Thursday, February 20, 2014

Building Unity Farm - Planning for Spring

In the past 18 days, we've had 9 snow days.   The small silver nub in the center of this picture is a yardstick placed in the snow on the patio.

The squirrels can walk up to the bird feeder.    It's time to have a heart to heart with the groundhog who suggested 6 more weeks of this.

For the first time, this week, I cannot split wood because the logs are buried too deep.    Mulch and manure are similarly inaccessible.    The snow banks are as high as the roof of the hoop house, so watering vegetables took an hour of concerted shoveling to find the door.    I carved a moat around the beehives to give them ventilation space amidst the snow drifts.  The Cooper's Hawks are sitting in the trees hoping some rodent finds a path to the surface of the snow.

The snow drifts around the paddocks are now 7 feet high and I've used the Terex front loader to keep the barnyard clear.   However, the trails into the forest and mushroom growing areas are just too deep to access.

With outdoor tasks limited, it's time to plan for Spring.   Here are a few of the action plans

1.  Woodlot management
Last year I split 10 cords of wood by hand.   Although it's great exercise, the wear and tear on joints is high while swinging a 10 pound maul against a 50 pound chunk of solid oak.    It's time for a wood splitter.    As soon as the snow melts, I'll revise the wood processing area to include a storage area for unsplit logs - about 20 cords of oak, black birch, ash, maple, and cedar.   In the center, I'll configure a wood splitter and work table using products from Super Split, a flywheel driven rather than hydraulic approach to wood splitting.    The split wood storage area will hold 10 cords - enough for current burning and aging for next year.   With all that great wood, I'll have to think about creative ways to have fires year round beyond fireplaces and the patio fire pit.    A stone pizza oven or Goemonburo comes to mind, but those are projects for another year.

2.  Seed catalogs
The seed catalogs have arrived and we're selecting the greens, squashes, root vegetables, garlic and onions we'll grow in the 2014 season.   The next week will have temperatures in the 40's so the hoop house will start to be a very productive place.

3.  Bee management
We're rebuilding our hives, moving them to a dry, sheltered, south facing location, and planting bee friendly crops around them.   Our first winter with bees seems to have been successful.   7 of our 8 hives are vigorous and healthy.

4.  Mushroom farm expansion
Now that I have the Terex front loader, I can move logs around the property much more easily.  Before the last snow, I cut a road to a grove of pine trees, the perfect shade for another mushroom growing area.   By Summer, we'll have nearly 500 logs in production, spread in 3 forested area accessible via forest roads covered with wood chips.    When the snow melts I'll also use the Terex to spread a new layer of wood chips on our mile of trails.

5.  Bottling hard cider and mead
The fermentations of Fall are now complete and we're ready to bottle - as soon as we can reach the cider house and use the bottling equipment in the heat of a 50 degree day.    At the moment, we have 60 liters to bottle and I look forward to tasting the hard work of last year's harvest.

Spring will be here on March 20.    We're ready to begin another productive season on the farm.


Dick Williams said...

With all that wood, instead of a cauldron, consider a submersible wood stove heating a hot tub... A friend has one and it is wonderful.

Jonas Jensen said...

What an incredible cute looking dog you have. Is it a Pyrenean or a white Newfoundland?

By the way I stumbled over your site while searching for information on a flywheel log spliiter.
Jonas (Denmark)

John Halamka said...

Shiro, our 150 pound puppy, is a Great Pyrenees