Signs of spring

Our fields aren’t quite dry enough yet for plowing, but we are definitely getting into springtime on the farm. Just the other day we were watching a male sparrow perform the “You’re so pretty, aren’t I handsome?” dance for a female sparrow (who, sorry to say, did not seem terribly impressed or interested). The killdeer have returned – and are probably waiting until I plow to select a nice new nesting spot in the middle of our field.

On the domestic animal front, a new batch of chicks arrived in the mail on Friday, we had our first lambs on Sunday, and we have a couple of new calves. We have just entered lambing season, and are expecting over thirty lambs over the next several weeks. Our goal is to have healthy animals who don’t need assistance with birthing, but even so this time of year often involves late night trips out to the barn to check on the animals. And even in the healthiest flock, sometimes a little bit of assistance is warranted to help a new lamb or calf into the world.  

And on the vegetable front, the greenhouse is starting to fill up (and it’s not even April yet). Onions, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, herbs, and many other things that need an early start are already up and growing in our greenhouse. We also have started several plantings of early greens, both for transplanting into our hoophouses and into the field. We have to assume that the weather will warm up, our fields will finish thawing and dry out, and sometime, hopefully within about two weeks, I will be able to plow and prepare beds in the field for planting into. A friend of mine was plowing in Belchertown today. Our fields will take a little longer to dry out, but it seems like it won’t be too much longer this year. In the hoophouses, greens are growing, and we have been able to bring lettuce, arugula, and some other salad greens to the farmers market in Northampton for the past two weeks.

This is also the time when we need to finish up our pruning of fruit trees, before the trees bud out. And this year we are going to be grafting some more trees – our “tree kits” (as we like to call them) came today – bundles of rootstock and pieces of scionwood of many different varieties of apples, pears, plums, and cherries. Each year since we have been here we have planted some more fruit trees. Some of the first apple trees we planted just started producing last year. We have a lot of exciting heirloom apple varieties that will be starting to produce over the next several years.

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