Farm Week: April 1-5, 2013

My 2013 farm season has started with a cold front of frigid nights and mornings, combatted with a never-ending rotation of layers and plenty of greenhouse work. The heated greenhouse is full of trays in all states of germination - the earliest of spring greens, plus onions and their relatives ready for transplanting, and tomatoes getting a hot head start. Outdoors, the winter rye is waking up on the untilled fields, the chickens are starting to lay more eggs, and the peepers are signaling spring by the end of the week.

The week was mostly an introduction to Chubby Bunny Farm, which is a fitting way to start the "Farm Week" series here on the blog. Chubby Bunny Farm is located in the small hamlet of Falls Village in far northwestern Connecticut. Dan and Tracy are in their twelfth year running the business, and their tenth year on this land. The farm sits in a valley on the south side of Canaan Mountain, with 12 out of 50 acres currently in production. This year, the farm will provide over 250 weekly CSA shares starting the first week of June and running through the end of October. Besides the 12 acres cultivated for row crops, the farm includes a 60' heated greenhouse for starting transplants, and 60' and 100' hoop houses for season extension and some heat-loving crops in season. While the vegetable operation is the bulk of the business, the farm also houses a small laying flock, a family cow, and a few feeder pigs each summer. The tilling and some cultivation is handled by a pair of tractors of about 50 horsepower each, but all of the seeding, transplanting, most cultivation, and harvesting is done by hand. This year, I am one of four full-season apprentices living and working on the farm; besides all of our hands-on learning opportunities, Dan is very open about the finances of the farm and the reasoning behind his farming decisions. We'll also be participating in the Western Connecticut CRAFT program, which includes visits to plenty of nearby farms.

I also spent the week getting situated in my new living arrangements! We apprentices are living for the season in decommissioned campers on the edge of the farm. We each have our own camper, complete with a little mini kitchen, and we share an outhouse, utility sink and an outdoor shower between us. We're constantly making little improvements, like constructing a covering over the sink, laying out a stone floor outside the tub, cutting a path to the neighboring stream, or digging a fire pit. Right now, we're relying on space heaters, sleeping bags, and layers for warmth, but as the weather warms up we'll eventually be grateful for our placement in the coolest part of the farm. We have mostly no cell service in the valley, and our internet is limited to the twice weekly overlap of hours of the local public library and our free time, so there will be plenty of time for reading, writing, and reflection.

Thinking about: flannel, thrift, imminent spring, leafy greens

Eating: fresh, delicious, rich eggs; spiced chickpeas and carrots with fresh ginger; seeded rye and gorgonzola cremificata

Reading: Wendell Berry's The Unsettling of America: Culture & Agriculture