Thursday, February 25, 2016

Unity Farm Journal - Fourth Week of February 2016

You may have heard the term “lipstick on a pig”,  which generally refers to dressing up a flawed product.    You may have also heard the term “lipstick on your collar”, which generally refers to evidence of an affair.    However, you may not have heard of “pig lipstick on your collar”.  Here’s the story:

After I feed the pigs every night,I give them stomach rubs and tuck them into their beds of straw.   Hazel Marie, who weighs 120 pounds, generally spends the day rooting for grubs, worms, and tender vegetable shoots.     By nightfall, her snout is covered with mud as pictured below.     Pigs are very intelligent and communicative creatures, and their nose disks are their major sensory organ - they push, smell, and explore with their nose disks.   After a stomach rub, she will often nuzzle with me, by rubbing her wet nose disk across my face.   I did not realize that I came to dinner last weekend with “pig lipstick on my collar” - my nose was covered with mud from pig affection.   The cat (or pig) was out of the bag.  Kathy forgave me.

February is a busy time at Unity Farm because we are four season farmers.   We harvest vegetables every day of the year, even when it’s -34F outside.   We do this by using our hoop house, our row covers, our indoor and outdoor germination stations, heat mats, and grow lights.   Now that the worst of winter has passed, I planted 15 raised beds with germinated vegetables.   Here’s our 2016 Winter/Spring succession planting plan for the hoop house

Left side
Bed 1 - Rex Greenhouse lettuce -> Bell peppers
Bed 2 - Vit Mache -> Roma tomatoes
Bed 3 - Buttercrunch Bibb lettuce -> Heirloom Beefsteak tomatoes
Bed 4 - Nancy Boston lettuce ->Plum tomatoes
Bed 5 - Sugar and Snap peas  ->
Bed 6 - Bloomsdale Spinach -> Jacob’s Cattle beans
Bed 7 - Haruke Turnips ->

Right side
Bed 1 - Chiogga Beets ->
Bed 2 - 8 different types of carrots
Bed 3 - Red Cross lettuce -> Jalapeño peppers
Bed 4 - Meadowlark Kale ->
Bed 5 - Bloomsdale Spinach -> Jacob’s Cattle beans
Bed 6 - Winter Density Romaine -> Little Finger Eggplant
Bed 7 - 8 different types of carrots
Bed 8 - Rouge D’ Hiver Romaine -> H19 Cucumber

We’ll also have a Fall crop in every bed including Argulua, Ottos, Endive, Lettuces, Mache, Parsley, Radicchio (a Chicory), Scallions, Spinach, Upland Cress

Outside of the hoop house, we’ll plant squash and pumpkins in the compost piles.

It’s the middle of February and all our beds are filled with growing plants.  The miracle of hoop houses/high tunnels and the greenhouse effect.

I spent last weekend moving tons of fallen branches from winter storms.   The Terex front loader is amazing.   Here’s how I moved an entire fallen tree in one load to the Shiitake processing area.

The winter storms of February did collapse one of our barn windows - it literally imploded and blew into the barn when a 40 mph gust hit the barn.   This week, we hired a carpenter to retrofit every barn window with wood strips to reinforce them against the wind.   We should be resilient to any storm that nature can bring.

This weekend, I’m flying to HIMSS for a few keynotes and many meetings.   Kathy will be doing barn chores for 3 days as well as tending the new winter plantings - over 1000 new plants.   I try to be everywhere for everyone, but having a doppelganger who has been with you for 35 years makes Unity Farm possible.

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