Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Overdue Post-age on Blog

Long time no posting.  So I will try to catch up a bit with recent farm goings-on.
I had to a start with this photo because this lamb is so heart-meltingly adorable!  It is one of  Don and Betsy's (our neighbors) two surprise early lambs -- a ram jumped the fence.
Here are both the ewes and lambs. Although these sheep don't really relate to our farm, they sort of relate to one of my recent endeavors. I have become a radio host for a show  called "Prairie Air" on the COBB Radio, a fledgling, streaming, grassroots radio station in Rochester. (They put out a call for people interested in hosting a radio show and I offered  to interview farmers and artists -when else am I ever going to get to be a radio host?!)
So here's the connection--Don was my very first radio interview, about raising and shearing sheep. You can actually hear my shows via podcast at  - click on "most recent Podcasts" on the right.  Be kind - I am a total novice!  Garrison Keillor and Terry Gross can breathe easy for a while.  But the interviewees are great!
We are also still collecting and boiling maple sap like crazy. We thought the season was all over when it warmed up to 60 degrees one day, but thankfully (just kidding) it got cold again and the sap started running again.  We only have silver maples on our farm, for which 60 gallons of sap boil down to make one gallon of syrup. But it turns out Don and Betsy have several mature sugar maples which they offered to let us tap - sugar maple sap is twice as sweet, so 30 gallons of sap make a gallon of syrup; it will save us much time and  fuel.
On a cold and windy day we set up our sap cooking operation on the dock of  the fish gazebo  (a little greenhouse we built over our  silo pond of our future aquaponics operation.)  It smells so wonderful in there now, sort of like vanilla and marshmallows.
 Cadence and Israel have been playing son jarocho music all over the place -- they are pictured here with their awesome percussionist,  Martial, after performing at the World Festival. This weekend they will be the musicians at the opening reception for the Rochester International Film Festival.  They are gaining quite a following, but Rog and I are surely their biggest fans, trying to catch all their performances.
All the flats of seed starts in my office  are getting  huge and want desperately to be planted in the garden , but it has been too cold and snowy and wet. I put the brassicas and onions out in the high tunnel, though, to get hardened off and to free up a bit more space in my office for the tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. I am really proud of the tomatoes --they look so strong and healthy, with thick stems. I leave the lights on  a 24 hours per day and run a fan on them a bit each day so they  don't get wimpy. My poor peanuts and artichokes (experiments, not your usual Minnesota crops) seem to be languishing a bit, however.
It is supposed to start to get warm and springlike tomorrow!!!!!!!!!  However, it is extraordinarily muddy in our heavy, saturated, clay soil, and will be a while before we can till or plant. or even walk in the garden.
See what I mean? This is the middle pasture between the  barn and loafing shed a few days ago, not at its worst (which is probably today.) Yesterday, I was taking the cows their hay and sank down in the mud deeper than the top of my mid-calf muck boots, resulting in very muddy socks.  Just now, I went out in the pouring rain to herd the goose and ducks (who were happily playing in the puddles) into the coop for the night and I put Rog's muck boots on because they are taller than mine, knee-high. Bad idea! It was like wearing huge suction cups -- both boots got stuck in the mud and I ended up accidentally stepping out of them entirely, ankle deep in mud, and had to extricate my feet by sticking my hands down, wrist -deep, in the muck.  It was not pretty!
Last night, I tried to  assist the drainage of the pasture by doing some unCivil Engineering, carving channels with a garden hoe from hoof-print-puddle to hoof-print-puddle down the slope. It worked!  A little, anyway. But now it is pouring rain, and the cows have created many new deep hoofprints, so I am dreading walking out there tomorrow.

There is a Paul Bunyan legend that explains that Minnesota's 15,000 lakes were created by Babe the Blue Ox's hoofprints. I now clearly understand how that legend arose!

My bees arrived today, so I have been busy preparing the hives, we are partnering with a young couple on the aquaponics system,  I am still working ceaselessly on the  Mega Upholstery Project, and we have a few more  exciting ventures in the works --  I will post about all of these soon!

1 comment:

Mary Ann said...

I'll be back to read about the aquaponics and the bees.... and it's the Season of Mud here, too.