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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Week 4 April 23-28

If I said anything about last week being easy, I meant it. This week was go, go, go. We got a lot of good work done and distributed our first week of CSA boxes for the season. Our schedule now: Monday is Farm Work (planting, maintenance, whatever needs to be done). Tuesday is harvest, prep and pack CSA boxes and deliver some to Covington and Conyers. Wednesday is farm work and deliver CSA Boxes to Atlanta. Thursday is Farm Work. Friday is Harvest prep and pack for Market. Saturday a couple people get up at 5 and go to the Peachtree Road Farmers' Market, a couple people do farm work and one person gets the weekend off. This week I did farm work with Kathy and work we did. 

Eating seasonally, and growing food for that matter, is full of new romance and sad parting. Just as we are getting ready to say goodbye to the Asparagus and Strawberries we are greeted by something equally beautiful, new and exciting. 
We harvested a few new things this week including Zucchini and Zephyr Squash. The big green ones are the Zucchini and the two tone guys are the Zephyrs. The lettuce is also coming into its own. We got a lot of red and romaine this week and I ate some delicious salads. 
Zucchini and Zephyr Squash
Turnips and lettuce in the bath.
That being said our Asparagus seemed to get a second wind the last half of the this week. Production jumped after we had a few cold days and nights followed by a few warm days. Perhaps it got a little rest and went slightly dormant which gave it a boost. Hopefully this trend will last a bit longer before it gives up for the year. Strawberries are slowly but steadily declining it seems. 
This week's harvest included: Asparagus, Strawberries, Radishes, Hakurei Turnips, Scarlet Queen Turnips, Red Lettuce, Romaine Lettuce, Beets, Kale, Mint, Catmint, Sage, Onions, Green Garlic, Sugar Snap Peas, English Peas, Zucchini, and Zephyr Squash.

Production and Distribution
3/4 pound bags of Kale x 80
Big doings in distribution this week. It was our first week for filling CSA boxes (Community Supported Agriculture). We filled and delivered 10 boxes on Tuesday to nearby towns then filled another 70 which we delivered to Atlanta on Wednesday. This was more produce than us apprentices had yet harvested and packed all at once, by about 5x. It was pretty intense and amazing to see how much food we could move and how many people we could help feed.
I drove 20 boxes to Farmer D's and Shield's Meat Market in east Atlanta. I hung out at Shield's during the pick up time to meet the members and explain how pick ups would work. Many of them were returning customers and were happy to be getting their boxes again. Some were new. I even got to drop off the boxes for a few friends.

CSA Assembly Line to end
CSA Assembly Line Beginning
CSA Boxes

In the CSA Box this week
-1 Bunch Onions
-1 Bunch Green Garlic
-1 Bunch mixed Turnips
-1 bag Kale
-1 Herb Bundle with Mint, Catmint and Sage
-1 Head Red Lettuce
-1 Head Romaine Lettuce
-1 Bunch Asparagus
-1 Pint Strawberries

We also filled an order for 240 onions and 20 heads of lettuce for Farmer's Fresh along with the eggs they get from us every week. Peeling 240 onions is quite a task. We remove the outside layer of skin so that it goes from clay colored to glossy white (or red).  This task leaves me with black hands and a little teary-eyed.
Onions freshly picked- this was taken a few weeks ago,
they are bigger now
Peeling Onions
At the end of the week we still had some produce left for the Peachtree Road Farmers' Market. However, we sold out in the first 2 hours. It will be exciting when all the things we have been planting for the past month start producing and we have enough to last a whole market. 

