Sunday, May 20, 2012

breaking and entering

This week's (May 18th, 2012) news--

Number 1.  Less than three weeks to go until deliveries start.

Number 2.  Early vegetable share this weekend -- at the farm.

Number 3.  Seedling day at the farm this Saturday

Number 4. Shares still available

Number 5. Break in at the farm - Stolen vegetables?

Number 1.

Vegetable deliveries will be starting, as it says on our webpage (, the first full week of June.   I will be covering this in depth in the next couple weeks. Everything you need to know about picking up your vegetables will be covered in the next couple of newsletters.

Schedule -First delivery on Monday, June 4th  at the East Falls Church site.  For directions go to our webpage  and click on Delivery Schedule.  Right now it says  2011 delivery schedule. In the next couple days we'll change that to read 2012.   All of the pick up locations mentioned on the webpage will remain the same for 2012 as they were for 2011.  The several smaller stops that are not on the list will be posted later this week.

Yes we will have a Centreville pick up spot.

In the next newsletter I'll  go over how the delivery works.

Number 2.

This weekend early vegetable shares will be available for all shareholders and, since we have so many early greens, all of the people who have signed up over the years to be on our newsletter subscription list.  Pick up at the farm from 11 until 1 on Saturday.

This early share is not the result of the non-happening  of the 2011-2012 winter.  Its a planned event.

Back in February I decided to start enough greens to fill our largest high tunnel.  the 34 ft by 96 ft greenhouse sitting on the hill above the fields by our house.

Back then we started seeds for three different varieties of mustard greens,  two different pac choi,  lettuce, tatsoi (sort of like spinach), mizuna, Swiss chard,  kale and kohlrabi.

A month ago we transplanted over 5000  of those seedlings right into the soil inside the large high tunnel.

Starting last week the vegetables began to ripen.  This weekend most are at their peak and are ready to be picked.

So if you want a bonus share, and this one is going to be large, be at the farm between 11 and 1 on Saturday.

Renewing shareholders, bring your tote bags.

New shareholders,  we'll issue your  2012 Bull Run Mountain Farm tote.

As renewing shareholders know, these are large totes, about the largest quality totes I can buy.  This week we will be filling these to capacity.

Come out and get enough greens for the week,  maybe for two weeks.

Besides the crop we're growing in the high tunnel that are several cooking herbs available.

Number three.  Seedling give away.

Last weekend we started our annual seedling give away.  I put out over 100 flats of flowers, herbs and vegetables.  Almost 5000 seedlings were taken home.  However, we still have more.  Besides he 5000 seedlings not taken last week I'll be  bringing out of the greenhosue  another 5000 seedlings.  At least a dozen different varieties of tomatoes,  half a dozen types of eggplant, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, pac choi, Italian basil, thai basil.  ground cherries, tomatillos, herbs, calendula, collards, kale, mustards.  We might even have some squash, cucumber,  and gourd seedlings.

We'll provide used flats to put the seedlings in.  You should bring boxes or trays to support the flats.

Number 3.5

Saturday's weather looks like it will be ideal too.    Predictions are calling for clear skies and a high temperature around 80 degrees.

If you want to bring a picnic lunch there are plenty of places to put down your blanket.

 If you want to go on a walk or hike I'll  try to make a map of the different trails and roads that you can go on.  Everything from short and easy half mile walks on gravel lanes through the woods  to a seven mile loop that goes up to the top of High Point Mountain.

Not only do we have our forest to walk in but down our valley is about 5000 acres of forested state land with trails open to the public and maintained by the Virginia Outdoors Foundation.

Number 4.
While  3-4 new shareholders are signing up every day that will still leave us short of our membership goal.  Spread the word.  We still have vegetable shares available.  If you use facebook go to our facebook page.

Number 5.

Breaking and entering.

Last night I was out in the fields right at dark.  Over recent years it hasn't been enough just to keep the electric fence on around the chicken houses. We've had chicken thieves squeezing under and flying over this fence.

To keep from losing chickens to various chicken eating thieves  I've started  making an regular chore of visiting all the chicken houses just after dark  (that last chicken waits until the last possible moment before it  gives up and goes to bed),  and I close and latch the doors.  keeping the chickens in at night and  the predators out.

Last night as I was nearing the large chicken house on wheels that's currently  down in the lower field something stirred out i the field.

That's right next to where we spent last Friday planting basil, tomatillos, broccoli and other greens.

At first I really didn't pay any attention, after all  we have a pretty impregnable fence surrounding the 20-25 acres  our fields cover.  Remember-- before the fence the deer ate between 10 and 15 thousand dollars worth of vegetables every year.  $10,000-$15,000 annually.  That's a lot of vegetables.  Your average deer eats something like 14 pounds of green matter each and every night.    How many Pac Choi  broccoli heads is that?

But that's in the past.  Or at least I thought it was...

As I got closer to the chickens three heads popped up out of the clover.  (the cover crop we planted last fall)..


Somehow three deer had broken through the fence and were working their way through the clover, eating as they went, heading towards the vegetables.

I picked up a rock and yelled.

They didn't move so I threw the rock.

it didn't come anywhere near hitting a deer, but it did make a sound when it landed.

The deer jumped and then started running.

Well, not really running.  I guess maybe a slow trot.

They trotted maybe fifty feet away  and then, apparently deciding I wasn't a threat,  or they were hungier than I was scary.

they stopped and started eating, again.

I let out another yell and threw several more rocks.  and ran, throwing the rocks as I did and jumping up and down and  waving my arms.

That's when they gave up on eating.  at least for the near future and moved towards the darkeness behind them.

And then...

From where I stood,  with the oncoming night, spreading across the field, it almost seemed some sort of a magical door opened  and when it closed.  The deer were gone.


One moment they were there...

And the next they were gone.

I spent the next half hour going along the fence line, looking to see if , possibly, there was a hole they could have gone through,  or maybe the fence had been  knocked down.


This morning, though,  I made a careful study of the fence line, walking up and down and searching for deer prints that crossed over.

Down near the ground I saw it.  Not very large, not much more than two feet across.

a hole in the fence.  A place where the plastic had been broken. Possibly hooves had kicked at it until it gave.

On  either side of the hole were deer hoof prints.  Somehow,  could they have used wire cutters?  the deer had  opened a hole in the fence  and just like in one of those World War Two prisoner of war escape movies they had  hidden their nasty work from daylight view and had been using it as an way into our fields during the night.

Fortunately,  we hadn't yet planted vegetables in that far field and there is still plenty of clover so they haven't yet, decided to sample our vegetable wares.

I spent several hours this morning  fixing and patching fence along that line this morning.  however, if there is a hole in one place there's likely to be another somewhere else.

Over the next several weeks I need to spent time carefully studying our fence and where ever  the weather or the varmints have created a hole,  I need to fix it before we are forced to share our vegetables with the locals.