Coming Out of Hibernation

My last update was over a month ago. A lot has happened, mainly a lot of cold, snow and of late, rain. Just a few days ago I heard our weather guy say we had 24 inches of snow so far this winter, compared to 7 inches last year. We can attest to that. It has made our farm a mud pit. Our sump pump in our basement has kept going off and has not stopped. I honestly believe I can count on one hand the number of days with sunshine. Our area is expecting major flooding this spring due to all the snow up north, but thankfully, we live on high ground. 

We finished up our planning for our poultry and the date to order each batch. We made sure the brooders were covered with tarps. We have two portable brooders that we will use this year for our two batches of turkeys. The brooders aren’t big enough for the batches of chickens we have ordered. So, we decided to convert the turkey house (10’ x 16’) into the new brooder. We had to clean it out. That took 3 front end loads with our tractor. We spent time insulating it and almost have it ready to go for the new babies when they arrive in less than 2 weeks. The turkeys will be in the portable brooders and we just move them into the garage. Of course, we had to clean our garage to make room for the brooder to fit. Over the winter, our garage becomes a catch-all for things we don’t want to haul to the equipment shed. 

We got our bows together for the high tunnel (the equivalent of trusses for a house). We still haven’t been able to install the posts due to the ground being too soggy. We did, however, mud in the garlic. We ended up with 1,550 planted. We used boards to walk on and just pressed the cloves down in the wet ground and covered with compost and straw. I’m sure that isn’t the best method, but we were way too late as it was. We got a dump truck load of organic compost and a dump truck load of mulch delivered. Paul has been using the mulch like crazy spreading it along the pathways we travel with our Polaris vehicles because we have so many ruts from the mud. We got our soil mixture made and started getting ready to plant our seedlings. 

We added more shelving in the nursery to hold more greenhouse trays. We have romaine lettuce, salinova lettuce, cauliflower, red and green cabbage and broccoli planted right now. We have much more to direct seed; however, we need to clean out the caterpillar tunnel. Paul got started on it the other evening, but had to stop in time for poultry chores. He said it is not as muddy as the rest of the garden (except for on the edges). 

We have purchased the lumber for our revised chicken tractor plan (holds a lot more than our current design), but haven’t started building it yet. We have attended several workshops recently (one on soils, one on using social media on the farm) and continued with our various farm classes since we haven’t been able to do much outside. Also, got our taxes done which always takes forever. An interesting thing I learned in the social media class. One of the presenters was from Lincoln University and I was telling her I thought the only way to garden successfully in MO was to grow under cover. She asked me if I knew that MO is the #1 state for growing with high tunnels - #2 is Alaska!!!! Well, that confirmed what I was thinking! 

As I write this, we have enjoyed our first day of daylight savings time. I know there is a lot of likes/dislikes for this “re-setting” of the clocks. However, we really like the extra hour of daylight it gives us in the evening. For some reason, it is like we get more done. We were able to start our poultry chores exactly 1 hour later and that gave us more time to work on the brooder.

We feel very behind in our gardening chores since we haven’t been able to get into the garden and finish the construction of our high tunnel. I’m sure most farmers are feeling the same way! If only, our high tunnel was up. Our winter has been filled with a lot of “if only” daydreams.

Paul Trusty