Monday, April 27, 2009

The weather has taken a turn for the cold and I am not so inclined to spend my day outside. But from my window I can see our four goat kids grazing with the elder goats in the field for the first time. We keep them penned up for the first few weeks, but today they decided they'd had enough, and I surmised that if they were adept enough to jump the five foot fence holding them in, they would do fine outdoors.

Last week we had a WWOOFer (which stands for willing workers on organic farms or worldwide opportunities on organic farms depending whom you talk to) here from France. Rosaline arrived ready to work and we spent a week fencing in chickens, fencing out deer, building pea fence, planting potatoes, transplanting brassicas, beets and swiss chard and seeding several rows of carrots.

We painted bee boxes and on Saturday, I drove an hour to Stillwater to pick up my first honeybees. A worker carefully placed two small crates containing two pounds of bees and queen each into my trunk. They asked if I would prefer them in the car with me or in the trunk, but noticing the few bees on the outside of the cage, I thought the trunk would be a better option. At home, we took sugar syrup and pollen patties up the hill with the bees to their new homes, sprayed them with sugar syrup, set the queen aside and dumped the bees with several thwacks into their boxes--not quite as easy as I was made to believe, because several angry bees came charging toward my face (I was not wearing a bee suit at the time). I released the queens, closed the boxes and left in a hurry.

Last night under a deluge of rain, the farm turned green. Asparagus shoots are up, and rhubarb has emerged. In just a few weeks, the garden will be in.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The last month has flown by in a whir of whipping a greenhouse together, tapping maple trees, collecting the sap and boiling it down, bottle feeding baby goats and watching winter turn to spring. On a late afternoon, not more than a few weeks ago, we took a walk to the creek in early evening. The red-winged blackbirds had arrived and the stale winter air took on a new, yet familiar sound of male red-wings telling the world that he would be the best mate this year...

The syrup season felt just right this year...started slow--first too warm, then too cold, and then all the sap rushed out in a matter of days, hundreds of gallons for us. We scrambled to find containers for storing it all. Our evaporator could only boil so fast. For two weeks, the weather was just right: freezing at night, warm during the day, and an occasional snow to cool things off again in time for the next big run. I spent ten days straight sitting by the evaporator, stoking the fire, checking the hydrometer, watching the levels so nothing burned, trying desperately to get through all that sap and make it into something sweet: the perfect condiment.

Our CSA shares are full for this season. I am planting madly in the greenhouse, watching the onions grow in height and width. The peppers and eggplants have been transplanted, the tomatoes are emerging. For now, all those little seedlings fit in one tiny space, but soon they will take up an entire field.

This is a glorious time of year...each day there is something new to see and the sun shines brighter and warmer and longer. Having time to notice all these changes--that is the challenge.