Working around steel

Bed preparation and hoophouse steel

Exactly where it was delivered last fall, the steel for the new hoophouse is kinda in the way, so we’re working around it (it doesn’t look like much in the pic, but it will expand into 30’x108’x16’H of plastic-covered year-round field protection). Beds of brassica greens are already in and protected by row cover from flea beetle attack. Lisa preps beds for more. Spring direct seeding proceeds…

Picking rocks

Rocks in front end loader bucket

We have rocks, it’s not a big deal when you get used to them, although I suppose I’d really notice the difference if suddenly all the rocks vanished. As it is, little ones like these are usually ignored, but in one small area they were dense as cobblestones, so we picked them… The method: pick ’em up, toss ’em into the Kubota compact tractor bucket, when the bucket’s full, dump it on one of the rather large rock piles. With two or more people, you can spread out and toss rocks into piles from a convenient tossing radius, and travel around with the Kubota, loading the piles into the bucket. It’s really quite straightforward. And quite quick. Of course, there’s a mechanical alternative, with various tractor-run contraptions for removing rocks in large volume. It’s all about scale, and how many hands and rocks you have!

Prepping and seeding…

Prepping and seeding beds

This is exactly what small-scale looks like. Prepping and seeding another 20 or so beds, a couple already seeded with salad greens, the rest with compost lightly scattered—maybe a little more spreading, then tilling, sectioning into 50′ or 100′ by 4 or 5′ beds, smoothing, and seeding with the Planet Jr. Sometimes this tiny farming feels to me like being in a little boat on a big, big ocean. Maybe not that dramatic, but I’m definitely adrift in a deep blue sea! Fun.

Water from the barrel

Taking water from a rain barrel

Rainwater upgrade: We only turned over this rain barrel yesterday, set bottom up for winter to keep empty in order to avoid frozen water expansion cracking the plastic, and it rained overnight. A little rain, a fair-sized collection area (roof with eavestrough), the law of gravity, and presto, the first seedling water of the season from just outside the door, a lot handier than having to haul it over in 50 lb jugs from the well pump in the barn, a bit of a hike away. Modern conveniences!

Beef meets kale

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Yes, yet another thing to do with KALE! In a small fit of inspiration, I tore up a few fistfuls of baby Red Russian, and tossed ’em into the pot with carrots, onions, grass-fed beef shank, salt, pepper, garlic and water, slow-cooked for quite a while, six hours or more, adding brown rice towards the end. Voila, Beef and Kale Stew. The kale contributes just a hint of seaweed taste, but maybe that’s just me. Anyhow, excellent. Will do again.