Peregrine Farm News Vol. 10 #11, 4/19/13

What’s been going on!

One of those a chicken on a hot plate weeks with lots of things going on that needed to coordinate well.  I would say mostly successful.  The main task was to get the last few parts of the tomato Big Tops installed and then pull the plastic cover over the bows.  In the rebuild we are using some new techniques and materials but it went smoothly.  In our second year together as a team, the four of us have the covering dance down to a well choreographed ballet.

Jennie and Liz start by finding the lead edge that will be pulled over the bows and “fluff” the rest of the plastic so it will follow easily.  With me on a 10’ step ladder I lead one corner over one thirteen foot high end hoop with a rope tied to it, handing it to Liz who then pulls will almost all her might while Jennie pushes the plastic up and over the top webbing with a long handled broom.  As Jennie gets near the halfway point I run to the far end and climb another ladder and pull the other corner over, with rope, hand it to Betsy and then I begin to move down the side of the tunnel flapping and pulling the edge down.

Corners tied off I use the ladders at each end to clip a piece of wide webbing onto the end hoops that holds the ends of the plastic to the frame while Betsy feeds one of the ropes, that actually hold the plastic onto the frame, down the leg row to the far end.  With two of us on each side we pass the rope back and forth over the top, two people managing the rope and two tightening and tying it down to the top to the legs.  Rinse and repeat with another rope and we are done.  40 minutes elapsed time.

The rest of the week consisted of cultivation, weeding, trellising peas, planting and getting ready for planting.  The tomato beds are all ready for covering with landscape fabric and trellis building, might start today, depends on how crazy the weather is this afternoon with the next front moving in.  Always extra-curricular activities like teaching class, insulating the new building, Farm to Fork picnic meetings and on, must be spring.

Pictures of the Week


Way too much time on a ladder


Beautiful spring cover crops and freshly turned peppers beds, the Big Tops cresting the hill in the distance

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Peregrine Farm News, Vol. 9 #19, 7/25/12, The Big Storm

What’s been going on!

Another late newsletter this one due to cleaning up from Tuesdays big storm and while some folks have seen pictures on Facebook, this is the official (long) version.  We know lots of folks had some kind of impact because of the storm from trees and limbs down to power out, some for 24 hours or more.  In the ranking of storms we have weathered over the last three decades this relatively small thunderstorm stands at number two in intensity and number one in monetary damage.  Of course hurricane Fran will (or hopefully will) hold the top spot forever in wind speed, flooding, trees down and length of power outage but we had no serious damage to any building or equipment from it and not too much crop loss.

We have had record rainfall events (10 inches in an hour and subsequent flooding), we have seen the record snowfall (20 plus inches), huge ice storms and hail storms but most of those just resulted in loss of power.  This storm was fast and hard.  The big straight line winds came screaming from the west and from our experiences in Fran (80 mph winds for hours) and other hurricanes like Isabel (60 mph winds for a long time) we estimate these winds at 65-75 mph but for only about 10 minutes, the rain lasted maybe 45 minutes then it was over.

As we stood in the living room looking out towards the field we could see debris flying through the air until three large oaks and one huge maple came down and blocked most of our view.

As soon as we could, we headed out on damage assessment and to check on our 90 year old neighbor (no damage there) which required us to drive around through the field because the driveway was blocked by some huge limbs.  The turkey fence was blown down and the turkeys dazed but we quickly got it back up.

Next check was on the rest of the buildings, all unscathed except the well house which was blown over and exploded with water flowing out of one pipe, a quick fix.

Of course we had immediately seen that the Big Tops had sustained tremendous damage but they were the last thing we got a close up look at.  Of the eight bays only two remained undamaged.  As they got further away from our neighbor’s western tree line the bent metal and torn plastic got worse.

These Haygrove tunnels are designed to take 70 mph winds and we have seen them through some big storms with winds in the 50’s and 60’s and have uncovered them when hurricanes are on their way but this was so sudden there was no way to anticipate or know that such winds were on the way.

With the huge sheets of plastic now draped all over we quickly, with the good help of a neighbor, got all the plastic off to both reduce further damage to the crops or what frame was left undamaged.

With the early triage done and no power, we went out to dinner and a few nerve easing beers.  First thing Wednesday morning we dismantled the worst of the mangled metal so we could pick tomatoes today.

We have had an amazing outpouring of support and offers of help and we cannot thank you all enough for your concerns but at this point we have everything cleaned up or stabilized enough that it can wait until we get to it either in a few days or this fall and winter.

Many have asked were they insured and the answer is no because we were under the impression that most companies won’t insure such structures because this is the kind of thing regularly happens to greenhouses but I have now talked to several farmers who have gotten theirs insured.  We will certainly pursue that after we rebuild these.  In the meantime our best estimate is $10,000 worth of damage.

So we were already worn down after this wicked hot summer and now more so.  After this Saturdays market we begin our annual summer break.  A bit different this year spanning two weeks instead of one.  Betsy and I will attempt to take most of the two weeks off while Jennie is here the first week to harvest a little and do the other chores to keep the place rolling while Liz takes the week off, then they will trade places the second week.  Not really sure how this will work but don’t be surprised to see at least Jennie or Liz at market selling for us, might be Wednesdays only or could be one of the two Saturdays.  Probably no newsletter the first two weeks of August either.  When we return on the third week of August it should be time for the first pepper roasting of the season, until then enjoy and thank you for your support.

What’s going to be at the market? Continue reading