Monday, March 26, 2012

Frozen Blooms

Plum blossoms "first bloom" stage

Peach blossoms "first bloom" stage

Apple buds "tight cluster" stage

Tart cherry buds "first white" stage

Will we lose all the fruit in our orchard and the region tonight?
Well, we knew we might be in trouble when we had day upon day of 70-80 degree temperatures in mid-March. Now we have fruit trees in various stages of bloom and a frigid cold front that swept through the region last night.

Compare the above photos taken today in our orchard with the chart at:
The low tonight in our area is expected to be 20 degrees.

Our young, little orchard is still just starting to bear fruit and we are not really expecting much out of it yet this year. Maybe a bucket of cherries, a bushel or two of apples, and a few plums and peaches. But many of the orchards that we rely on for summer and fall fruit may be in danger. Apples seem like they'll probably be okay. But they all just depend on how far into blossom they are and this depends mostly on their individual microclimates around the trees. I am certainly no fruit expert so it will be interesting to see how much loss there is.

Ginger (the brownish pieces on the left) and galangal (the larger yellowish pieces with rings on the right)
Galangal is thai ginger. Some customers have seen our young ginger on our market stand and asked, "Is that galangal?" We responded, "What's galangal?"
Its also known as Thai ginger. And we've never tried it before, but we figured we should. So we purchased five pounds of seed pieces to give it a try. And the 5 lbs. of galangal and 50 lbs. of ginger arrived in the mail last week and planted them in potting soil in bulb crates immediately. They will be in the bulb crates until early May. Then once the seed pieces have green buds on them we will transplant them into the ground.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Chicken upd8

The dogs are VERY excited. They are learning that the chickens are now part of the farm and not snacks.

Black Australorps. The yellow chicks are all roosters, sent along with the others in the mail for warmth in transit. Which of the blacks are the two roosters? We'll just have to wait and see.

We are very proud of our homemade coop. We think the chickens will like it in a few weeks too!

Believe it or not, it is still winter. This weather is nuts. We've already planted seeds outside. Usually we don't get to plant outside until the middle of April!! We are kind of scared by this weather and feel like we got gypped out of winter.
But I'll not dwell on the weather. We've got chickens!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Muddy Fingers Chickens

After much thought and planning, we have decided to try our hands at having chickens here on our farm this year!
Having eggs available for the CSA and for sale was only a part of our reasoning for adding chickens to our farm. The real reason we got them was for their manure! We currently grow cash crops on all of our land every year. This does not leave us much space to add to our soil's fertility by growing large amounts of nitrogen-fixing and organic matter-adding cover crops like clovers, vetch, soybeans, rye, oats, etc.
Many farms add fertility to their soils by rotating cash crops with pastured livestock. So, though, we will still have to buy in the fertility (i.e. chicken feed), the chickens will take that feed and convert it into a form that is more available to our plants!
We have ordered 32 chicks - 30 pullets (females) and 2 cockerels (males). If you're interested, they are Black Australorps and will arrive next week!
Eggs will not be available until almost the end of summer. And we will not have a lot (maybe 10-12 dozen/week assuming they all survive). So we plan right now on only bringing them to one market (probably the Corning Market).
Above is a photo of their almost finished coop. It is still missing its covering and wheels. The chickens will be kept inside an electronet fence and will be rotated through fallow vegetable sections, the struggling asparagus patch and the orchard through the spring, summer and fall and will be in the greenhouse in the winter. Well, that's the plan anyway!
Updates to follow!