We got a lot done this week, all the while working to keep things watered and weeded. Cory's dad came to help out for the week and he and Daniel got one of our new hoop houses prepped so that it's ready to put the plastic on. We did a lot of work in the other hoop houses cleaning and prepping more beds for planting. 
We pulled up some more plastic mulch in the Main House field from a winter crop. Lots of tractor work was done tilling and ploughing fields and laying plastic mulch for more planting.  Cory also used the tractor to disk one field of potatoes. This is where you pull two disks on either side of the potato plants and they push soil up into a mound around the base of the plant. This keeps more of the plant underground and makes more room for the potatoes to grow.
Between the wind early in the week and the heat later on we spent a lot of time moving and turning on and off irrigation and watering the greenhouses. This will be an ongoing task. We aren't forecast to get any rain next week either. 
Tomato Trellising
Some plants need a little extra support. Here are two examples of trellising on the farm. The tomatoes are wrapped with line that is wrapped around T-Postes every 6'. We tie them in pretty tightly because they will need that support once they are loaded down with pounds of fruit. 
Sugar Snap Peas

These peas are a vine so they attach themselves to this plastic netting with tendrils. They do most of the work themselves and look great doing it!

The Mini Truck!
Apart from maintaing the crops and the land there is also the equipment to be considered. We had two vehicles down at the beginning of the week. One was this Mini Truck which hasn't run as long as I've been here. Luckily, Cory's dad is a military trained mechanic and Daniel was a mechanic for GM. Together they got it going and I got to drive it on Saturday.  Mini Truck is fun! It must be European because the driver sits on the right. It's a manual transmission and the gear shift is on your left so you have to shift with your left hand. That took a little getting used to. 
The stick is on the left and the speedometer is in KM

It's an off road vehicle and drives surprisingly smooth. On Saturday Kathy and I used it to spray fertilizer on the onions in Jeff Cook Field. I drove because Kathy isn't proficient with stick shift yet. She sat on the back and sprayed a water/seaweed mix onto the plants as I drove through the rows. 

Plans to put out transplants on Monday were thwarted by the serious winds. Some transplants made it out later in the week including: Komatsuna, 2 varieties of Broccoli, Sweet Corn, many many peppers and watermelon. In the Hoop Houses we transplanted several varieties of flowers to sell at market as well as fennel and a perennial Spinach. 
Radishes were directed seeded into the Hoop Houses this week.
We also started a ton of winter squash seeds in Greenhouse. 

Farm Life
The weather this week was all over the place. Monday and Tuesday it was cool and we were being whipped around by the wind. I started the days with 2 shirts, a hoodie and a raincoat as a windbreaker. Most of the layers made it most of the day. By Saturday it was 87 degrees, sunny and still. While the wind is tiring and takes a lot out of you it keeps you cool and keep the bugs away.
On Saturday Kathy and I were left to our own devices since Daniel had the weekend off and Cory and Jason went to Market. Puddy got to be a farm hand for half a day. She rode with us to all the fields and generally stuck close, listened well and stayed out of the way. I think she enjoyed smelling in person all the scents I come home with each day. By 1pm she was getting pretty hot and hiding under the van while Kathy and I set up Irrigation. I decided to leave her at home to keep cool after lunch. All in all though she was a real trooper and great for moral.
Pea P

I found this leaf while harvesting Sugar Snap Peas. I could not make this up if I tried. The "P" is a scar from a bug. Seriously. A bug wrote "P" on a pea leaf. Was he labeling it for his friends? Is he literate? Was he watching us ogle this amazing feat while writing his 8th great novel? We may never know.

Beautiful Weeds

While the weeds in the Asparagus bed may have added to the slowed production and are in fact a bane to our existence as market farmers, I couldn't keep from being awestruck by their beauty this week.
Fluffy Purple Weeds in the Asparagus

At one point while I was supposed to be harvesting Asparagus I just sort of zoned out and stared at these beautiful purple bottle brush blooms.
Elephant Garlic. All those tear drops at the top are the flowers

Another bloom I fell in love with this week is the one at the top of the Elephant Garlic. It starts out inside a bulb that looks and feels like thick onion skin. At this point in time it is becoming translucent and you can see the white/purple flower inside. Some of them are just starting to break out of their skin. Once they emerge they are a round, puffy, pom pom looking flower and are absolutely gorgeous.

