The Chickens Have Landed.

Screen Shot 2019-02-09 at 8.06.05 PM.jpg

There's so much to say about that photo above, the larger of the two new mobile chicken barns we built this summer to replace the single larger barn that failed this spring.  So many people to thank along every step of the way, stories to tell of late nights, intense negotiations for time and resources, all the orders of new gear (complete with jokes about chickens having discovered the poultry supply catalogs and online ordering), and the relief of finally settling the young pullets in late this week, and pulling them out to the back pasture to begin their new era as the main laying flock. Hopefully we'll return to those stories, to properly thank all the hands that pitched in on everything from stuffing insulation to welding the 3-point hitch that lets one person easily hook up and tow these barns.  

This was a major project, with "get chickens into new housing" identified as the #1 priority for the week.  It marked the third week in a row, though, that some major long-term project was top priority, meaning some chefs had to put up with late deliveries, some items occasionally ran out in the farmstore, and we had to judge carefully what and how much we could push to bring to market, and what might have to get cut at 2:00 am from the harvest list (sweet Italian peppers made it, brewed coffee did not, I'm sorry).  

Two weeks ago the top-even-above-market priority was to seed cover crop in an area that had this far been only pasture--that final market of August, I remember picking peppers in our high tunnel by headlamp, while Noah ran the tractor, tilling in the seeds we had spent hours of Friday scattering across the soil, our first fall-established cover crop, a huge and necessary step in giving our first field a chance to rest and keeping our soil and plants happy and healthy, but still difficult to fit in to a busy summer.  As I picked, around 11:00 I heard the tiller start to hit rocks, and thought "ok, he's at least 3/4 done."  It dawned on me that I knew that because I knew that there were only two rocky patches in the field, which meant I knew where he was. He later told me that he heard me start up the truck to pick up peppers and tomatoes, and knew from that sound that despite the goal of taking a modest harvest to market, it must have been quite a haul, too much for the garden cart.  

Those two parallel recognitions of what was going on on the other side of the farm, from subtle noises and cues, stick with me as I remember these intense weeks of trying to manage a hyper-productive vegetable operation at the same time as building up our basic infrastructure.  We so often feel like we don't know what we are doing, like we fly by the seat of our pants on things we should have much more dialed in by now; sometimes it feels like each year we farm we only discover that we have more to learn, know less about all this than we thought.  And yet, we are getting to know our place, and each other, and you, bit by bit.  Four years ago at this time, I didn't know there was a 30-foot wide rocky patch at that point on our land, nor that things would grow there, with a bit of rock-picking, despite that; I didn't know that poblano chilies grew surprisingly well despite our cold nights, and that they are incredibly delicious; I didn't know that you all could eat *so many* eggs.  I didn't know that my farming partner would be so skilled, so resourceful, so determined, so aggravating and inspiring (at the same time) in his dedication to constantly improving and returning to the big picture goals. We didn't know the community that would grow to want, even need, the food we produce, and how much you all would support us.  We are learning. Slowly, sometimes painfully, but we are learning.  

This week, we'll be at market with, um, almost everything.  We'll likely continue the pattern of one farmer man/womaning the booth, while the other returns home to get a few more things, check the chickens, and run a delivery.  Please be patient....whichever farmer it is will certainly have had too little sleep last night.  But do come see us, please, because despite efforts to scale back the harvest in the wee hours of the morning, there is so much good food!  We suggest that you put hot chilies, tomatoes, and kale into your scrambled eggs, that you roast potatoes with onions and garlic, that you dive into the newly ripening sweet Italian peppers (Jimmy Nardello is ripe!), enjoy the newest batch of baby carrots, and stock up on garlic for the season.  We'll bring probably the last of this year's melon crop to market, which have been just delicious.  Please, some see us there! 

The smallest, biggest thing we did this summer: winter rye germinating to prepare the way for next year's summer crops.

The smallest, biggest thing we did this summer: winter rye germinating to prepare the way for next year's summer crops.