The blog has been quiet lately, but no so with the farm. Mark has been busy, despite having everything in the ground. On a good note, everything is germinating and I think I'm right in saying it has all poked out of the ground, some more than others. That is also true for the weeds though, so finger weeding has been on the priority list according to plant stage. On a family drive-through-the-fields tour a few nights ago, five on the four wheeler, I noticed our usual sow thistle area was filling up pretty well, so this is the year we've officially declared war. It's planted in oats this year and we have acres of oats to spare, so as soon as the thistles are big enough to have hollow stems, the plan is to cut them just prior to a big rain and let nature drown them out. We've heard from more than one farmer that this should work. We'll let you know.
Weed management in organic production is always a trial and error game and is sometimes the result of an entirely different activity. Couch grass (aka quack grass and many other names) is always our worst weed enemy and last year while Mark was fingerweeding, he noticed that when he reached the end of the field, there was a clump of couch grass rhizomes gathered up in the tines of the weeder. After leaving a few of the clumps at the end of the field, it was only a matter of gathering them together in a windrow and then haul the whole kit and kaboodle off into the woods. Well, this year it has been taken to a whole new level. The giant piles of couch grass laying around Freetown must be GREAT fodder for the old farmers who drive around keeping an eye on those crazy hippy organic farmers. My camera hasn't made its way to the piles yet, but Mark reports one taller than 6ft in one field. He joked that he was going to spread it out, bale it up and sell it as a 'great cover crop'. There's also been an ongoing joke with a friend from OACC about making couch grass baskets with the tough rhizomes. If either of those were legitimate markets, we'd be making a killing this year!
In other farm news, Mark has begun hauling ORGANIC manure from the hog farmer we sell our grain to. This is a BIG deal. Really. Organic manure is literally NOT available, anywhere. We are so happy to be able to access some. Admittedly, it's not the cheapest input, or the closest, but Mark figures he's got the economics of it worked out and with the help of a couple of extra trucks, hopefully efficiency will be a at a max. We're just so excited to see the fruits of our labour (grain) come back to us (manure). It's funny how the value of a 'waste product' changes pretty quickly when it becomes a 'by-product'.
My garden has been a bit of a...er...issue of contention this year. I've always had it very linear and 'just so', just the way I like it, in proper beds, but with the fantastic wonderful tiller that goes on Wendell's new giant lawn tractor, everything that doesn't move, gets tilled up. Needless to say, my garden doesn't feel like MY garden this year. But it's planted, so we'll see what happens.
A lot of people are unhappy with the June chill thus far, but I have to say, I am thoroughly enjoying the mosquito-banishing breezes and the sweater-inducing mornings. I know the heat is on its way, so I'll enjoy this while it lasts. Lucy told me today that I can't put the mittens away yet because she needs those when she eats a freezee. Surely by August, I am confident that the mittens will not be necessary, even for freezees.
I have been working on getting to bed earlier and tonight I've already failed. Good thing there's always tomorrow.
Hope this finds you enjoying every minute of what spring has to offer, and the prospect of what summer will bring.