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 ┬ácourse, 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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Beginning the Orchard

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While the front Orchard was one of the first things put in on the Homestead, it’s now time to expand with a proper Tree Orchard. Clearing the area began late last summer and there’s still some work to be done. On the other hand, supplies of available trees are highest right now, so an order was needed to get an interesting collection started.

The plan for the first phase is to put in about a dozen or so Apple trees along with a few other fruit trees. So for the first order, the following trees were selected:

  1. Honeycrisp
  2. Cox Orange Pippin
  3. Winter Banana
  4. Smokehouse
  5. Orleans
  6. Wagener

In addition there are two Goldcot Apricots in the order as well as two types of new Raspberries. To meet the goal of a dozen trees, a few locally available Apples will be added to the planting, most likely Yellow Delicous, Red Delicous, Cortland, Fuji, Jonathan, or Macintosh.

Besides the Goldcots, there are a couple of dozen pits to try and sprout from an unknown Apricot at my mothers.  These are similar to Goldcot but should be well suited to the climate here.

Over in the Soft Fruit Orchard, the new Raspberries are Double Gold and Crimson Night. These will join the Lathams, Anne, Black Hawk, and Royal Purple to make a nice colorful and tasty crop!

The rest of the Soft Fruits include. Few types of Blackberries and three types of Strawberries. Still to be added are the blueberries and other minor fruits as well as the grapes for the grape house.

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Enough already

Just two weeks of Winter and it’s already overstayed its welcome! With temps looking to plunge for a day or two, let the melting begin! Compared to the last two Winters, it really should be hard to complain, but the cabin fever season is gaining a foothold..

Not even more seed catalogs help!

 

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First task of the Day

The first task this morning was a quick path to the Woodshed. Heating with wood is great, that is until the path needs to be shoveled by hand to get to the morning’s refill for the stove!

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