Watch as Farmers Grow


April 1st, 2015 | Posted by Casey in Monthly Summary

Monthly Summary – April 2014

Logs reviewed and summary prepared by Casey

General Observation: Major materials delivery received involving much planning and preparation to ensure safe, efficient offloading.  All went smoothly. We also prepared for a shipping container to be delivered requiring a bit of site preparation as well.  We have a goal of constructing at least one of the newly purchased high tunnels this year, which involves equipment rental and training the crew to use the machinery. This leaves the farm manager to juggle all these special projects on top of routine season startup tasks.  By months end the greenhouses are completely filled (including pathways) with seedling flats.  Planting has begun and water systems are charged up for irrigation and greenhouse watering.  The crops required extra care during the second half of the month which brought strong, gusty winds and frosts in the evenings.

Equipment (16hrs.):  MR purchased Seabox 20’x 8’x 8’ shipping container (not reflected in cash flow).  Equipment modifications done on big blue trailer and a chain hoist was rigged up for coming delivery.  (4/7) Solebury orchards came to pick up drop spreader (shared equipment). (4/11) Ford front tire taken for repair and reattached. Worked with the following rented equipment for the High tunnel #1 special project: (1)two man post hole digger (2) post hole digger on skid steer.  Crew was instructed in safety and operation of skid steer and each had an opportunity to drill holes and scoop and spread compost. (4/29)Everitts Equipment picked up hay bine to replace the belt.

Administration (69hrs.):  Greenhouse order sheet for market seedlings e-mailed to wholesale customers.(4/7)MR paying bills, ordering cow pots and some misc. tasks in office. (4/20) Daily log getting forgotten in the bustle of projects underway.  So we catch up so that valuable information is not lost and move on.(4/23)Biobags ordered.  Spoke with West Windsor Health Department  authority who requested confirmation that our bottled products and egg packaging meet government standards. (4/29)Payroll.(4/30)Crew took photos of seedlings and GH greens and uploaded to Flicker. Updated crops available now page on website.  MR paid bills, filed NJ 1st quarter report and completed misc. administrative tasks.  He is in the clean desk club now!!(4/30) 2013 May summary tackled.

Infrastructure (189.5hrs.):   Expected delivery of shipping container and new greenhouses requires planning and preparation. Anticipating 7 large pallets:  2:2500#’s  4’ x 2’ x 12’, 2: 1500#’s 4’ x 2’ x 12’, 2: 1500#’s 4’ x 2’ x 10’ and 1: 1000# 4’ x 2’ x 5’ (4/1) A large A-frame was recovered from the edge of Peters Brook to be utilized in the chain hoist for offloading greenhouse delivery.  Site chosen for shipping container two dumps of  2” clean (cobbly lump) spread over area to create a gravel pad.  (4/3) Introduction to drainage using corner garden as example including discussion of water table and drainage options (diversions, swales, terraces, tiles) and sheet flow vs. concentrated.  Practical done on barnyard drainage.  Field bed drainage was jump started by first using the 265 with shanks behind rear wheels to rip the walkways at ends of beds. (4/4) A box truck full of recycling was hauled off.(4/9)Fencing tightened/repaired in market garden and fruit cluster finally gets electric fencing installed.  Drainage channels in Veg C South dug out by hand. (4/10)Chickens moved and fencing reinforced.(4/10)BGB cleanup: last seasons d-tape and remay and blackberry prunings removed.  Sink holes dug out and filled with concrete.  Fenceposts straightened (where needed) and holed filled with gravel and tamped down.(4/11) General cleanup for MR’s birthday. (4/14) At this point in the season daily chores expand to include greenhouse watering and irrigation in addition to the chicken chores.(4/30) Box truck taken on supply run for pallet of potting soil. Farmhouse gang purchased new beds with frames at FDS.

Greenhouse (318.5hrs.):  (4/1) Debris cleared and post holes dug on east end of Farmhouse Gothic as first step in construction of end walls.  While the west end receives touch up storm repairs: rib re-bending and tightening of plastic.  The hardening hoop was cleared, cleaned and packed with tables for overflow seedling flats. (4/2) Hardening hoop renovations:  baseboards reset, plastic patched and resecured to end hoop, woodchips from spring pruning project dumped and leveled to south of hoop house creating additional, well drained seedling overflow area. The crew then built a stone retaining wall to complete the project. (4/3) Veg. Succession #1 moved to newly renovated hoop house and a GH watering protocol is established. (4/4)  Full crew engaged in  seeding.  Wiggle wire tune-up on Farmhouse Gothic.  Seedlings in hardening hoop protected with double layer of remay.  (4/7)  Observation made in GH that sunflower showing signs of stress.  (4/7)  MR demonstrated of setting base beams for end walls onto concrete piers. (4/14) East end wall finished on Farmhouse Gothic. (4/20) Attention on falling temperatures being sure to close up greenhouses tightly at night.(4/22) Potting on tomatoes and herbs.  Seeded next round of 4paks for market sales.(4/24) Second full seeding of tomatoes.(4/25) 2nd flower succession seeded.(4/29-4/30) Potting on of tomatoes leaves greenhouse bursting at the seems.  Tables set up in Farmhouse Gothic for additional overflow of seedlings.  Additional protections on ends of Farmhouse Gothic needed to protect seedlings from draft/cold.  Shifting of seedlings becomes routine chore at this point in the season.

