Thursday, March 31, 2011


Sweet Overwintered Spinach!
Look at the lovely and delicious field of spinach down at the Hammel farm!  The deer fence survived the winter and the spring thaw and Richard has been harvesting samples already.  Now with a little luck and a little time it will grow up and be ready for our first Farmer's Market on April 16 - our stand is under the green awning, midway on Mifflin Street (on the Square in Madison), with enough for the first couple CSA boxes too! We'll have freshly planted spinach too, no worries.  The overwintered is just such a treat.

Happy Birthday baby goat number 3!  Maybe we'll call your mama Brownie, on account of her big brown head.  He was just born last night, so we'll hope he makes it through another cold night.  This is mama's first kid so I don't yet have an opinion on whether she is a good mama or not.

I have no idea how to trace the familial relationships of these goats (is the new one a cousin, an uncle, a stepson??  Sadly, it's pretty incestuous with the goats).

Here are the brothers from another mother kicking it in the pen on their second day of life.  They are so clumsy and cute they make me laugh heartily.  But I'm easy, I can crack my own self up.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Kids these days

Just born today, perhaps minutes before I took this picture.  I call her "White Mama" (real original, huh? but she is the only all white goat we have) and she is a really good mama, so those kids should make it.  Still waiting on "Ugly Mama", "Old Nanny" and several other new mamas that I haven't named.  Thankfully they waited until spring! 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Wishful Thinking

 I swear I can smell the garlic growing again!  Probably too soon for that, but I'm allowed my olfactory hallucinations, right?  It looks like a really nice stand this year.
Can you believe that a year ago yesterday we were in the field planting our first salad mix?  Spring came so early last year - it was warm enough and dry enough to work in the dirt.  This year - mud.  Soul & shoe sucking muck.
Onions got their first "haircuts" today - that is another favorite smell:  fresh chopped green onion in the best break/lunchroom ever, our greenhouse.

 We're nervously waiting for our final H2A visa approval and have been talking to the guys in Mexico updating them with interview, travel and start dates.  We're hoping to split them into two groups this year with staggered start dates.  It's overwhelming to have a sudden influx of 30 crew members, all on one day.
Baby baby Napa Cabbage on the right, Kohlrabi on the left

Broccoli on the left, fennel on the right

Red Rib Dandelion


Bottom to top of pic: Leeks!  Shallots!  Onions!
 Remember to click on the photos to get a bigger and/or closer look at the lovely green growing things.
Bottom to top: Dandelion then shallots!

Willow to transplant into hedgerows for beneficial habitat
 Remember how time and labor intensive celeriac is?  It is one of the first seeds planted in the nursery greenhouse, in one of these mass trays. 
Celeriac, part 1
After their true leaves start to develop, after the cotyledon  phase, the seedlings are replanted into trays with individual cells.  This is, of course, done by hand - a delicate one at that.  Once the weather warms a bit more and the seedlings get taller and stronger, they'll spend some time in the great out of doors in the cold frames.  Then, finally, they are planted in the field and we won't even think about harvesting them until late August.  They are so worth the wait though.  One of my favorite all time veggies.  Seriously.
Celeriac, part 2

We're still accepting CSA members in both the Twin Cities and in Madison, so tell your friends or sign up yourself, if you haven't already! 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The future's so bright

Good morning!  Removing tray covers in the nursery greenhouse with lemongrass in the foreground
The big greenhouse with onions & dandelion
Clio Green Dandelion for an early planting
Remember the Lupine Hector planted on March 1?  It's just starting to sprout up through the soil.

It's still frosty and cold outside in the morning, especially in the shadow of the hills here in the valley.  So our newest crew member, Logan, still has time to frost seed some prairie grass along the equipment road.  
We are starting to hear the songs of the summer birds, but the frosty equipment and snow on the ground reminds us that it's not quite here.  Be patient - it's just around the corner and will be here before you know it.  
Moving bins for repair

"Science has never drummed up quite as effective a tranquilizing agent as a sunny spring day." - W. Earl Hall

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Can you smell the dirt?

Planting soil
Apparently today is the first day of meteorological spring, so happy day!

The greenhouse is hot, humid and starting to fill up.

Planting Perennial Lupine

We are renovating some fields this year and making landscape improvements, including habitat plantings for birds and native pollinators.  Today Hector (Tito) is planting trays of Perennial Lupine flowers for transplant later in the spring.  Word is that these are difficult to establish so we'll start them in the greenhouse and move them into the ground, along with other meadow flowers, shrubs and trees.  Butterflies and bumble bees love them!
Lots of pregnant goats

 Marvin Jr, our billy goat, was busy this fall and it looks like we have 10 pregnant females.

We successfully kept him penned until early November, so hopefully we'll have 100% live births & survival.  Last year we lost three newborns because they came too early and couldn't survive the cold.  Hopefully our nannies will wait until a warm April day to have kids.

  I walked into the greenhouse today expecting to take some pictures of little tiny green things poking up out of the soil.  Amazingly, we have 4-inch tall onions already!  Apparently they had a growth spurt this weekend.

Nursery greenhouse tables
 CSA sign ups are coming in steadily - about 30 envelopes a day!  We hope to sell out in the Twin Cities area again this season, which will justify (and help pay for) our new, slightly larger truck.  The old Mack requires a lot of maintenance and spare parts are nearly obsolete.

Sadly, we've heard from a couple families in WI that will be negatively affected by the governor's budget plans.  We feel for you and we hope all of our CSA members remember that CSA is a really good value, not only in purely dollars and cents, but as a reflection of your values and in valuing and respecting the earth.  You still have to eat, right?  Keep CSA in your budget!  Feed your family well, with our delicious, nutritious, organic, hand picked, hand packed CSA selections!

Germination test trays
Tito planting lupine
 Get your CSA sign ups to us this week and we'll honor the discounted pre-March 1 pricing!