A Farm Winter

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We are often asked what we do in the winter months, “when nothing grows?”  Well, for one thing, we fantasize about doing all of the things we dream about doing in the summer; reading books, knitting, catching up with friends, painting the walls, skiing, vacationing, and outdoor activities, and we do manage to accomplish a few of those things, mostly in January.  (I did manage to make a few pairs of wool mittens and read a few books while Mike relentlessly loaded logs into our wood furnace.)  I also cook more, sometimes enthusiastically and sometimes not.  I have been baking sourdough bread and I made some wonderful soups this winter, and some that were very strange indeed, and this does not count the kettles-full of whole pie pumpkins and stale bread that I have cooked up for our chickens during the coldest spells. In reality, we end up doing things that are on a different, less appealing list, (rhymes with schmaxes) and a lot of farm planning, and paperwork for organic certification.  And then there is the planning for CSA season!

Checking in the seed orders as they come in.

Checking in the seed orders as they come in.

We spend quite a bit of time putting together our seed order and deciding what plants did well last year, which ones were member favorites and what vegetables were requested by members for the next season.  Our seed order takes about a week to put together.  We order organic seed from a few different suppliers and if the seed that we are looking for is not available as organic we try to find it elsewhere or order certifier approved, untreated seed if we can’t find what we are looking for.  We put the finishing touches on our crop plan and planting schedule for the next season, too.  Everything gets planted on a schedule whether it is started indoors or direct seeded outside. The planting schedule starts with spring share vegetables and goes through the season until we plant the last greens for our winter shares.  Winter is also the best time for us to get our organic paperwork compiled and filled out so that we can be scheduled for our annual inspection.

We’ve been talking to many people about the CSA and hanging flyers in some locations and we have been getting really excited about the memberships that have been coming in!  We have added a delivery site to the East side of Madison and are working out details for an Oconomowoc site.

Winter blues-busters; popping out of their soil today!

Winter blues-busters; popping out of their soil today!

And here we are in February already. It is time to order chicks and make plans for putting up new fencing for livestock.  As soon as the frost is out of the ground is the best time to sink posts for this.  We are hoping to add a few more grazing animals to the farm and are planning on moving our current pastures to our newly organic certified pasture areas.  I have started several trays of micro-greens, but in the next few weeks, we will be starting our indoor seeding program, seeding mouth-watering greens and onions into flats for early deliveries.

Next week is our 5th winter share delivery.  I was really hoping to have some nice fresh salad and greens in the boxes next week, and I am not giving up hope entirely, but I am not holding my breath either.  We’ll see.  We still have sweet carrots, cabbage, beets, onions and other root crops and fabulous potatoes!  The final winter share delivery (#6) at the end of the month should have lots of nice greens ready in it, though. (It just has to be above 0° by then!) The plants just haven’t been doing much growing lately, but now that the days are at least longer, some of the greens are swelling a bit, but I don’t want to stay out there to watch them closer while the temperatures in the evening have been dipping into the 10’ and 20’s below zero for around 6 weeks now.  Let’s just say that they are growing slowly, if at all.

What goes on in the fields while our shades are pulled tight; the tracks of deer, fox, coyote and rabbit, all in the freshly fallen snow.

What goes on in the fields while our shades are pulled tight; the tracks of deer, fox, coyote and rabbit, all in the freshly fallen snow.

As far as the weather goes…it sure looks pretty outside on these bright, sunny days, doesn’t it?  And all of the snow that we’ve been having is keeping it all nice and fresh!  And, we are quickly getting rid of that big woodpile that was taking up so much space outside.  I hope that everyone else is managing the cold, snowy winter as well.  Spring will come.  It just has to!

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