Morning Emergence of Free Range Hens From Chicken Coop

The Laying Hens are very happy to have the land free of snow! They are laying again with the longer day length and we have eggs for sale at the farm. (Available in the breezeway of the house if we aren’t around.)

Big Pigs that Escaped!

Last week our two big “composting pigs” escaped! We had just mucked out the horse stalls and put the manure in one of our three composting areas. Two “Free Range” hens had made there way into the pen and we left the door open so they could get out. What we didn’t realize was that the door to the pen next door, where the pigs were, wasn’t nailed shut! While we were eating lunch and I was anticipating my afternoon nap with pleasure I looked out the window and saw two 500 lb. pigs rooting around in the horse paddock! Ken and I spent the next 1 1/2 hours chasing pigs before we got them back into their pens. They were out in the woods, in with Mable and finding nuts and grass roots to chew on – having a grand time!

Hoophouse Conversion to Greenhouse

On a good note we have our retrofitted hoophouse/greenhouse up and running with a wood stove installed. The little plants are looking happy. I have more sweet potatoes getting ready to send out shoots that we can plant as slips. Leeks, onions, and early lettuce and Pak Choi growing.

The end of February I visited our daughter, Ellen, in Portland, Oregon and enjoyed attending her graduation from a Chef’s Studio. She has written a blog she writes about her experience and adds recipes. I hope she can post some good ideas for using our produce when the CSA season begins. I also brought back a recipe book written by Robert Renolds, the chef she studied with, From a Breton Garden. I plan to share some of the recipes from it over the season as well.

I never tire of seeing the first Snow Drops of the season. What a harbinger of spring they are. Despite all the snow that lingers around and the cold weather they burst forth with all there faith that spring is here! Ken heard the first Whistling Swans this morning too.  I have been receiving a steady influx of applications for our 2011 CSA garden. We are looking forward to our apprentices arriving the end of the month.  It has been quite a chore this year sorting through work permits for our non-Canadian apprentices, and we hope that everything is in place in time for the start of our apprentice program.

Snow Drops at Orchard Hill Farm
Seedling Trays / First of the Season

Our make shift greenhouse doesn’t have heat yet so I started our first seedling trays yesterday in the house. They will be fine until they germinate and then they will need the sun. When our CSA members eat their first head lettuce and pac choi they can think of how this was the beginning. I enjoyed getting my hands into the potting soil and planting again. A sure sign that I must be in the right profession. Ken is busy doing tractor repairs in his heated workshop.  A good job on a cold raining March day.

When we first started farming we made up a logo with a stump and sucker. (You can still see it on some of our farm road signs.) Ken had spent a lot of time in orchards and was familiar with the site of young suckers growing out of tree stumps. We were  a young farm with new energy starting up out of  my old family farm.  The original farm house, built in 1837, is at the other end of the original farm. My Quaker ancestors cleared this land, but my parents had rented it out for almost 30 years before we started farming again in 1979. There was an old maple tree at the top of the hill that had survived since before the farm land was cleared and in the late 1990’s the old maple fell down in a March ice storm. It gives me great pleasure to see the young sapling growing up beside the old maple stump as a reminder of the life that continues to grow strong on this little farm with deep roots.

Martha and Siblings after the Old Maple Fell

Old Maple in 1996 with Ken and Daughter, Ellen

Stump and Sapling