Elephant Garlic Flower

Elephant Garlic Flower breaking out/

Perhaps my favorite thing this week was the feedback from my friends who signed up for our CSA and got their first boxes. Here is is:

Abby enjoying a Burge Strawberry from her CSA Box

This is my friend Brianna's daughter, Abby. She lovers her fruits and veggies and apparently got into the strawberries before they even made it into the house.

This Feels Good.

Here is a text from my friend Kate. The best part "Thanks for growing our dinner!" I could get used to this.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Week 3- April 16-21


This week we harvested: Asparagus, Strawberries, Kale, Turnips (Scarlet Queen and Hakurei), Arugula, Lettuce, Spinach, Golden Beets, Easter Radishes, Zucchini Flowers, Collard Shoots, Bulbing Spring Onions (transient Vidalias), Sun Flowers, Mint, Sage, Catmint, Wild Flowers, and Red Cabage
Our Golden Beets, Spring Onions, Turnips, Radishes, Cabbage
Asparagus and Easter Radishes at the Peachtree Road Farmers' Market

Asparagus Update: The tips are opening up faster and faster. Once they open more than just a little bit we do not sell them because they are on their way to looking like this:

Asparagus Phase 2
Once the shoots open up the stems become woody and more bitter. There are male plants and female plants and they will continue growing this way for a while, soak up energy from the sun and pollinate. When winter comes all of the growth above ground dies off and the plant underneath goes dormant. Here is where we are running into trouble this year. Because we had such a mild winter our plants did not get enough time in dormancy. They need this yearly nap to store up enough energy to produce in the spring. It's kind of like getting fat and hibernating. So our asparagus have been woken up by the warm weather a little too early and are still feeling groggy. Cory looked at our asparagus production last year and we are way under the mark. It's a bummer because it's such a delicious veggie and we wait for it all year. You'll           
                                                                    see more affects of the mild winter later on in this entry. 

Production and Distribution
We did a large restaurant delivery on Wednesday. It's time for us interns to start taking over some of these tasks so Kathy did it this week. I'm up in a few weeks. She enjoyed meeting the chefs who appreciate and seek out local organic food and I'm looking forward to the same.

One thing you have to keep in mind as a farmer is where your market it and continually work to build it. There is a pesto maker at the Peachtree Road Farmers' Market who is interested in buying a lot of basil from us this season so we are planting a bunch just for him.

Once you know where your produce is going you have to make sure you have enough for everyone. Perhaps most importantly for your CSA members since they are putting their money in your hands in advance and trusting you will return the favor with a bountiful harvest.  Our CSA deliveries start this coming week so we had that in mind as we harvested for restaurants and market this week.We are on the very of a produce explosion but this week and next are seeing the end of a few key crops. Because of this we held back some of the best stuff to make sure it gets into those CSA boxes.

Pretty little Sunflower
Up until now Fridays have been our longest days. We start a little earlier and end about an hour later in order to harvest, clean, pack and prep for market. Starting next week we will be just as busy, if not more so, mid-week prepping CSA boxes. I expect this was our last "easy" week for while. This Friday was pretty sweet though because we made bouquets out of our first sunflowers of the year and an assortment of wild flowers and herbs. The smell of herbs and flowers mixed with sweet onions and green garlic was intoxicating and made prep time fly by.

We are now on a market rotation. In general one or two apprentices will go with Cory to market each Saturday. One will stay and work with Daniel on the farm and the one may have a day off. This week I got to go to market which really is a pleasure. There wasn't the hype of the first day but still a lot of people who were really grateful to be getting such good food. I also got to spend a little more time looking around and meeting the other vendors. I got some handmade lava mint soap and organic home made energy bars. I tried to get raw milk but all of their supply had been pre-ordered. Next time I have a market day I'm going to order my milk a week in advance!


This one's got a runner!
Another symptom of the mild winter, and a pleasant one, is that our strawberries are early and extra sweet. We can't keep them stocked at the market and the restaurants love to buy them too. We even have a market for our seconds which get turned into delicious popsicles at King of Pops and cocktails at H&F Bottle Shop.

