Friday, April 25, 2008

appropriate technology?

Farmer Dave has always grown specific types of veggies in 50-cell trays, and the rootballs on these happen to not fit so perfectly into the new transplanter. Maybe next year he will only grow in the 128-cell kind, to make the transplanting easier. But in the meantime, we have a thousand large-cell broccoli & cabbage seedlings ready to go in the ground! So we'll have to do it the old-fashioned way. First, we rototill.

Then we mark the beds. I am learning to drive straight on this thing!

Then we go along the bed with the trays of plants, and drop each one at 1-foot intervals, with 2 rows per bed. The bed-marker makes this really easy & exact.

Then we get down on our knees (or bend over) and tuck them into the ground. Thankfully we had 3 volunteers helping us plant them! Including a 2-yr-old, who kept pointing at the dropped plants & exclaiming, "poor little guy!" It was pretty hot out, and I really felt for them, their roots exposed and all.
But we got them all in, and turned the irrigation on!

We also planted potatoes today. 1,000 pounds of potatoes. I don't have any pictures because we worked really fast & efficiently. A summary: we had plowed the field a week or two ago, then Dave disced it, & the rye grass was pretty much dead. So I went in with a shovel-like blade on the back of the new tractor (YES I drove the new tractor!) & made furrows in the middle of each bed. Then we dropped potatoes into the furrows, at a spacing of 8", 12" for the big spuds. Lots of varieties-- reds, yellows, blues. Usually Dave does this by hand, carrying a bucket along & throwing them into the furrow. But we thought maybe we could save our backs & time if we hooked up a cart to the back of a tractor & sat on it with buckets of potatoes, & threw them in as we rode over the field. All in all, perhaps it wasn't faster, perhaps it saved our backs a little, but we used a lot of diesel. And it was pretty noisy. Dave flew over the furrows with the fertilizer spreader, dumping some nitrogen in there (potatoes are heavy feeders). And then we go in with some more shovel-blades & cover up the potatoes, making little "hills" in each row. Lots of work. Seems like we always work overtime on Fridays. And Nick made his train into the city, although sweaty, dirt-covered, & exhausted.

I'm getting ready for a nice weekend on the farm, getting ready for my sheep to come! Here's the electronet fencing I'll be using. It will tie into the existing deer fence that Dave has up around each field.

Here's this nice place I cleaned out for them in the barn:

Now I need to fill it with straw, and get some hay, grain, salt, & minerals for them.

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