4/23/04 Vol. 1 #6

It all just moves faster and faster now.  When I teach classes in sustainable farming I start with a pyramid diagram of the important parts of a farming system in the order of their importance and when they occur during the season.  On the same level I have Weed Control, Irrigation, and Trellising; all of equal importance but also they slap you in the face all at the same time during the year.  Well consider us slapped!  We have spent the week setting up irrigation all over the farm, and getting all of the trellis (1000 feet) up to support the main planting of tomatoes.  Today the tomatoes go in the ground, couldn’t imagine more perfect weather for planting them, they should just hit the ground running!  I got a little conservative this year with only ten varieties, still all of the favorites- Cherokee Purple, Striped German, Green Zebra…only seven weeks until the first Sungolds!

In our spare time we did manage to cover four more of the “big tops” (one of our neighbors drove by and yelled “it looks like the circus has come to town!”), we are getting much faster, only an hour per bay now.  We entertained our first Kindergarten class, wow I think I will stick with teaching college aged kids.  Two more meetings preparing for our new market at Southern Village, I will talk more about this in a week or two but our market association is opeing a third market there on May 6th.  Otherwise we just jumped around like chickens on a hot plate trying to get it all done.

Obviously lots of options for the picture of the week but we agreed that the most important is this one.  Joann Horner and her fiance Brian Gallagher launched their Castlemaine Farm at the Wednesday market.  Joann has worked for us for three years now and is Chief of Staff here at Peregrine Farm, she is days away from closing on her own piece of land.  This year she is growing on a piece of our farm and selling her produce at the Wednesday market and other locations.  Beautiful greens- Kales, turnips, mustard, bok choy and soon swiss chards, cabbages, kohlrabi and more.  We have had a number of our staff head off into their own operations over the years but none that we have been so involved with and encouraged about.  Look for and support them at Wednesday market and of course Joann will be keeping us organized on Saturday mornings through the season.

Picture of the Week
Grand Opening of Castlemaine Farm- Joann Horner and Brian Gallagher

5/5/04 Vol. 1 #8

Happy Cinco de Mayo, too bad there aren’t any peppers to celebrate with!  Crazy week this one, way too much going on.  We barely missed the bullet last Wednesday morning as I last wrote.  I went out to find a heavy frost, the place was white!  All looked good and the tomatoes under the “Big Tops”, that we didn’t cover, looked unfazed; that would pay for those structures alone!  Whew!  It was great to see everyone out on the Farm Tour, a little damp but still a great turn out.  I may be getting old but it is a long weekend for us, especially Saturday following market, but we love to show folks were it all comes from and how we do it.  Lots of rain, 2.6 inches through Monday and things are good and wet now.  The new Poultry Villa is complete and ready for the 60 Heritage turkeys that are due tomorrow morning, it took some focused work to get there, hard to do when we have so many things going on.  Lots of folks have asked about ordering turkeys for Thanksgiving.  I will send out more info as we get a little closer to fall, don’t want to count those turkeys until they are hatched!  We are supposed to be planting peppers this week, one of the last Herculean tasks of the spring, I am thinking that due to the wet soil and hectic schedule that we will wait until early next week, I know, I know don’t worry the pepper roaster will make its debut on schedule.

Tomorrow is the launch of the first really new market in the family of markets that the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Farmers’ Markets operates in maybe 20 years.  While we have moved the original midweek market around town several times we have never operated more than two markets.  This new Thursday afternoon market (3:30-6:30) in Southern Village will be an great new addition.  It is being held on the green across from the Lumina theater where they show the outdoor movies in the summer.  The folks who run Southern Village have been great to work with and are excited to have us there.  Betsy and I are going to attempt to sell there as well, it will be a stretch as we have honed our production to meet our current market demand.  We plan to have most of the vegetables and a large flower selection.  Betsy even plans on being there to sell!

Picture of the Week
Green Boston Lettuce, this is the peak of the season

6/16/04 Vol. 1 #14

Gray, damp, humid, snippets of rain, not much sun.  Nothing grows or blooms fast but the diseases.  Now don’t get me wrong, a little natural water is a welcome thing (our ponds are full again) but a bit of sun in between the showers would be great.  This is exactly the kind of weather that we put the “Big Tops” up for.  In weather like this the tomatoes would go from looking green and lush and in a week start showing brown dying leaves on the bottom and in several more weeks black to the top.  Not so this year!  They are high and dry under the roofs and look fabulous.  There is a little foliage disease here and there but nothing like we have had in years past.  Betsy is also struggling to find enough flowers to cut, with no sun there is are not many buds opening.

