Looks like a good garlic crop! Kathleen and her mom, Gail Tracy who you can find out in the quilting venue at the Thurston county fair.
No that is not a funny looking banana! One of the bee hives in the big butternut swarmed tonight and ended up in the smaller butternut by the deck. A local bee keeper says they have sent scouts out looking for a new home. Hope it is one of the hollow old fruit trees. Time will tell. Was a bit of a shock to look up while having dinner and see them. We had seen them earlier and wondered what was going on with all the bees flying around. Now we know. Happy 4th!
We were a little behind in getting new starts in the field mostly due to the colder weather. But, thanks to Karen (sister) who came up from Salem to help, we managed to get over 500 broccoli and cabbage plants in the ground and covered with agribond. Farming is excellent physical activity and we had the sore muscles to prove it. The next day, mom came and helped plant dry onions while dad ran the weedeater. And, today, the two of us planted peas both outside and in the super tunnel. We are juggling greenhouse openings with the morning fog and frost---do we open them before we go to work or come home midday to open?--that is the daily question.
We work in the greenhouses as much as possible! On Saturday, we had the pleasure of seven Brownie Girl Scouts from Troop #43623 helping us plant fingerling potatoes in the super tunnel. They planted four 30 foot rows and helped us weed the tunnel. The potatoes will be ready to go out to our subscribers in late June.
On Sunday, we planted peas and beans, again in the super tunnel while it hailed about 2" outside. We even used our snow removal poles to push the hail off of the greenhouse.
We have dreamed of an orchard since we moved to the farm 3 1/2 years ago. Thanks to help in picking Northwest hardy fruit trees from Michael Dolan's Burnt Ridge Nursery, we have 14 dwarf trees--pear, Asian pear, apricot, nectarine, peach, cherry, plum, and apple. We re-tilled a strip of land, dug 18" deep holes, and put gopher wire boxes in the holes. We added dirt and compost to bury the roots, a little water, and some wood chips around the base to keep the weeds down. A lot of work but what a sense of accomplishment to see that nice line of trees.
This weekend marked the realization of a project we have been working on for a year or so. The Natural Resources Conversation Service (NRCS) offers grants to private landowners/farmers like us to plant pollinator habitats. Ours consists of a 20 foot swath of land along two fence lines--about 250 feet across the back of the farm and 300 feet along one side of the property. We are planting three rows of flowering native plants which totals about 375 bareroot shrubs.
With the mysterious collapse of bee colonies globally, this is a conservation method which can help promote an increase of native pollinator-type bees--which are necessary for many vegetables and fruit trees to bear fruit.
The plants come from the Association of Conservation Districts Plant Materials Center. Varieties include red flowering currant, Indian plum, salmonberry, blue and red elderberry, mock orange, pea fruit rose, and nootka rose.
We tilled the field, set the rows, then dug 12-18" holes four feet apart. Each plant is held in the hole so that the roots do not bend (or 'j'), buried with soil, and watered. Thanks to help from Gail and Dale Tracy (Mom & Dad), we planted about one-third of the planned areas over the three-day weekend. More to come in the next week or so. This is a little like the anticipation of Christmas or a fun trip--to see this habitat mature and bloom is exciting. Thank you NRCS!
The chicks are doing well-almost 3 weeks old. We have removed the inner protective cardboard circle, added a roosting bar, and an additional feeding station. They are still fuzzy and adorable but adding feathers and getting leggy. We check on them twice a day and change their water and food daily. And we just sit and watch them. Peaceful.
The chicks are almost a week old. We lost three shortly after arrival so have a flock of 22. They are adorable--still fluffy and their wings are starting to develop. Today was another winter-paced day. We continued pruning the 100+ year old apple trees and cleared more leftover broccoli and cabbage plants out of one of the fields. We are preparing that area for another two high tunnels. The sun came out and it was great to have a million excuses to be outside.
The four steers we have had the privilege of pasturing since Memorial Day departed last Wednesday. This has become a marker in the farm season--it means the corn is nearly ripe and without cattle in the pasture, the appearance of a few deer. Our friend, Fred Colvin sends Mary who is an EXPERT truck backer-upper to pick the cattle up. It's our job to get them in the small steel frame corral. We spend the week prior to the pick-up date training them by putting delicious pea vines in the enclosure. They learn pretty quickly to go in and expect to find food. this year, one of the reds pretty much refused to take the bate during the week. Only one of us was available to corral them on pick-up day (me!). I put the peas in the corral--three went in and Red tried to eat pea vines from the outside. I started towards him and he went the opposite way which was right into the corral. I slammed the gate and the four steer and I waited patiently for Mary to arrive. Fortunately, Mark came home and took over on the loading operation which is a whole other set of challenges. Then, they were gone for another year. Thanks Colvin Ranch!
This blog reflects the journey of Kathleen and Mark who have left suburbia to steward this historical property and transform the land back into a working farm.