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Agrarian Harvest

Wholesome. Organic. Experience. All about our farm, food, and small farm life.

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Plastic

January Juggle

For most of January, farming took a backseat to house issues and maintenance. We discovered we had a toilet leaking on the second floor of our house. This leak also did damage to the dining room ceiling. After investigating the issue, we figured out the  plumbing was not done correctly. We checked one of our other toilets, and it was leaking too. We have a third bathroom that we have not tore into yet, but that bathroom has been remodeled since the house was built so we’re hoping that the plumbing was updated with the remodel. So we’ve had two bathrooms tore apart and are working on putting them back together. Then the wiring in our well shorted and caught fire. Three issues in one month . . .  crossing our fingers and hoping we are done these home issues. I’m told it happens in threes.

When the farmer realized we had issues with plumbing, he wanted to cry. That is his least favorite home improvement project to work on, especially when it involves tearing out sheetrock and the sub-floor. And with the mild winter we are having, the farmer has been really antsy to be outside getting things done, not in the house tearing bathrooms apart to work on plumbing and replacing floors. So he split his time between house projects and farm projects; one or two days working on bathrooms and then a couple days of farm projects. The farm wife gets really cranky when her house is tore up and especially when it’s the toilet that is out of commission.

Normally, this time of year we have snow on the ground, it’s froze and there is not much to do but order seeds and plan when we want to start the seedlings in the cold frame. But this winter has been very different with mild temperatures and little precipitation. We put up a second cold-frame, got the plastic on it and still need to get plastic on our original cold-frame. We finished pulling up the last of that ridiculous plastic row cover that we put down last year.  And amazingly, the ground is not frozen and dry enough that the farmer ripped, roto-tilled and marked out one of our fields. That is just crazy that we are working the ground the first of February!

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Chickens follow the farmer as he tills the ground.

It was the first week of February when I wrote this post, when we had Spring-like temperatures and we worked the ground. The following week, when I’m posting this, it is back to Winter. There is snow on the ground and things are frozen again. Time once again to stay inside to work on bathrooms.

 

February Happenings:

  • Put plastic on the cold-frame that we start our bedding plants in
  • Broiler chicks arrive
  • Get some lettuce and spinach planted

Is Plastic Organic Friendly?

With the farm clean-up being close to finished for the year, it gave us time to think while we were pulling plastic row cover. To understand what we were doing, part of our clean up consist of mowing down the froze plants, pulling up all the plastic row cover and filling dumpsters. As I’ve always thought of myself as an environmentally friendly person, this practice is bothering my conscience. We are just a small farm. If all organic farms are using plastic row cover, I can’t imagine how many tons of plastic row cover is going to the landfill from Organic farms each year.

The USDA Organics programs allows for the use of plastic row cover as a method of weed control, but up until this year didn’t allow the use of biodegradable row cover. This doesn’t make sense to me and I’m having a problem saying it is okay to put down thousands of feet of plastic that is going to wind up in our landfills. I don’t feel we are doing the world justice being Organic farmers if we are going fill up the landfill with plastic just because the Organics program says it is okay.

I know consumers are conscious of how their food is grown and I’m now wondering if it matters to the consumer if their food is grown environmentally-friendly also. As a farmer, I feel it matters, this farm won’t be using plastic next year. At this time, we are looking into getting biodegradable row covering, which is newly approved by the USDA Organics program, and planting rows farther apart to mow the weeds between rows.  Ultimately, we feel it is important for consumers to know their farmers and their practices, not just look for the Organic symbol.

 

December Happenings:

  • The farmer spends this month drooling over the seed catalogs while the kids go through toy catalogs. He writes a list of what he wants to grow and diagrams how and where to plant everything.
  • Then we discuss what or if any changes need to be made for the next year’s growing and marketing season.

“Off-Season” Work

Fall was way too short. It felt like we had a week of Fall and then went straight into Winter. Maybe it’s because the farmers markets are over, we’re exhausted and quickly go into hibernation mode. But, most likely, it’s the weather. It got way too cool too quick for this warm-weather-loving- body. We’d prefer our fall consisting of three months of 70 degree days. Most of our days are now cool and blustery; and it’s snowing while I type this. With all the leaves off the trees, looking bare and cold, it give us a chill  just looking out the window. But out we must go, there is work to do still.

Since the our growing season is over for the year, we will be spending our days in the field doing farm clean up. This consist of mowing the froze plants, pulling up the plastic row cover and tilling the plant debris into the soil. And the chore of pulling hundreds of t-post out of the ground that were used to stake the tomatoes up. Then there are tasks that need to be done before seeds can be planted for next year like replace the plastic on the cold-frame and, possibly, put another cold-frame up.  

There is also planting to do, believe it or not. It is time to plant garlic. It has to overwinter 20160729_224038in the ground to be ready to harvest by July or August next year. So, hopefully, the weather will hold out, meaning no snow . . . . but since that is already happening, maybe the ground won’t freeze hard as a rock just yet. We are trying to brace ourselves for winter, since we keep hearing that this winter is forecast to be worse than last year. We are just not ready for snow and cold and neither is the farm. Really . . . . we could skip winter this year or spend the whole winter on a warm beach.

November Happenings:

  • Besides the farm clean-up, we look forward to Thanksgiving and eating lots of warm, delicious food.
  • We still have winter squash, pie pumpkins, onions, dry beans, honey, eggs, pork by the cut, beef by the cut, whole chickens, and whole ducks for sale.
  • We are taking orders for whole or half pigs. The butcher dates are set and have limited quantity of pigs available.

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