Most of the week we have been dealing with the repercussions of what seemed to initially be a short 15 minute thunderstorm on Friday night.  In the daylight after Saturday market we saw the results.  We had a burst of wind over 40 miles per hour and maybe over 50.  Buckets and other things blown all over, limbs up to 4 inches broken off, sunflowers, dahlias, and peppers laid down and the front corner of one of the “Big Tops” leaning to one side.  Every year we have some kind of weather event that makes its mark on the season, some in big ways like Hurricane Fran, some in small ways like this one.  The job on the schedule for this past Monday was to begin trellising the peppers, 48 hours too late for this storm.  Once peppers fall over they are predisposed to lay down the rest of the season, so we put in a string support when they are 12-18 inches high to keep them straight.  As they grow through the season we put additional layers of support in to carry the weight of the fruit and branches.   All of the hot peppers and some of the sweet ones where blown over and then they started to grow upright again giving them a bend in the trunk and branches.  We have them all strung up now but this S curve in the plants and their predisposition to lay down will haunt us all season as we try and manage them.  It is a lot easier to pick peppers if they are standing up and not laying down in the rows or the aisles.

Not all things moved sideways on the farm this week, we did get a lot more planted before the big rain on Friday.  More flowers including the third planting of zinnias and a specialty melon trial we are doing to see if we can have some exotic melons for you in September!  The soil moisture is perfect for pulling weeds in some of the beds we haven’t been able to take care of while picking blueberries and the staff trellised quite a few of Betsy’s flowers (so they won’t get blown over!).  The turkeys are having a grand time out in the big world, running around under the hydrangeas and viburnums and eating all kinds of weed seeds and bugs!

Picture of the Week
Modern art pepper plants

8/18/04 Vol. 1 #22

Betsy says if that was a vacation then don’t ask her to go again!  Mostly due to the potential of the incoming storms we worked our tails off!  Normally on August break we do a little farm work and then take it easy but between crops that had to be harvested and battening down the hatches we only really felt like we had one slack day.  Oh well only six weeks to go until the Big break.  Until Hurricane Fran in 1996 we didn’t even think about big storms.  It’s the wind that really has us jumping, with all of these greenhouses that are like big sails we have to be conservative when it comes to the forecasts for wind.  Now every two years or so we have a fire drill taking plastic off greenhouses and tying down all of the equipment that normally is just strewn around the farm like five gallon buckets and other light items.  This time the wind didn’t come but as you all know, as of early Saturday morning they were calling for up to 60 miles per hour winds.  Our “Big Tops” are supposed to take up to 70 mph but who wants to try it? So we uncovered them knowing that  the rain would then do such damage to the crops under them (the tomatoes for sure) that we would have a loss there.  This is not a drive the car into the garage kind of job, it takes hours and it can’t be windy so we have to make these calls a day or more in advance.  So we spent the better parts of Thursday and Friday securing things and then parts of Saturday and Sunday untying things.  Now believe me we are glad the storms did not come but it sure didn’t make for a relaxing break!

Other exciting news is that we are headed to Turin, Italy in late October for a first ever international small farmer congress being put on by the Slow Food organization.  We are honored to have been nominated by the local Slow Food group and then to have been accepted to attend along with 500 other producers from the US and a total of 5000 worldwide!  Slow Food is a group that originated in Italy, about 20 years ago, which is dedicated to the preservation and enjoyment of local, handcrafted foods like you find at market.  Every two years they have a huge exposition in Turin displaying and tasting artisanal foods from around the world called the Salone de Gusto.  For the first time ever they are overlapping that event with this congress of small producers called Terra Madre where we will participate in workshops and discussions on sustainable ways of producing great foods.  Incredibly they are paying for all of our expenses except for our plane tickets!   We have asked that they pay for half of our airfare so the local group is having a fund raiser next Wednesday the 25th at Pop’s restaurant in Durham.

Pop’s will donate a portion of the evening’s profits to Slow Food, and the donations will be used to offset the travel costs of two local farmers so that they can attend the Terra Madre conference in Turin, Italy in October. (For more info on Terra Madre, please go to http://slowfoodusa.org/events/terramadre )


We are excited about the possibilities of this trip and hope that we come back with lots of new ideas, maybe the next pepper roaster or something equally fabulous.  We will have more details in future newsletters.

