Farm Update 09-06-18

It’s before just daybreak, and another day on the farm is starting. The swings in weather this year have been a little on the wild side, and caused a good bit of mayhem with the crops and animals. Makes me wonder if the Farmers Almanac will be right about this coming winter. Guess we’ll all just have to wait and see.

AROUND THE FARM
Work is progressing slowly on the new poly tunnels I’m trying to get built. Between changing up growing methods like this, plus the extra work with seeding and potting the additional crops, not to mention still playing catch up after all the rains from late July (yes, there is still residual work resulting from dealing with all that water) I may shorten the farm stand schedule sooner than Columbus Day weekend. I’ll make a decision on that in the next day or so and post an update if there will be a change.

I’m also trying to secure temporary use of one of the cottages, so I can move the stand into an actual building once we get past pumpkin season. More on that in future updates.

IN THE FIELD
Some things are ending, or will be shortly, and other crops are just about ready. Looks like there will be a few Snap Peas for this weekend. They should produce much better next week though, so don’t expect piles of them this week. Other lettuce, besides Green Leaf, should be making an appearance again shortly as well. Winter squash are still going to be a couple of weeks yet, and the news from the Pumpkin patch is not so good. As much as I don’t want to, I may have to bring in Pumpkins again this year.

While sunflowers are now already done, the Gladiolus are blooming beautifully. I’m not sure how long they’ll last, and I’ll do my best to keep them going as long as I can, but if you like them, get them while you can. Dried flower bunches will be at least a couple of weeks from now.

FROM THE COOP
The ladies are generally doing well. I added some outside lights to their pen, so when I let them out in the morning, they can actually see where they are going.

A few are also still dealing with foot issues that developed as a result of the rains. I’m treating them as I find the problems and most all have made fast recoveries.

OTHER GENERAL INFO
Jam lovers please make note that Strawberry-Rhubarb will be available again soon. It is without doubt the fastest selling preserve I make, with the last batch selling out in 2 1/2 days. I am not sure how many batches of jam I will be making as we go into the Fall, so get them when they’re here.

The schedule has changed from the peak summer one to post Labor Day, with current hours being:

Early Fall Schedule
Thurs – Sat: 10 – 6
Sun: 10 – 4
Mon – Wed: Closed

Keep an eye out for further schedule changes and crop availability.

That’s it for now. Hope to see you all at the farm soon. Have a great week.

Farm Update 08-30-18

Hi everyone. Can you all believe we’re headed into Labor Day weekend? The time has absolutely flown by this summer. Of course, my days have all been blurred together for some time now, and I have to rely on my trusty watch to tell me the day of the week. There is also a downside to the rapidly approaching month of September, as along with it comes the F-word. Instances will be here sooner than we all want them to be, according to the Farmers Almanac. Ah well, nothing like being almost completely at the mercy of Mother Nature.

Please remember, the farm stand schedule will be changing following Labor Day. The early Fall schedule this year will be:

Early Fall Schedule
Thurs – Sat: 10 – 6
Sun: 10 – 4
Mon – Wed: Closed*

* (I am trying to figure out the best way to do some self-serve items on these days. More info in the next update.)

AROUND THE FARM
The new poly tunnels will have to wait another week or so, as there have been too many other priority projects that needed attention. And for the curious, general planning has already begun for next year.

IN THE FIELD
I’m not going to be speculating on Winter crops, so we’ll just have to see what comes of it all. After all the bad weather earlier in the season, I am NOT of the opinion that it will be a(nother) good year for things like Pumpkins and Winter Squash.

For the flower lovers, the Gladiolus are in full bloom now. There are loads of colors available as either single stem or bunches. The Sunflowers are still available, but they will probably only be around for another week or so.

I’ll be selectively picking Peaches for this weekend, though they are still firm as of now. There will not be many each day, so plan accordingly. I’m not sure what’s taking them so long to ripen.

