Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Newsletter June 28th 2011

As I was walking the farm on Monday morning observing the two sizable piles of round bales, neatly covered in plastic to protect them from the rain. I marveled that in this the wettest of Springs we were able to get over 210 round bales made, 50 bales of straw and 700 square bales for the horses. Last year we did not make more than 200 bales over the course of the whole season…every year is different.

First Cucumbers mulched with Straw

Nearly Completed Mulchig
 My reflection continued towards thinking about farming. Specifically the varying careers that people have who are called “farmers”. There are Dairy farmers, sheep farmers, goat farmers, beef farmers, horse farmers….then there are vegetable farmers, crop farmers, hay farmers, grass farmers, flower farmers and often even friends of ours in the perennial greenhouse business are farmers.

Though we are all harvesting the bounty of the natural world and are often intimately connected to the rulings of Mother Nature and the animal rhythms, our day to day work is quite different.

It is fascinating to think that in one life time of work a grain farmer may only have 50 harvests. There is not much room for error there…a few bad years are hard to absorb for a small farm. It is easy to see why many of those farmers sold out to larger farmers…spread out over varying terrain and now even countries.
In contrast we seed lettuce every week during the growing season here at Miller’s Crossing. We are able to experience well over 30 harvests per year of that one crop. Lettuce, however, is one of many crops that we grow here. Tomatoes, cucumbers and summer squash are more similar to the grain farmers in that they are planted 2 times per year, three if you are lucky.

First Planting of Zucchini & Summer Squash

The contrast in those two crops is not without a lot of thought behind it…as a matter of fact the farm that we have today is the result of millions of decisions made over the course of our careers as farmers; decisions about fields, soils, customers, and family.

The decision to be a highly diversified vegetable farm is directly related to small farm economics. The diversity that keeps your meals interesting is directly related to the diversity that keeps this farm economically viable.

Growing so many different crops allows us to spread the risk out over many different types of soils, seasons, and customer preferences. You have all weathered the tomato disaster of 2009 and reaped the bounty of tomatoes in 2010. When the Kale gets hit by hot weather you eat Swiss Chard!!! For this we are thankful.

Many times the diversity feels inefficient. How much faster we could get things done if we only grew three things. How we could ease the human labor, if we only grew carrots and bought a carrot harvesting machine…..but how much carrot soup and cake and loaf can any one family eat?

The details are endless, the rewards great!

Enjoy this week’s harvest, Katie


End of the First Summer Ockawamic Creek Run

Playing in the Wash area Drain

Is that an Organically Grown Rubber Band  around my snout?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Newsletter June 21, 2011

Big excitement here at the farm this week!!!!

The biggest digger our children have ever seen showed up here this morning…the bucket could easily fit all four children. With all of the major changes that happen with these large machines, we are always excited when these machines go to work on the farm!

The main goal of this project is to improve the drainage ditch that was dug over 60 years ago to drain our lower field.

Several years ago drainage culverts were place under state route 217, the two lane road north of the farm. As a result, in the spring, and any other time the rain and water needs to drain, it drains all the water from across the road into our fields. This has caused erosion, flooding, and really altered a small field of ours and turned it into a year round damp location.

The water management plan will allow the ditch to receive and contain the run off after snow melt or large storms by widening the ditch system and enlarging our holding pond.  We are hoping this can prevent the flooding that some of our crops like we had in 2009 pictured below.

While all of this is exciting, and should protect in future wet years, we also have some other plans for the material which comes out of the ditch.

All of the excess material that comes out of the ditch will be used to create a level and self-draining area that can be used for horseback riding and any other fun activities we feel like.

Also, our farm roads, which are horrendous and filled with giant mud puddles, will be re-done in order to allow for all excess waters to drain off into the ditch.
While all of this will cost money, it will allow us to protect our fields and future crops, as well as create a new place for fun on the farm.

Have a great week, Katie & Chris

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Was it just last week that we were sweating away in 95 degree plus heat? Hard to imagine a week later the high temperatures will be in the low 60’s!

So far this spring the weather has been about as inconsistent as it can get. Once again, the forecast is calling for a return to normal temperatures later in the week, which we will welcome!

Despite the crazy weather we have been pushing ahead with our planting schedule, and we are just about done planting many of the full season vegetables.

Today we will plant out our last tomatoes of the year, which we hope we will pick in September and even into October.

In our greenhouse we have our last planting of kales, as well as our storage cabbage, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, fennel, pickling and slicing cucumbers, melons, and lots of lettuce.

Once we finish these large plantings, we will begin our spring/summer weeding campaign. With all of the moisture and heat we have experienced, every single weed seed on the farm has germinated, and we now have the task of beating them back.

This week things are supposed to get warm and sunny—(I’m ignoring the downpour that is happening as I write this) which is the perfect weather to kill the weeds!

While the weeds are still in their infant stages, with our tractors, hoes, knives, and hands we will till the soil, dislodge the weeds, and allow the sun to dry out and kill these little buggers.

Any tiny weeds that we miss in our first pass will immediately shoot up, and we will most likely have to go through the fields again once more later in the season to mop up the hold outs with hoes and knives.

The problem with this picture is that there are so many other things to do like harvest and plant, that finding the time to dedicate to weeding is tough.

Wednesday, half of Thursday, and Saturday are the only days at this time of year that we are not busy harvesting, so we are excited the weather looks promising this mid week.

Last week’s heat did accelerate our zucchini and squash, which are now bearing tiny little fruits. These past few colder and rainy days have slowed them down quite a bit, but we are hoping to begin picking them within the week. With any luck, we may have them in the share next week.

Despite all of the dramatic weather to date, the majority of the growing season is in front of us. If we are lucky, the weather will calm down, and all of the vegetables out there in the field really start growing as the heat and sun return—We are looking forward to another great season!

Enjoy, Chris


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!!!!!Beef shares still available!!!!!