What's Happening



 

The Cycle Begins

posted Jan 16, 2016, 8:57 AM by Maureen Dempsey   [ updated Jan 16, 2016, 8:58 AM ]

I was recently reading a newsletter from a farm in California.  The farmer is a wonderful writer and his most recent letter pondered the planning portion of the farming year.  He commented on how short this time is before we are up and running again in the new season.  I am feeling a little pressured right now to get seed orders in, do all the tax filing required of the business , get the sheep shorn , and order all the supplies to start up the greenhouses.  I feel for all those farmers that don't stop producing in the winter.  They grow in high tunnels, attend winter markets, do winter CSA's.  I like the traditional cycle of the year on our farm.  I spend more time with the livestock ( shovel pens, clean hen houses, watch for signs of lambing ) something I don't have time for during the growing season. Once the sheep are out on pasture, I see them very little .  And while I appreciate the technological advances that allow us to grow during the winter months ( and we may have to start doing that at some point ) I would miss the changes in the workday that winter allows and the cycle of the seasons that enables us to stop a little earlier in the day, eat dinner at a normal hour , enjoy the lambs in their frolicking, and slow down enough to make the beginning of production season exciting and enjoyable.   Those seed catalogs are a "taste" of what is to come but the toil involved in producing all that good food and beautiful flowers is still in the future. We can still sit down in the evenings before the wood stove and read that novel we just dreamed about last summer.

Ponderings while weeding carrots and beets

posted May 31, 2015, 6:47 PM by Maureen Dempsey

We have spent several hours lately on our hand and knees weeding carrots, beets, onions, and garlic. Some of us don't mind this work ( Anna ) and some of us get sore knees and necks (Maureen).  It can go along quickly in the company of others but sometimes we outpace each other and work in solitude with our thoughts.  I have recently been involved in some promotion of the farmer's markets and also working with a group of people to make the markets more accessible to folks of all incomes by finding funding for the food stamps (SNAP) program at the markets.  Supporting local food production and access to healthy food for everyone are issues near and dear to my heart.  The beets and carrots in our summer recipes have a long journey from seed to market.  Rick plants the seed with his old planet jr. seeder ( think antique) and then he looks like a character from "Ghost Busters" as he put his flame weeder on his back to burn any weed seedlings that emerge before the beet and carrot plants germinate.   This is followed by a cultivation with the tractor and finally , Anna, Graeme and I get on our hand and knees to give the plants one last clean up.

This process will hopefully result in tasty food for our customers at the markets and the CSA.  When I was recently asked during an interview on farmer's markets why someone who is busy should take the time to shop at a farmer's market rather than a supermarket , my first thought was how fresh those carrots and beets will be when they are harvested the morning of a market or as an offering at a CSA.  The enjoyment of food that is so fresh is a gift and one that everyone should have the chance to buy and eat.  So my hope is that the summer brings many good harvest and some funding to extend this good food to everyone in the community .

The Season Begins Again

posted Apr 26, 2015, 3:42 PM by Maureen Dempsey   [ updated Apr 26, 2015, 3:44 PM ]

For a while it felt as if the growing season would never start this year.  Shoveling paths for the animals, removing snow from greenhouses, lambing in the cold and snowy weather,  finding wood to heat the greenhouses, keeping the barn from freezing,  and gathering eggs to keep them from cracking are all chores behind us and the season of long days in the field begins.  We uncovered garlic , planted onions and scallions , mowed raspberries , planted and then covered lettuce to protect it from the frost.  As we removed the mulch from the strawberries, I was remembering that it was snowing when we applied the mulch and began to think about how sweet those "hidden berries " would taste in June.

I was listening to the birdsong while planting scallions and thinking about the silence I experienced standing in that very spot  knee deep in snow. 

We are finishing up lambing with a few stragglers still holding back on us.  It is fun to stop and watch the lambs run in the barnyard because soon they will be out on the pasture and away from the buildings where I can watch them.  Lambing was interesting and fun this year with 3 sets of twins and one quadruplets - 35 in all so far. 

The greenhouses are filling up fast and farmer's markets start this weekend so life will take on the fast pace of the growing season and winter will fade from our memories.  We look out on the bare fields and think of them filling up with plants and imagine the good food and colorful, fragrant flowers to brighten our table. 

First Day of Spring

posted Mar 20, 2014, 5:37 AM by Maureen Dempsey

It  is hard to believe the first day of spring has arrived !  The greenhouses have suggested it is around the corner, but I keep thinking "where will I plant these early tender transplants ?"  Lambing continues and I have to say even after thirty years , I still experience new things.  With Rick gone most of the time, I had to warn lambs born during windy snow storms, search the uterus of a struggling ewe to deliver triplets ( the first for me - you can see their photo on the spring activities page ) , and quickly get a lamb born outdoors on the snow into the warmth of the barn.  I was skiing to the farm during snow storms to check on the sheep when my truck couldn't get through our road.  I laughed when I thought of myself as a "skiing Sheppard". 

Yesterday, I was throwing some manure from the sheep pens on the herb garden when I smelled the first sent of mint as I stepped on the bed.  After a winter like this it was heaven to think of the plants under the mat of leaves starting to poke their way through the frozen ground.

Today I transplant tender begonias, lisianthus, and browalia flowers , move all the onions and leeks to an unheated greenhouse and continue to get wood ready for the greenhouse.  After all , it is still cold and those tender plants need heat at night to keep growing.  But I sense those first plants of sorrel, the daffodils, crocus,forsythia and pussy willows getting ready to help us move into warmer weather.  Before you know it , the first greens will be in the fields ready to harvest ....

