Lambs and Lambsquarters

Every year we start the farm season breaking heavy ground, making beds and seeding or transplanting early crops at the first possible moment.  These first plantings have to be able to stand the ups and downs of temps and rainfall that characterize April and May. Carrots, beets, broccoli, cabbage, potatoes and the like suffer a bit but like adults with rough teenage years, they seem to be stronger for the experience and give us our first real ‘heavy’ vegetables in late June and July. One thing these crops don’t have to endure too much is weed pressure. The cold soils of these early season months don’t allow too many weeds to germinate and our vegetables a good start with little competition. Over the past week we have seen arrival of the first weed of the year, lambsquarters. In the world of weeds this is probably one of the best to be cursed with as it is easily killed with a tractor, hoe or able fingers up to about two weeks from its emergence. The downside of lambsquaters is that it is prolific. Each plant can produce upwards of 75,000 seeds which can remain viable in the soil for up to twenty years. Needless to say we work hard to get them before they set seed!  If things get bad, lambsquarters are edible…so look for lambs quarters in the greens mix and match.
Lambsquaters has special significance this year as we have a new crop of lambs coming at the same time. In the past two weeks we have had over forty-five lambs born in the pastures around the farm. There are a handful of ewes left to bare and it appears we may have over fifty new lambs to add to the seventy we had this past February and March. Most of the ewes are giving us twins and weights have been mostly around eight pounds per lamb–which is right where we want them to be. Lambing at this time of year is new for us but we are hoping that it works in the long run as it means a lot less work for the farmers and a much easier transition into this world for the lambs.  Lambing in the winter is hard on everyone. Temps are cold, buildings are drafty and new weak lambs will struggle to stay warm. Because of this farmers have to check for new lambs every four to six hours, which will wear down even the staunchest night owl. In addition, ewes need extra nutrition to keep warm while they make lambs and then make milk for new lambs, which means lots of grain…which in the age of ethanol is not cheap. Lambing on pasture will hopefully be a good option for everyone for several reasons. First of all it put ewes in the best grass of the year right when they need energy and protein to finish their pregnancies and then make milk (lots of milk!) for their lambs. Second, the mild May temperatures mean lambs can be born and cared for by the ewes right in the pasture without worry or lost sleep on the part for the farmers (yippee).  And lastly it makes traffic on Pleasant Hill Road, which is entirely too fast, slow down to a manageable speed so that everyone can watch this flock do their thing.
New Lamb Open House. This Sunday the 31st from 1-3pm will be our annual lamb open house here at the farm. Hosted by Crystal Spring Community Farm and The Brunswick Topsham Land Trust. The public is welcome to come and see the new crop!
When does the CSA start? Soon is the short answer…we will know more next week about several varieties of greens that we are waiting to mature. We will contact you via email and phone when we have chosen a start date.
Crystal Spring Farm Day Camp still has spaces available The two one-week sessions for kids here at the farm will run during the weeks of July 6th and July 13th, Monday through Friday, 9am-3pm, kids ages 6-10 are invited to join us here at the farm. Read more and register for camp at our website:  http://crystalspringcsa.com/farm-camp or contact Maura at maura@crystalspringcsa.com or 729.1112.
CSA Shares still available! Tell your friends, family, neighbors, strangers on the street! www.crystalspringcsa.com

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