Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Week in Review

We’ve gotten to that time of year where it’s hard to find a chunk of time to sit down at the computer and document what’s going on around here. So, I guess we’re going to have to do some type of weekly review.

Last week was opening day of the S/A Farmers’ Market. While it was great to get back in the swing of things, somehow it didn’t rate a blog entry. Where last year’s opening day was gorgeous and wonderful, this year it was cold, I didn’t feel well, and it just seemed too early to think about the Market season. We had sun, rain, snow, sleet, and WIND to contend with in the weather department. But, we sold everything we took. This week looks like we’ll have more stuff to take. The weather looks to be…well, different than last week.

The weather has been a real challenge lately. The temperatures are running a little below normal, and it seems like it rains at the most inopportune of times. Our scheduled plantings are all out of whack. But as Mark Twain said, “if you don’t like the weather….wait five minutes!” That’s about the size of it. Last week was 80, today not quite 50…tomorrow is supposed to be at least 80!

We finally caught a break in the weather on Monday, and Tom decided to make the most of it and get the onions in the ground. When we talk about planting some crop, it may be assumed that we just go out and stick it in the ground. Now, that would be SO nice. There’s a lot of prep. work before anything ever gets planted. Sometimes the preparation alone takes hours. In addition to the time for preparation, we don’t plant things in the typical home gardener numbers. This year there are about 3000 onions to plant.

He went out to till and set up the irrigation system, I ran to town for feed and supplies. By the time I got back, he was already planting the tiny onion plants.
We order onion plants (not sets) from a supplier in Texas. This supplier has hundreds of acres of onions. One week alone they shipped 40 MILLION onion plants across the nation. It is far more efficient and cost-effective for us to order these plants than to attempt to start our own. We know…I have tried!

That project pretty well shot Monday. But, the onions were in the ground and the predicted rain showers would water them in for us. The “predicted rainshowers” turned out to be a huge thunderstorm that provided us with a half an inch of rain, not to mention thunder that threatened to bounce me out of bed in the middle of the night. Poor guard dog Jed, he hates thunderstorms. He was crying in the night, trying desperately to get on the porch…or under the porch! I keep telling him he's an embarassment to dogs everywhere, but it just doesn't faze him.

Tuesday was very wet and still had the occasional shower to contend with, so we did some inside work, and ran to town so Tom could get some stuff he needed for the management of the Market. We also worked the sheep again in preparation for the spring/summer season out on grass. Again, the weather is slowing things down. The cool nights keep the grass from growing quickly, and the sheep are still eating mostly hay. The hay supply is rapidly dwindling and the sheep are most anxious for a little of the green stuff.

Wednesday, oh Wednesday…is SUPPOSED to be our hoophouse day. We have found that if we dedicate one day during the week to the maintenance of the hoophouses, we can keep them in full production and the weeds don’t get TOO far out of hand. To this end, Tom headed out to till some of the empty beds after breakfast. He has this tiny tiller that works great for the hoophouse. Well, I should say…it works great for the hoophouse…when it’s working. It seems to have had more than its fair share of “issues”. This time it was a cracked primer bulb. Now, I don’t really know what that does, but, I do know that it wouldn’t work without it. That meant a couple of phone calls and then a trip to the hardware store. No work in the hoophouse could happen until that got fixed. I set off to the greenhouse to start seeds. There were squash and cukes to start for transplants and I can always start more lettuce!

While I was in the greenhouse, A called. She’s been fighting some type of illness for over a week, and was making her third trip to the Doc. The doctor’s office is one of the few things remaining in M’brook, so she was coming this way. She was in need of a little “mom time”, so I accompanied her to the dr. and took her to town to get some odds and ends to make her feel better. …and that was Wednesday. The day of hoophouse work never materialized. Although, Tom did FINALLY get the tiller in working order, and tilled the empty beds.

Yikes, that means Thursday had arrived. With Thursday comes a thought of Market preparation. I try to do some harvesting on Thursdays to keep from feeling too pushed on Friday. But, this particular Thursday was going to be gorgeous, and all those brassicas REALLY needed planting. The brassicas are broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, and I had started about 500 seedlings. As Tom tilled and placed irrigation tape,I got the planting done in the hoophouse from Wednesday. All the hoophouse beds are currently in some stage of production! Early in the day we had visions of planting potatoes and strawberries, too. By the time lunchtime rolled around, we were still planting brassicas. The taters and berries will just have to wait! We got all the brassicas planted, and watered in. Now, we just have to wait for them to GROW. I love putting transplants in the garden. It goes from bare earth to GARDEN just like that! Well, just like that....with a WHOLE lot of bending, plunking, and planting!

Somewhere in there, the post office called…the second batch of broiler chicks had arrived and was terrorizing the post office. Seriously, the post office lady doesn’t need to say anything when she calls; the peeping chicks raise such a ruckus! I could hear them when I pulled in the parking lot. They looked great, adapted to their temporary home in the shop, and will be gracing someone’s table in about 8 weeks.

Then suddenly, it was Friday. Friday is harvest day. Usually, we start picking right after breakfast. I pick the lettuce and other greens, while Tom washes and packs. By lunchtime the greens are picked and packed and we move on to other crops. At the height of the season, we start harvesting on Thursday and are finished with everything by suppertime on Friday. Tom prints the signs and I re-stock the freezer in the late afternoon or early evening. Again, we hit a snag. The sheep were looking for greener pastures and some of them got in the wrong paddock. The simple task of getting them from point A to point B proved to be a cussing job. Since they were being so uncooperative, we went ahead and moved them to a completely different place. This was BEFORE breakfast, mind you. Breakfast was late, picking started late, but we got back on track. Despite the cold, clammy weather that made picking a real chore, we had a great harvest and were finished in time for supper. Bedtime would come early…

Saturday starts at 4:30 AM…and it’s off to the Market!

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