Picture of the Week
Tomatoes, now uncovered, succumbing to foliar disease from too much damp weather.

4/13/05 Vol. 2 #6

You know some days are more glamorous on the farm than others.  Like the Carolina Farm Stewardship Farm Tour days (weekend after next, April 23 and 24) when the place is all buffed up and lots of interested folks come out to see what we are up to, or when the NC State Agroecology program comes out to shoot a video of our operation for students to be able to access online.  These would qualify under the heading of “farmers as rock stars” as one friend of ours likes to say.  Yesterday on the other hand was more along the lines of drudgery, running a jack hammer to be precise.  The “Big Tops”, technically referred to as field scale mutli-bay high tunnels, that we grow our tomatoes and some flowers under have legs that screw into the ground 30 inches deep.  Each of the two units we have cover a quarter acre each and has one hundred plus legs that have to be screwed in.  Sometimes you hit part of the planet.  Last year when we put them up we had to rent a jack hammer and chip out 32 holes.  It might have been one of the longest and exhausting days of my life!  This year we only hit big rock once but yesterday, after I had put if off as long as I could (we have to plant tomatoes next week), up to the rental place I went.  One hole was not too bad but I am still scarred by last year and am rethinking the wisdom of moving these things every year!

It always feels like warm weather is coming when the first Zinnias are seeded.  Last week we planted the first 10 beds and they are up already.  We also planted lots of other warm season crops- sunflowers, tuberoses, calla lilies, lisianthus, cucumbers and artichokes.  In general though we worked between the rains on lots of maintenance tasks, part spring cleaning and part crop management.  We finished most of the big round of weeding which always stirs up lots of rocks which we pick up and have to haul away along with other detritus like branches, pieces of irrigation line and other items laying around before the grass grows over them and they become mower bait.  Pea trellises went up, some irrigation began to be set up (I know it’s raining but we will need it when it starts to get hot), and hydrangeas were cut back.  Not a bad week in all and the new asparagus are up!

Picture of the Week

The happy jack hammer operator

4/20/05 Vol. 2 #7

I can feel the tsunami rolling towards the farm, just over the hill now!  There is always a week about this time of year when the honeymoon is over and we are in the middle of it.  It is a combination of getting ready to plant the big batch of tomatoes and the weather finally warming up enough so that things really start to grow and need attention like irrigation water.  Let’s just add the Farm Tour on top of  the pile while we are at it!  Saturday and Sunday is the Farm Tour.  Our annual opening of the doors to the general public to come see the farm.  Many of you have been on the Farm Tour before and it is a great opportunity to see many of the folks who sell and the Carrboro Market.  Few folks know that the tour was actually Betsy’s brainchild.  Eleven years ago she thought it would be great for customers to be able to go see the market vendors’ farms.  In the end Weaver Street Market sponsored the Tour as a benefit for Carolina Farm Stewardship Association.  Betsy designed the first tour and worked closely with Weaver Street and CFSA on timelines, etc.  Now in it’s tenth year thousands of people go on the tour and it raises thousands of dollars for the work CFSA does.  It is easy to go on the tour.  Just pick up a map at market or Weaver St. or many other local businesses and go to first farm that you want.  The best deal is to buy a button which will be your pass for as many people as you can stuff into one vehicle, for as many farms as you want.  30 farms this year so you will have to choose, it is hard to do more than 3 maybe 4 farms in a day.  In the mean time we will be mowing and picking up around the place, nothing like have hundreds of house guests all at once to make you buff up the joint!  Unfortunately the weather looks a bit mixed for the weekend, Saturday has a front moving in with a chance of rain and then the temperatures dropping with the wind picking up for a brisk Sunday.  Come on out anyway!

We have been moving steadily towards getting the main planting of tomatoes in the ground, got the Big Tops covered, beds prepared, irrigation lines down, row cover laid and today will begin to put up the 1000 feet of trellis to support them all.  It is a lot of work but these luscious fruits are about 15 percent of our business each year so we make sure that it is done right.  While everyone seems to remember us for our peppers (I think it is the hypnotic effect of the roaster in the fall) the tomatoes are a much bigger part of our life.  We have decided to put off the actual planting until early next week due to the weather forecast.  It is critical that they go in the ground and start growing vigorously without any stresses early on, it means much better plants and fruit later.  We had a good frost here on Sunday morning and had a couple of plants in the little tunnels burned a bit so we just want to be careful.  I started the irrigation dance yesterday by getting the pump back down to the pond and pumping water.  Flushed out all of the main lines running up the hill and all across the farm and then the rest of the week we will begin rolling out the irrigation lines, thousands of feet.