FROM THE COOP
The chickens are clucking away. They don’t like this mini heat wave we’re having, but they stay in the shade, roll in the dirt, and are generally making the most of it.

There was another minor jailbreak the other day. Thankfully, I’ve been close by the couple of times this has now happened, and I was able to see how they accomplished their escape. One chicken had apparently learned to lean on and push against a specific spot on the fence that would open just enough for her to slip out. The other chickens would just mimic her actions and join in the adventure. The problem has been corrected.

OTHER GENERAL INFO
Please see the upcoming schedule changes mentioned above.

Keep an eye out for Strawberry-Rhubarb Preserves for Labor Day weekend.

That’s it for now. Hope to see you all at the farm soon. Have a great week.

Farm Update 08-23-18

Ugghhh, the weather. Hi everyone. I’m sure most all of you feel the same way at this point. Seemingly every time the forecast shows a few days of nice, a rain shower breaks into the mix within 36 hours.

AROUND THE FARM
New poly tunnel greenhouses are being added to the farm. The pad was put in on Tuesday, and the materials dropped off on Wednesday. I’m hopeful that the new tunnels will be operational by Labor Day, as they will allow me to continue growing crops well into the fall.

The little skunk has almost certainly moved on, as there has been no sign for at least the last two weeks. However, I recently discovered a family, yes family, of rabbits on the property. Thought there was only one, so was leaving it alone in hopes it would go away, but apparently it found a mate and they’ve had a litter of rabbitlings.

IN THE FIELD
There’s not much to say at this point, except the weather issues continue. Most of the crops left in the field have taken damage, including Potatoes, Winter Squash, and Pumpkins. If the weather improves, I’m hopeful, though not by much, that some of the damaged crops will still produce meaningful amounts. I’ll know more over the next couple of weeks.

The next round of Peaches will be at least a few more days before they are ripe enough to pick.

FROM THE COOP
The chickens are generally doing well. One seems to have an upset tummy, but is otherwise okay, and a total of four had to be treated for the Bumblefoot problems caused by the wet weather.

There was also a bit of a jailbreak this past Sunday. Somehow, I’m still not sure how, about 40 chickens wound up OUTSIDE their fence and wandering about the driveway, garage, and field. Good times were had attempting to corral chickens that have wanderlust.

OTHER GENERAL INFO
I know Labor Day is coming up soon, and this means changes to the schedule. I’m thinking that the early fall schedule (starting the week after Labor Day) will be Thursday – Sunday, and then after Columbus Day going to just Saturday and Sunday. At the same time, since the chickens are still laying at the same pace, I may put eggs and maybe some preserves out for self-serve Thursdays through Mondays. Feedback would be appreciated.

That’s it for now. Hope to see you all at the farm soon. Have a great week.

Farm Update 08-16-18

Hi folks. This will be another brief update so I can get back to work.

AROUND THE FARM
Thankfully the rain seems like it will finally relent this week. As those of you who follow the updates know, there has been considerable damage done around the farm by the near constant rain and wet over the past three-plus weeks.

I’ll be working over the next couple of weeks to add more covered growing space. In addition to helping offset adverse effects of bad weather, the spaces should help me expand out the season by at least a short time.

The skunk that was lurking around for a time seems to have moved on. I’m not going to say for sure it’s gone yet, but there have been no sightings or signs of it in the past week.

IN THE FIELD
The fallout from the rain continues. I’ll try to give a better update on what it will mean as we move into the fall next week.

FROM THE COOP
The chickens are generally doing well. There has been a slight uptick in fighting, which I attribute to being stuck so close together due to the rain.

Additionally, the long exposure to wetter ground in the pen and now-fenced outside area where they play has led to some foot problems for them, with one chicken being treated for a condition known as Bumblefoot (a type of staph infection in the foot pad). The chicken, named Little Red (one of the little chickens I make sure gets extra food), has to have her foot cleaned and bandaged twice per day. It is getting better, and with the dry should heal up soon.

