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Fresh Roots Farm Notes for Week 19

So, now I’ve gone and left my weekly blog posts for a whole month. I can pretty much explain what happened…Weeks 16 and 17 remained cold and dreary, with not much in the way of real action going on here, yet we were incredibly busy. It is about that time of year, when I begin to really feel the pressures of the season building up, and all of the planning jumbles up in my brain, so that I end up feeling more overwhelmed than organized and in control. I’d like to inquire to some ‘old timer’ farmers as to whether it ever stops feeling like that every year. We always know in the back of our minds that we are never truly ‘in control’…there is enough left to fate when you are depending on weather and dealing with livestock. …Right?

Week 18 was pretty exciting, however…we received our first flock of sheep! We were fortunate enough to have a local sheperding couple offer us 20 of their bred ewes, and for us to be able to collaborate with them on shearing, bringing them home afterwards. Shearing was quite a day…I had never seen the act before (that I can remember – my Great Uncle had a large sheep farm and I’m sure I witnessed it at age 4 or something), but it is an impressive feat. There is something ridiculous about the way they’re propped up, almost comatose, so relieved to be rid of their large, wooly coat for the upcoming heat of Summer.

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The sheep have settled in well here in their pen close to the home quarter. I still can’t get over how strange they look ‘all nekkid’, but it is a good opportunity to observe them and their condition. They will lamb out in June, on pasture, and our intention is to raise their progeny for direct marketing of grass-fed lamb likely in early 2015. YUM!

We also got a Livestock Guard Dog (LGD) along with our flock, who is a pup. We have named her Beatrice, or ‘Bea’, as our farm rule stands that all pets & livestock with names must have a moniker resembling a Senior Citizen. We are trying to tow the line of keeping her friendly around humans and keeping her bonded to the sheep flock, in the hopes that she will be a fierce protectress. She’s got quite a fun personality, and I want to believe that she will do well.

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Meanwhile, calving keeps going on…and on…and on. We had our first Lowline Angus calf of the season this week, our first glimpse of what a Lowline/Angus x Galloway/Angus calf will look like. The calf was small, but in my opinion has more leg to it than last year’s [closer to purebred] Lowlines. These are the calves that we will be focusing on for our grassfed beef program. They will be the second ‘crop’ of beeves for direct market in 2016. (That’s right, I said ‘beeves’. I don’t know why, it just seemed right in that instance.)

Oh, and of course my world of the Market Gardens. I am very happy with my seedlings, coming along and filling out the greenhouse, nicely. We received quite a bit of rain last week, and as I write we’re getting some more for the next couple of days, but I am anxious to get the garden sown and ready for the first week of CSA deliveries, not to mention to eat that first Spring salad, right out of the garden! I have planted some early crops already, but the real ‘go time’ has not yet begun. I vowed to myself that this year I would set up a system that was not so high maintenance, by forming permanent raised beds (with the assistance of a friend’s 2-wheel tractor & rotary plow), re-orient the beds and irrigation system, and lay mulch with the mechanized mulch applicator, instead of ruining my body like I did last year (and am still paying for). I will also plant Dutch White Clover in the paths of at least of the gardens, for weed control and avoidance of bare soil -> encouragement of soil health. The compost tea/extract project will expand this year, and my hope is that, with permanent raised beds, I can cultivate minimally with my wheel hoe cultivator and promote more and better micro-organisms in the soil for the overall health of the soil and plants in the future.

Taking deep breaths, enjoying the new warmth of the sun, observing the emergence of new life from the soil (and new life on the pasture)…these are my goals for the next week. Impatience, take a seat.

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The Greenhouse filling up - this was taken a week ago, already the plants are so much fuller!

The Greenhouse filling up – this was taken a week ago, already the plants are so much fuller!

The hens all peck at the veggie refuse. They are excited to be outside, pecking and scratching.

The hens all peck at the veggie refuse. They are excited to be outside, pecking and scratching.

The first glimpse of rhubarb (taken 1 week ago)

The first glimpse of rhubarb (taken 1 week ago)

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