We want to take a moment to send a big electronic thanks to the Wrights for letting us use their gator. It’s the perfect little runabout for us when we don’t need the full tractor/trailer combo, and since we don’t really have established driving lanes, the truck or van would get stuck. In exchange for housing and maintaining the little guy we have permission to use the Gator on the farm, and boy is it a lifesaver!
In other news, a slew of our plants that we’d finally gotten in down below are dead or dying from what Cornell says is the wrong combination of poor soil structure/drainage (from years of abusive conventional farming, basically), excessive wetness, and the modest amount of poultry manure fertilizer we applied at planting. We put in about half the amount that other organic growers usually use, but the soil is so beat that it’s becoming anaerobic in places, creating an ammonium toxicity that’s killing stuff. We were worried it was residual atrazine damage from the corn herbicides (even though we tested for it last fall) but they say that’s not it. Who knows. Either way it’s super wet down there (we had almost 4 inches of rain here last week) so we can’t prep more ground anyway. So instead we’re forced into more of the alfalfa field up the hill!
Also this week, we bought a used walk-in cooler. We’d been planning to buy an insulated truck box and use that—we have a perfect spot just outside the back door of the barn for it, and it would fit perfectly into our long-term picture of how product will flow through the washing space in the barn. Finding one that’s 12-16’ long and local enough to be worth hauling is nearly impossible—longer than 16’ will cover one of the pole barn doors if we place it where we’d like. We found a 12 footer out in Syracuse, but paying someone to haul it was going to kill us. So we finally gave up and bought a cooler, which will have to live inside the barn. Then, of course, the guy in Syracuse called back offering to haul it for $100, which is an incredible deal. It was a hard call, but I think we’re sticking with the walk-in just because we already have it and that particular box isn’t the PERFECT box (it’s 12, not 16, and has a roller door in the rear so we’d have to spend money building up an insulated wall and swing door). Pics coming soon.
We’re also supposed to start markets this weekend, but may have to beg forgiveness and not come til the following weekend. With all the rain and our own challenges, we don’t have much more than arugula, and we’ll spend more on diesel than we could earn with the little we have. What a spring! But we’re keeping our heads up!