17 degrees last week! Have we finally made it? I feared with the snowfall two weeks ago that I had somehow slept through the most important 6 months of the year and was doomed to live through another tedious winter. Well, enough is enough already!!! Time to get farming.
Our mentor's greenhouse is now full of tiny plants peeking up from their plastic beds and pillowy compost infused potting soil. We will have a nice variety of organic vegetables and flowers for the CSA members and farmers' markets. I love being in the greenhouse and can't wait to build one of my own next year but am so relieved to finally get outside and put my hands in the earth. We managed to clean up last year's tomato debris, spread compost on the raspberry bushes and transplant the mature asparagus plants from the greenhouse to the field. In addition, Jonny used the tractor to create a windrow with manure and hay, which will become the compost heap we use in the fall to prepare the land for next season. Last night, before the rain hit, I had a quick driving lesson and successfully parked our Massey-Ferguson tractor in the shed!
April Fool's Day brought us a second lamb, our mentor calls April. This is the first lamb to receive a name, on behalf of our presence at the farm. She must know that I've secretly named many of the animals in the barn! The other lamb then received the name Margarite, which is the German equivalent to my name. There's one sheep that stands out to me and for some reason reminds me of my sister; I call her Amy. Our mentor thinks she's ugly because of her round head but I think she's the cutest of the bunch! There's another smaller sheep that apparently loves the sound of its own voice and makes Jonny and I laugh with every Baaaah - she's called Regaldina, for my friend Erin. Mr. Chipotle is the most aggressive-for-affection farm kitty and Hollie is the fluffiest. Upon our arrival, our mentor only had names for her pets; the giant Bouvier Ralph and the two horses, High Time and Miranda. Soon enough, we'll be joined by a couple of pigs which will make themselves useful as plows, composters and eventually organic bacon! I'm definitely going to name them - probably not after my friends.
The chickens are addressed "Ladies". I've discovered an uncomfortable distaste for these creatures. They're quite vicious, if one should waltz into the coop with snow on one's boots, and aggressive protectors of their offspring. I've developed a defensive stance, taken while collecting the delicious bounty: Balanced on one leg, I thrust the other leg perpendicular in a pumping motion towards the approaching birds. This sends them into a squawking frenzy in the opposite direction and I am able to perform my task, unscathed. I have to sacrifice the few eggs being perched on because I haven't developed a technique to get those chickens out of their nests. Soon enough.
At home, we're starting to think more seriously about our own operation and the 80 acres of working land surrounding the house. Most of it is being rented out again this year to conventional farmers in the area but we've reclaimed a few acres on either side of the house to start the 3 year process of transitioning the land to become certified organic. We want to have a garden big enough for personal consumption and maybe some roadside sales. By fall, I hope to have enough produce to preserve and freeze for consumption throughout the winter. Maybe by the end of the season, we will have the confidence to farm our own land full-time next spring and get some farm animals of our own! But only a maximum of 10 chickens.
I want to thank those of you who have offered their help and those who have already been up for visits. The time that we'll need some extra hands draws nearer. Keep in touch and we'll make sure to have all of you up for a weekend of weeding, harvesting and barbecuing!