March – the Arrival of Spring

 The Arrival of Spring signals the start of planting. Seeding starts in a flat saves a bit of money and increases the choices of varieties. Shown above is a 128 cell flat that will start this years tomatoes and peppers. Also shown is the packer/dibbler board for use in packing the soil and creating the depression for seeds. This saves a bit of time as a half of the flat can be readied at one time rather than doing individual cells one at a time. Once seeded the surface will be covered with vermiculite and a humidifier cover. Placed on a heating mat the seeds should germinate quickly. A few other flats will be seeded now for bunching onions and in a few weeks lettuce and other Spring Crops to be transplanted out for the earliest and first harvest of Spring.

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February Thaw and Wind

 February teases Spring with periodic thaws which brings unstable weather. The reoccurring snows are disappointing enough but worse is the wind damage. Roofing to be repaired, ripped tarps, and downed trees (always onto fences) makes for a longing for Spring.

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January Hopes and Dreams

  “Unfortunately” Winter is just a way of life round these parts. The hope for an early Spring gets dashed every week until Mother Nature decides differently. At least the pile of seed catalogs helps to pass the time until then.

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Just in case

imageJust in case it snows later!

 

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And so it Begins

Through all the rain and repeating “last” snow, Spring is slowly ebbing into the air. Having a fool greenhouse lets Spring planting get a head start.

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One More Time

Of  course, after a few nice warmer thawing days, the weather person just couldn’t resist a reminder that it is Winter and not Spring….YET!

Just 10" reminder to not get excited just yet!

Just 10″ reminder to not get excited just yet!

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Spring Dreaming

Whenever the January Thaw drops in it’s hard not to start dreaming of Spring. The warmer days never last and soon enough the next wintry storm moves in and temps drop back to normal.

A few of the chickens start thinking Spring too and tryout laying a few eggs just in case it lasts. And just in case it does last some of these early eggs make it into the incubator. That makes it even harder to forget that true Spring is still a ways off.

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Intensive Cropping

In the past, short season crops were only planted once or twice each season. That meant the crop was harvested, early, just right, and a bit past its prime. While this produced enough to eat and share it really wasn’t even approaching the full potential of the crops.

After reflection, this year Intensive Cropping will be tried out of these short season crops. The basic idea is to plant successively and to crop out (harvest the whole planting) at one time. The strategy is to plant smaller batches on an appropriate schedule and maximize the just right harvest.

In order to manage this spreadsheets will be used to calculate planting and approximate harvest dates. The starting data includes the crop name and days until harvest from the seed package. Based on the frost sensitivity last frost date and first frost date, planting dates are calculated on a two or three week frequency. Corresponding harvest dates are also calculate based upon the days to harvest. While the individual harvest quantities will be smaller, the overall harvest of higher quality harvests will be larger.

It goes without saying that long season crops can still be planted over a short period to increase their length of harvest as Intensive Cropping doesn’t seem viable with the modest growing season. However, this year long season crops will be both field planted and planted in hoop houses to help determine the viability of increasing the long season crop harvest (both quantity and duration of harvest)

Testing this system is one of last preparations to decide if a CSA model can be supported by the Farm. Once this system is tested, individual crops can be identified , and the potential CSA sized be surveyed in preparation for the decision to offer a CSA in the future.

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Cold, Debt and Incubation

The threat of all that snow stayed a bit to the north, but the temps have dipped instead. A few days into the teens and nights into the singles! A bit of snow has fallen but nothing beyond the expected. Every day is one day closer to Spring, warm weather, and the start of all things farm and homestead for the year.

One semi exciting happen has been the final mortgage payment! Fluffy Bottom is no longer a partnership with the bank. The mortgage was left over from the days of very low interest and it was just time to clear the debt from the books. The tractor (at zero %) will be paid off this summer and that will leave just the truck debt still around. Of course the operating costs come up every month but they are within a manageable level.

The Incubations are set up and ready to go to work for the year. A test set of Cochin bantam eggs are in the one to check the incubators operation before the hens get into laying mode. Early chicks are always a lot of extra work but in the end it just needs to be done. Last year the plastic box brooder a worked ok, but required lots of cleaning. This year a new brooder is being built once the weather breaks to better tune that part of chick care. With a little luck, the design will be better and help streamline that enterprise on Fluffy Bottom Farm & Homestead.

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Snowmaggedon – Oh Nooooo!

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With the 7 inches of snow from last night, what is the weatherman thinking? 19 – 29 inches possible! Why can’t it just be summer year round? Sigh, at least the tractor will get a mid Winter workout!

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