Monday, March 30, 2015


"But the privations, or rather the hardships, of Lowood lessened.
Spring drew on: she was indeed already come; the frosts of winter
had ceased; its snows were melted, its cutting winds ameliorated.
My wretched feet, flayed and swollen to lameness by the sharp air of
January, began to heal and subside under the gentler breathings of
April; the nights and mornings no longer by their Canadian
temperature froze the very blood in our veins; we could now endure
the play-hour passed in the garden: sometimes on a sunny day it
began even to be pleasant and genial, and a greenness grew over
those brown beds, which, freshening daily, suggested the thought
that Hope traversed them at night, and left each morning brighter
traces of her steps. Flowers peeped out amongst the leaves; snow-
drops, crocuses, purple auriculas, and golden-eyed pansies. On
Thursday afternoons (half-holidays) we now took walks, and found
still sweeter flowers opening by the wayside, under the hedges."

from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Looking forward to spring flowers.

Spring is gradually and steadily coming along here at the farm.  When I look outside, the world is still mostly white.  But the driveway is finally all melted off!  That should make travel easier and safer for folks coming by to get eggs.  Our paths to the chicken coop and duck house are still a changing mix of snow, ice, mud, puddles, and bits of soggy lawn.  It makes for interesting walking.  On cold days, we can walk on top of the hard snow and it feels awesome to be able to stride confidently!  Then, on a warmer day, every step is a surprise - will we stay on top or suddenly sink?

The ash tree.

A few days ago Rob and our neighbor Ed started cutting down a large ash tree north of the house.  This tree has been part of the landscape around here since I moved here in 1976.  It's a huge double tree now and a favorite of the Northern Orioles for singing and nesting.  Unfortunately, it has been damaged by Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive insect that destroys ash trees.  And it leans towards our house.  So we made the decision to take it down before it fell on the house.  In a way, I was glad to see the rotting wood in the core of the trunk after it was cut.  The extent of the damage and the harm the tree could have done to our home made it clear that we had made the right decision. On the bright side, our cut flower garden will now have a lot more afternoon light!  And Rob and Ed did a great job getting the tree to land in the best possible location.  (i.e. not on any young plum, peach or apple trees, or the house!)  The second half is yet to be felled and might be trickier to control.  We are lucky to have Ed's experienced help.

Head lettuces coming up - just a few of many seedlings.

My main activity these days is PLANTING.  The house now has seedlings in all of the downstairs rooms and the front porch.  I am really happy with my new set up on the porch.  Robin built another shelf for plants (later to be used for the farm shares) and I chose a small space heater and thermostat that are both working really well.  The heat comes on if the temperature approaches 32 and shuts off at 40.  Cold hardy plants are happily growing there and when they are ready, they are moved out to the hoophouse.  The hoophouse shelves are filling up with hardy seedlings like leeks, spinach, and broccoli for the garden.  In the house, we have the tender items like basil, peppers, eggplant and soon, tomatoes.  Every week there are seeds to plant (tomatoes, asters, microgreens, and mesclun this week) and many little seedlings to transplant (celosia, Sweet Annie, and peppers, for instance).  I am really having a blast.

Outside, the fruit trees are calling us, "Please prune us!"  Robin is busy busy with sugaring and I am intensely planting and doing a last major fling with paperwork before the outside planting begins and, supposedly, creating more beauty and order in the house while I can.  (More often I am spreading potting soil and spilling water on the floor.)  I am also singing as often as I can, filling up my soul.  "So, fruit trees, we'll be there soon!"  In the meantime, we study our pruning books.

The hoophouse is about half planted for the early spring crops.  Arugula, radishes, escarole, scallions and bok choy up growing.  Mesclun and spinach need to be started.  There's a funny springtime dance going on out there as well.  On warm sunny days, we open the door and block the opening so chickens and ducks can't get inside.  We can water if we turn on the outside tap and use the hose, but if it is cold at night, we have to cover the plants, close the doors, and close the water line (in the basement).  We watch the weather forecast very carefully.  One of our farm goals is to set up what is called a frost-free hydrant.  You dig a trench deep in the ground (below the frost line) and lay a water line.  This gets connected to a faucet outside that only opens when you turn it on, so it can work even in the cold.  (Frost-free!)  That will make watering both the chickens and the plants easier.

Looking forward to summertime bounty!

Our other activity is selling FARM SHARES.  We have four left to meet our goal of 20 shares this year.  We've met some new people in this process and I am excited to have both new and returning members.  On Saturday, April 18, Sweet Morning Farm will be at the CSA showcase and market in Brattleboro, VT.  Hopefully, we will add a few members through that market, which is part of the events leading up to the annual STROLLING OF THE HEIFERS weekend in June.  We have had quite a few farm members from Guilford, VT, which is only 2 miles away.  This is the first time we have been able to go to a market in Vermont.  We'll be bringing microgreens and whatever is ready from the hoophouse (radishes? sorrel?) and leeks, if we can dig them up out of the frozen ground!

I am eager to dig up the leeks because I will be planting early broccoli and cabbages in the same low tunnel.  I am eager for fresh broccoli!

As you can tell, we have many things going on gearing up for spring and lots of thoughts buzzing around in our heads.  Looking forward seeing those flowers peeping out amongst the leaves and seeing what trees the Orioles chose for singing in this year.

Happy springtime,