Composting (24hrs.): (4/11) Composted 1 100’ bed in Corner Garden.(4/18) Composting continues in BGB section five beds done with extra compost deposited under nearby pear trees.(4/24) 140 and spreader used to compost all open beds in Veg B Mid and Veg C South.

Planting (166.5hrs.): (4/10) Planting in Corner Garden, First of Season.(4/11) 3 BGB’s of kale and cabbage and 1 BGB direct seeded with salad mix.(4/11) MR conducted spoken review of bed prep., layout and spacing.(4/14) All beds in corner garden w/o existing perennials rototilled to chop back ground ivy.(4/18) Balance of first succession planted into BGB’s South East.(4/21-4/22)First field bed planting in Veg C South: cabbage, broccoli, kale, chard and beets. Bed preparation was done using the IH140.(4/23)Time for the first big new moon seeding of carrots and salad mix is upon us and the beds are thickly covered with chickweed (which we love but it is not our chosen crop).  Bed tops rototilled to super chop chickweed to be easily raked off beds before rolling.(4/24)Big tractor day.  Compost spread, with spreader behind 140, on all open beds in Veg C South and Veg B Mid next to garlic.  Then 265 used for second round of ripping on beds. Beds next to garlic rototilled and direct seeded (4/25) with radishes, spinach and turnips using the four point seeder.

Crop Care (122hrs.):  (4/3) Finished pruning in fruit cluster.(4/8-4/9)Weeding asparagus.(4/11) Irrigation set up on BGB’s and rebar hoops and remay covering set up to protect crop from coming frost.  Let the irrigation begin! A regular rotation is implemented. (4/18) Full crew laid fresh new row cover on today’s planting. (4/22) Remay covering over today’s planting in Veg C South.(4/23)Scuffle hoed salad mix and tuned up remay in BGB’s in preparation for extreme winds this week. Decision was made to remove the remay to eliminate risk of wind tearing it up.  9pm visit to fields, hoping winds die down as forecast so crops can be recovered for the frosty night expected.  These conditions keep us busy for the last week in April.(4/24)Weeding perennials in corner garden and general cleanup.(4/25)Sprinklers set up and brought into the irrigation rotation in BGB’s.(4/29)Hand weeded broccoli, onions and collards in CG.

Harvesting (0hrs.):

Handling (4hrs.): Weekly egg washing, packaging and labeling.

Marketing (7hrs.): Weekly egg delivery to WEC. (4/7) Egg value calculation shows 1 week yields 40 dozen from 85 birds.  Taking into account feed and labor it comes to $6.75/doz to break even.(4/23)Biobag inventory and order made. Local Health authority recommends sani-wipe dispenser to be on hand at WWFM. (4/29) Seedling availability sheet updated for WEC.  This is now a weekly task.

Special Projects (21hrs.): High tunnel #1.  (4/21) Layout and site preparation for the first of two new high tunnels begins.  Crew used established corners to set batter boards to be used to maintain string lines and set post hole marks. First attempt to dig post holes with two man auger only reached 1.5foot depth.  Abandoned and rented bigger machine to allow full three foot excavation.  Job escalated when realizing these 8’long, very heavy ground posts would need to be set into concrete to ensure solid base.(4/28) Post hole auger on skid steer.  Worked until 8pm to set all posts in concrete, level and plumb.
Rented Skid Steer and auger

Week 1:  Peters Brook is flowing and the peepers are peeping away in the pond.. Average lows for the     week around 40 degrees, highs between 60 and 70 degrees.  A few overcast rainy days but in general, conditions are mild.
Week 2: Starts off with heavy rain Monday night but conditions remain mild.  Lows 40’s highs reaching 70’s.
Week 3: Heavy rains and freezing nighttime temperatures this week.
Week 4: Temperatures on the rise again.  Looking more like spring with 50 degree mornings and highs in the 70’s. We’re not off the hook though with some extreme wind conditions to confront.  Topped off with “crazy rain” and flooding to end the month.

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