1 month later…

Well.  It has been a while…?  In the last month, Flywheel Farm has been spinning very fast indeed.  Rather than make a laundry list of all the ups and downs, I’ll bring us right to today:  It’s raining, which is about the loveliest thing that can happen on a Sunday, I think.  We work on Sunday but we work slowly.  I walked the fields with my pen and paper to note what produce will be available this week for our wholesale buyers.  I picked samples of radishes and cabbages and washed them and gave them a little photo shoot in the prep area.  Justin and I picked the squashes and the cucumbers for the day.  Then we packed everything into the beautiful cooler that is now finished.

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A full cooler is a happy cooler! This is two days after we finished it enough to turn it on. Still had shelving and sealing to work on.

Getting the cooler to the point where we could turn it on was no small task!

We sold arugula to Maggie at White Rock for her BLT pizza.  Then we ordered the pizza and discovered she did some awesome advertising for us on the box! And yes, the pizza was delicious.

We had another litter of bunnies and faced new challenges with this batch.  One litter got very sick with a stomach illness and we lost two and had to dispatch one ourselves.  It was very hard to see them suffer.  Because they had not yet weaned we changed the diet of their mother, Goose, to include much more roughage (organic hay) in hopes that she would pass the fiber on through her milk to her young.  The rest of her litter is still alive but they will be far smaller than Ra-Ra’s litter of 8.  This event made me even more committed to getting the rabbits off of pellets completely.  One of the reasons for their illness may be the finely ground nature of their pellets.  It is difficult to assess how much hay to give them as a substitute but I have some confidence in working it out.  Dealing with this illness also reminded me of how close I am getting to the harvest date for the first litter and how I need to start preparing now.  It is and it should be a difficult thing to kill another animal.  I want my hands to be as sure and unambivalent as my mind in this task.  I feel good about the quality of life that these rabbits lead, especially the fryers that are out on pasture.  I will feel much better if I can improve their food and when I’ve successfully killed and processed them humanely.

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Me working on the second rabbit tractor. This one will house our breeding does and our buck.

On the harvesting front, we’ve moved into summer veggies with a vengeance.  The cucumbers are coming on fast, along with the summer squash and zucchini.  The melons are softball sized and the tomatoes are large, green and glistening.

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These are long days.  There are missed weedings, missed harvestings, missed blog-updatings…lots of things get left as the wheel keeps turning.  There are also favorite things:  a well-pruned tomato house, 6 hours of non-stop picking for large orders, the moment after QuickBooks is updated, washing beautiful greens, watching the back feet of baby rabbits kick in the air as they nurse, morning.

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Spring is the fastest season

Two weeks flew by!  Our flywheel farm began turning very fast last week with the rapid melting of snow, the oh-just-kidding snowstorm that followed, the water-water everywhere, the ‘hot’ section of our greenhouse filling up, and the birth of our first batch of meat rabbits…!  Then, of course, the nights turned cold again, getting down to 12 and 15 degrees, thus stalling the progression of spring.  Spring will not be stopped however, something I see clearly in the rapid growth of the baby bunnies and germination of seeds.  Everyday is a marked difference.

I read somewhere that rabbits nurse only once or twice a day and only for about 4 minutes per litter.  I’ve only once caught one of my does jumping out of her nest box, presumably after she finished nursing.  For the litter to grow this much in little more than a week, that rabbit milk must be a real superjuice.  Unsurprising, since everything in spring seems to be powered by some incredibly nutritious, growth-enhancing elixir!

As the fields thaw and the ground dries, Justin and I are looking toward the coming months of infrastructure improvements on the farm.  We will be expanding our wash and pack house to include the walk-in cooler and we’ll be extending electricity into the farmyard.  We will be busting out of the seedling house, prompting another round of discussions about expanding the greenhouse or building another one.

Although everything is moving faster, I am walking the edge of the stream daily to catch the first fiddleheads poking up.  They will likely be our first product for sale this season but they will also be our first farm-ground green meal in a long time.

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After a winter in the barn, our little Ford started right up. Justin took the opportunity to do a little pre-season maintenance.