The time has come that some of you have been dearly waiting for; it is time for us to go back to summer lettuce quantities. This means that even though there is still snow on the ground and there is still ice on the ponds in the mornings, we have more lettuce harvestable than we are picking.
This week we had to not only open the vents but also turn on the fans in order to keep the greens from overheating. Of course, we are still limited in several other items -- with a layer of snow still blanketing the fields, kale is still a ways off -- but we should have more herbs in a week or two as they are starting to wake up from their winter’s nap.
There is something special this time of year: the sap is flowing, daffodils are reaching for the sky and a honey bee even made an appearance in the afternoon sunshine, and for me… forking up beds in the cold frame reminded me of muscles that have long been dormant.
Yes, spring is in the air. It is a time of rebirth, new plants… and for hard work to burn off my winter waist.
It has been a long winter; the super cold has been over the top as of late. It used to be a cold spell would get down to the single digits and maybe once a year it would dip into the negatives for a day or so but this year has been incredible.
To balance it out though, at least it’s been happening in late winter, and with the sun getting stronger every day we have a different type of problem; a greenhouse on a clear day is really a giant solar heater. In the late afternoon, we load up fuel in the furnaces and run them hot, hoping to stay on the plus side of freezing in the darkness of night and then, as soon as the sun touches the plastic, we turn off the furnaces and open the doors letting clouds of hot steam billow from the doorways into the frozen air.
For us it’s the closing, loading, starting, ending, opening and closing again each and every day. The poor plants meanwhile have their own daily grind going from having their tops freeze at night to wilting due to the heat hours later. This drastic change is hard on the plants and causes more than a few to give up their ghost, transforming them in to translucent vegetative puddles.
So it is with great satisfaction and pert’ near delight that we view the upcoming forecasts of mild temps. It will of course bring about more work once the ground is free of ice and snow, it promises long days of sweat and toil working the earth, but right now… sweating sounds pretty good.
It’s a depressing time of year. No, not the cold or the snow, although we are ready for a change there too, no this something far worse… It’s tax time. And while most are worried about having to pay the reaper his gotten gains (ill and otherwise), we have a different problem and we seem to have it every year.
Filling out the forms we find out just how poor we really are. Now don’t get me wrong, we don’t need food stamps or charity or anything like that. In fact, we really don’t consider ourselves poor at all, but living on a farm (and having a good tax man) means pretty much everything we do is tax deductible. This should leave us happy, but when the numbers come back and inform us that we live “below the poverty line”, well it kind of hurts.
After all, if you just scan the headlines online (once you get past dresses that change color and people name Kardashian) you’ll find out how important it is to make a lot of money. In fact, it should determine not only your job but your course of study in school and even your zip code if all the stories are to be believed.
Our society values people by how much they make, by their toys and by their looks. By such accounting I am bankrupt. So why do I to take such joy in my pauper’s life? I work with my best friend and play with the land growing food. Every day is new and every day is different and I…I am a happy man, in spite of the words of the tax man.
It's a new month, and the weather-people keep saying this is the beginning of "meteorological" spring. Though the weather outside isn't quite sure, the lettuce agrees. So, we will resume Monday CSA deliveries and pick-ups again.
Also, we'll be at the Grand Rapids Home & Garden Show this weekend along with several other small farms and food non-profits in a booth called "Cultivating Change". If you get a chance, stop by, introduce yourself, and say hi! Especially if we haven't formally met face to face.
And not so warm inside either; at our house we have Geothermal heating. Nine times out of ten I would crow about this as the greatest thing since indoor plumbing, but when it gets this cold it just doesn’t keep up.
Now I could turn on the duct heater, which is an electric back-up coil made just for these sorts of occasions but we’ve only tried it once in the 15 years we’ve lived here. I prefer to be a real man and chop wood and fire up the old woodstove… but my ankle has gone gimpy so now I prefer to be a real old man and have the wife chop wood (along with all her other chores) while I stay warm in my blanket and easy chair.
The lettuce is being similarly treated, while it is not being served hot chocolate with an obligatory curtsey, it is being wrapped in a (frost) blanket and having the furnaces stocked to high heaven every night- you go girl! Even though it is only February, the sun is much stronger than it was a month ago and the greenhouses will hit 70-80 during the day with even limited direct sunshine. But once it sets, Woah Nellie, it gets cold fast.
So far, we have been surviving this latest cold snap and in spite of everything, the lettuce is looking pretty good. Hopefully, we just have to make it through another week and spring will be more than a distant thought on the horizon. So I’ll sit back and order another hot chocolate as I look at seed magazines – I could get used to this.
We will again be doing deliveries on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday through this week. This has been our February schedule with the cold Mondays we’ve been having - we will re-evaluate end of this week for March, but should be ready to ramp things up by then.