OTHER GENERAL INFO
It was recently brought to my attention that there might be some problems when it comes to contacting me by email. I can assure you all that when I receive email with a question or comment that requires addressing that I respond to it. There may be a delay, given the time of year, but I do respond to mail I get. If you have tried to contact me and for some reason I have not responded, it is either because I never got the incoming message, or my response was put in your SPAM folder. There was also a strange issue for a time with people who have AOL addresses, with the email first being returned as undeliverable, but resending the same mail to the same address and it went right through.

Also, there is one other item in this regard concerning voicemail. If you leave me a voicemail, please be sure to include a contact number in your message. If I happen to be in an area with no service, my phone does not usually log the number of the person who called, and I wind up with a voicemail from “unknown caller”, no listed missed incoming call in the log, and no way to reply.

That’s it for now. Hope to see you all at the farm soon. Have a great week.

Farm Update 08-09-18

Hi everyone. Shorter update for this week. While I’m going to try to be neutral to upbeat about things, you may find I’ll vent a little from time to time due to the weather conditions. Of course, as a farmer, weather is just one of those things you deal with, since I have neither a giant dome to place over the farm, nor a weather machine. As the saying goes – C’est la vie.

AROUND THE FARM
A juvenile skunk has decided to take up at least temporary residence at the farm. While not a direct threat to the chickens, it has decided to try to get into the buildings, so I’ll be trapping and removing it as soon as possible. They are generally nocturnal, so this shouldn’t be an issue for visitors, but please be aware of it if you decide to walk out into the field.

IN THE FIELD
Rain, rain, and rain. Same problems as before. It is supposed to dry out for the next few days, but at this point it almost doesn’t matter – damage done. I should still be able to get some of most items listed, though the lettuce selection going forward is still going to be quite limited in both size and number.

In the orchard, the rain has also continued to cause problems with the trees, although it is also my fault for not having thinned the peaches as much as I probably should. The fruit on one tree have turned yellow, and I am just waiting for them to finish ripening. Shouldn’t be too long now. Peaches – yum, yum.

FROM THE COOP
Chickens are doing fine. I was able to add another layer of fencing to their enclosure so they are able to wander outside the pen and coop. They are enjoying the extra area to explore, as it affords them the opportunity to find all kinds of things to eat. One chicken even managed to catch and eat a frog. I’d never seen a chicken eat a whole frog before, and didn’t think it would be able to do it in one go, but a couple of gulps and it was gone.

OTHER GENERAL INFO
Not much else going on this week. Additional plantings are still going in the ground, and given the mini greenhouses, additional seeds are still being started in hopes of having a much longer growing season.

That’s it for now. Hope to see you all at the farm soon. Have a great week.

Farm Update 08-02-18

Hi all. As I’m sure you’ve guessed, I don’t want more rain right now, but that’s what I’m going to be getting.

AROUND THE FARM
The rain and wet is making life difficult. Current forecasts for the rest of this week show another 2-plus inches of rain due. The rain has and will continue to cause problems, some of which I’ll detail in the section below.

Other than the rain and its associated mess, things are going pretty well. There is, as always, loads of work to be done to maintain the farm property itself, but that comes secondary to the main task of running the business.

IN THE FIELD
Rain, rain, and more rain. While I didn’t get into specifics last week about the damage done by the week of rain, I finally finished the survey of damage from the almost 12 inches of rain we got. Here’s a brief, and still incomplete list of the losses:

Lettuce – approx 2400 plants over 3 plantings lost
Zucchini – approx 30% of plants lost or severely damaged
Potatoes – part of 1 section washed away
Pumpkins – part of 2 sections washed away, and approx 10% of plants lost
Peaches – major damage to 2 of the 4 trees
Tomatoes – plants okay, but damage to fruit
Cabbage – approx 200 minis from next planting lost

These are the main losses, with other crops suffering less damage. Additionally, the weeds have been going crazy with all the rain, and it is now all but impossible to keep up with them.