Winter Market , Spring Planning and Cold Weather

posted Jan 25, 2014, 1:09 PM by Maureen Dempsey

The seed  catalogs have been spread out on the dining room table for weeks now, flower and herb seeds are ordered. ( Rick is still dreaming and needs to place orders ).  The winter market has one more week to go and then the shearing and greenhouses start up.  The ewe's are starting to grunt when rising from a laying position, their bodies heavy with lambs.  The cold weather has kept the sheep in the barn more often to keep the water pipes from freezing up.  They don't seem to mind the cold weather at all.  We are getting wood ready to heat the greenhouse, but I must say I am glad to have the greenhouse empty when the temperatures are below zero.  The chickens keep laying but we never seem to have enough eggs.  i have just ordered the new pullets for this spring.  It is hard to resist sitting by the wood stove this tie of year.  All those books that piled up during the growing season are a luxury to dive into with a warm cup of tea and the warmth of the stove.    

Three Inches of Rain

posted Jun 10, 2013, 3:27 AM by Maureen Dempsey

We measured 3 inches of rain on Saturday morning.  We never need 3 inches at one time !  Customers on Friday were exclaiming how great the rain was and how we didn't have to worry about he drought.  It is hard to explain that dry weather is difficult but manageable ( albeit expensive) with irrigation but lots of rain brings many more problems.  We had standing water in most of the fields on Saturday.  Rick said one batch of radishes were "swimming". 

The strawberries are ripening but very slowly.  Cool nights and all this rain are holding everything back a little.  I hope we will be picking by the end of the week.  A lot of work still be done with planting but we are moving forward with a new crew on hand to help with the work. 

Looking forward to some hot warmer weather.

The Season Begins

posted Jun 2, 2013, 7:57 PM by Maureen Dempsey

While we have been attending farmer's markets since April, our CSA season begins tomorrow.  Each growing season begins with plans and hopes that often change for reasons unforeseen.  Last year we had a terrible time with crows devouring our sweet corn as soon as it began to break through the soil.  This year, while there was some damage, it's nothing like last year.

 We have a great crew lined up for the season and so far they have been helping to keep up with the planting and weeding. 

You may notice some small lambs at the farm when you arrive this year.  We have had 30 lambs this season with 9 born just last week .  Fifty new laying hens arrived on Friday and entered their new home thanks to Zach and Hannah getting it ready for them.

I have been battling flea beetles ( those tiny black insects that love to devour arugula, mustard ,kale, spring turnips, radish and kale).  We invested in some new row cover for insects and I hope that will help with future plantings.  Wire worms got into the onions so there will be fewer sweet onions this year.  The storage onions are planted in a different location so they did not get infected.

Most of the flowers are planted and all the rain has helped to get them established.  Sweet William bouquets will be available for the CSA tomorrow.

We lost some of the strawberries this winter, so while we will have strawberries for the CSA , we will pick them ourselves and have them available for you.  It would not be easy picking for the members.

With a slight break on the heat and  a little more moisture than needed , we hope to get more plants in the ground tomorrow and begin to look forward to a long and fruitful season.
  

posted Sep 9, 2012, 5:56 PM by Maureen Dempsey   [ updated Jun 2, 2013, 7:59 PM ]


Rain

posted Aug 12, 2012, 1:53 PM by Maureen Dempsey

We finally got the rain we needed this weekend.  Rick was just planting more carrots and beets for the fall. All the broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts will be happy with this change in the weather.  Field tomatoes are coming in now along with the new planting of basil I started to replace the plants that  just dried up .  You have to have basil with the tomatoes !! 

Beans are done for a short while til the next batch starts to produce.  I just seeded a new bed of arugula and greens for salads.  it has been difficult to grow lettuce this summer but we keep plowing ahead with it anyway.  I saw a few red raspberries on the few early plants we have , but it will be hard to say how the larger planting will do with it having been so dry.  Hopefully this rain will help them along.
 
The corn is still a mystery to me.  I suppose Rick will just walk in with the first batch and I will be as surprised as you are !

Rain , Bugs and other Summer issues

posted Jul 29, 2012, 9:04 AM by Maureen Dempsey

We were happy to see the rain yesterday.  It was truly needed.  On other issues , we assume you have noticed that we are not swimming in squash as often is the case this time of year.  We have been hit by squash vine borer and it has drastically reduced yield.  Since this is our first encounter with this insect, we were taken by surprise.  Cucumber wilt has been transmitted to the plants via the cucumber beetle and that has affected their yield also.  Tomorrow , we hope to get more plants in the ground in an area far from the infected plants.

Corn and tomatoes are slow for us this year.  Rick picked some corn on Friday but it appeared to have poor pollination ( which means ears that are not filled out ) due to the dry weather.

We will have a harvest of yukon gold potatoes tomorrow . They are my favorite. 

In a bit of frustration last week , Rick approached me to say we needed to set new goals ( we had old ones ???).  His plan is to grow more intensely around the buildings and hopefully keep ahead of things.  ( you know those days when you start to feel your age ? ) He feels like this summer he just can't keep up.  I told him not to get too discouraged.  It has not been an easy season.  You folks have been great as usual and we appreciate all your support with the CSA.

Hope someone is reading this but if not, it is a good way to express frustrations and thoughts.

Have wonderful vacations for those we won't see this week.

Maureen




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