However, they are getting kind of antsy and in their safe plastic mulch and sending out runners. These are long vine type branches that are looking for new soil. Once they find a suitable spot they will clone themselves and start a new strawberry plant. While this is flipping awesome, we don't want to encourage it just yet. The energy they use doing this work is energy we would rather see going into making more of those red beauties. So, as we harvest we are pinching off every runner we find. This should prolong production a little bit but it also means the end is in sight. Once we stop harvesting we will let these runners go and do their work. Once they start that new plant we will harvest it and pot it up to be next year's strawberry plant. Pretty cool.

Because we constantly need to be planting to keep up with demand we did a lot of field and bed prep this week. One task was laying plastic in the lower fields. This is done with a tractor implement called a plastic layer. It makes an easy job of stretching out one long piece of plastic over a 600' field, laying the irrigation tape underneath and burying the sides. Here is Daniel demonstrating the technique:
Daniel shows us how it's done.

That spool in the upper right is irrigation tape. It is fed under the plastic. You'll notice he has it wrapped around his right leg while he holds the plastic in place. In reality Kathy and I did this part and Daniel drove the tractor. You just have to be carful to keep your hands clear of those wheels and dirt pushers in the back as they are lowered down. You also have to keep that drip tape wrapped tight or else it will pull through as the tractor moves forward.

Here is one row in progress. 

We got some much needed rain this week which gave us a good chance to work in the Hoop Houses. There we pulled out some winter crops, prepped beds and planted new crops. Prepping those beds is all done by hand and involves many steps. All the while you are working on a bed you must be careful not to step on it because you will compact the soil.
Wheel Hoe with blade. Cuts weeds off just under the soil. 
First step is to wheel hoe the bed to kill any old plants including weeds.
Now you rake to remove all of the tops and some of the root of the plants who's heads you just severed. Get as much debris out as possible, raking the whole bed a few times.
Grab some compost and spread it over the whole bed with a shovel. The technique is kind of like sprinkling cinnamon sugar on toast with a spoon, only much bigger.
Now work the compost into the soil using the wheel hoe only this time with the fork attachment.
Same tool but the blade is switched out for forks.

Next you rake, rake, rake to remove any remaining debris, break up clods and level the bed. When you think you are done, go ahead and rake some more and then a little bit more for good measure. At some point Daniel will tell you "It's okay". That means you should probably rake it a few more times.
After that you can spread the fertilizer which is chicken poop. Do this by hand while carrying the 50lb bag. If you're luck enough to have another apprentice near by, one of you can carry the bag and one can grab the poop.
Now you're ready to plant.

Other important maintenance work this week was trellising the tomatoes in the hoop house, weeding, weeding and weeding the asparagus.

We learned a cool trick about getting your carrots to germinate. Plant them on the same day as you plant beets. Cover them with a row cloth to keep them extra warm and moist. Check these two plantings every day. As soon as you see the beets come up, pull the row cloth and lightly week just the top of the soil where you planted your carrot seeds. This kills all the weeds that have sprouted which will save you lots of weeding later and it gives the carrots room. We did this and the very next day the carrots popped up like magic. Cory said this is the first time he has tried this trick and it's the most successful his carrots have every germinated.
Lady Bug Larvae, for real

This week we learned what a Lady Bug Larvae looks like. Nothing like a lady bug, right? But these guys are awesome. They can eat up to 50 aphids a day. They are even better than adult lady bugs because they are much hungrier. We are constantly surrounded by bugs out in the fields so expect to see a lot more where this came from.

Tree Grafts Week 1

Remember the trees we grafted last week? We checked on them twice this week, removed their bags and sprayed them with water and fish guts. Here is one. It's hard to see but the buds are opening and have new green growth.

We started a ton more seeds in the greenhouse this week while it was raining outside. More Corn, Lettuce, Zinnia, Cucumbers and Melons.
Seeds and trays in progress
Transplants hardening off, squash and pepper
The trays on the right have grown as big as they can in their trays and are ready to be transplanted into the fields. We moved them outside to harden off. This is where they get used to real world weather before the culture shock of being ripped from their plastic trays and shoved into the soil. It's kind of like middle school. 

