd used a similar combo earlier to force our flat-bed mulch layer to lay raised beds of plastic, but it wasn't quite working for forming dirt beds. Today we got the tweaks just right and it worked! With this rig and very careful use of the tractor's draft control (usually used for plowing) we were able to form pretty decent beds! It's nice when things work out like that...
We meant to use this blog primarily to post pictures to keep our fans, friends, and members up to date on things here at Quincy Farm. The combination of a slow internet connection and a (predictably) hectic work load has made that sort of hard, though. So, in no particular order, here's three weeks:
*We were featured in the Post Star
(FRONT PAGE!) and The American Prospect
. The Post Star article got some of the numbers a little upside-down (they reported we bought the farm for $95k, which is insane! I'd cut off my pinky to get this farm for that little... and they also said Luke is driving to NYC three times a week to work in film production--that's over 1,200 miles of driving each week?! Three times a month
is a little more accurate...)
*We bought and erected a used walk-in cooler. We'd originally planned to buy a used truck reefer body and mount it outside the north wall of the barn, but we needed a very particular size and couldn't find it. I suspect the cooler might be a better plan, anyway, and the price was right.
Our "new" walk-in. Putting one of these together brand-new must be a piece of cake. When they're old and in a pile and you don't know what goes where or if the cams are going to work or not, it's a little more fun.
*Even though we haven't had any normal rain in almost 2 weeks now, we did get nailed with hail last week. We were cleaning out the hay mow (so we could put away all the stuff we displaced when we cleaned out the lower barn and shed) and heard what sounded like a small war going off on the roof of the adjoining pole barn. We immediately rushed outside and frantically dragged in as many of our tender transplants (who were all outside hardening off in anticipation of transplanting) as we could. We somehow escaped with reasonably minimal damage despite the pretty good sized chunks of ice pelting down. The dog, Tucker, was thrilled--he likes to eat ice, so this was like snacks from Heaven.
What the hail?!
*It's finally drying out down below, we've got all our plastic laid, and are getting cover crops in to build the soil for next spring and beyond. We've got the first planting of tomatoes staked and trellised, and are on to our second planting of tomatoes and squash. Also fennel, tons of lettuce, chard, kales, esacarole, basil, parsley, multiple rounds of scallions, onion, and a bunch more. We lost a bunch of cabbage, but the squash is squashing, the broccoli is brocc'ing, the tomatoes are tomating, and things are going well. As the days get longer and longer we're struggling to keep on top of the weeds (aka, sod) in our newly plowed upper ground while still moving forward with the planting/seeding/harvesting, but have only written a couple of small spots off as terminal.
*The upper field is a total sandbox now, which we're battling with nearly a thousand feet of layflat laid up a hill, through a culvert, and up more hill. The nearly 50' of lift is more than our little pump (bought used and intended to only work on the flats for now) is up for, so we have to move the gun twice as often for half as much irrigated ground... but it's working. Temps in the upper 90's are keeping us sweating, but we'd much rather have too dry than too wet.
*We did our first two markets. We had less product than we would have liked, but the product was beautiful, we got a ton of positive feedback, and nearly sold out both days. We're really excited to be a part of the Glens Falls and Schenectady markets, and look forward to attending Ballston Spa soon.
*We continue to bust our humps to bring you the very best naturally-grown veggies!
Our friend Beth helping Cara plant onions.
We were joined today by Beth, a co-worker of Cara’s from Sperry’s. With her help we got all of our onions in, plus some kale, lettuces, and raddichio. We still haven’t figured out how we’re going to push water up here for the plants in dirt, but we can irrigate the drip irrigation under the plastic mulch off our basement well (so long as we do a little at a time). It’s amazing what a full day of sunny weather does for morale.
This field drains so quickly that even with all the rain last week, we still need to water in our transplants. Lacking a water wheel transplanter, we improvised: A 100 gallon stock tank, some irrigation scraps, and a little trailer. It's an extra step, but it beats the heck out of a watering can!