Farm Update 06-15-18

Hi everyone. I was hoping to have this update done earlier in the week, but field work takes precedence, so… Anyway, things are generally moving along well.

For the most part the weather has been cooperative, with the exception of the heavy wind on Thursday. The winds like that happen every year, the day after I plant the pre-started String Beans in the field. The usual result is snapped stalks and stripped leaves. Same thing happened again this year. Oh well.

Most projects are in full swing at this point. The last major crops scheduled to go in the ground this week are pumpkin, winter squash, and melons. For those of you who have been regular readers of the updates you’ll recall that my experience with melons is they will only grow one out of every five years. If I remember correctly, this is the year they should grow. Fingers crossed.

Bugs have returned, almost en masse, but missing a few types for now. The worst of them are what I call cabbage fleas but are really named flea beetles. The have the ability to do significant damage to all cole crops (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and even kale), as well as several others. I’ll be ramping up my efforts against them, in hopes of limiting the damage they do. The potato beetles are also showing up in increasing numbers. Oddly, they are primarily going after the Blue and Yukon potatoes this year. Normally they pick the Reds above all others.

As planting continues the greenhouses slowly empty. I am pretty sure that I’m going to try growing tomatoes and a few other things in them as we head into fall. Yeah, yeah, I know talking about fall already and we’re only just coming into summer. Well, given how long it takes to grow plants, I have to think about it already.

As I mentioned the bugs are now here and being dealt with accordingly. I’ve picked up extra Neem Oil this year in hopes of being able to apply it more regularly. Thankfully it’s been drier this year, at least so far, so the fungal problems of last year have not shown up yet.

Squash, pumpkins, beans, and a few other items are all on the list for planting again this week. I also have second planting tomatoes to put in, but they may have to wait till next week, depending on how things go.

All in all, I’d have to say that most things are on track, though slightly delayed from the late April snowfall we had here on the mountaintop. Let’s hope the summer plays out in a nice and mild fashion.

Generally the chickens are well. There is both sad and somewhat funny news from the coop this week.

In the sad news department, an ill chicken was found in the coop on Monday. She was immediately separated from the flock for further examination and treatment. She was diagnosed with an unfortunate, but not altogether uncommon, problem, which is sadly terminal. I’m going to spare you all the gory details and just say that when the diagnosis was confirmed, to prevent needless and unavoidable additional suffering, the chicken was, after being allowed to play outside in the grass for a time, immediately put down.

In lighter news, I have come to find that chickens, if not necessarily having a sense of humor, certainly are capable of making one laugh. While refilling the feeders in the pen the other day I noticed an abnormally large chicken that I had not noticed before. I thought it rather odd, as this chicken appeared to be almost twice the size of all the chickens around it. Now, I pay fairly close attention to the chickens, so I can spot problems quickly, and couldn’t figure out how this massive chicken came to be. And when I say massive, this chicken looked the size of a small turkey, quite literally lumbering across the pen from place to place, with the other chickens moving out of her way to let her pass. I figured I better look into this and see if the chicken was well and/or if there were any problems (note – laying hens are typically much smaller than meat chickens).

The chicken, who I immediately named Big Momma, was quite wary of my approach and managed to allude me for a time. Eventually I was able to grab hold of her and was greeted with quite a surprise. Well, it turns out this chicken is a world-class con artist. To help explain this charade let me mention that chickens naturally have the ability to control the position of their body feathers, which allows them to stay warm or cool themselves as required. When I finally got my hands on her, she was the proverbial all fluff and no substance. This was just a normal-sized adult chicken. She had somehow figured out that if she made herself look much larger than normal, the other chickens would leave her alone and let her through without issue.

You need to understand, she didn’t just swell up – that state is quite obvious when a chicken does it. She figured out how to puff up without looking like she was puffing up. And the best part was she figured out that being that size meant that she had to waddle and not just walk about like a normal chicken. It was, and is, a truly impressive sight, and had me completely fooled as well as all the other chickens. Since I caught her, she now only does it from time to time. But boy oh boy, what a show it was.

The main news here is that regular season hours will begin on June 21st. The schedule will be the same as in past years – Thurs – Sat and Monday 10 – 6 and Sunday 10 – 4, closed on Tues and Wed. In addition, due to July 4th being on a Wednesday this year, I am currently planning on being open that entire week. More info on that to follow.

The veg picking this week will still be on the slim side, so please check out the What’s Available page. For the flower lovers, I should be able to get a couple more bunches of field flowers picked again this week, so keep an eye out and grab ’em when you see ’em.

Hope to see you all at the farm soon. Have a great week.