One might think winter is vacation time on the farm. Not much grows at arctic temperatures, the soil is frozen, and most farmers’ markets are on break. But as we’re discovering, farming is still a full-time job in the winter-time! Here’s a peek at what we’ve been up to.
We have hired a full-time intern, Ashley Wright, who will start the first week of April. In May, she will be joined by a full-time volunteer Brenda Fisher. We are excited to welcome these two gals to our farm!
Yes, its winter, but we are trying out growing lettuce in the high tunnel, which is a passive structure that collects heat from the sun during the day and protects the plants from icy nighttime temperatures. Winter lettuce leaves are thick, because its growing so slowly, and their sugars are concentrated to help them survive freezing. This is especially exciting because this is the first crop we have harvested that we planted ourselves!
Ben and Heather with their first harvest
Pretty little lettuces
We have assembled most of the materials for our wood-fired oven: firebricks for the hearth, red brick for the door, concrete block and gravel for the foundation, masonry sand, clay, sawdust, wood chips and, yes, plenty of beer bottles for hearth insulation.
The first block!
red brick for the door, and firebrick for the hearth
our clay from a nearby construction site
masonry sand, and lots of it
gravel, for the foundation
wood chips for the insulation, from a local arborist
We are nearly done with the oven foundation! We’ve laid concrete block and have been filling it with a mix of rock that has been pulled from our fields where it likely landed in the 1969 mudslide, and gravel. The arctic weather delayed this work somewhat, but we still feel on-track for having the oven finished by April markets.
We are also building a smaller clay oven for the house, and to gain experience working with our materials.
the first layer of subfloor insulation: beer bottles in a mix of clay slip, sawdust and wood chips
We bought a tractor! Its a 1982 Ford, 40 HP, with a loader, which has already been put to good use moving heavy stuff for the oven around!
our new baby
We have planned our CSA and placed our seed order! This involves zillions of decisions–which crops? which varieties? how much space does it need? how much space do we have? how many transplants? how many plantings? when do we plant them so that we have vegetables when we want them? Yes, we have become best friends with Excel.
We are selling bread and vegetables in Charlottesville and Lexington.
raisin rye, cooling by the window
Our CSA is about 60% sold out! Thank you to everyone who has signed up so far!
We are planning Thorny-O, an oldtime music and dance festival that we are organizing and hosting on the Valentine’s Day weekend. We’re looking forward to welcoming new and old friends to our lovely farm!
Whew, I think that’s it.