Monday, May 3, 2010
Here's some news from the off-season.
Winter held its grip without respite until well into March. We've had some unseasonably hot spells mixed in with the near frosts since then. Even last night, with a clear starry sky, we went to bed fearing how low the temperature would fall. Fortunately, at sunrise, it was 41, sparing the hopeful bumper crop of strawberries. We're also looking at an abundant spinach and lettuce harvest. The spring peas are coming on strong, but they're behind schedule. A cold, wet late winter had them planted the latest we've ever put them in. If it doesn't get too hot too soon they should still produce very well. The first of the beans and sweet corn, on the other hand, went in the ground earlier than normal. We're getting ready to set out our 300 tomato plants today.
The main honey flow has started with the tulip poplars, blackgum trees, and blackberries all in bloom. The air force is hoping for clear, sunny skies to make its crop of honey. The bees came through the winter very well, but the consistent cold delayed their spring population build-up. We're already busy making up lots of mating nucs (nucleus/starter colonies) for next year's honey crop.
Animal projects, in particular, like fencing have kept us busy through the off-season. We currently have two cows in milk, one of which is feeding a calf that we'll beef at some point this year. We also bought a little jersey heifer we named Dandelion for our future milk supply. The first calf born on our farm is now several hundred pounds of beef steer that we plan to finish on the high energy summer grasses. We're hopeful three of our nanny goats are bred for late summer milking. They and a fourth nanny continue to clean the brambles, weeds, and poison ivy out of our pastures and perimeters. The first of our hens hatched a clutch of biddies a few weeks back. She had been setting up in the hay mow unknown to us. She is successfully mothering her 16 biddies! Other hens have started setting as well. As we seemed to be getting ahead of the demand for eggs we sold down some of our flock. With over 50 hens remaining, though, we hope to have a good supply for the market season.
The other big news is that we are expecting our third child in mid-July. Fortunately, it has been a gentle pregnancy for Melissa, so we're moving forward with the season pretty much as normal so far. Of course, there will probably be some interruption when the baby arrives.