Still, I should have some of most all the crops that are currently being picked. There will, however, be shortages and occasional missing varieties. Potatoes require dry to harvest, so while I was able to dig some this past week, it looks from the forecast that I won’t be able to dig any more than I’ve currently got until some time next week.

FROM THE COOP
This past week in the coop was a sad one. On Monday, I lost 2 chickens. One suffered the same egg-laying problem as two of the others and was put down to prevent additional suffering. The other chicken just up and died – cause unknown.

Beyond that, the chickens are generally doing well, though they would also really like for the rain to stop. Every time I go by they let me know how upset they are that they have a wet pen. They are also getting a bit testy with each other, and recently there have been some nasty fights between the hens, which I am assuming is due to them spending much more time bunched up inside and having a bit of cabin fever. I’m working on a way to get them some more space to move in to, and also cover part of the pen to keep it drier for them.

OTHER GENERAL INFO
The weather is taking its toll. The rain and wet makes most field activities take considerably longer than usual. Unfortunately, this means that while I had hoped to be able to make more Strawberry-Rhubarb preserves this past week, I was too busy still trying to get field work done. Not sure when I’ll get to it right now, but as soon as I can, it’ll get made.

That’s it for now. Hope to see you all at the farm soon. Have a great week.

Farm Update 07-26-18

PLEASE NOTE: The farm stand will be CLOSED all day on Saturday July 28th, so I may attend my sister’s wedding. The stand will re-open at 10am on Sunday the 29th. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Hi everybody. Welcome to Waterworld, starring me as some dude with gills, which would pretty much come in handy right now. Semi-seriously, whoever is doing the rain dance, please stop. It’s too much.

AROUND THE FARM
As one would expect with as much rain as we’ve had over the last week field work has slowed to a crawl, substantial damage has been done, and the weed growth has hit Ludicrous Speed (that’s right, they’ve gone plaid). Despite all the rain, life goes on and Texon is there, because Buckwheat would have wanted it that way (SNL reference for those who are confused). Yeah, yeah, I’ve obviously gone partially mad from having to deal with the rain and bad weather, but I have yet to fly over the cuckoo’s nest. The real question is what will the weather be like The Day After Tomorrow? Oh, that’s right we bad, we bad. I guess you could say at this point that my references to movies have hit a Silver Streak.

Back to serious, there really has been quite bit of damage from the rains. Plant losses so far are into the hundreds, along with broken limbs on the peach trees in the orchard.

The greenhouse I built early on in the Spring have come in quite handy, as far as being able to keep smaller plants waiting to go into the ground out of the worst of the weather. I’ve also started some of the plants that I’ll be trying to grow in there for later into the Fall. My plan is to use the greenhouses to extend the season for certain crops (Lettuce, Tomatoes, maybe Zukes and Cukes). Still trying to work out some details, but you get the idea.

IN THE FIELD
As stated above, plant losses from the rain are growing. It’s been far too wet for too long. Due to the rains, most activity has switched to caretaker mode, since it is just too mushy to use the tractor, and it becomes too easy to damage the plants when doing some other things. Even pulling weeds becomes dangerous to the plants, because when you yank the weed out many times a large clump of dirt comes with it, sometimes containing the plant you’re trying to help.

Despite the problems from the rain, some other crops are starting to come in. Please check the What’s Available page for current pickings.

FROM THE COOP
It’s been wet and gray for so long the chickens have mostly stopped complaining about it. They’re holding up well, but would obviously be happier without a mud pit for a pen. Though the conditions caused one humorous result. Due to walking in the mud, when the chickens come back into the coop it appears they are all wearing leg warmers. I did a quick double take when a bunch of them were lined up on the roost the other afternoon, looking like they were warming up to start (flash)dancing or something.

Aside from the weather, they’re all doing well.

