Sometimes this time of year sneaks up on me by surprise and sometimes I ride it out like a long gentle slope of fresh powdery snow. This year it’s both. Here we are already to the end of February. A full trip around the sun we have come since a dear friend and auntie left this world and our first born is soon to turn 3. I see Aunt Jen’s light in Ava’s young eyes. A new and wondrous season is upon us, but we are first faced with a very cold and chilling end to winter. The next several days promise frozen puddles and inches of snow while today the crocus flowers smile into the sunshine. We are truly praying that this years spring will be different than last and that summer will come on schedule rather than last year, the year that summer never came. Our climate is the border edge of the puzzle and we do our best to match the pieces together and farm with some coherent picture in mind. It’s our movie….our picture. While this is challenging and difficult at times it is also what attracts my husband and I to farming. When it all comes together what a joy it can be! We continue to be extremely grateful for the oppurtunity to be involved in living systems and to be custodians of life. That is the little and the big of it, the micro and macrocosms. Each winter into spring we are building and starting a new community of plant life and life in our soils. We will nurture it and tend to it with care until it brings us life in turn by building a community of farm friends and neighbors who wish to partake in the bounty. The sunshine sparkling prisms on the tall rain drenched grasses, the pair of Anna hummingbirds that wintered with us buzzing by and the deep resonance of my bass chimes in the beguiling winds all cause me to pause and sigh…and smile. Yep. This is what we do.
We have started some native ‘insectory’ plantings, working in conjunction with the NRCS or National Resources Conservation Service, a branch of the USDA. The aim is to create zones of year-round blooms or fruit on native plants which, will in turn attract various beneficial insects and animal communities. This is right up our alley and actually something we maintain as integral on the farm already. Organic farming works best when buffer zones of trees, shrubbery and wildlife are left alone to thrive and increase diversity of living things. The insectories will serve as refueling stations for the insects in various stages of life and in turn hopefully increase the numbers of beneficial ones coming into our fields. It’s a win-win for us, our crops and also the research which aims to decrease if not discontinue pesticide use altogether. We are almost done with the bare-root plantings and look forward to watching over them with care and vigilance over the next few years. We have been busy in the greenhouse as well. Most all of the first runs of seeds have been sown. Certainly all of the spring and extended season crops are up and even some of the warm weather summer crops. We will grow them on in our greenhouse over the next couple months. They’re cozy inside until we can work some ground or it’s safe enough temperature wise to plant them out. We have some new crops we are trying for the first time this year like artichokes and some cool cabbages. We finally have enough space to plant out artichokes, and we aim to have enough for everyone in the CSA. We are anxiously watching the buds of our young fruit trees and shrubs, hoping they won’t be in such a hurry to break dormancy and then risk getting nipped by an arctic freeze. I for one am greatly looking forward to their coming of age gracefully.
I have also been busy making soap. Pleased to finally have a list of bars (recipes) that I am confident enough with now I am stocking them up, regularly making small batches. I really enjoy the calming meditative process of stirring the soap and the thrill with anticipation that comes from not knowing exactly how each different batch will turn out. It’s a side hobby, but I’d love to sell you folks some. My values and principles in soap making are the same as they are in our farming. I use the best oils and butters I have found and make bar soap the hand-made, old fashioned, ‘cold-process’ way. I have a nice inventory of oils, many organic, and an extensive collection of herbs, essential oils and fragrances. I don’t use any chemical additives, colorings or preservatives. Anytime I include milk or cream it is raw milk from my aunts’ goats, and the raw honey I use is that of the Gales Creek family Wessels. I like to use as little as possible to get a good bar of soap. Oh and the soap works. Bonus! It lasts like nice hand-made soap, cleans the dirt off and doesn’t leave your skin dry and itchy. I’ll have more info on Love Farm Soap up on our website soon.
I think I’ve rattled on long enough now. I’m not quick to blog write or program on our website, but am getting there. I am welcoming in the new season with body, mind and spirit. We are truly looking forward to a wonderful year of the freshest, hearty and nutritious, delicious foods we can grow and bring to you. Until the next time, we hope you’re eating well. Enjoy the snow.