Progress on many fronts

Sitting here in R44 with pour-over and scone, catching up from a long weekend. Quiet start to the day.

Now that the winter weather has broken – we hope! – our thoughts and actions are turning toward what the new season is bringing. This week we’ll be winding down sugaring operations; washing and packing up the hoses, spiles, buckets, pans and everything. We still have about 60 gallons of sap to finish, which will make a total of about 8 gallons of syrup for the year. We’d hoped for 10, but are happy with what we have. See, if you fill quart jars instead of gallons, it looks like a lot more. 🙂  Lots of little soldiers in the pantry. If you figure somewhere around $50/gallon retail, that’s around $400 worth of the stuff, which is more than we spent on equipment. But then there’s the wood we had to purchase, and the many hours of labor, and well,… this is why it’ll probably always remain a hobby for us.

Mike has been working weekends on fixing up the greenhouse too, which will be the first outdoor home for many seedlings. Replaced the east wall, replacing broken windows and frames, and replacing the roof this coming weekend. Repairing benches and adding shelves is next, and it’ll be ready for the next occupants!

tomato seedlingsThe ladies have been working on planning for the season. In addition to a daily calendar through fall, they have a ton of seeds in soil blocks, and our tomatoes are showing a lot of growth already. Our new hoop houses should be arriving in a week or two, a home for these little babies and a lot more, in anticipation of an early market date. That’s the point of a hoop house – to trap sunlight and warm the soil and air inside, creating a summer-like environment earlier in the spring. You’ll appreciate it when you taste our first tomatoes at the Hudson Farmers Market! Well, and peas, greens, cucumbers, and so much more. Plus, they help extend the growing season into the fall, and provide protection against bad weather. Most growers use them, and they’ll pay for themselves over time in better plants and increased production.

The chickens are already being more productive, now that there have been some warmer days. We hope to get more this year, as well as some turkeys from Brockett Family Farm that we’ll add to our flock.

We’ve got some more big construction projects and water works planned for this year, and are anxious to see the wet muddy soil disappear. We have a pasture we’re going to be turning into a new elderberry field, and have many hundreds of elderberry cuttings to plant. But we need a week or two of warm, dry weather before we can get the tractor in there and turn over the grass. That’s will be the one and only time that field will see a rototiller from that point forward. We prefer not to disturb soil much, once it’s dedicated to plantings, and are big on mulches and ground covers, adding amendments from the top and letting the bugs, worms and soil microbes do the work of improving the soil tilth. That’s been our method from the start. So we’ll keep that rototiller yet, since there are still a bunch of additional grassy areas we will want to convert to growing fields at some point. Continuous improvement, that’s how our farm grows! Thanks for following our progress.

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