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Saturday, November 10, 2007

I'm getting too old for this shit....

When the summer growing season ends, I forget what it's like to work hard. From March-September, my workday starts around 7 a.m. and doesn't end until at least 7 or 8 at night. Literally, we are putting in 13-14 hour days and that's what it takes to run an acre of vegetables, two greenhouses, a small CSA and participate in a Farmer's Market and raise animals. Keep in mind, it is basically me by myself and my husband AFTER he gets off work from his full-time job. Needless to say, as soon as the season ends, I take a long-needed break from working that hard.

This year, I slacked off a little too long on clean-up of the fields and am paying the price now. Today we accomplished a lot of work, but my body is feeling it tonight! We finished pulling up all the irrigation system out of both fields, drained the main hoses and rolled up all the tubing and hung it in the shed. We also pulled up all the remaining landscape fabric that we plant through to try and discourage some of the weeds. This too was rolled up and stored in the shed.

A couple of guys John works with always donate at least 10 bags apiece of shredded leaves and grass clippings that we use in our hoophouses to add organic matter to the soil. We finished cleaning up the hoophouses and dumped the bags of leaves/grass and spread them around and then tilled them into the soil.

After finishing all the clean-up, we then tilled up three 4'x50' beds and planted garlic. We usually plant 500 cloves of garlic of different varieties and this year was more of the same. John tilled up the beds, added some green sand and compost (that we have been making ourselves) and raked it all in. Then I came along behind him and planted the cloves of garlic.

Even though the weather sucked while we were working today, high winds, cold and drizzling rain on and off all day, we felt great that we got that much done, especially the garlic. At one point, I thought we might not get the garlic in and that would suck. Many of our customers and CSA members live for the garlic we have. For some reason, our garlic always turns out to be one of our best crops. Planting garlic seems to be the true end of our growing season as it is one of the last things we do for the season.

Tomorrow, we will give the chicken coop and barn one last good clean out and deeply bed the animals with fresh straws as this will be the last time before spring that we will be able to do that. Then we will clean out the small greenhouse that we use to start our transplants in the spring. We didn't use all our transplants in the spring and they just got left in the greenhouse to burn up over the summer - so all that has to be dumped and cleaned out. We start our first transplants as early as February, so starting out with a clean house is necessary to avoid any disease problems.

It felt good to do a hard days work today, it's been awhile for me. We take for granted the great things about living in the country and being able to work outside every day, but usually it just takes working outside all day to remind yourself about all the great things you love about it.

Today while we were working, we saw all of the following things that reminded us of how lucky we are:

-a group of 3 trumpeter swans. If you've never seen these, they are awesome. White with black faces and they are HUGE and especially when they are flying low over your head - you can actually hear the hum of their wings.

-2 doe being followed by a 6-point buck. The poor bucks are in 'rut' right now and are usually not out in the open like that, but they are looking for love!

-our 2 beagles chasing a rabbit and howling the whole way. It is great to see them work together as a team to try and run these rabbits down. Unfortunately for them, the rabbits almost always get away - but they just love the chase.

-a flock of about 30 Canadian geese that flew in just above our heads and landed on our pond right next to the field we were working in.

-a bald eagle that perched himself in the top of a tree right next to the field we were in. He sat and watched us for some time and then glided over our field and swooped down and grabbed a field mouse and flew off. Wow - if you've never seen anything like that - it is amazing.

As much as I bitch about the amount of work it takes to have a small farm - it's days like today that make me sit back and appreciate how great it can be too.


Cherry said...

That sounds like such hard work but it sounds like you get so much benefit in return.

Do tell, did you and your husband learn by doing or did one of you already know the business of running a farm and raising animals?

Angie said...

Well, Cherry - my husband had barely stepped foot on a farm in his life. Me? My grandfather had an old-time small farm. Every kind of animal, small acreage of hay/straw, an orchard and a large vegetable garden. I used to spend 2 weeks there every summer and LOVED it. Although my life was not anything like farm-life early on, somewhere in the back of my mind was that memory of his farm and I knew some day that is what I wanted. Organic gardening on a very small scale is something I've always been involved with and I also do the book sales for the largest Organic Farming Conference in the Midwest - so that really got my juices flowing, so-to-speak, and I guess the rest is history. A very long explanation to your question - but no easy way to say it.

Also, the type of person I am - if I'm interested in doing something, I read, read, read and read some more to get an idea of what the hell is involved. Spending about 2 years dreaming and reading about small farming is how it really got going.......BUT this life is ALL about trial & error - we learn a lot by just screwing it up and learning what NOT to do.

Sorry so long, but an answer all the same. Thanks for asking.

Christy said...

We are a lot alike. I've been reading and researching small farming and all kinds of animals for over a year. We are still in the dreaming stage, we are waiting to get a transfer and get our farm. I know I will have a ton to learn once I get there but I feel like I'm learning a lot before I get there. I'm impressed by how much you all have going on!

Erikka said...

Angie we really need to talk/hear about in a post how you made this all come true for yourself. Unless you did in some really old entry that you can guide me to...

How much experience did you have to begin with? How did you budget and save and find the land? How long did it take you to get the rhythm of your farm into place (or are you still learning)?

Once NaBloPoMo is over, I hope the small farmers group can stay in touch as a resource for me.

Erikka said...

ps. and what books would you or Christy recommend the beginner? the dreamer?