Here’s the new field, in various states of readiness. Up front, it’s only been plowed and disked, with big hunks of sod waiting to be busted up. Further off, the trusty Kubota compact tractor has done its thing with a 48″ rototiller, and the ground is nearly ready to go. This time around, more or less everything that’s early and direct seeded will go in at once, including a first planting of PEAS. New year, new garden—it will be interesting.
NOW OPEN FOR WINTER SPRING! Try out the new Tiny Farm Questions! Share the wealth. Ask questions about veggie growing, and answer them, too! :)
Today, it’s a warmish (57°F/14°C), overcast, gray day, with a light breeze. In the next week or so, the unheated greenhouse is to be relocated, set up, and outfitted to house hardier seedlings. All things considered, right now is a fine time to start this season’s hardening off… In early afternoon, we set outside trays of onion, cauliflower and broccoli, preparing them to head out from the cosy shelter of the seedling room to the real world. They’ll stay out till early evening, then it’s back in for a few more hours under the lights, and more of the same for the next few days. These first acts and sights of spring on a tiny farm never fail to excite (I think it’s the gambler in all of us)…
The more things change, the more they stay the same, right? That’s how it seems, in a soothingly familiar way, as seed starting 2010 really gets in gear at this new farm location. A little over two weeks since we set up the seedling room, and the fairly intricate task of managing dozens of crops and varieties and thousands of seedlings is on!
It can be a little complicated, keeping track of all the details, but it’s also…simple. Kendall, trying her hand at tiny farming-style veggie production for the first time, shows no fear with the sharp, little snips, as she learns about thinning onions (above). We’re multiplanting this set of onions, aiming for four per plug sheet cell. Since I used seed from last year—a common rule is that you should get allium (onion family) seed fresh each year to ensure good germination, but why waste?!—we went a little generous in the seeding. Germination was great, and now we need to remove the extras.
Next, Kendall’s on to another kinda critical seed-starting task: taking inventory of what exactly we’ve got going. That means a lot of counting and note-taking, and making sure the markers in the trays don’t get pulled out. Below, she tallies some of the 20 or so varieties of sweet and hot peppers that’re on for this season. For the new girl, it’s business as usual!
The farm this year is an animal farm, for sure! I farmed alongside cows and goats for a few seasons, raised chickens for meat and eggs for the last two years, BUT, this is the year I’m plunging headfirst into the world of FARM ANIMALS EVERYWHERE, critters of all shapes and sizes (and breeds), woven into the daily tiny farming experience.
The relationships between the seven dogs and two cats alone is complex, entertaining…and useful. The four Great Pyrenees are working livestock guardian dogs, living outdoors (and in the barn) year round, keeping watch and patrolling the property. They keep predators out, killing intruders when necessary (you don’t want foxes in the henhouse!). This is a critical job because there are also free-ranging chickens, turkeys and geese, baby pigs, sheep about to lamb…lots to look out for, lots to EAT.
Meanwhile, with all that protection work, at least one of the Great Pyrenees still finds lots of time to kick back and mess around. In the pic, Rollie, the youngest GP, and just a huge puppy at around 8 months, tugs it out with Pi, an Australian Cattle Dog, also under a year old (it’s just a stuffed animal they’ve got there). Business as usual!
If you’re journaling your gardening seasons, on paper, online, or simply in your head, you just HAVE to take note of the very first seedlings to emerge. Of course, you can’t actually catch the VERY first one, unless you’re kind of mono-focused and a little…obsessive. But a few always come up at about the same time, and a little ahead of the pack. On this tiny farm, I’m there to snap ‘em.
This season, the Red Globe onions take the prize. There is garlic out in the field from fall, here and at another location, and tiny tips may already be poking up, especially with the UNSEASONABLY mild, warm and low-snow winter we’ve had so far. For 2010 purposes, though, I’m not stalking the garlic patch, only peering at the plug sheets.
So there we are, four days after first seeding. Some seed exposed at the surface did show up yesterday, the white radicles looking unnaturally glaring and exposed, but today’s the day for “proper” first seed action. They still work!
After only chickens last season, it’s farm animals in full force this time around. In the pic, Montana with the new-to-the-farm pair of Percheron work horses, the Shropshire sheep, and Rollie, the youngest of four Great Pyrenees livestock guardian dogs, looking on. Elsewhere, there are heritage breeds of pig, chicken, turkey and goose, plus other dogs, and two cats, as well. I’m looking forward to learning a lot. And if I ever fall behind in posting to the blog, quick and easy photo opportunities are…everywhere! :)