The crops that we transplanted out this week were Squash, Zucchini, and Cucumbers in the lower fields, asian greens (Joi Choi, Pak Choi, Choi Sum), Basil and Lettuce in the hoop houses.
Hoop House with some older crops on the outside edges, choi sum in the middle and new seeds started.

Crops we direct seeded in the hoop houses were Turnips, Beets, and Arugula.

Farm Life
The week started out a little shaky as a stomach bug made it's way around the crew. Jason got it first and was out sick on Monday. Cory was next on Tuesday. Kathy, Daniel and I escaped but it worked its way through Cory's family too.
There were a lot of wildlife encounters this week. First thing Monday morning we found this guy in the Main House Field: (and the turtle too)

Daniel teaches Kathy how to pick up a turtle, then takes him to the lake

Right before lunch we found this guy hanging out in Daniel's jacket on the tractor seat. Here he is making his escape:
Black Rat Snake
We're pretty sure we have one of these living under our back porch at the house, which is fine by us if he would just eat the mice before they move in. Kathy trapped a mouse under her dresser this week. We haven't seen signs of any more and are working to plug up all the holes around the house to keep them out.
Wednesday I discovered a tick on my right shoulder blade and about had a fit. Of all the bugs in all the world these freak me out the most. He was in pretty deep and Kathy was no where to be found. I had to calm myself down long enough to get him out. I started by putting a tissue soaked in vinegar over his whole body. I'm not sure if it did any good, it certainly didn't make him give up. I couldn't find any tweezers and the CDC website said to get it out as quickly so as possible so I grabbed him and pulled. Luckily he came out all in one piece (but not without a fight). I threw him in the sink and he started crawling out! I still had my harvest knife on me so I cut him in half. There wasn't any blood so I don't think he could have been on me too long. GROSS!
Thursday I swallowed a bug while harvesting Kale. Cory saw me gagging and spitting and was sure I had caught the stomach flu everyone had. I said "No, I'm fine, I just swallowed a bug" "Good" said Cory.
Determined to eat more meals from the farm I spent the week collecting seconds and eating them. Here is a meal in progress of discarded turnips (skin was scarred with bug damage), too far along asparagus (remove the bottom few inches which are too tough even to cook and the rest is delicious), and left behind potatoes and carrots which I found while cleaning the bed they were in over the winter (nothing wrong with these guys but some of them got sliced up with the wheel hoe). Upper right is some home made bread rising.
Not fit for sale but I ate like a queen

I also got to try my hand at making Zucchini flowers. See the recipe in Recipes From The Farm
Foraging Poke Salad with Ricky

Our Friday Fiesta this week was amazing! Our local foraging expert, Ricky, took us on a short walk about and pointed out edibles all along the way. It was so cool it's going to get it's own blog entry but here's a sneak peak.

Some parts of the Burge Plantation are just beautiful!
A rare carnivorous tree in a secret grove that Ricky is protecting.
Laundry. These pants have just been washed. 

Sunny Day Still Life
Puddy Time!

Puddy goes to town with us to get mouse wars supplies
Riding in Style in Kathy's Beetle named Cherry Bomb. 
Checking on the tomato transplants.

With her new best friends.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Week 2 April 9-15


Asparagus Growing
This week we harvested more Asparagus, Strawberries, Kale, Golden Beets, Arugula, Easter Radishes, Hakurei Turnips, Red Turnips, Red Cabbage, Green Cabbage, Green Strawberries, Spring Onions, Leeks, Green Garlic, and New Potatoes.

