A Season on the Farm, February

Change – life is full of it, and February was a month of large changes on the farm.  Our weather, our plants, our farm setup, and our home.  Lots of changes and lots of excitement.  Lets dive right in and talk about the changes

The weather – The cool weather of January gave way to a warmer than average February and an early spring.

Bloom on the Peach Tree

Our Farm Setup – February was another month of building on the farm.  Our seedlings which started in December were ready to go into the ground, so we needed a place to put them.  That necessitated low tunnels.   We needed to move our seed starting operation fully outside, which meant preparing the greenhouse for lower temperatures.

Our biggest challenge in February was rain runoff.  We have drainage issues as the farm is on a slope and the best soil is also the soil with the most exposure to the rain.  As a result, we spent a number of days in February working on diverting rain water.

A beautiful stream up top, it turns into mush in the ground that would be our flower beds. 

Our first actions were to dig new ditches, and expand existing ditches.  These ditches proved very helpful in most of the rain, but when there are four inch rain events, it is overwhelmed.

The ditches cooking pretty well

We have a retaining pond behind the barn which is great at catching the water coming down.  One issue with it is that water seeps from underneath the dam wall to flood the lower field.  The retention pond works as a catch to ensure that the lower field gets water – which is not what we want.  We tried pumping the water out, but in the end, we were moving hundreds of gallons, when we needed to have been moving thousands of gallons.

The retention pond above the barn

I believe part of the solution is to clean the retention pond out with a bulldozer and then fill in with bentonite or a pond liner, as well as terracing parts of the lower garden to divert water into the existing ditches.   One of the podcasts that I listen to interviewed Joel Salatin, and he indicated that on his farm, they sought to use the water three times before letting it leave the farm.  That’s our goal, and while we got closer, we still ended up with big wet.

While we fought the water wars – we also spent time building low tunnels to put new flowers into.  I was shocked to learn how fast stock grows from seed, and before we knew it, we had several hundred seedlings that were outgrowing their seed blocks.  As a result, we started building low tunnels, and by the third, we had worked out the mechanics pretty well.  We will be building a few more in March – partly for new seedlings, but also to get a start on the fall.

Our first low tunnel – code name Wolfie 1 (Wolfie is our daughters dog)

The Farmhouse – On the last day of February we completed a faith journey that began several years ago when we bought the home – we sold our home in the city.  While it was not as dramatic as the early explorers burning their ships to ensure that everyone was committed to the new adventure, it had a little of that feel.  The fact of the matter was that we had made the Farmhouse our home earlier in the month – thanks to almost a week of school dismissals based on the flu.  I’ve been at the farm for almost a year, so it was new for April.

April heading out to work – she goes in early, so she had a little bit of trepidation at first

We both love being on the farm, and are finding lots of charm in the farmhouse.  Its hard going from an almost 3000 square foot home to just over 1000 square feet.

The city view

I was a bit homesick for our home in the city in the last few days before we sold it, as it represented the life we had with the kids.  Man, they grew up fast.  They are now grown and gone, and doing well, so its our turn to start a new adventure.

The farmhouse view

So February was a good month on the Farm – lots of activity, some nervousness, and lots of change.  What an adventure!