Saturday, December 12, 2009

Happy New Year!

January 1st, 2010. . . The snow is coming down every-which-a way out there. The cows are in the barn, the chickens in the coop and the farmers in the house. At the moment, I should say.

We have been busily tying up the loose ends of 2009 in this last week. Figuring, tallying, and analyzing all the many sets of numbers of the past year. Not only dollars and cents but pounds, bunches and yields, row feet and amounts of seeds. We are turning the corner into 2010 informed by the 2009 records. As seed ordering deadlines (for discounts) loom, we need to know now how many seeds we will drop into the soil nearly a half a year from now.

News from November and December: Before Prentice returned to his off-farm/winter work as a cabinetmaker, he and his father, Tony, spent several days erecting a used hoophouse frame that will hopefully house our seedlings come spring. We really would like to burn farm-raised fuel to grow our seedlings. That sounds simple but it is not. He has been trying to figure out the thermodynamics of heating such a structure with firewood and the various boilers and storage tanks needed to do so. Stoneset Farm of Brooklin loaned us one of their farmers, Nathan, for a day of greenhouse construction this November. I guess he loaned himself to us. . . Thank you, Stoneset!
This trench that Nathan hand-dug (just kidding!) will bring power to the new structure for fans and thermostats, and of course, the radio.

Hannah Converse worked with us for six weeks this fall and it looks like she will be returning for the 2010 season. We are really happy to have one piece of the apprentice puzzle figured out for the coming season and even happier that that piece is Hannah!! Digging trees from the nursery in mid-November can be an arduous task but the digging proceeded at a great clip and nearly 1000 trees and shrubs were delivered to FEDCO Trees of Waterville. The dormant "whips" will hang out in bundles with their roots in moist sawdust until spring when FEDCO will send them to mailorder customers and sell them from their sub-terranean warehouse. We are proud to be members of the FEDCO Trees Growers Cooperative. Their spring sale in Clinton, Maine each spring is a bookend to the summer for me. See their website for ordering info and sale dates.

These are red maples dug, bundled and "heeled-in" to the garden until delivery day.

Another November event, popular with the little boys around here was when Joe Fortin, a dairy farmer from Albion, used a deep tillage plow on our new vegetable ground. After plunging a penetrometer into the new plots on the west side of the driveway, it seemed clear that there was significant sub-surface compaction (leftover from pre-2001, when 25 of our 40 tillable acres were cropped to corn) and that using this "paraplow" could fracture the hardpan. Though farmers everywhere saw their fields fill with puddles this past spring, we speculated that our drainage problems in 2009 may have been due in part to this layer of hardpan that acts as an obstacle and catchment for rainwater between the soil surface and the subsoil. The results of this tillage action, of course, will be hard to measure but we will be watching how these fields dry out in the early spring and we will again test with the penetrometer. We will wait and see.

2009 CSA Members will receive a letter from us in the next few weeks with some specific year-end details from 2009 and an invitation to purchase a farm share again in 2010. We are in the process of doing some website and brochure updates but please direct any interested friends to our website's CSA page for prices and details. The price of the shares will remain the same in 2010.

We will be attending a CSA-CSF Fair in Belfast on February 28th from 1-4 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 37 Miller Street (right behind the Library). Farmers and fisherpeople will be promoting their offerings and answering questions. It's a great event that we will be publicizing widely in the weeks ahead.
Best wishes to one and all in the new year ahead.
For all of us,