Spring Time = Peace Signs

We dug out the snow drift that surrounded the greenhouse  a couple weeks ago.  It felt so good to get inside the greenhouse and see the large back pile of potting soil that we unload back in November, still there right where we left it. By the end of May, the pile of soil will have be gone  replaced with an carpet of green transplants blanketing the floor of the greenhouse. The greenhouse was 70 degrees when we walked in on that -2 degree day.  We have turned on the boiler system to get it warming up and running smooth for keep the sprouts at comfortable 70 -75 degrees.  We have started the  onions, celery, herbs, and some flowers things by  the beginning of next week. We usually start the first week in march, but with temps getting so low at night we waited a week to get rock and rolling.

This last week so much snow has melted. I would say that most of the fields in the area are half covered with snow and the rick black soil is warming up fast and melting the surrounding soil. Mud is everywhere.  Mud boots are my daily fashion, they go everywhere with me. The lambs from the Feburary lambing have a spring in jumps and play all day long with each other.

Long term Planning Update at Wally’s Farm

Wally’s farm has been treating us well over the winter months. No big surprises or anything breaking down in this cooler weather. Planning on putting a new roof on in the spring and insulating the attic and the 2nd floor once the weather starts getting its act together.

We printed off maps of the 10 acre property to help us do some future planning. Maps have been sprawled out all over the living room floor the past couple weeks.  Nick and I both love maps.  From our  geography and architecture backgrounds, we  enjoy investigation and research work of mapping.  As farmers we plan  and using it as visual aid. We are brainstorming how existing buildings will be used for specific farm tasks, where perennial fruit, veggies, shrubs and trees  will be planted, where is the best place to have field roads in the annual vegetable fields,  where future irrigation well will be located, where we need utilities( such as electricity and water), future hoop house for season extension, location for wind break, ect.  It is a long list of things, but we know that it is important to think through what we envision for this farm to help us make smart decisions during  the process.  It will take many and be costly to do all these things.
The 5 acres of north section has about 4 acres of mid-late maple and oak growth  that provides shade but is still somewhat thinned out on the  north west  corner of the property. Winter winds find their way to rumble through  the rest of the acreage. We will be  adding a little over 100 trees to the windbreak including: white pine, white spruce, and swamp white oak.  There are shade tolerant trees and shrubs that we will be dispersing throughout the existing maples and that will  create more levels of a canopy and diversity. We will be planting hazelnut trees, elderberries, dogwood, stag horn sumac,  and juneberries. Most of the following are all edible plants too! Which is exciting to think about being able to forage for those in the wooded landscape once they are mature. It isrealistic to know that the wildlife will get to them with more easy and convenience and enjoy them probably even more than us, good old biodiversity. On the north east slope is up for consideration as the location of a small apple orchard (50-60trees) or perennial fruit.  We are going to see a season through before we plant in all of the trees. We need to see how much shade is the other neighboring trees and outbuilding effect the north slope location. We have not seen the spring and summer through at Wally’s, see what patches of plants that will pop up here and there. The other option would be on  the south half section of the farm south on the west side of the barn.  Click on the maps on the right to view full size images of ariel photos of the farm that have concept idea markings.

The south side has older out building including a the barn and old livestock shack, both at one time had electricity and water, it is not been used for years. We will be doing some work in early summer to get it back up and running. There are old fuses that we will replace with junction boxes, along with many other little surprises we are sure off.  We see the older live stock building being revitalizing for use as the harvest and pack shed.  Farm members will be able to pick up their shares up here when we move the vegetable fields over to the farm in 2015. South of the pack shed we will be building hoop houses or high tunnels for season extension and growing into the winter months.  Our goal is to grow primarily greens (spinach, tatsoi, kale, ect) for those cold winter months for as long as we can ! Considering there is access to water electricity,  the barn would act as a wind break from the north west winds, we figure this would be a great place for the hoop houses.  We will have about 4 acres in annual vegetable production  for a majority of the southern section.  We will be planting alfalfa and clover in the future vegetable fields and then cut it and disc it into the soil. Along the western edge of the south section property line we will be planting small shrubs and trees to separated the neighboring fields.

Caring on Traditions: Barn Quilts

Holly and I have been working together on design a barn quilt over the past month. Admiring the culture of quilt blocks throughout our county road travels, we wanted to add to the charm, and make own for  the big red barn at the Neaton farm. We both have an appreciation for quilting. My grandmother taught me how to quilt when I was a teenager. Together we  made a large quilt for me to take away to college.  We did all that work together that summer before I left for school. Holly loves enjoys quilting also. The project is more of a layout and construction then anything after the design is choose. I enjoy it immensely, it is the design build/geometry lover in me!

We first choose a block design. We choose the kayak design for its simple shapes that made a rounded layered looking ring- simple beautiful, yet Looking for particular shapes that may symbolize certain aspects of our farm, we found the kayak versatile and beautiful. Our color palette is originating for the smaller fertility symbol that Nick’s grandmother, Jackie, designed and crafted  over 20 years ago. We are painting two large 4×8 3/4″ think exterior plywood boards for our sturdy canvas. We are priming the boards and ready to finalize the design to start translating to the larger scale. We will show you the final process. We will be  making another barn quilt for  Wally’s new farm next winter, and hopefully by then we will have the process down. We would love to see other barn quilts throughout Wright County! If you have any particular designs you would like for a barn quilt at our new farm, let us know!

Marching Forward

We will be in the greenhouse regularly. If you are in the neighborhood feel free to stop by and catch some warm temps in the greenhouse and seed with us. If you come, mud boots and sunglasses are something that make the experience more comfortable!  Holly will be doing another round of  lambing again in April, around the 10th, it is quite a site to see!  We are planning a get to know your farm event in the second weekend of May. Keep you up to date on all of the future food! We have a hand full of shares still left. You can sign up.

We are so excited that the farm is alive with green again. So long winter hello spring!

Farmer Amelia

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