Monthly Archives: May 2012

Tractor Tinkering Ad Infinitum

It’s hard to believe, but I have spent a part of everyday this week on a tractor. If I haven’t been driving a tractor, I’ve been tinkering on a tractor. I knew this day would come. Each year I’ve used a tractor more and more on the farm. Sometimes it’s been a great help. Sometimes it’s been a great source of misery.

Yet I haven’t spent much time tinkering, since I share the equipment with other farmers. I’ve always gotten away with minimal futzing around on the tractor. Well, that ended this week. If I wasn’t tilling or weeding or laying black plastic mulch with a tractor, I was tinkering on it. I have the bruised hands and scrapped knuckles to prove it. The biggest feat this week was getting all the plastic mulch laid down for the peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash. Hats off and high fives to my crew who helped me over the last two days! We had a lot of problems to work through. The machine, that was supposed to make this task easy, has so many adjustable parts that it took a day to figure out a workable set up. Lots of tinkering. Lots. At one point I had had enough and I called it quits. I needed to move onto another task (turns out I just moved over to another tractor and tinkered on that while the crew did some weeding)

We eventually got the mulch layer working and we finished laying the mulch down today. This is probably going to turn into one of the epic tales of the season. My crew did a great job. They got to hear my Yosemite Sam impression when the machine wasn’t working and we discovered an integral part of the hitching system had fallen into the field, lost to us forever. But we also got to dance a jig for joy together when finally we got the machine to work. I’m serious. We were all so excited it finally worked we had a little dance party right there in the field.

The beds we mulched are now awaiting their peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, cucumbers and squash. Looking back at our work I have to laugh. Some of the beds are quite wobbly. I’m calling them my “drunken sailor beds”. No straight lines here. Someone’s tractor driving skills are seriously in question (mine. and no, I wasn’t drinking). I will say this in my defense, I’m still a newbie at this. This was the first time I had to adjust a machine on my own. I’m actually pretty proud of my work. It’s good enough. Not good, but good enough. And I’m chalking that up to success!

Finally, I think we got it.

Drunken Sailor Beds

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Weeding with Fire

Spring carrots have always been a dicey endeavor for me. Between the carrots’ taking a long time to germinate (and then blending in perfectly with the weeds) and the typical spring rain cycle (always too wet to get a tractor in to knock down the weeds), I have never had a salvageable spring carrot crop. Yet I refuse to give up!

Well, today I broke out a new farm toy, the flame weeder. That’s right, I burned the weeds out of my carrot rows! I knew this day was coming. Last night I counted the days since I sowed the carrots and was shocked to realize it had been over a week. First priority for today was checking those carrots to see if they had sprouted or not. Sure enough, I saw little carrots popping out of the soil. I quickly called up a farming buddy, from whom I bought the flame weeder, to ask if I had missed my window. Once I explained the stage the carrots were in I got the go ahead, “But you gotta do it now. If you wait another 2 hours it’ll be too late.”

Torch wand, Propane tank, Backpack

All Assembled

So I jumped back in the truck. Got the parts assembled (after heeding the sage advice of when two ends of a hose fit but don’t twist into each other, try twisting the other direction. Genius!), splashed down the muddy farm road and got to work burning off the weeds. It was one of the quickest and easiest weeding experiences of my life. Plus, I couldn’t help but hum the Ghostbusters theme in my head. Having a propane tank strapped to my back in an old backpack with a torch wand reminded me of those proton pack. Now all I need is a beige coverall. I ain’t afraid of no ghosts!

Flame weeder in action

Flame Weeder Ready!

Flame Weeder Ready!

A New Book!

ImageNext week a compilation book of essays by beginning farmers is being released, and guess what?! I’m one of the authors! The book is Greenhorns: 50 Dispatches from the New Farmers’ Movement. As a contributing author I got an advanced copy and I am loving it. I am ecstatic and honored to have an essay in such a book. I would highly recommend the book to anyone; farmers, farmer-wanna-bes, and those who just love good stories. Each chapter contains a group of essays that follow a certain theme. The essays are heartwarming, humorous, honest, hopeful and some heartbreaking.

If you’re interested in getting your own copy I’ll be buying a small quantity and will have copies to sell. It’s a book that belongs on everyone’s bookshelf!

Peas are Up!

Earlier this week I was walking my fields to see what was happening in my various spring plantings. Are the kale and chard plants over their shock of being outside and in the ground? Have they put on any new growth? Have the onions perked up yet since they’ve been transplanted. Is it time to start weeding. Most importantly, is the soil dry enough to till yet!?

In my wanderings I passed by my pea planting, a once-every-few-days ritual that began in mid April. I’ve been very suspicious of that planting for a few reasons; I had a horrible germination last year and the tractor seeders weren’t working during this year’s planting. After much threatening, the tractor seeders didn’t work right and I was out of fix-it ideas. I finally pulled my hand push seeder out of retirement and seeded the peas without the aid of a motorized vehicle.

Image

During my pea check-ups I’ve almost been daring the little buggers not to sprout. And it almost seemed as though they were taking me up on that dare. Until this week! At first inspection I only found a few sprouts at the beginning of the field. I even dug down a little to confirm that the sprouts I was seeing were actually peas and not weeds masquerading as peas. To my delight, they were peas! “Whew,” I thought, ” at least they are starting to sprout.” Then I looked up and, lo and behold, there were three dense rows of pea sprouts just a little ways into the field! I was so happy I felt like doing a little jig right there. In fact, I think I might have. I wouldn’t put it past me.

Yay for spring! Yay for peas!

Hello world!

Welcome to the Wild Goose Farm blog! After many false starts I think this blog has finally found a home and I have finally worked up enough resolve to keep this thing going. There have been so many times that I have found myself thinking, “I should put this in a blog,” or “I bet people would get a kick out of this [insert funny farm story here]” or “I have a blog right? Sheesh, when’s the last time I posted?”

Well the time has come. It’s a new beginning. I am going to have a blog for my farm and I’m going to keep up with it! As the week goes on I’ll be adding pages to this blog; an “about me”, a “general farm stories” and a “CSA Newsletter” page.

The name for the blog is a little awkward right now. I wanted just a simple wildgoosefarm.wordpress.com address, however, that was already taken by a farm in Oregon. So for clarity’s sake I came up with wildgoosefarmcsa. Prosaic, yes, but it’s to the point. We’ll see if a better name strikes me down the line.

Stay tuned for stories about my adventures on an organic vegetable farm!