Sunday, March 21, 2010

Warm spring = busy spring for farmers!

A nice rosy sunburn on your face is not something you expect in the middle of a Rochester march. But we are managing to get lots done in this amazing weather.

I started tilling today. The first few rows, for peas, carrots, spinach. I'm glad I got it in before the rain starts & it turns cold again.

In the last few days we've done a general farm clean-up, moving sandbags & fenceposts, checking the fields for dropped irrigation parts, etc.
We put up a deer fence around 10 acres, turned it on, and baited it with peanut butter. The fields are dimpled with so many hoofprints that it looks like a herd of moose trampled through. They fertilized for us, it was actually pretty convenient. They enjoyed grazing on our lush winter rye. Now they will learn to respect our boundaries (hopefully)! They could absolutely jump over our one-strand line, but the tactic is pychological.
New farm-hand Don helped show us how you can put fence posts in with the front loader of the tractor-- we got the job done a lot easier than pounding them in by hand with a post-pounder!

We also met a new friend who has horses & needs a place to get rid of their manure--- we were more than willing to take it, especially if she drops it off! It will need a few years to decompose before we use it probably, and we will turn it with the loader to make a rich black compost. I may decide to spread it on fields that we won't be growing in this year... that way it will compost right in the field, building organic matter as we let the fields rest & recoup with a cover crop.A new member of the Mud Creek family was just purchased at an auction in Canandaigua. An Allis Chalmers "G"... one of the few tractors with the engine mounted behind the seat. This makes it an excellent tractor for cultivating rows of vegetables-- you can see everything in front of you & below you, as you scrape the weeds out but leave the broccoli! It's a late 1940's model, but it starts up fine, steers okay, and has 3 gears + reverse, and working hydraulics!
Luke & I have been toying with the idea of converting it to electric--- this has been done on the "G" model tractors by many small vegetable farmers. (www.flyingbeet.com/electricg/)
For now though, since it runs, we will probably use it as-is. I'm trying to decide whether I will buy a set of basket-weeder cultivators to go underneath it. They cost more than the tractor... (and it cost $2000!) Jack says that our other 1940's tractor, Princess Rose III (a Farmall Cub), will be fixed up & ready to cultivate by mid-April. A name for this one? Maybe something with "snail" in it... any suggestions?

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