Farm Week: May 13-18, 2013

Another week of extreme temperature changes, from an overnight frost at the beginning of the week, to high seventies and sunny on Thursday. Last weekend brought some rain and some dramatic fog and winds to the valley, but we had a great weekend nonetheless. We stewed up a mean old rooster into jerk chicken stew, sat around a bonfire, and I even brewed up some beer. Unfortunately, the mad temperature swings this week made a consistent fermentation temperature impossible - hopefully the beer didn't suffer too much!

The chicks turned two weeks old, and are hale and feisty as ever. They're getting close to full feathers, at which point they'll leave the brooder for the great outdoors! We also ordered our next batch of chicks - this time fifty instead of twenty-five! We have two outdoor "chicken tractors" at our disposal, so we'll be able to get a nice rhythm going this summer with batches of chicks coming in every three weeks. That means that eventually we'll have batches going out every three weeks, which will be the harder part.

We opened up our largest block of field yet this week, preparing for a large wave of transplanting and direct seeding. The first step in that process was mowing the cover crop, which Dan accomplishes by driving his bush hog backwards over it, his reasoning being that with such a tall crop, the wheel tracks would leave a large portion of the rye intact. After Dan C. mowed, we hooked up the chisel plow and I did my first big plowing job. The nice thing about plowing up a large field is that you can drive more in figure-eights or loops instead of doing lots of tight little turnarounds after each pass. I had a great time, and it was oddly relaxing. The next day's task of rototilling that same swath was not as relaxing, however. The machine itself is louder, and is much more sensitive to rocky soil -  it was much slower, bumpier, and louder than plowing. I didn't have to worry so much about straight lines (as when rototilling and punching beds), the purpose being to mix the remains of the rye into the soil for a faster digestion.

Thinking about: pork possibilities, blooming, organic matter

Eating: jerk chicken and sweet potato stew, homemade meatballs and risotto

Reading: Dave Eggers' A Hologram for the King, Kelly Klober's Dirt Hog