Spring, glorious spring!
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Winter Hill Farmer in farm news, farm news

What an incredibly beautiful day it is on the farm today (though I admit, I would be decidedly happier if it were 10 degrees warmer). It has been awhile since I have posted, so decided to take a walk around this afternoon snapping photos to share with you all.

As you can imagine, we have been extraordinarily busy, as all farmers are in the springtime. We recently had both of our part time employees leave us for full time jobs. We were thankful to have their help through our tranisition to Winter Hill Farm, and now thankful that they have both found good opportunities to move on to. But in their absence we are truly scrambling to get things done and still have any family time! We will be welcoming our new apprentice to the farm on Monday, and we are thrilled to have another person living and working on the farm with us full time. 

As for farm updates..... where to start?? There is so much happening. There are many garden beds planted already. I have beets, carrots, chard, kale, lettuce, onions, garlic, peas, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and potatoes all planted out there already, mostly still under row cover. The fabric row cover (also called Remay) provides a small amount of greenhouse effect by day, increasing the ambient and soil temperatures slightly for the plants under cover. In addition and more importantly, it buffers agains low nighttime temps. We are looking at temps in the low 30s for the next few nights, but I am confident that the cover will keep even the more sensitive plants safe. For some crops we will use the row cover to keep out pests- I am anticipating using cover on the eggplants to guard against flea beetles, for example. We also have vegetable starts galore. As usual, I planted way too many tomatoes seedlings. They are happy and healthy and if anyone is looking for some nice heirloom starts, talk to me! We just bought a greenhouse and it should be up this weekend, so hopefully I can move all the trays of starts out of my living room and into the greenhouse very soon. 

The apple trees are starting to leaf out, and the crabapple is about to flower. The blueberries are also about to burst. We have lots of flowers- magnolias, violas, tulips, hyacinth, daffodils - that add some color to the landscape and reinforce to us that spring has sprung. The fiddleheads are unfolding, the grass is SO green, and already the weeds are out of control in the garden! 

Isaac and I have become avid birdwatchers, and there is plenty of action to keep up with! We put bluebird houses out on the fenceline by the garden, and we have been watching the tree swallows and bluebirds fighting it out daily as they figure out who will get to occupy the houses. We have also seen cardinals, yellow finches, house finches, white throated sparrows, phoebes, woodpeckers, and so many more birds at our feeders in the crabapple. We are so happy to have so many flycatcher-type birds all around as they will be welcome allies as we grow vegetables this season. Bluebirds, swallows and phoebes are all great at eating up a lot of insects. Natural pest control in action!

And finally some news on the animals. The pigs successfully turned up my new garden area which is drying out before we till it up. Now the pigs have moved on to greener pastures, where they are turning up an area that we plan to reseed. We also have more pigs on the way, for a total of 9 pigs on the farm starting next week. The cows are still in their winter area, but we think we can put them out on pasture maybe as early as next week, thanks to that massive rain we had a few days ago. We will be adding 2 jersey cows to our herd, and they may join the cows on pasture next week as well. We decided to get a couple of these mild tempered cows before our farmers market season begins, as the demand for more milk increases. And finally, the chicks are growing up fast. They are entering in to what we call their 'awkward adolescent' phase. Soon they will move outdoors to start foraging for insects and grass. Hopefully we will start getting eggs from these new ladies in August. 

Experience spring on the farm through the photos I took today, and enjoy the sunshine!


Article originally appeared on WINTER HILL FARM | Freeport, Maine | Dairy | CSA | Community Supported Agriculture (http://www.winterhillfarm.com/).
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