High of twelve today, but the sun is warm and the sky, blue. It seems never to be able to get so blue during any of the other seasons. We’ve been busy since our last newsletter in November. Busy in the winter is relative as our work is bookended by a later sunrise and an earlier sunset (and this winter by sub-low morning temps and a cold afternoon wind). My enthusiasm for sitting in front of a keyboard and making phone calls goes way up this time of year. Proof of this is our complete seed order, 2013 taxes and a barn full of supplies for the coming summer. Now if I had only cut more wood for the stove last summer!
Between holiday preparations, making lunches, feeding sheep, and youth basketball games, I spent December looking at seed catalogs and rereading your surveys, searching for new ideas to improve what we grow. This last year we had 43 different crops and over 140 different varieties of vegetables flowers and fruit (wow). During each year we are putting seeds into soil in the greenhouse or in the field every week between the beginning of March and the end of August- so there are many places to make changes. Sometimes we like a particular variety but feel like to came too soon on too late so we’ll adjust its planting time forward of back a week. Other times we find a variety just didn’t perform on this farm and we look to replace it entirely. What’s more complicated, but ultimately the most satisfying, is when we find crops and varieties that go well together like greens in our mix and match, or different tomatoes that ripen at the same time, giving us a good supply to please everyone, whether they like them firm and acidic or soft and meaty.
- We’re trying a few new greens varieties to keep everyone interested in their weekly salads and stir fries. There are a host of new Asian varieties that offer new color and texture that we think you’ll like.
- Eggplant and peppers will both have new varieties with varied color and size this year and we’re trying some new planting dates to allow us to mix and match them instead of flooding you with one or the other for weeks in a row.
- After a couple years of trials we are jumping into the latest craze and grafting all of our tomato varieties. This is the process where you take perfectly healthy tomato plants and cut them off at the stem and stick them onto rootstock that you have cut the tops off of. The rootstock is bred for vigor and disease resistance, the tops (scions) take this vigor and produce more fruit that stand up to disease longer. This technique has been used in fruit trees for centuries but is now spilling into annual vegetables in a big way to improve yield and disease resistance in our increasingly variable climate.
Ewes are big and healthy these days as we are due to start lambing in about a week. Those of you that drive by the farm may have noticed the white plastic round bales arranged in several fields. These wrapped bales are ensiled (fermented) grasses cut green in the summer and preserved for use by the flock in the winter. Unlike hay which is dried, the bales are lush and green. The high nutritional value of this feed has allowed us to transition our ewes and lambs off of grain supplements completely which is great for these animals that were made to digest grass and great for us as it disconnects our flock from the increasing variability of the global commodities markets.
CSA Lamb Day March 16 from 11-1
Come join us at the farm for our lamb open house for CSA members and friends of the farm. We’ll open the barns and show off the new arrivals, which should number between 85-100. Dress warm and wear shoes that will serve you well on the farms slippery and muddy tracks. Bring your friends and family.
We’ll have Farm Camp dates and registration open on March 1st. This will be posted on our webpage. All the dates will be in July this year. No camp will be offered in June.
We will be looking for junior counselors again this year as well!
Lamb Sausage and Maple Syrup Available at the Farm
We have our own Lamb Sausage available for pick-up at the farm. This spicy natural cased sausage is packaged in 1 lb packs for $11. We also have qts. of grade B dark Maple Syrup for $16 each. This is the same great stuff we have in the summer. Pancake, lambs sausage and eggs sounds like a powerful Maine lumberjack breakfast to keep you warm on a cold day in the woods… Send us an email with your order and when you’d like to come by.
February Payments Due
Those of you who are on our payment plan, your February payment is due next week ($150 for Brunswick shares/$80 for delivered shares). Here’s a link to our online payment form that will allow you to use a credit card of e-check to pay. This link is also on the website. Look for the green “make a payment” button. You can also mail us a paper check but we would prefer payment via the web as it cuts down on our administration time. As always please let us know if you would like to make other arrangements for payment.
2014 Farm Shares Still Available…
If you haven’t signed up yet or if you have a friend, neighbor or relative who would like to be a part of the farm go to our website and click the orange “Join” button or follow this link. Its quick, easy and then its done.