The Asparagus has not been fond of the cool nights. We have had 3 nights in the mid forties down to the mid 30s. The Asparagus seems to have slowed down quite a bit on those days. We are hoping to still have a few more weeks of harvest before they are done for the year. You can only harvest Asparagus for 5-8 weeks. That number is affected by how much of a winter there was to put them into a state of dormancy. The longer they are able to stay dormant the longer you can harvest from them. You know that harvest season is over when they start to grow much slower and the spears become smaller in size. We didn't have much of a winter this year so we are about to see how much that affected our plants. 
A Perfect Strawberry

Russian Kale 

Kale and Strawberries are still going strong here. Both are really delicious and I eat them every chance I get. Check out the recipes for Kale Salad an Strawberry Pasta in Recipes From The Farm.

Production and Distribution

I'm adding a new section this week to tell about where the produce goes once we harvest it from the field. Burge has developed a relationship with several local chefs. Each week we let them know what we are harvesting and they put in an order for produce they want to have delivered. On Tuesdays we harvest for the chefs and on Wednesday we deliver to their restaurants. 

Jason, Kathy and I. 2012 Burge Organic Farm Apprentices

This week was the first week of the Peachtree Road Farmers' Market. Burge sold there last year and built up quite a customer base. Today was opening day and a lot of customers came over and said how glad they were to see us back at the market and that they had missed us during the off season. We had a great day and sold out of everything except for one bunch of Arugula and one bunch of Turnip Greens. 

Easter Radishes

In order to have enough produce for the market we spend all of Friday harvesting, cleaning, bunching and packaging everything that is good to eat. This week the Strawberries and Asparagus were the biggest hits, followed by the Easter Radishes and Golden Beets. 

My First Farmers Market on the other side of the produce!

It felt really good to be at the market supplying a community with quality, fresh, local food. It really is like a dream come true to be a part of this. One highlight from the market was a kid who couldn't have been more than 10 who bought some turnip greens from us. Cory gave him some ideas and a recipe and the kid was eager to go home and cook them himself. We also had 2 little girls from 2 different families who each said that Kale was their favorite food (after my own heart). Their parents bought it for them as a treat! These kids are on the right path to a healthy and happy future and I am helping!


We are always planting the next thing it seems. This week was no exception. We planted Brassicas in  Jeff Cook Field.  Brassicas are an important genus because they contains more important agricultural and horticultural crops than any other including: rutabaga, turnips, kohlrabi, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, mustard and rapeseed. Broccoli, cauliflower and brussel sprouts are actually the flower of the plant. We are late with our broccoli this year because the early seedlings were wiped out by a late freeze while they were still in the greenhouse. We have lots growing in the field now and hopefully they will grow up and be ready for harvest before too long.
Long furrows of seed potatoes

Sprouted potatoes ready to plant.
The view from the transplanter.

We also planted more potatoes this week in Jeff Cook Field. For this we used the transplanter again and again got a little soaked in fish guts and sea weed fertilizer.

Starting Seeds in the big Greenhouse

Kathy, Jason and Daniel also planted corn transplants in Jeff Cook Field using the tractor and transplanter. Then we started even more corn in the greenhouse. 2,048 Sweet Corn seeds to be exact, as well as 456 lettuce (2 varieties), and 768 Burgundy Okra.


This week we completed the trellis for the peas, weeded the strawberries and asparagus, weeded the blueberries and blackberries in the orchard using weed eaters, cleaned out 2 more hoop houses for new plantings and weeded and broke up the clay crust between the garlic and onions. Weeding is a constant battle in organics. Sometimes we use plastic mulch (the white stuff in the tomato pictures below) which helps a lot with weed suppression but is not reusable or biodegradable. The makes it cost prohibitive and adds environmental impact so it is only used as needed.

Our tomato plants in the hoop house are coming along nicely and it was time to remove their suckers. These are branches that grow in the arm pit of the main stem and an existing branch. If left they try to become another main stem and compete with the rest of the plant. By removing them you promote a strong main stem and good structure for bearing fruit. You also allow the energy of the plant to be focused on one main stem instead of several. This job was really fun because you feel like the plant is saying "Thank you" for removing the extra load. They also secrete a delicious smelling goo at the break so all during the task and after you smell like a fresh tomato plant. We did learn however that this is a job for gloves because that goo turns your fingers yellow at first and then black for a few days. Here is a before and after picture.
Now you see it
Now you don't. So long Sucker!

