6/29/05 Vol. 2 #17

WooWee!  It’s raining!  I was starting to get a bit nervous and told Betsy that if we didn’t get rain early in the week that we would have to start pulling water from the upper pond, as the lower pumping pond was getting too low.  I hate to have to start using that water as it is a sign of serious drought.  The upper pond is two months worth of water and once we start using it there is no filling it back up until next winter.  The lower pond, while not very deep, is easily replenishable both by it’s slow running spring and the gravity feed line that we have into the creek (which is also slow running right now).  Last week I said that we were pumping about 10,000 gallons a day but the creek and spring are only giving us back about 5 – 6,000 gallons a day.  After two weeks of solid irrigation you can see the problem.  With this rain headed into it’s third day this will buy us the time we need for the water to fill back up.

Of course with the rain I am now kicking myself for not having gotten more ground ready for seeding of the summer cover crops (he is never happy).  The forecast has been for such dry weather, including headed into this bit of rain, that we didn’t want to put seed out there that would just sit there and maybe not come up at all.  We have only had a bit over a half an inch so it’s not so wet that I won’t be able to get out there and till the soil soon afterwards but it sure would have been nice to get them in with this gentle rain.  I did get the sliding tunnel ends seeded yesterday just as the rain started but still have another half acre waiting.

The second round of Turkeys did not arrive last week and we are hoping that they will make it this week.  We are working with our processor, who also raises his own birds, to buy the 35 broad breasted birds that we need to round out the flock.  It looks as if the bronze variety that we want to get may, once again, not be available and so we may have to get whites again.  Like I say, it is always something new with this turkey venture!  Otherwise things are settling back down to more normal pace now that the blueberry season is over.  We are back to our normal 70 hours a week of hired help down from a high of almost 200 hours two weeks ago!  Soon we will be in our mid summer routine of picking tomatoes twice a week, peppers once a week and general chores the rest of the time.  When it gets really hot we like to maintain a steady and not too frantic pace, better for the mind and the body!

Picture of the Week
Even on a dreary day the Zinnias are bright
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9/21/05 Vol. 2 #28

Congratulations to Sheila Neal, the Carrboro Farmers’ Market manager, for the birth of a big ol’ boy this Tuesday!  She and Matt and baby are all reportedly doing great.

Well this is the last weekly newsletter for the season.  Saturday is our last regular market (don’t forget the special Tuesday before Thanksgiving market!) and we are very ready to wrap it up for the year.  With all the extra curricular things going on around here as well as the heat and drought, that are lasting way too far into September for my comfort, we are glad that we can concentrate on putting the farm to bed for the winter.  After all tomorrow is the first day of fall and it’s going to be in the 90’s!  We are only a few days shy of the record for days over 90 in a year, I am sure we will not break it but it’s been painful all the same.

We are slowly catching up on things here at the farm.  I need to spend some quality time on the tractor over the next few days getting soil ready to seed the winter cover crops.  It is hard to work the soil the way I like to see it when it is this dry, partly because it doesn’t cut as well but also the remaining crop debris don’t decompose and incorporate well either.  Besides it is dusty work and we would prefer for our farm to stay on this side of the road!  We are also getting close to beginning the next season.  We plant almost a half and acre of flower crops between now and mid November.  These over wintered flowers need a cold period and time to develop a good root system so that in the spring they take off and make vigorous growth and fantastic blooms.  The staff knows that the end is near too and are already transitioning to their winter occupations.  A few more weeks and Betsy and I will be “empty nesters”!  Just us and the turkeys.

It appears that we have lost a few turkeys, either to dogs or coyotes or humans.  Last Friday we came out to find a bunch of birds out in the road and the fence suspiciously bent over.  We got them all back in and then found one of the Broad Breasted Bronzes a bit beaten up and moved it to the hospital pen.  Later I found another seriously injured and we had to kill it.  When they get all stirred up for some reason they just get crazy.  After all they are teenagers right now with lots of hormones raging around.   Finally they all calmed down and I was able to get a count.  36 Bronzes and 39 Bourbon Reds, just as it should be but only 16 Blue Slates, missing three.  No signs of a scuffle so we are suspicious of turkey napping.  So now there are 91 left.  I finally had time last night to bring the turkey order list up to date and half are reserved at this time.  While there is time left, those of you who have not yet sent in your reservation should do so to make sure you get the size and breed you prefer.

One change this year from last.  After all of the hassle of trying to keep the birds fresh/unfrozen and the fact that we are going away again for two weeks prior to Thanksgiving (and have to get Joann to manage the birds while we are away) we are planning on having them processed a few weeks early and freezing them.  Our understanding of the new regulations are that if they are not sold with in three days of processing then they are supposed to be frozen anyway.  Our plan is to pick them up from the freezing plant a few days before the Tuesday pick up day and put them in our cooler in the low 30’s and they will slowly begin the thawing process so that when you get them they will be well on the way to defrosted for cooking on Thursday.  For those of you who want to keep them frozen either for Christmas or later we can keep them frozen for you.

Look for newsletters from us prior to Thanksgiving and then monthly over the winter to let you know what is happening here on the farm.  If we don’t get a chance to say it to you either this Saturday or before Thanksgiving, we do greatly appreciate your support of what we do here at the farm!

Picture of the Week
The quickly disappearing upper pond