April 10, 2006

I knew there was more than usual occurring on the farm when my friend Robert called me to catch up on news yesterday, and when I was asked “what’s been going on?”, nothing but blank fuzz came to mind. This is always a sure sign of mental overload. Hopefully this post will be a better answer to the question than what I came up with for poor Robert.

First off, chicks have started. Our two first Beltsville Small White chicks have hatched. We are so happy about this, since these turkeys and their reproductive habits were the biggest unknown. We expect to see a chick every two days or so for some time, until the hens have all their fertile eggs hatched. All three Narragansett hens are sitting on large nests, and we expect hatching to begin for them in the next 10 days. Ditto with the Royal Palms. This will mean a lot of extra time monitoring the chicks. Once they make it past a month of age it seems to go smoothly, but it’s a lot of watching in the meantime. Because our hens rear their young naturally, we have to do our helping, cleaning and intervening in a way that doesn’t disturb the mothers.

The rain (and the fact that it won’t stop) is causing summer garden problems off my personal scale. Significant amounts of my summer vegetables are going to be grown at Drew’s farm, because he has prepared planting beds with drainage and I don’t. We’re pretty damn lucky to have access to someone else’s garden space. Hopefully the people who certify us for the Farmer’s Market have heard of such an arrangement before. Anyway, last night all the tomato and cucumber starts that were ready were taken to their new home. Tonight it will be time to start the second wave of potted seedlings. More tomatoes, more peppers, and more eggplants. Maybe more cucumbers. I am thus far not having a good time with the tomato and pepper seeds I purchased this year; the germination is slow and less than I am used to.

Recently I accompanied Drew to a business meeting on assorted growing/orchard issues. The result of all this, for me, has been a huge insight into all the orchard practices concerning which I’ve been sloppy, negligent, or outright ignorant. I’ve been lucky enough to receive the first of what will hopefully be a lot of direct schooling about how a healthy orchard works and responds to superior management. Much of this will be applicable to our own, much smaller, endeavors.

And, this is the time of year when every other spare minute I have is concerned with managing our own yard for summer flowers. It is a big goal this year to keep increasing the available flowers on the property. I am working toward having a garden that has sufficient flowers year round to support bees. A LOT of bees. I am working at weed control, seeding, observing the bees themselves, and maintaining a growing mental checklist of what flowers to promote or try out next. 

I have finished with the permanent new plantings for this year (trees) and am working to completely re-enter our orchard map onto Photoshop software. Not including almonds or fruit bearing shrubs, we have more than 50 fruit or nut trees that we’ve planted in our 4 calendar years on the property. Not bad!

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