June warmth

Every time I walk down to the farm I pass the most wonderfully fragrant lilac bushes.  Lilac season is so very short and sweet.  It has been a warm week here at the farm, forcing us to rearrange our schedules a bit to avoid being out during the hottest part of the day.  It’s great weather for weeding, if you can handle the sun and the black flies.  Justin has been working tirelessly on the walk-in cooler, putting in the walls and floors and installing the air conditioner that will cool the room. I’ve been weeding and seeding and hovering around the rabbits, making sure they have enough water.  Our dog has been digging holes in the farmyard in an attempt to disappear from the biting bugs.

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We had intended to open the farmstand today however we have changed our summer opening to next week due to a family emergency.  The growing season is a hard time to leave the farm but part of our goal in this is to still be able to be there for our families when they need us.  I am thankful that we have the ability to take this time this week for the people who have loved and supported us in our endeavors.

This is the flywheel: an endlessly growing cache of strength and love that we call on when we are sad or sore.  It is fed with radish seed, loon calls, strawberry blossoms, muscle memory, new lyrics for classic rock songs, neighbors stopping by, toast with jam, greens that make your eyes hurt…

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Coolers and Caterpillars, O My!

This last week was so busy here at Flywheel Farm that we squeezed in an extra day!  As I type, Justin and his father are wrapping up construction on our insulated box (which will eventually be a walk-in cooler for our produce).

But first things first, on Wednesday we laid down black plastic mulch for our ‘hot’ crops (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and melons).  It was our first time operating this plastic mulch layer, so we put aside the whole day for getting it down right.  Discs open a furrow, then wheels set the edges of a roll of plastic into the furrow and discs in the back close dirt over the edges.  The implement also puts down irrigation lines under the plastic at the same time.  It is a thing of beauty when everything goes well.

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In related news, the black flies are out in full force here in Woodbury.  Justin and I wore bug nets all day while laying down the mulch.

On Friday, my father came up from NH to help us put up our caterpillar tunnel for our tomatoes.  The caterpillar is an economical alternative to the 4-season high tunnels offered through Rimol and Ledgewood.  It is only 3-season, since it cannot handle any snow.  We’re using our caterpillar for tomatoes only, so we will take it down in the fall.

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Putting up the bows.

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Inside the tunnel after we got the plastic on.

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The ‘caterpillar’ from the outside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We did get rained on, though not enough to stop us from putting up the whole tunnel in one day.  I was impressed.

On Sunday, Justin’s dad visited to help with the construction of our walk-in cooler.  He and Justin worked together on that project while I planted tomatoes.

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Our cooler is housed in a building that’s basically a mirror of our wash and pack area.

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The cooler is an insulated box right now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During all this transformative infrastructure-building, we seeded lots of greens, sweet corn, potted up basil plants, and steadily moved plants out of their comfortable greenhouse onto benches outside.  The weather was hot, humid, cold, windy, rainy, dry all week.  I guess spring isn’t completely over!

Oh! And a quick rabbit update:  The babies are outside, on pasture and it is so wonderful that I just bought the supplies for getting our breeding does and buck out there too.  I haven’t finished the hutch that will go on the end of the tractor so for now I’m grabbing a tarp when very heavy rains threaten.  They may be weaned off their mothers but I’m still babying them!

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What do we do in the winter?

Yes, there’s still snow in our fields.  The greenhouse is chilly and there’s a blockade of snow in the farmyard from the plow.  Yet, this is a major time for farming.  February and March are enormously important times on the Farm for marketing and financial planning.  The Farm makes most of its money in four short months in summer–an incredible task if you think about it.  The only way that is even remotely possible is through careful, thorough planning in the winter.  Before the temperature rises, before the snow melts, we are at the computer, on the telephone and at meetings.

As we near the end of March, we begin to transition from our farm roles as marketers, spreadsheet gurus, and accountants into production managers.  It’s a little rough when the temperatures are still so cold to think about firing up the greenhouse and leaving tender seedlings in there but spring comes on fast when it gets rolling.  The Farm is covered in what we can only assume is 3 feet of compacted snow; pea planting seems a long way off.  We have started the very earliest of our plants in our home and the other day I noticed the seeds germinating, their tiny first leaves, known as cotyledons, opening to the sun.  This miraculous event brings optimism and joy to our house.

In the next weeks, we will be seeding in the greenhouse, shoveling out the barn doors, and making inventories of supplies for the coming season.  It’s incredibly exciting to be starting our second season.