Picture of the Week
Just about the whole top of the farm, new flowers in the front, the little sliding tunnels on the left, lettuce in the middle and the Big Tops in the back, come and see it all on the tour.

5/3/06 Vol. 3 #8

Rain, rain, rain marvelous rain!  Another 1.8 inches last Wednesday and Thursday.  Everything looks great, the weeds are growing too but the ponds are full now!  Of course there are always downsides to everything but considering the need for the water I won’t whine too much.  We are in the middle of lettuce season and when the plants are getting big enough to harvest lots of rain makes them very fragile and susceptible to disease.  We plant the lettuce three rows to the bed twelve inches apart so there is not much air flow around the plants when they get to harvest stage.  It is like your closet in the middle of the humid summer, fungus and mold loves to grow in these conditions.  There is a soil borne lettuce disease appropriately called “bottom rot” because that is what it does.  Our strategy for control is raised beds, many years in the crop rotation, and careful watering at the late stages.  Well just before the rains started I irrigated, as I get to where I never believe we will actually get rain, then we got over three inches in the last week.  We have seen a fair amount of the problem but I think have worked through all the bad beds.  Adding insult to injury I had to cut Weaver Street Market’s lettuce in the rain last Thursday.  I waited as long into the afternoon as I could hoping the rain would stop as wet lettuce is very tender and frankly cutting in the rain is not much fun.  Finally I gave up and spent two hours hunched over with lettuce knife in hand.  Of course by the time I got to Weaver Street’s back door the rain had ended but they had the lettuce they needed, such is the life of a produce grower.

Yesterday was the second installment of covering the Big Tops.  This time it was the set that covers Betsy’s flowers that don’t like to be wet when it’s time to cut them.  Four bays each covered with 30′ X 100′ sheets of plastic.  We had the perfect windless morning and the A team on hand to perform.  After three years of trying different approaches we now have settled on a four person system.  Two people control the corners on one end and we pull the plastic over the top from one end to the other.  Betsy is working a long push pole moving down the length of the tunnel helping the plastic over the top and I scamper around, some on a step ladder, some on the ground pulling the leading edge down as we make progress down the tunnel.  Finally with it all draped over the top we clip the starting end on to the end bow and then got to the opposite end and pull the excess down that way and clip that end off.  With these tunnels the clips just hold the ends in position.  The plastic is really held on with a roping system that criss crosses over the top of the tunnels and are anchored on the legs.  It is quite a show as Betsy and Joann pull the rope back and forth over the top as Rett and I follow tightening it.  We approached a new world record, covering four bays clipped and roped in three and a half hours!  We may be heading out on the road to make the big money!

Pictures of the Week

The upper pond last fall is now finally full!  This is two months worth of irrigation water.

10/19/06 Vol. 3 #28

Wow, has it really been a month?  We have moved heaven and earth (literally) around here to get things mostly to bed for the winter.  We took the turkeys in for processing and it is always a long and exhausting day, up early catching them before daylight and then watching over things at the processing plant.  As a whole they looked really good, a bit lighter in weight than last years but the quality seems good.  They are now down at the freezer plant sleeping until Thanksgiving.  Our focus then turned to getting the soil and cover crops ready for the winter and next spring.  Miles of pepper trellis had to be deconstructed first and the landscape fabric that we use for mulch in the hot peppers had to come up.  Then the endless tractor driving.

I spend more time on the tractor during this time of year than all the rest of the year combined.  Days and days of going round and round.  First all the remaining crops have to be mowed down so they will more easily till into the soil.  Before the soil turning begins I have to spread what ever mineral amendments the soil tests (that I took last month) indicate we will need to grow next years crops.  Not too bad this fall, only a bit of lime and even less phosphorus (P) and potassium (K).   Then the heavy metal comes out in the shape of a heavy disk harrow that cuts the soil a few inches and throws some of it over the crop residue.  Then a pass with the spring tooth field cultivator which rips and lifts the soil about every foot and about a foot deep.  After this lifting another pass with the disk to really cut those crop residues into the top soil.  Now the heavy work is done, the soil is loose but the tractor driving is far from done.  Any crop that gets planted before late April next year goes onto a raised bed, this is primarily so the soil drains and warms up faster in the cool of spring.  Without a raised bed it is almost impossible to prepare the soil for planting when we need to in February, March and April.  So round and round I go again with a four disk hiller, throwing up the loose soil into rough ridges.  200 beds raised  (20,000 feet and two acres) and another three quarters of an acre in what I call flat fields,  thankfully we don’t have to plant and take care of that all at once!  As Betsy says “It would make it hard to get up in the morning to face it”.  Finally it is time to spread the cover crop seeds.  On the tractor once again to spin out the grain crops, rye and oats, depending what cash crop will follow it, 400 pounds total.  On foot now I follow the grains with the legumes, hairy vetch and crimson clover,  to fix the nitrogen to feed the cash crops, using a chest spreader to spin them over the rough ground.  The rains came beautifully the day after I finished and the cover crops look beautiful.