OTHER GENERAL INFO
Please make note of the closure on Saturday. Thanks for all the well wishes.

That’s it for now. Hope to see you all at the farm soon. Have a great week.

Farm Update 07-19-18

Another week for a quick update. In general, things are going quite well, with the weather being far more cooperative this year than last.

AROUND THE FARM
Work continues, as usual. The backlog I had thought I had finished is still hanging on, with at least a few extra days of work to squeeze in at some point.

Aside from that, there’s not a whole lot to report. The coyotes have been generally staying to the other side of their range, so I haven’t had to deal with them yet, and the bear have also been fairly well behaved so far. The crops are growing; there’s been rain. Could I complain about something – sure, but why bother. It takes too much time and energy.

IN THE FIELD
As you can see from the What’s Available page, many crops are now coming into harvest. There are a few that are not behaving, as usual, but overall they are all doing well.

The Tomatoes are one crop that I would like to mention. People ask me quite often how the weather has been for the crops, and I tell them it has been nearly perfect. Well, this is a double-edged sword, in that some crops, like tomatoes, don’t or very slowly ripen when the weather is so good. Some types of happy plants don’t make ripe fruit as you might think they would. So, I have taken steps over the past week to force the tomatoes to ripen, but unfortunately they are still not ready yet.

The Gladiolus and Sunflowers are coming along. Will probably be another couple of weeks (toward early August) before there are any flowers from either.

FROM THE COOP
In general the ladies are happy and doing their thing. They still make mischief when they can, like the day I was working in the coop and they knocked the screen out of the doorway and spilled out, waterfall-style into the yard, but that’s a whole other story.

The broody chicken is still broody, and the little chickens are still being looked after.

OTHER GENERAL INFO
I’ve had people ask about when I might be making more of the jams that have sold out. I don’t have a specific date just yet, but the first one on the list is Strawberry-Rhubarb. It’ll likely be another week or so before I can get enough time set aside to make a batch.

That’s it for now. Hope to see you all at the farm soon. Have a great week.

Farm Update 07-12-18

Hi everybody. I’m hoping to get a slightly longer, more comprehensive update out this week, though it will depend how quickly I can actually type.

The weather, as people who live on the mountaintop know, has been quite wonderful this year. The lack of rain is a little bothersome, but it is by no means problematic – at least not yet.

AROUND THE FARM
The backlog of work is still being cleared, albeit slowly. It’s just a function of how many hours there are in the day, and how many hours I need (or get) to sleep.

In addition to all the usual work, I’ve been able to get the place a little more cleaned up and presentable, though nowhere near how I would like it to look. This is important to me, since quite a few people ask to see the chickens and they are located all the way back near the house and where I keep most all the equipment. Normally, people wouldn’t see the mess (chaos) behind the scenes, but placement of the coop and pen changed all that.

I also managed to get the hill next to the stand mowed, so anyone who would like to walk up and take photos can now do so without trudging through the tall grass.

IN THE FIELD
The plants are generally doing quite well with all the sunshine, irrigation, and feedings. With the exception of Russet Potatoes, all of the main crops are in the ground. I know that doesn’t really mean much to anyone, since you don’t have access to my planting schedule, but it means a good bit to me.

As most of you know, I am not a big fan of spraying the crops, even with the natural and Organic certified stuff I use. That said, I have been adhering to a slightly stricter schedule this year in hopes of keeping two main pests – Colorado Potato Beetles and 12-spot Cucumber Beetles – at bay in addition to limiting the number of Stink Bugs. It’s tricky balancing the need to spray with protecting the bees, but so far the program seems to be working.

Ok, bad news first. The Kale variety that I planted, which has not been available so far because it developed small thorns, has not responded to the method called for to get it to produce leaves without thorns. While I can feed it to the chickens, who absolutely love Kale, it is an otherwise total write-off. I have decided to start new, different seeds, but it won’t be ready for quite some time.

