Farm Week: May 6-10, 2013

This week brought the full range of spring weather, including some much-needed rainfall. The trees are waking up, and the view up the hillsides in all directions from our little valley becomes greener every day. The winter rye is over knee-high, and the smell of apple blossoms has caused me to stop moving and breathe deeply at least once per day.

Now a little over a week old, our broiler chicks are bigger and more fully feathered every time we feed them. They're still small and cute, and they still have a few weeks to go before they go outside. We decided not to buy organic feed because the price was prohibitively high, but we did find some conventional feed without all the unnecessary antibiotics. If the farm were certified organic and we were selling them formally to the CSA members, we might have made the decision to shell out for the organic feed and price the birds accordingly higher. Instead of going for the omnipresent fast-growing hybrid Cornish Cross, we opted for Freedom Rangers, which is a breed known for its hardiness and its foraging, which makes it the perfect bird for pasture-raising.

This week brought a bit more transplanting, and lots of cultivation. The same amount of transplanting that would have made us tired and sore a few weeks ago is now just a matter of course. The first round of spring carrots also needed to be thinned - Dan chooses to over-seed these notoriously bad germinators to avoid long gaps between carrots so we all sat down in a pathway and weeded and thinned the carrots to 1-1.5 inches. It is very slow-going, monotonous, and miniscule work. I loved it. We've done some hand-hoeing, which always makes for some great conversation as we move down the rows. The carrots also provoked hours of interesting conversation, but for some reason I have a skill for this particular task, and after awhile I was too far ahead to take part. So I put on some old-timey fiddle and banjo music and somehow my fingers moved even faster.

Another highlight this week was the first CRAFT visit of the season. At first twice and later once per month, all the apprentices from sustainable farms in the area get out of work early on a Monday and gather on one of the participating farms for a two-hour workshop followed by a potluck dinner. This week's topic was cover crops and compost, and I'm working on an essay about the thoughts the tour and workshop provoked. For now I'll say that I'm really looking forward to these visits all season. Even besides the workshops, I think it's immensely instructive just to see how different farms are set up and how they operate. The potluck was great, too - good food and good conversation, and I'm looking forward to many more.

Thinking about: bare feet in the soil, wide-brimmed hats, smells of spring

Eating: Pita with homemade hummus, avocado, apple, and homemade sauerkraut

Reading: Michael Ruhlman's The Making of a Chef, Dave Eggers' A Hologram for the King