Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Late hard freeze (who takes care of the wild animals?)

It's been a hard week. So far a very hard week out in the bitter cold pulling water pipes up and down the side of the mountain in a desperate attempt to keep water flowing to the greenhouse, and our seedlings, and most importantly, the wood fired boiler that's the main defense between the bitter wind and single digit temperatures that were raging outside the thin uninsulated greenhouse plastic and the delicately warm world inside.

But before I go into describing me running around in circles for two, almost three days, let me bring up one of my grandmother's long time concerns.

My grandmother, who died a few years back but lived into her 100's would ask me when I visited her during a snow storm --

'How are the animals staying warm. What are you doing to keep the animals warm?

The first couple of times she said this I would think she meant the farm animals and start telling her about the goats or pigs.

'I have a goat shed that keeps out the wind and the rain and the ground is covered in hay and.'

"Not those,' She would say. 'I mean the ones that lived out in the forest. What are you doing for them? The birds and the wild animals?'

This became a ritual. She wouldn't let me get away with saying that they looked out for themselves. She'd just shake her head and give me that look, 'You mean you're not doing anything?'

There was a time this Monday night, it might have been after midnight, where I stopped for a moment to try and warm my frozen hands.

I was up in the woods and had been struggling along the snow covered trail that goes from the greenhouse along the side of the mountain up to the upper spring, pulling a three hundred foot long section of inch and a quarter well pipe behind me when the wind rushed down through the trees in a 20 plus mile an hour gust.

It blew off my hat and nearly froze my bare hands. (My gloves had long since been soaked through and stiffened up with ice) .

That's when I stopped, picked up my hat and with my chaffed hands inside my coat pockets looked out into the snow covered woods and thought of my grandmother in her nursing home bed harassing me about not taking care of the animals that lived in the forest.

Where do all the critters go when it is so miserable out that the only way I could face it is wearing twenty pounds of winter clothing.

"How are the animals staying warm?'

Farm news.

We sort of survived the unexpected cold snap from earlier this week. It wasn't the snow that was a problem it was the below ten degree temperatures.

And the water that decided nature dictated that in those conditions it turn into a rock.

Wenonah reports that this is already the coldest March in over 20 years.

The boiler, because of the lack of water Monday night, didn't keep the entire greenhouse above freezing and we lost several dozen trays of seedlings.

Tuesday morning I was on the phone to a greenhouse in Indiana and after charging almost two thousand dollars to my credit card where replacement seedlings would be shipped in time to plant.

When it comes to vegetables, you won't know the difference, but this season, because of Mondays unexpected cold snap, is almost two thousand dollars more expensive.

Oh well.

Eggs and visiting the farm.
As I said last week, the chickens have started laying. If you want to visit the farm and/or collect some free eggs come on out between 11 and 1 this Saturday. You don't have to e-mail me to confirm.

Farm visiting hours this week are on Saturday between 11-1. There should be enough eggs for shareholders.

Hoophouse.
Last week's offer of volunteer help to put it up was overwhelming. Thanks. I will take everyone that volunteered up on the offer just as soon as the hoophouse parts arrives. Probably in a couple more weeks. I'll put the time for the hoophouse raising in the newsletter.

Other news?
This time of year we are generally fixing equipment, ordering supplies, growing seedlings and getting things ready for the growing season. I will be talking new shareholders through the pick up process as we get closer to the time. Don't worry. You will have all the information necessary when the time comes.

Planting schedule
The unusual fruit trees I mentioned in last week's newsletter are going to start arriving late next week and we'll be putting them in the ground shortly after that. Quinces, paw-paws, persimmons and figs. I did find a couple small pomegranates that I can put in large pots and move them in and our of our high ceilinged room with the seasons.

We will be planting onions and leaks in three weeks and will start transplanting the cold hardy seedlings (like the ones that survived Monday night in the greenhouse) around April 15th.

Early green seeds will be going into the ground a week or two after that. Most of those take about 40 days from germination to maturity so count back 40 days from the first vegetable delivery.

You pick it.
there was a lot of response to the idea of U-pick, mostly for u-pick berries. As I didn't say in last week's newsletter, like fruit trees it takes a berry bush three plus years from planting to getting the first substantial harvest. So if I buy 500 or 1000 raspberry bushes this year we won't be seeing any u-pick for another three years.

The same with most fruit trees.

and let's hope that's the last bitter cold snap we suffer this year. After all I'm not sure you are doing enough to keep the animals warm.

Leigh Hauter

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