This is a good time to reflect on this season. We slowed our production and sales down in October, leaving just a few orders of winter squash, shallots, and cabbage to remain. Then we changed the mindset of the season: from the day to day regularity of field work, plant, harvest and sell to the expansive creativity of Projects. Of course, we have too many projects. For us, Thanksgiving is the deadline for most of the farm work. In December the ground freezes and our minds wander between books and drawings and silent, snowy woods. We have been blessed with warm weather, then wet weather, then cold, then snow, then two 40 degree, sunny days. It’s been a fun fall.
Our biggest project this fall was the construction of an unheated greenhouse, often called a “high tunnel.” If you drive by the farm you’ve probably noted our slow progress on this! Here I am driving the groundposts in:
As we worked on the high tunnel, we also made improvements to other parts of the farm: electrical outlets, putting supplies away in the barn, winterizing refrigeration and water. In a typical day when we had a few too many things going on, this is what it looked like:
(chickens roaming, random 2x4s, a project to expand our seeding-starting greenhouse unfinished, and a dog making himself comfortable in the middle of it)
As the air became cooler it stopped being as fun to work with the cold metal frame of the high tunnel. Still, as the tunnel took shape, it was impossible not to get excited:
We purchased our tunnel from Ledgewood Farm; it is a kit that comes with hardware, pre-bent and labeled metal pipes and instructions. For two (slow) people it was amazingly straight-forward. Especially considering that we worked on it over the course of several weeks. It was not hard to figure out what step came next and we both appreciated how nicely the pieces fit together! When we finished the framing, we had a big jungle gym; not just in looks but function as well, since we had to climb all over it to work:
I don’t have any pictures of the end-wall building project, probably because we started to feel pressed for time and knew from experience how long it takes us to build with wood. Justin did most of the work on the endwalls, I showed up to hold the plywood in place when he needed it.
One of the last big steps of constructing a high tunnel is putting the plastic on. Our sheet of plastic is 36′ x 100′ feet long and who knows how heavy (2 people to lift the roll). It must be centered on the ridgepole of the tunnel and attached so that it is snug and square. In the past we’ve put on plastic in the spring or summer, often starting very early in the morning before there is any wind. We sneaked the plastic on yesterday afternoon, before the gusts of 25mph started. We were incredibly proud of both getting the plastic on with only two people and for getting the tunnel in a good place for Thanksgiving.
The almost-completed tunnel in late afternoon:
Those to-do lists we made a month ago have long since been trashed. Many of the tasks were accomplished, some were not. Such is this time of year. As we spend the next couple of days thinking about what we are grateful for, we remember that our gratitude is never-ending and supple. We are thankful for the smallest things and biggest. We are thankful for this farm, for our community that has supported us; we are thankful for the warmth of yesterday and its gift of calm while we struggled to finish a task; we are thankful for our health and the health of our families; we are thankful for all the teachers who have made our present moment possible and for all the teachers who will take the present moment forward.
– Justin & Ansel