We are settling back in to the winter farm life after quite the holiday season. Jon, Sam and I took a train ride down to Virginia, where Sam got to spend time on the front porch swing talking with his 95 year old Great Grandmother. Sam loved the train, and I suspect it will provide good conversations with him for quite some time to come.
It was so good to see family and to take our minds off the daily minutiae of mounting to-do lists. Perspective and distance gives a chance to recoup and take a look at the bigger picture, and I gotta say – I like what I see! I am getting very excited about the coming season on "the Flats;" I think it's just what our vegetables and our crew need this year.
Applicants are coming in for the 2017 farm crew. We may have a returning crew member, Stas, who joined us part time right at the end and really helped us pull through the fall harvests. And we are ever so hopeful about the rest of this season's potential hire-ees as well.
Planning is in full swing; I am focusing on the financial and budgeting aspects, which tell us so much about our business and yet can feel like a bit of a drag when I'd rather be out with Sam and Jon feeding the animals or finishing up that cow shed! We had such a fun time New Years Day, shoveling the "poopy hay" into the tractor bucket and wagon to build this year's first compost pile. Sam is really growing into the farm chores these days – he can walk up and down the big hill helping feed out hay no problem, wields that shovel like a pro, and looks so grown up in his new snow pants I can't get over it.
We visited some friends yesterday, who are starting a large garden for their new homestead. They grilled us on all things vegetable garden planning – how many carrot seeds per row foot for fresh carrots? And storage carrots? If we eat X cucumbers a day, how many plants should we plant and when? How many potato plants would give us 500 lbs of potatoes for fresh eating and storage? And varieties! It was a lot of fun sharing our knowledge (and they shared a really tasty cheese and fruit snack), and I am always so impressed with Jon's encyclopedic recall. I still look up yields/foot or acre, but he has all that and more right in his mental pocket. It also amped up my excitement for the spring and summer vegetables to come. Jon has been focusing on the crop planning and variety selections. He already put in our Fedco order, a great little seed company up in Maine that has a fun and quirky seed catalog. Other companies we enjoy, aside from the big reliables of High Mowing, Seedway, and Johnny's Seeds, are Hudson Valley Seed Library, Uprising Seeds, Fruition Seeds, Turtle Tree Seeds, Wild Garden Seeds, and Adaptive Seeds. The smaller companies tend to have the super tasty, more rare varieties. I love reading through Uprising Seed's tomato selection. We are going for a number of cherry tomatoes, a couple promising paste tomatoes, and some different (and some repeat) slicer tomatoes, and bringing up the total number of tomato plants, due to your feedback. The survey is still up, if you haven't had a chance to fill it out yet we'd appreciate it.
Getting you super tasty sweet potatoes, and ramping up the late fall selection is also on our list – while I do enjoy a good rutabaga centered meal, I can certainly understand the desire for more options than purple top turnips, heirloom turnips, and turnip look-alikes! We have big plans for parsnips this year, and as always I look forward to the Celeriac. And the ever promising high tunnel full of late fall/winter spinach may yet come into fruition…
We will try some Kabocha squash again, though for some reason that variety seems like a cucumber beetle magnet. Last year, we had a section of it in our winter squash field, surrounded by 3/4 of an acre of butternuts, Long Island cheese pumpkins, delicatas and acorn squash, and the cucumber beetles zeroed in so heavily on the Kabochas that the poor plants had no chance. Meanwhile the other varieties were barely touched! Maybe in a separate section from other squash, or with different fertility and weed management, or better irrigation…and so we try again!
Reminder to sign up by January 15 for the last of the discounts for 2017 summer shares. The online code is discountdj, or just send in the paper form and payment (subtracting the appropriate amount) to po box 44, Copake NY 12516.
Through frosty mornings and snowy sunsets,
Jen, Jon, and Sam