We did lots of irrigation this week because we had no rain.  For our onions and garlic we had to set up temporary irrigation, which we had to move every few hours. All of our water comes from wells on property except for 3 fields. These are the lower fields and are situated downhill from a lake. They get their water from the lake via a gravity driven system of pipes and filters. Well water is preferable because it has better pressure and doesn’t have to be filtered. 
Orchard Irrigation faucet inside an ant hill

Our orchard irrigation is run in a series of lines. Each line has a faucet at the top end. We had to turn on 4 lines for 24 hours each then switch to the next 4 for the next 24 hours. The faucets are about a foot underground inside of a large PVC pipe that sticks up out of the ground. Most of these have turned into huge ant piles. In order to get to the faucet we have to dig out all the dirt that the ants have hauled in for their construction project first. Mind you, all this dirt is crawling with ants, hundreds of them. This is a job for gloves, long tools and quick hands. One of the few holes that wasn’t an ant hill was in fact a black widow nest. I’m sorry to say I squished her but I felt that I had to since my fellow apprentices and I would have to keep sticking our hands down that hole until we get some good rains.

Mr Larson Grafting one pear
variety onto an older, different pear
Speaking of the Orchard, we had a really great visit on Friday from Jerald Larson of Fort Valley State University, a leader in organic agricultural research in the state. Mr Larson is an expert in organic management of orchards. He walked through our orchard with us giving us tips on pruning and spreading branches for optimal shape to help the trees bear and support fruit and also make them easy to harvest from. He gave us advice on dealing with pests including scale and blight and how to manage weeds in the orchard.

Tree Graft Illustration
What was really incredible was he showed us how to graft trees. This is a process where you take a small branch from a tree and insert it under the bark of another established tree creating a new tree that has the established root system of one but the fruit production of the other. It's like alchemy, turning one thing into something other. It really did feel like magic. The few short hours we got to spend with Mr Larson were just enough to get all of us apprentices' interest piqued. I'm looking forward to watching these grafts develop. We have to check and water them every 3 days at first and growth is supposed to happen quickly. I'll definitely be adding updates as those trees develop. 

Farm Life
I must be getting used to getting up early. On Thursday my alarm was not on but I woke up at 7:00 on the dot with out it. Friday we woke up early to get a head start on harvesting for Market. Saturday we were up at 5 to meet at 6, leave a t 6:30 and be at Market by 7:30 for an 8:30 start. The only reason we are able to get up so early is that once we are done working each day we are so tired that we are usually asleep by 10pm, if we make it that long. 

Good morning, I'm here for the mouse problem

I mentioned briefly last week that we had mice in our house. Well, we put out some poison and they indulged in it every night for 5 nights. We believe it has worked and that the mice have been driven out of the house. On Monday morning when I took Puddy outside she found this at the bottom of our back steps. We haven't seen the actual snake yet but I suspect he is getting fat on mice and outgrowing his skin.

Puddy meets horse

Puddy got to interact a lot with our large 4-legged neighbors this week.  She has been meeting them one or two at a time through the fence behind our house. So far they have all been a little bit curious about her so they reach their big heads down for a sniff. She thinks they are just great and keeps trying to sneak through the fence to go play with them.

Puddy meets donkey

There are two donkeys in the pasture with the horses. They seem to be particularly excited when they see Puddy whereas the horses are curious at first but quickly get bored. I think these donkeys and Puddy will end up being friends.

Ant bites have become a regular part of life along with sore knees and the desire to spend lots of time stretching my back. This work is not for sissies. Still, it feels good to be using my body to produce real food. Another nice benefit of all the hard work is that I get to eat lots more calories while still getting leaner and stronger. Farm to Eat. Eat to Farm!

Blood and Sweat but no tears yet.
I cut my finger in a minor strawberry grading accident.