Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Nice Days

I've been spending a lot of time in the milk house these past few weeks, keeping the wood stove going and working on some of our indoor projects that get put off until winter. This includes a lot of woodworking projects and as seen below, brushing up (literally) some of our signs. A fresh coat of paint makes a world of difference!
Here are some of our large display boxes for markets and our farm stand. We've decided to try to get into some of the farmers' markets this year and see how we do. These boxes are all made from cedar that was cut from the woods of the farm and milled out by a sawyer who brings his mill to the farm and does everything right in the field.

Here are some of our harvest crates that double as market display as well. Also cedar from the farm, these materials have seen many other projects and had a good and very useful life for us. I just dismantled some things, Jim removed a lot of nails this winter, and I planed everything down to a new finish. Voici!

I've also been spending the nice days outside, usually in the woods. There are few things in life that give as much fulfillment and enjoyment as a good days work in the woods. Here is a pile of 4 ft firewood which I'll pick up next fall with the pulp trailer. A trick I learned from John. Another reminder to appreciate the wisdom and experience of those who have come before us!

Even though I love my work, it's still nice to take a moment every once in a while to stop and be outside without a task to accomplish. So Em, Lizzie, Martin and Brinkley and I went for a nice afternoon walk at sunset the other day. Everything was looking pretty amazing with the fresh ice!

Some of the fences get coiled up for winter to make it easier to get around. Here is the spring fed pond 'down back'.

And here is the work of one of our laying hens. I am trying to get them to stop laying their eggs on the ground in the greenhouse. I've never had trouble with that before but this batch of hens seems to prefer to lay their eggs on the ground. Fairly annoying! But I think I figured out why they were doing it. My nesting boxes are high to help them stay agile and in shape. But I may have them too high. So I added a second roosting spot halfway from the ground. Only three eggs on the ground yesterday so that's a good sign!

Here are some of the girls now along with a couple roosters. Fred, our big Black Austrolorp Rooster was outside at this point on patrol.

Here is Sentinel Wiggly Wind. We get leaves from the town of Newport in the spring. While I like the fertility and mulch, it never ceases to amaze me that people will rake up the leaves on their lawn, put them in plastic bags, truck them across town and dump them in the landfill and then fertilize their lawn. This costs an amazing amount of money over the course of a lifetime. Rakes, gas, time, fertilizer, plastic bags and taxes to ensure the town can take care of all that fertility, not to mention the fact that the trees that produced those leaves actually count on that fertility being returned to the soil where their roots are. On top of all that, many, many people seem to think that many, many things constitute 'leaves'. Sentinel Wiggly is a great example. I found him in a bag of leaves. Now he watches over the chicken house for me and probably take up various posts around the garden this summer.

But summer seems a way off these days. Here is pretty much all that is left of our herb garden. They don't call it German Hardy Winter Thyme for nothing!

Here is the garden in winter. Though summer can seem eons away, it actually won't be long before this is full of the Earth's bounty! We'll be planting onions at the end of the month and then it's all a roller coaster ride until October!

Another winter project is upkeep and maintenance on tools. These are the best pruners on the market! I love my Felco pruners and just finished greasing and sharpening them.
And not a moment too soon. The grapes are the first thing I begin to prune. Pruning of most fruit trees and vines is best done right now, when the sap is not running and the tree is dormant. Pruning is essential for proper health care of vines and trees if you want them to produce edible fruit that is large enough to be worth picking and processing. Also, domesticated fruit trees aren't as hardy as the 'volunteer' apple trees and wild grapes you find around Maine. Without help, they wouldn't survive the same number of years that their wild cousins do.

Many of our CSA Members were happy to receive table grapes for the first time from us. We were happy to have them! Here is what the grape vines are reduced to in the winter. When they break bud in the spring, all the energy the plant stored to feed tons of biomass will now be able to be concentrated into fewer growth points, thus helping to increase fruit and healthy vine production.

Here is Brinkley ready for a ride to the pond!

And here is Indy wishing he got to go.

Scarlet doesn't care what the boys do!

And here we are at the end of our nice, what Lizzie calls a 'walkabout'. Happy winter.

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