After the most seasonally-appropriate winter we’ve seen in many years, the snow has finally melted and the warmer weather has made its way to us. It’s startling how the to-do list on a farm goes from practically nothing from December through March to an inconceivably long list starting in April with every item on it vying for top spot.
Obviously, building a shelter and fence for the goats was the top priority. Once that was completed, the avalanche of important tasks formed themselves into a list that continues to be added to (multiple times) daily.
Then, there’s the added fun of having differences of opinions about what needs to happen when. While I was anxious to start building the permanent pig shelter, Dave really wanted to get the garden tilled and seeds started. I was dying to build a new, free-standing clothesline and he wanted to expand and reinforce our little pond. I was downright insistent that the garage and the mud room be cleaned out and organized, and he felt our time would be better spent setting up the new basketball hoop. So, y’know, compromises were on the horizon.
After the first game of H-O-R-S-E, we started by moving Sophie’s pet bunny and her hutch out of the garage and onto the yard, where we built her a little enclosure. She is much happier there and we now have reclaimed a good amount of valuable garage real estate. Dave removed a ton of the old sod wall from the middle of the garden and used the “cakes” of sod to reinforce the back wall of the pond, to prevent excessive run-off.
Our friend and applewood cook, Chris Motta, was visiting and was put to work with the big tiller. Chris did an amazing job of clearing rocks and turning over the entire plantable part of the main garden, despite a fair amount of interference (pictured). He remained undaunted by both rock and chicken, however, and the garden looked lush and plantable when he was done.
While Chris was doing this, I was going through all of our seeds to determine which were ready to direct sow (very few), which were ready to plant in trays and then start in the hoop house (lots more), and which needed to be held until any chance of frost has passed. As I pored over the seeds, taking notes, and separating the packages into piles, I couldn’t help but wonder why I’d waited until planting day to do this part of it. This was a job that could have been done with 24 inches of snow on the ground but no, I wait until the day we choose to plant. Ah well, we’ll chalk that one up to human nature.
Despite the vast amount of information learned over the past year, we still tend to feel like we have no idea what we’re doing. For this reason, we are planting cautiously and ensuring that we have back-up seeds for succession planting and for the off-chance that none of what we planted this day survives.
Last year, we planted seeds before we’d moved up to East Chatham full time. The seeds were in the hoop house, but because we weren’t there to watch them and water them regularly, the majority of them failed. Having the ability to check on their progress daily will no doubt make an enormous difference in our success this year.
We started a couple dozen different kinds of plants and will continue to plant in an effort to produce throughout the entirety of the growing season. Once the seeds were all in, I still wanted to direct sow all of my pea seeds.
Last year, we visited Amlaw Family Farm and seeing Amie Amlaw’s incredible pea trellis (made of hog fencing) was vision-changing. She had created an edible wall and it was gorgeous. From that moment, I was hell-bent on replicating that to the best of my ability. I had to leave the farm for a little while to take the kids somewhere. When I came home, Chris and Dave had built this:
I had to wait a day before planting it, but what a treat it was to get in there and plant three different kinds of peas on BOTH sides of the trellis! I cannot wait to show you pictures of this beautiful fence completely covered in peas.
So, for now, the garage is still a mess and the pond is a work-in-progress. The pig shelter is no more than an idea and the clothesline hasn’t budged from the to-do list. The mud room has been cleaned, however, and is a thing of beauty. We got out all the winter stuff and replaced it with summer stuff. There’s even a spot in the corner just for Dave’s basketball.