February 9, 2011

enlightened and recharged

We're back from the PASA conference feeling enlightened and recharged, as always. The timing of the conference is just perfect. February is the easiest month for most farmers to leave their farms and it's a great chance to get inspired and learn new things that can be put to use in the coming season. Being surrounded by a few thousand like-minded farmers is an amazing feeling and it's the one time of year that we all get to socialize and share farm stories. Nate's birthday always falls on the conference weekend so he never gets to have a big fun birthday. He's a good sport though and this year he got to attend a 2-day Grazing School that was taught by a well known farmer so he had a fun birthday.

This was our 4th year attending and we couldn't help but marvel at how far we've come and how much we've learned. For us, the conference has been an important marker in our lives and so much has happened in 4 years. We spent an evening in our hotel room before the conference started just thinking about what was going on in our lives each year we were there. I must say, it's been quite a ride - not always a fun ride, but the best part is that we're in an amazing place right now.

And that's really exciting.

We arrived home and the very next morning Jen and I started seeding onions and leeks. For now, they're in the laundry room while they germinate. Nate started on a new project that should be finished soon . . . a germination hut. All of the seeds we start will eventually be in the plant greenhouse but there are a few weeks following the planting of the seeds where they need to be kept at a warmer temperature than we keep the greenhouse. So, Nate's building a small hoop-style greenhouse within the greenhouse. Of course, it will be heated by the sun and though we have the option of heating additionally with gas, we're going to try to heat it with manure and see how it goes. Aside from a small garden, vegetable production is pretty new for us and I'm so excited to be learning all about it as we go.

It begins!

Jen's been working hard planning our seed order. We have a CSA of about 150 people to grow for, plus the farmers markets. She's been making spreadsheets and crunching numbers to figure out exactly how many seeds we need to order. It's a lot of work. Go Jen! At the same time, Nate and I are trying to figure out the number of birds to raise this season. We have about 200 new layers coming in a few days to increase our egg production but we need to decide how many meat chickens and turkeys we'll have time for on top of the vegetable production. Yeah, February's a hardcore planning month around here.

The other day Nate glanced out the window and his eyes got really wide. I knew that meant something was wrong. The wind was really blowing and one side of the plastic on the hen greenhouse had blown off. It was also about 7 degrees so those poor hens were COLD. We all ran out to see what we needed to be done. It was cold and windy and not too much fun out there, especially for Nate up on the ladder, but we got it repaired. Go team!

I wish I'd gotten a photo before we started fixing it. It was quite a sight to see the whole side flapping in the wind. We got a nice big rip in the plastic too. The hens were obviously affected by the stress of it since their egg production was down that day but it was back up the next day.

Now, onto the next project . . . getting ready for the new chicks.

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