The last big project is to move one of the sets of “Big Tops”, the big four bay high tunnels that cover a quarter of an acre.  Need to get them out of the way so I can get that last bit of soil prepared for next spring.  We will reconstruct them in their new field sometime later this winter.  We did get all the parts down and moved out of the way, what remains is to unscrew the legs from the ground, today and tomorrow and it should all be done.  We have had a pretty good frost and the dahlias are blackened along with other scattered damage.  Betsy’s flowers for next year are going in, in small lots.  Larkspur, bachelors buttons, Gloriosa Daisy, the tulips are planted in their crates for the winter chill period.  The vegetables for Thanksgiving are really starting to grow, even the Brussels Sprouts that struggled in the late summer heat have come out of it and are putting on good new top growth.

My much anticipated hiking trip to Paria Canyon in southern Utah turned out radically different than we had expected to say the least.  Most of this walk is through very narrow slot canyons (some of the longest in the world).  It requires perfect weather because of the danger of flash flooding.  We new it had flooded two days before we headed in and that the forecast was for 50% chance of rain the next day but clear after that.  Eight of us started in down the muddy river bed only to be stopped after 4 miles by a rescue helicopter landing in front of us.  The forecast had changed and flash floods were a distinct possibility.  We were given no choice, we had to get out of the canyon.  At least several of us got a free helicopter ride over the incredible landscape.  That left us to come up with plan B for ten people.  We ended up in Zion National Park and had a great time in an equally incredible landscape, just not what we had planned so long for.  I guess I will just have to plan another trip!

So we are off Monday, to Italy, for the Slow Food Terra Madre conference.  We already have a full list of farmers’ markets we want to go see and people we want to talk to.  Our delegation will be blogging from Torino and Betsy and I are scheduled for Friday the 27th.  You can follow our groups experiences at the Slow Food Triangle website.  Also while we are gone you can eat some of our heritage turkeys and support our friends at the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy in Pittsboro by having dinner at Panzanella restaurant.  For the fourth year they are having a Heritage Turkey Dinner (with our turkeys again this year) and 10% of the proceeds go to ALBC.  Unfortunately we will miss it but you all can enjoy it for us.  Look for another newsletter from us just before Thanksgiving with news from Italy and updates on the pre-Thanksgiving market.  Until then remember the Carrboro Market is open until Christmas, so keep on shopping with the rest of the market vendors.

4/19/07 Vol. 4 #5

This is one of the pivotal weeks of the year, tomato week.  The whole focus is on getting ready to plant the big main crop of tomatoes and there are a lot of steps in the process.  Tomatoes are a major part of our business and we pay special attention to making sure they very happy.  Of course like everything on the farm we premeditatedly began this dance last summer when we took soil tests to make sure the tomatoes would have just the right amounts of mineral nutrients, especially lime and potassium which they need more of than any other crops.  Then in September we work those minerals into the soil and raise up the beds we will plant the tomatoes into and seed a cover crop of clover and oats.  This cover crop will hold the soil in place all winter, take up any extra nitrogen that may still be in the ground from previous crops and grow more organic matter to further enrich the soil for the coming tomatoes.  A month ago we tilled the tops of those beds, turning that cover crop in so it could begin to decompose and release its good nutrients for the soon to be planted small tomato plants.  Saturday I tilled those beds again, revealing a beautiful rich soil but we are far from ready to plant.  Yesterday after patiently waiting for the incessant winds of Monday and Tuesday to stop we started early (hence the reason for a late newsletter) in calm conditions and pulled the huge 30′ by 100′ sheets of plastic over the Big Tops, under which the tomatoes will grow.  New crew this year as the only people who have ever helped us do this job in the previous three years were Rett and Joann, it went flawlessly.  Under the shelter of the big plastic roofs, the beds can now be covered with the woven landscape fabric we use to keep the weeds down and warm the soil a bit.  A drip irrigation line runs under the fabric because from here on we have to give the tomatoes all the water they will need.  Finally 90 metal posts are driven into the ten beds of this planting and 1000′ of fencing that we use for trellis to support the plants will be hung from them.  By the end of today all will be ready to plant.  The hundreds of little seedlings are waiting in the cold frames, getting toughened up by the breezes and full sun.  Monday they will all be tucked into that beautiful soil, ready to grow up those trellises and give us lots of tasty fruit!

