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: or contact Maura at or 729.1112.
CSA Shares still available! Tell your friends, family, neighbors, strangers on the street!

May 5

Hooray! This is going to be a great year!

What a transition! Spring has blossomed from winter in no time flat this year as we raced from frost laden ground to workable soil in the matter of a couple weeks, giving us the shortest mud season in recent memory. Luckily, we were ready here at the farm and with our crack new crew we’ve been keeping pace with the coming warmth.

It’s good to be back in touch as I just realized we haven’t written a newsletter since January! In the months since, we have been working hard to fill the greenhouse with young plants, prepare for the arrival and breaking-in of our new group of farmers-in-training and remembering how a spring is supposed to feel.
Our biggest spring task before the apprentices arrive the first week of April is always seeding onions, leeks, flowers and celery in the artificial warmth of the greenhouse. We had help this year from my dad and a crew brought along from our neighbor Lucretia Woodruff. We started about 13,000 onions and leeks the first week of March, right after we put a new layer of plastic on the greenhouse.
We are very lucky to have a sharp crew of new farmers with us this year. Bethany, Douglas, Kate and Kelsey are all gung-ho and have been getting their feet wet in everything from the details of sheep nutrition to the challenges of running a tractor in a straight line at .14 miles an hour. They are all eager and hardworking and I am looking forward to a great season of fun and hard work shoulder to shoulder with them. I know you will all enjoy chatting them up on pick-up days here in June. In the past month, before the rain, we planted out all those onions from the greenhouse along with 2500 cabbage plants, 2000 broccoli plants, and almost a ton of seed potatoes. In addition we’ve been seeding beets, carrots, parsnips, lettuce, chard, kale, arugula, spinach and our exotic Asian greens varieties in the fields.
As May gets going we still have many shares left for the coming season. Please let your friends, family and neighbors know that we would love to sign them up for the best organic produce in town! On that note, those of you on the winter payment plan, thanks for your April payment, the last payment is due in June.
Farm Camp at Crystal Spring! This summer we will be running two one-week sessions of day camp for kids here at the farm. 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.  This year is a pilot year, with the potential to expand to more weeks next summer.   Kids will be mini-farm apprentices, learning about growing food and taking care of animals by participating in day-to-day happenings on the farm.  Maura will be directing the camp with the help of college-aged teachers and high school aged junior counselors.  We would like to offer the camp to our CSA families before we open it up to the general community.  We will register CSA members only until Friday May 15th.  After this date we will open registration to the greater community.  You can read more and register for camp at our website: or contact Maura at or 729.1112.
As the month of May progresses we will try to keep in touch with another newsletter to let you know what’s happening here and when to expect the first CSA harvest to begin. As a reminder, pick-up days are Tuesdays or Fridays each week from 3:30-6:30pm and as always you can change which day to come each week -as long as you only come once a week.
We will be hosting two orientations for new CSA members on Saturday May 23rd at 9:00 am and at 10:00 am here at the farm. It’s a great way to learn the lay of the land and see how everything works before we get started harvesting your shares. Check out the Upic field, the distribution barn and ask those need-to-know questions of Farmer Seth. Please park in the Crystal Spring Farmer’s Market lot and walk up to the farm. You can RSVP for the 9am or 10am slots via phone (729.1112) or email (
See you soon!