Late winter and even early spring sounds are returning to the farm these days. The crows and ravens are making a lot of noise as they are now in mating season and I expect the pileated woodpeckers and partridge will start their drumming soon. We have had a resident flock of snow buntings hanging around the fields all winter. I love those little birds and love to watch them gracefully move across the fields as a flock, swooping this way and that. I was also amazed at their ability to clean the seeds off of weeds that escaped us during the summer:-).
We are now ramping up to our third season. We had a great year last year despite the damp weather and are hoping for a sunnier season this year...farmers are always hopeful about the weather:-) Our milder winter has made life relatively easy for a farmer and I am feeling rejuvenated after the winter break. Even though there are no crops to look after in the winter, there seems to be plenty to do in the winter including cutting firewood, hauling and turning compost, planning, bookkeeping, ordering plants and seeds, sorting and delivering storage vegetables...the list goes on. The pace is definitely a little less phrenetic though so there is more time for rest, recreation and reflection.
The seeds are all here and I started planting onions and leeks around the first of March and the tomatoes and peppers are now sprouting as I write. Of course, I have planted too many and will now struggle to fit them all into my field plans:-). We will be expanding our plantings a bit this year, but not too much as we are starting to reach our limits in terms of human resources. We are going to work a bit the fine tuning of the farm operations, seeking efficiency and making our work easier. It is always tempting to plant more than we can handle, but crops always end up being neglected or wasted somewhere as a result. We are also planning to plant a few perennial crops this year also, including dwarf bush cherries and asparagus.
This years intern crew is almost all confirmed with just one position open at this point. I am really excited about our new working and learning team. A few other folks will be joining us for shorter periods of time and it should be a very dynamic group. Intern reports from last years interns; Eric Wallace is starting his own farming endeavour in St Adolphe near Winnipeg, Liang Chen is working on developing garden programs at summer camps, and Miles Clayden is doing brilliantly at medical school in Saint John.
We now have a waiting list for our weekly vegetable boxes (CSA) but should be able to add some folks on depending on how many return subscribers we have. We got great feedback from our customer survey last year and are making small improvements there also. It was so great to see all the positive feedback we got when I received the survey results in January... quite reaffirming. We have to change our on line sign up service as our old service provider raised their prices, from affordable to ridiculous, but we should have a new system up and running soon.
Lots of other plans on the go this year including a new farmhouse and hopefully a little music festival in the late summer if all goes well.