Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Another farm story.

For a few weeks, Prentice has been collecting and crafting. He was not making a physical piece of art but rather a story. He was asked a few months ago by a friend and CSA member to speak at the U U Church of Belfast's Earth Day gathering about being a farmer. Or he could just simply tell a favorite farm story. Prentice has been focusing his collecting and crafting around our first dairy cow, Jasmine, and her quirks, personality, and how she came to live and then die with us. That was the story he was preparing to tell.. . the one he was supposed to tell.

Well, our farm had a story of its own in mind for us Sunday morning and as you will come to understand, Prentice never made it to Belfast. (He was not hurt, so don't worry, but do read on . . .)

Saturday night was stormy. Wind gusts of 55mph were predicted and we feel quite certain we experienced those here "on the prairie" as our friend Paul, calls our farm. I lay awake that night for many minutes fretting over the two hoop structures, the greenhouse and hoophouse, the former is heated for our thousands of seedlings, the latter is unheated and full of salad greens. I did not go out in the night to check on anything. I just fretted.

Sunday morning, I did go out to do chores: feed the cows , chicks and layers. Usually, checking on the greenhouse is part of chores but as it was so windyrainy. . . and I had just wrestled four windowpanes back into their rightful places in the chicken coop, I headed inside for breakfast.

(Always check.)

Prentice was all dressed and ready to head to Belfast and he did check in the greenhouse before leaving for town. Joseph was also outside as he was going to go to town with Prentice. . .when Josey heard yelling "JoJo! JOJO!" from the greenhouse. Josey peeked his head in, was told to "Go get Mommy" and he sprinted for the house.

Needless to say I dashed, leaving Josey with the phone and the two littles. (Being a resourceful lad, he pulled two chairs up to the windows and all three boys watched the greenhouse for any sign of their parents -- or the danger that Josey must have felt in the air.)

The greenhouse was coming unglued. Breaking apart. Snapping. Etc.

The heavy winds had thrashed the plastic so that the metal straps that hold/held the hipboard (a shoulder height 2x8 that runs the whole length of the greenhouse) to the frame, had all snapped.

When I found Prentice he was inside the greenhouse, leaning over a whole colony of baby eggplants and holding onto the wooden hipboard with every muscle in his body. The plastic was blowing and heaving and were it not for Prentice's vice grip, it would have blown right off.

Like that group game in grade school where you all hang onto edges of a big blue parachute . . .but there was just Prentice and a mighty howl tugging at the huge plastic sheet over his head.

Luckily, there were ratchet straps underfoot (did Prentice get those?). After discussing the options, we decided to cut through the plastic, feed a strap through the plastic and around the hipboards and fasten the other end to the baseboards (also big boards, but these rest on the ground). I messed around with the straps for a few moments before realizing that we needed to switch places.

Prentice got two straps situated while I held onto the hipboard, rising and falling with the wind's gusts. We ran for more rope and tied the hipboard to the baseboard in four other places.

It was secure.

I ran in to check on the children, rather to make sure they weren't too worried and to give them an update. I knew they were safe in the house. They were in fine spirits and were all talking about the "silly chickens" which were (also) out in the gale.

As I replayed this morning adventure in my mind, I was struck by a new awareness of having a home based business. Our farm allows our children not only to work along side us on a daily basis, observe and participate in decision making and compromise (we often disagree!) but also, on this day they watched mother and father deal with a small emergency. I do hope the experience lives in them not as a fearsome one, but rather one where they felt safe inside, helpful to the cause, and pleasantly relieved when the crisis was over.

Being about as adrenaline-averse a person as could be, I was wiped out for the rest of the day. I also felt that I had to tell the story to everyone I encountered or spoke with by phone. And the telling continues on this thing called a blog. (Thanks for reading/listening!)

Farm drama. I might even say I would rather chase loose cows than do that again. Phew.

. . .another farm story that is now ours to tell.
Prentice may have his own version.
With warm, safe and calm wishes for all of you,

Friday, April 15, 2011

What I know about right now.

Here is what I know. It is spring. The grass is greening and the cows are restless. The greenhouse is almost full. Prentice and Laura and William have been working on sheathing the new cabin. They put a snazzy green roof on the cabin this week, too. It is cold today so I made parsnip, chicken, and garden pea soup for lunch. The soup had some warming spices and was accompanied by biscuits. Molasses ginger cookies were also consumed. We are enjoying eating and selling micro greens and we should have spring salad mix galore from the hoophouse in a few weeks. The baby chicks are getting all their adult feathers. We need to clean out a winter's worth of manure from the hen house, aka eggmobile. I am volunteering for that job. We are hosting a farm tour tomorrow that the Belfast Coop has organized. We cleaned up the yard and greenhouse today to ready for that. I also know that Willie, aka William, took the picture you see above. It is of Cosmos seedlings. All is well, basically. The farm pulses on. . .animals, plants and people. It is a good and optimistic time of year, that I know. With warm wishes to all of our supporters and friends, Polly for all of us.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Comings and Goings of April 2011

Note: Sorry, the formatting on this seems particularly cheeky today! It looks good when I write it and then when it is published it is all wonky. Welcome to the moist days of early spring when Mother Nature seems to be humming a soft, waking up kind of song, wiping the sleep from her eyes and looking around at all the possibilities. There is much to come and a few things on their way out for the year. . .


  • 16" of fresh snow

  • April Fool's pranks

  • more hay for our cows

  • Killdeer in the gardens

  • Robins in the fields

  • Canada geese overhead and in the fields

  • Woodcock calls at dusk "Bszzt. Bszzt."

  • Wee plants from within wee seeds (still so amazing to me!)

  • Mud (I know it is there, beneath all the snow)

  • Germinating spinach, beetgreens and turnips in the unheated hoophouse

  • Chicks

  • William and Laura, 2011 interns (already) extraordinaires

  • "Red," dog intern extraordinaire (she goes with Laura)

  • Pussy willows

  • 16" of not so fresh snow

  • Still enjoying the last of root cellared apple cider, kim chi, saurcraut, carrots, potatoes, etc.

  • Maple sap gathering adventures

  • Maple syrup boiling chess games

  • Snowdrops

To these we say, "Goodbye for now!" and "See you next year!"

Have a lovely day, all. . . ~Polly