One of the many cool things about this kind of work is the chance to do something new everyday. Even if it’s making soil blocks again or transplanting, they’re new soil blocks and different plants are going into them and the whole atmosphere is always changing.
We almost seeded all of this week’s lettuce today but stopped a little bit early. The weather has just been so unexpectedly nice that we’ve been trying to get transplants in the ground outside before any rain returns. Today we transplanted over 1500 hundred lettuces along with several types of Brassica including kale, cabbage and broccoli (Picture). Each one is planted by hand. It’s strenuous work but if you stop and look around to appreciate where you are and what you’re doing every now and then it’s easy to forget the temporary pain.
We also got the second “G” tractor running to mark the rows for everything we planted. There are a lot of really interesting things that have always been a question in my mind that are getting answered everyday since we started working in the fields. I’m learning what implements do what, when and where. There’s still a lot more to learn.
Today we finished seeding lettuce for the week. As we were finishing the lettuce we found out a coyote or something had snatched up two of the female ducks last night, so we captured the remaining two and put them in cages where nothing can get to them. We’re still working on catching a couple of the male ducks to add to the cages.
After finishing the lettuce we started putting together another hoop house (Pictures). I should point out the differences between a greenhouse and a hoop house. I don’t think I’ve done that yet. Although there are many different kinds of greenhouses, in general a greenhouse has a more sophisticated operating system (heated water, electricity, warming bench, cooling fans, permanent ends with doors, etc). A hoop house looks just like a greenhouse but only serves as a cover from the elements and a heat absorption area. It has removable ends and a more primitive irrigation systems. Here are two pictures our greenhouses: Group 1; Group 2
Tonight we start a six week workshop on bee keeping. At the end of it we will be certified by the state of Washington as apprentice beekeepers.
We transplanted more lettuce to the hoop house that we rebuilt last week (Picture). Which makes four plots of ground filled or almost filled with veggies. We finished potting up chard and weeded around the tomatoes while the farm was being audited for organic certification. The inspector said we looked good but he isn’t the guy that makes the final decision. His job is to come out and ask a lot of questions and check through all of our records to make sure proper organic standards are being followed. Then he submits a report to someone else (I don’t know who) and they give us a pass or fail. We finished the day seeding and are now all caught up with the exception of new tomato starts. We’re still looking for the seed.
Yesterday’s bee keeping class was good. The guy running the class knows a ton about bees. It’s cool to learn how it all works even if I don’t get bees of my own. I’ll be sure to let you know if anything cool happens with bees over the next five weeks.
We got a little more done on the hoop house before getting rained on. We also seeded a flat of lettuce to test and finally found and planted the tomato seeds.
This afternoon we cleaned seeds that had been saved from last year’s harvest. It was work straight out of the bible, separating the chaff from the seed. The important one that I worked on was seed saved from last years lettuce crop called Bronze Arrowhead. Lettuce seeds are especially tiny so it’s a tedious process. I shook the seeds out of the flowers into a bag and then dumped the bag into a pan. I took them outside to use the wind to separate the rest of the light debris. Eventually I got it down to mostly seed with a little garbage left. Unfortunately I didn’t think about getting any pictures as we were working. Maybe in the fall when we get more to clean I’ll remember. (This is basically what I was doing).
Another week down. We hoed the lettuce hoop house to keep the weeds down and did some pruning along a fence line this morning. Then we did a little more work on completing the next hoop house. It should be done early next week if the weather stays dry.
I made lunch for everyone today. We’re on a rotating schedule for lunches Mondays and Fridays and, feeding the animals, killing slugs and watching after the greenhouses. I’m on greenhouse watch this week. Looking after the greenhouses is just a matter of making sure everything is functioning properly and water anything that doesn’t get hit by the auto watering system.
Since I’m on duty this weekend to look after things around the farm I can’t leave for more than a couple of hours at a time. But this weekend was the annual oyster feed at the Grange. The Grange association has been around for a long time and this branch of it has been holding this event for nearly 60 years. Many of the members have great grandparents, grandparents, parents and their children still attending the event. I think all of the oysters come from a place called Brady’s Oysters in Aberdeen, WA about an hour from the grange building. I washed dishes for about 5 hours and got a lot of free food. I’m not sure I like oysters that much but it was fun to try and nice to meet other local farmers.