Watch as Farmers Grow

Monthly Summary – March 2013

March 13th, 2014 | Posted by Casey in Monthly Summary


Monthly Summary– March 2013

Logs reviewed and summary prepared by CH

General Observations: As tensions in the chicken yard heated up and a violent coup erupted, Big Cheese was found dead.  Cause:  chicken inflicted wounds.  Who done it?  The other rooster.  Perhaps it was name envy.  Elsewhere on the farm, the greenhouses are abuzz with activity.  Perennial crop care is the main outdoor job for this month.  Special projects are numerous but all fit into the main production scheme with ease.    

Equipment (10 hrs): Tune up of JD, Ford and trailer. Filled tires, checked fluids and used engine block warmer on JD.  Introduction for second years and review for third years of systems, visual inspection and operation procedures for tractors.  Additional training for second years on using bucket loader to scoop and fill trailer with mulch, using trickle charger on Ford and engine block heater on JD.     

Administration (122 hrs):  Preparation of materials for beginning of season crew meeting.  (3/5) First crew meeting to introduce farm and crew and to discuss crop plan and immediate greenhouse obligations to get the seasons crops started.  (3/21) Check in with crew members to review priorities and tasks and responsibilities.  General introduction to Administration (hard data file systems, logs, WordPress, Flicker, e-mail etc.) for 1st year trainees and review for returning crew.  Created fertilizer order and updated the “Materials Master List” in the Soil Amendments folder.  Trainees tasked with summarizing element hours in Excell spreadsheet.  Final tweaking of the crop plan and seed order utilizing previous years harvest and market records; a shout out to RR for inventory of seed stock. (3/6) Seed order placed.  2013 element hours summarized and work begins on our monthly summaries for publication on website.  Second year trainees work on publishing introductions their special focus for the season.  Farm manager interviewed and offered a position to OS.  (3/27)  Fit in a field walk with the crew which is always beneficial.  Cowpots ordered for greenhouse.    

Infrastructure (41 hrs): (3/7) Water system charged.  Freezing nighttime temperatures mean draining the system at the end of the day and charging again in the mornings.  Care for chickens a bit more demanding with all the mud.  We maintain a layer of hay over the mud in “high traffic” areas within the chicken realm.  We made a recycling run. Seed shed basement flooding due to rain on top of saturated conditions.  (3/20) Small fire at farmhouse.  Alarm system response time quick.  Very minimal damage and everyone unharmed.  Shoop cleaned and set up as gear storage area for crew!!  Thanks TH.  Irrigation set up in FG.  Supply, materials, fuel run and bank deposit.  

Greenhouse (277 hrs): Clean up/set up of greenhouse and potting shed. In addition to the foam insulation and heat mats, set up included repurposing of old bunk bed frame covered in plastic for super insulated seedling shelves. Observation of both aphid and white fly infestation on remaining vegetation/weeds on greenhouse floor.  Used a dilution of M-Pede sprayed once a week for three weeks to prevent aphid takeover.  Overview of greenhouse systems for crew including: circulating fans, inflation, ventilation fan and vents, heat and thermostat and waterline.  Humane (hopefully) removal of resident mouse family found living large up in the pilot light box. Temporary “plastic wall” put up sectioning off a portion of the greenhouse to be heated for plant starts.  Greenhouse heat officially turned on. Check air and soil temperatures and be sure ventilation and all systems working properly.  Watering schedule begins. Formal introduction to seeding given for trainees as needed.  (3/7)Seeding begins with an early seeding of tomatoes that are destined for greenhouse production.  Seeded 1st round of herbs and onions.  Additional greenhouse seeding orders for NSF and wholesale orders gets things really rolling.  (3/12) Started seeding our first field succession of veggies (calculated $4/tray in labor and supplies).  By end of month there is a fluid routine now preparing greenhouse order forms, compost sifting, mixing potting soil batches, seeding, watering, thinning and repeat.  New hose installed in greenhouse!! Bye bye leaks…for now.  Supply run to Griffin Greenhouse to purchase Greenhouse Poly ($1,985 for two rolls).  New “skin” pulled on and secured to Ralph’s House and Farmhouse Gothic.  Weeded Farmhouse Gothic mulched pathways (2cubic yards and 8wkhrs.).  BY received verbal and practical training/orientation in greenhouse management and production; from office forms and inventory to irrigation and watering schedules.

Composting (48 hrs):  Compost sifting for greenhouse potting soil mix is underway (1 bucket load = 1 ½ barrels sifted compost).  MR cleaned up compost area with tractor in preparation for today’s compost delivery.  A second compost delivery recorded.  Big trailer loaded and used to compost older apple trees in farmhouse yard.  Composted beds in Farmhouse Gothic and Ralph’s House.  Composted blackberries.     

Compost Load

Planting (20hrs):  (3/3) Frost seeded clover and mix of old Timothy and orchard grass over Permaculture Field Western Hay Section in an attempt to establish a hay crop for harvest later in the season.  Farmhouse Gothic cleaned up and prepared for planting of edible greens; Special care was taken to minimize carry over of tomato blight. (3/22) Seeded small patch of peas (2×100’ rows) in corner garden.  (3/22) Direct seeding of beds in Farmhouse Gothic with greens.  Ralph’s House prepared for seeding/planting.  Planted dwarf cherries in VegBNP west end.  (3/30) Seeded lettuce in RH. 

Crop Care (109hrs):  Cleaned up asparagus beds by quick weeding and cutting back dead plant stalks to 2-4” above ground.  Cleaned up grapes in corner garden to make way for grape trellis to be installed.  Peaches, Cherries and young apple trees pruned.  Blackberries pruned/cleaned up this month as well.  (3/14)Introduction to apple tree pruning and practical on oldest apple trees (assassin bug eggs discovered on trees.  Set up irrigation, rebar hoops and covered newly seeded greens in FG with perforated plastic.  Asparagus mulched with compost. Weeding begins in the Corner Garden with reports of ground ivy take over.

Harvesting (2hrs): Harvested overwintered spinach from field tunnel.

Handling (5hrs): Weekly egg washing, sorting, boxing and labeling. (1.5hrs. yields 16 dozen)

Marketing (4hrs):  Weekly delivery of eggs to WEC.

Special Projects (2hrs):  Farm Manger meets with mentor (JHR) to discuss this year’s manager focus, financial details, price tracking and an update on recent farmhouse improvements. Work begins on “House spinach trial” in an effort to supply high value product to Nomad Pizza. A weekly seeding routine is established.  “Basil Trial” tacked on to spinach.   Dedicated shelving for microgreens project constructed;  Issues with humidity and overheating addressed.  Soil samples taken on first five plots and layed out to dry; Project goal is to sample all of the production plots on the farm this year.  Conducting a one month soil inoculation trial in our greenhouse potting mix.

Spinach Trial


Week 1:  Weeks ends with heavy snow.

Week 2: Snow cover quickly melts with warming weather.

Week 3: Cold Winds and some snow followed by rain leaving saturated conditions.

Week 4: Continued freezing conditions but the sun is shining.  Heavy snow at the end of the month.

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