Hey, What Happened to April?

Somewhere along the way April came and went. But we’ve go so much done that it’s almost okay that it feels like a whole month has just vanished.

The family has been converging to work on a bunch of different projects up at the property almost daily (Glenn has his real person sized Tonka Toy set to prep his ground for the future retirement home), but yesterday we all rallied farm-side for some afternoon work. Mom weeded the garlic, Glenn dug a trench for 24 blueberrry bushes, and I planted mesclun, sorrel, flowers, fretted over the transplants and watered.

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Oh, and Strider watched. He is getting better at walking on the baths and not through the seeded and transplanted areas. He was very excited about the blueberries, clearly.

It’s been amazing to watch things grow – even more so than at Keith’s since these are all my plant babies. We have a bunch of greens in the ground, carrots and beets and peas seeded, and the garlic is already coming up. But it’s nerve wracking as well. I don’t want these guys to get too cold or eaten by the wiley groundhogs up there. There’s a lot of factors at play I don’t have any or very little control over, and it has been challenging to just deal with that.

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I’m super stoked about these blueberry plants. They are already so beautiful. We planted them inside the fence – Glenn dug a trench with his New Holland, mom collected bags of pine needles to lay in the bottom of the trench and mulch around the top, and I bought some Espoma soil acidifyer to help amend the PH levels since blueberries prefer crazy acidic soil.

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My dear former roommate Olivia became the first non-Wagner to come do some work at the farm. It was also to show someone around and get excited. She planted broccoli raab and mesclun and lettuces, and as of yesterday they were all chugging along nicely. It was so great to have someone from college and Philly and everything before come up and see what’s happening here and be excited. Plus, she’s just the best.

And there it is again! Ruby streaks mustard, please grow big and don't get eaten.

And there it is again! Ruby streaks mustard, please grow big and don’t get eaten.

My friend Lauren as here a few weeks ago also on a rare trip home from New Haven, and she helped me seed in the greenhouse and then we went for a run.I realized how awesome it was to have girlfriends around, and I miss them terribly. Lauren and I have signed up for a run together for Back on My Feet in July, and I hope I’m together enough by then to make this all work.

Mom has been doing tons of whatever needs to be done. Hands down the best co-worker I could have asked for.  She brings my car so Strider can come up (he’s hurt himself somehow so he can’t jump up into my truck right now), leaves to check on the greenhouse when she needs a break, and does everything from seeding to weeding garlic. She’s just the best.

Grandma Wagner even came up to plant peas and give me some grandma advice.

Grandma Wagner even came up to plant peas and give me some grandma advice.

A couple weeks back I went north to pick up some food-grade, 275-gallon water storage takes in lieu of us not having electricity for a well yet, and since I was halfway to Keith’s farm packed his blueberries and headed up for a visit.He’s got a room full of set onions and potatoes, and enjoying having his new manager. He’s trying celery this year and incorporating broccoli raab into his rotation (go us!), and was excited to hear about my projects. He was looking forward to the arrival of his interns – who started work Monday. Derek and Matt and are back and have already created the New Boyhouse in the trailer.

I spent the night in New York with Jay at Peace and Carrots, the farm he is starting with his friend and former Keith’s Farm intern Laura. They’re using some of Laura’s family’s land for a CSA, and they’ve already been written up in Chester’d Dirt Magazine. At the time I visited, Jay was living in a camper while they built a shed/house to live in, and he was tending the greenhouse was Lara was away. They have a woodstove in there for heat and some happy looking plugs. We drank coffee and stayed up for hours talking about what we were nervous and excited about, and bounced ideas and planting notes off each other. It’s hard to explain how amazing it is to know someone pretty much in the same boat – I feel like I’m texting him a few times a week now with questions and to compare progress.

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Matthew has his own projects in the works while he’s working at home in Massachusetts as well. He sent me some pictures of the cold frame he built to grow some vegetables. He is doing a small CSA of his own, and hopefully that bum gets down here to visit soon (because visitnig means free labor – you have all been warned).

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The deer fence is up and functioning at 8,000 volts produced by a solar powered energizer. Mom and I put the whole thing up ourselves, and Glenn tweaked our end post so it wouldn’t short out. The fence is around about half the field – most of what I’ll be using to start. The alliums are off on their own because they don’t really get eaten. And after a bit more tweaking, hopefully today, I’ll have the end pushed out to incorporate a tractor path and I won’t have to do anything else but remember to shut it off before I shock myself (again) when I’m in there working.

The fence is up and working!

The fence is up and working!

The greenhouse is well. The onions had a couple haircuts – a Keith trick to make stockier stems – the squash and zucchini is almost ready to be planted, and I’ve set up some plants to go out into the world as potted plants for sale. Going to try that tomorrow at the store, so we’ll see if folks are interested in gardening with kale and broccoli raab and arugula. I put together the Earthway Seeder and have used it for carrots, radishes, beets and spinach. The peas are starting to germinate, so I guess I’m doing it right!

Earthway Seeder! It rules.

Earthway Seeder! It rules.

Peas!

Peas!

People are signing up for the CSA! I am so honored and excited and ready to bring you all delicious vegetables. If you’re looking for more info about that, I have some side and top links on this blog that link to the information and CSA agreement.

In other news, I’m moonlight (sunrising?) at a dairy farm, and have been for about a month now. I totally love it.I am now quick enough to dodge a swift cow kick, I have a whole new understanding of how the milking process works, and my boss and her family are really sweet and lovely folks. It’s a dairy right near my house that has over 100 cows – somewhere between 80 and 90 that need to be milked twice a day. The farm sells its milk to Land O’ Lakes, and they are a couple generation dairy farm. It has been fun to learn and work like this so early in the morning, and they’ve been great with everything from offering insight into the new farmer/old farmer mind sets and offering advice on everything from farmer’s markets to Lancaster Farmer articles to read to where to get the most affordable soil amendments.

Feeding heifers. They are so hungry!

Feeding heifers. They are so hungry!

And did I mention the calves and cows are super cute?

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The other day Mom, Strider and I sat up where her house is going up and watched the sun set. It was incredible. And now that things are coming together, none of us can wait to be full-time farmers.

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4 thoughts on “Hey, What Happened to April?

  1. I love giving you free labor! And I love blueberries! So you may need to use that deer fence on me if they’re bearing fruit when I’m down in July…

  2. Hey, Liz, Great to see your April farm! I can imagine how great it will be in a couple of months. And you sound very happy to be doing all you are doing. Hope to see you sometime soon again.Chris

  3. Hi Liz. It looks great! I am so excited to be here from the beginning. I can’t wait to tell people in 25 years that I remember when Liz started that farm! 😀

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