In better news, there should be the first Cucumbers this week (only a few to start, and intermittent availability), as well as Snap Peas. Zucchini, String Bean, and Broccoli plants should producing greater yields this week.

I also dug test Potato plants to see what might be ready. Looks like for this week that I might be able to get some Adirondack Blue Potatoes, but Reds and Yukon Gold are still not developed enough to warrant harvest (a result of spring-time weather delays).

Check the What’s Available page for the most current listing of what I am currently picking.

FROM THE COOP
The chickens (and me too) are much happier with the cooler temps so far this week. The ladies are working hard to produce top quality eggs.

There’s not much going on this week, except for one hen who has decided to go broody. She knows she doesn’t have any eggs, but that’s not stopping her from pretending she does. I’m just going to leave her be for now, because it’s not like she’s sick or anything, though I do make sure she is getting food and water, as well as taking her out of the next box from time to time so she gets some sun and fresh air. There are steps I could take to break the broody cycle, but I don’t really have the time to do it right now.

OTHER GENERAL INFO
The Cherry and Mango-Raspberry jams have both sold out this past week. They join Strawberry-Rhubarb in the currently out-of-stock list. I’m not sure if I’m going to get a chance to make more of them, at least not until some time in August based on how busy I am currently. I do still have samples of them for tasting, and will base my decision on making additional batches on the feedback and number of requests I get for them.

While I know this is early to mention, if anyone is thinking they are going to want to place an order for larger amounts of any Fall crops (cabbage, potatoes, carrots), please let me know. I am not looking for a commitment at this time, rather I am trying to gauge quantities I might need to meet potential orders.

Lastly, thanks to all the people who have let me know that they either read the newsletter or routinely check out the site for updates. I am actually surprised by the number of people who have told me. I appreciate you letting me know, so I know that I am not wasting my time writing all this out. Thanks.

That’s it for now. Hope to see you all at the farm soon. Have a great week.

Farm Update 07-06-18

This is going to be another short, quick update this week, because aside from the usual work I have to do most things seem to be moving along well.

AROUND THE FARM
I know I said last week that I was caught up with back work. Well, it tuns out I forgot about a couple of things and so at this point I’d estimate I still have about a week’s worth of additional work to make up. That said, the remaining extra work can be slotted in over the next couple of weeks without, I think, too much fuss.

IN THE FIELD
It’s coming to the point where quite a few crops are just about to start coming in. I decided to take a peek at the records from last year to see how far off I was in regards to timing. Turns out, some things are coming in earlier this year than last, while a couple of others (I’m looking at you Cauliflower) are slower. I think the drastic change in weather, especially the warmth, has people thinking that we are much farther along into the summer than we actually are.

Anyway, for this weekend it looks like there should be some String Beans, could be Cilantro, and might be a few Mini Cabbage, in addition to the other stuff I’ve already been harvesting. Please check the What’s Available page for the latest.

FROM THE COOP
The ladies all appear healthy and generally content. They REALLY don’t like the heat and let me know about it whenever I’m near the coop (unless I have treats, then all seems forgiven). All of the named “little chickens” that I make sure get extra food are also doing well. Hand feedings of those chickens have now been cut back to twice per day.

For those who have followed the chickens from the beginning, Spunky is doing well enough now, and has gotten big enough to actually stand up to some of the other chickens that used to continually torment her. She still has issues with some of the other aggressive hens, but is otherwise doing very well.

The eggs have settled down into mostly Large size, though the chickens do still lay a spread of sizes, so others will be available too.

OTHER GENERAL INFO
Jam seems to be a hot item this year, and sales of all the varieties are doing quite well. In addition to the Strawberry-Rhubarb being currently sold-out, the limited run Cherry and Mango-Raspberry are also down the last couple of jars. I’m not sure if, or when I might be making more of either.

That’s it for now. Hope to see you all at the farm soon. Have a great week.