Saturday and Sunday is the Farm Tour, 1:00-5:00 each day.  Our annual opening of the doors to the general public to come see the farm.  Many of you have been on the Farm Tour before and it is a great opportunity to see many of the folks who sell and the Carrboro Market.  Now in it’s twelfth year, thousands of people go on the tour and it raises thousands of dollars for the work Carolina Farm Stewardship Association does.  Sponsored by Weaver Street Market, who does an incredible amount of work to promote the tour and local agriculture, it is easy to go on the tour.  Just pick up a map at the Carrboro Farmers’ Market or Weaver St. Market or many other local businesses and go to first farm that you want to see.  The best deal is to buy a button ($30) which will be your pass for as many people as you can stuff into one vehicle, for as many farms as you want.  34 farms this year so you will have to choose, it is hard to do more than 3 maybe 4 farms in a day.  In the mean time we will be mowing and picking up around the place, nothing like have hundreds of house guests all at once to make you buff up the joint!  Come on out and see what we have been up to, the weather looks to be perfect!

Picture of the Week
Putting the final touches on the tomato trellis under the roof on a gray day.

4/26/07 Vol. 4 #6

Farm tour weekend, wow, always enjoyable and always long days.  We had our usual modest sized crowds which makes it much easier for us to visit with everyone and answer their specific questions.  Some of the farms, especially those with animals, have told me that they had more than 1000 visitors!  There is no way we could deal with numbers like that and enjoy it as much as we do.  It was great to see everybody especially our customers from market, we also get quite a few people who are farming or are seriously looking into it and they ask really good questions about why we do things in certain ways.  One of the highlights was the three van loads of farmers and extension agents who drove all the way up form Louisiana for the tour!

With the hubbub of the farm tour behind us we now turn to the next big projects on the list.  Yesterday we covered the four bays of the Big Tops, over the flowers, moving quickly before the winds came up.  We can now begin the last cultivation and weeding in those crops before we have to start trellising them in the next few weeks.  There are only a few big “hurdles” we must clear each year so we can move on with certain crops and this is one of them.  They punctuate the season which is dominated by little steps each day on the way to the end of the year.  Sliding the tunnels, preparing for planting tomatoes, covering the Big Tops, preparing for planting peppers; those are the ones that always loom large in my mind, three down, one to go.  The big planting of tomatoes went in Monday and they are very happy with this warm weather.  “Only” seventeen varieties in this planting including some new large sauce types from Italy and a cherry from Italy which is one of the Slow Food Presidia, special crops or foods that have been designated as such to help save them.  Here is a link to more information about Slow Food’s efforts to save endangered foods.  Pea trellis went up yesterday, the sugar snap peas have grown out of the freeze damage of a few weeks ago and are wanting to climb.  More flowers and vegetables have been planted and now we settle in on the chores of cultivating, trellising and keeping them watered.

Well many of you have been asking about the turkeys and if we will be raising them this year.  We normally would have the little poults here by now but have been waiting to receive word about the status of the new processing plant.  I finally talked with them on Tuesday and while they are making good progress on building it they could not assure me that it would be ready for Thanksgiving.  So the decision has been made for us.  No turkeys this year.  After two years of the stress of not knowing if there would be a place to have them processed we feel it is best to wait until we know for sure there will be a facility.  This is one of the big differences with turkeys as the heritage types, like the Bourbon Reds that we raise, take a full six months to grow so we need to be assured of the outcome far in advance.  With chickens they only take a little over two months to raise and are easier to get the chicks for, so those farmers producing them can still wait and have several flocks this year when the plant is ready to go.  Sadly no excellent turkey for Thanksgiving or stories of Mr. Tasty as the season unfolds.

Picture of the Week
Just covered Big Tops and newly trellised Sugar Snap Peas