Tuesday, April 8, 2008

a hot day

We ran out of the office at 8am and here I am back here at 5pm, and boy, have we done a lot today! I finished spreading fertilizer on all the beds in the first field, then we put the rototiller on the tractor & started working up those beds. I got to rototill most of the field, practicing driving straight & making efficient turns at the ends of the rows. It's harder than you'd think! Nate finished chisel plowing the rest of the field in the meantime. After I made a pass with the rototiller, Dave came along & marked the beds (only the first 7 rows for today's planting) with the third tractor. Below: L has been chisel-plowed, R has been rototilled

This photo shows the beds after marking them, ready to be seeded:

You might think that 3 tractors would be enough to have on a 6 acre farm, but, lo & behold, up the road at 11am comes a big truck pulling a trailer upon which sits our newest member of the farm family! Mr. John Deere 5325.

The guy gave us the full run-down of every single part of this beast, including the electronically adjusted hydraulics, the 3-point hitches in back AND front, and the air conditioning. I can't imagine myself ever driving something across a field with air conditioning on, but plenty of people do it all the time. This thing was a special order with customized adjustments catered exactly to the bed size Dave is using for his veggies. It has super narrow tires so that it fits into the rows next to the beds & doesn't compact a lot of soil or use precious field space. It has a high clearance so that you can drive right over tall crops without flattening them! And it is green & yellow & shiny.

In the afternoon we took the old, rusty, boring tractor out and hitched up the manure spreader. We watched Dave quickly load it with compost (in the lower field: W1) & spread it out on the rows. It looks really cool cause stuff flies everywhere-- unfortunately there were a lot of rocks mixed into the compost which also fly everywhere-- we stood at a safe distance. It feels awful to be putting rocks back into such a rocky soil to begin with, but the compost was like 4x cheaper than what the organic stuff cost. Maybe next time we don't order those rocks though. Here's what a lot of the soil around here looks like already... even though it's been worked & picked through for 10 years (Farmer Dave calls it "bony soil"):

Nate tried his hands at the front-loader & spreader operation & spent the next hour cruisin' through the field on that thing, shooting compost all over! He's got a nice sunglazed face now & a big ego from it. Driving big machinery will do that to you.

Meanwhile, Dave & I did the first ground planting of the season. 7 rows of peas, sugar snap & shelling peas. We took the old "Planet Jr." (it's really old) out & filled it with peas (we first mixed in microbial innoculant that will allow the peas to fix nitrogen into the soil). We planted them about 3/4" deep, with 2 rows in a bed. Many people use these "push seeders" still, the old models were built to last many years & do a great job still. They have little plates under the seed box that allow you to select different sized holes for different sized seed. Now we have seed in the ground waiting for the rain! Yay!

A "Planet Jr." Push Seeder:

Last night I put 8 fertile eggs underneath that black hen, and she's been sitting there all day. With a little luck, if all those eggs really are fertile & she does her mama job, there should be little chicks breaking out in 21 days. She's an Australorp, but her babies will probably be mostly Rhode Island Reds, all from different hens maybe, and several roosters too! Hopefully she won't get confused.

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