Rain Dances, Sister Love and Chicken Capers

watermelons

squash

Okay, nobody panic.

It’s dry. Dry, dry, dry. And our driveway kicks up a dust storm whenever you drive up it. But the vegetables are okay.

tomatoes

transplants

The transplants are ready for market. The plants in the field are growly slowly but surely. After two years of dragging my feet, we set up irrigation in the field. And not a moment too soon. It’s supposed to rain tomorrow, right? Do some dances for us.

hydrant

Our little hydrant runs through the woods and out to the field.irrigation

We roll the main line back and forth so one half of the field is irrigated at a time. We haven’t had to try to stretch across the hedgerow to the plantings on the other side…not yet.

Even Willow Haven’s alfalfa – where our chickens live – is beautiful. It’s surprising how resilient these plants can be in this sort-of desert climate.

lucia

Lucia, the awesome Willow Haven intern, pauses to admire the view.

In other news, our farm pups are growing by leaps and bounds. Well, Chase is. Arya is pretty full grown at like a third of his size. Jess can barely lift him!

chase bobcat

He thinks he’s the Navigator. Silly puppy.

jess and chase

Speaking of Jess, a Wagner is back in South Philly and all is right in the Universe.

We ran Broad Street the weekend she moved in, and I even managed to keep up with her for the first five miles! I even got to hitch a ride to the starting line with her Students Run Philly Style Team, and I was so proud to be the big sister while she handed out Gatorade and rallied her kids.

broad street

How Liz Got Her Groove Back.

Broad Street is ten miles of the happiest, most community-centric city event I’ve had the honor to attend, and the montage of my Philly life played out I moved South, the way it does every time. We start where I went to college, we run through my migration to the South. And the friends and neighbors and amazing water station volunteers are truly incredible.

Jess, her darling Jon and I run our first trio race together since like 2012.

Jess, her darling Jon and I run our first trio race together since like 2012.

I haven’t been able to run a race with Jess in a few years. Having her back on our Coast is delightful, and she’s up to amazing things. She is mentoring teens through a couple of running programs in the city and launching her first batch of motivational running apparel – totally made in PA. She’s so cool. A percentage of proceeds will go to the programs she helps with, so once she has product, get ready to represent! Follow her blog at Run Life Co. for her journey.

runlifeco

Can’t keep those Wagner Warrior Women down.

But back to the farm. Today my mom, aunt and I are putting up our deer fence, seeding greens and weeding everything. I’ll be getting my signs cleaned up and my tent out for MARKET! WHICH STARTS IN TWO WEEKS! AH!

I’m excited, if you couldn’t tell.

I’ve been drying herbs like mad, getting ready for teas and spices. The dehydrator smells amazing.

The anise hyssop shot up immediately once mom cleared away the leaves, and we've dried a few batches already

The anise hyssop shot up immediately once mom cleared away the leaves, and we’ve dried a few batches

And the chickens have been keeping us on our toes. The egg count is incredible, and I’m looking forward to sharing these incredible, almost-orange eggs with you this season.

I have promised a more in-depth article about the price of great eggs, and I stand by that promise. Stay tuned. Last night I was looking at our estimated costs and returns spreadsheets, and seeing how much we’ll make (and that’s with NO labor costs), makes me stand by my pricing.

eggs

Trust me when I say these eggs are worth every penny – our chickens are moved to a new section of the alfalfa fields each week, and they live in a camper and get to roam within their portable fence as they please. We’ve had a run in with a predator – a weasel? A bird? We’re still trying to determine this – and it’s pegged some of our girls over the last couple weeks. But we’re trying to be vigilant and take care of this pest problem before it gets out of hand.

Happy Camper Chickens, or "It's moooooving day!" Secret of Nimh, anyone?

Happy Camper Chickens, or “It’s moooooving day!” Secret of Nimh, anyone?

I have an egg share in the works – contact me at liz.m.wagner@gmail.com for details. Or if you’d just like eggs now, these are $5/dozen (which is the going price for these caliber eggs in a market setting). Let me know if you want some and I’ll get them to you.

In other news, so many of my friends and I are in this crazy cosmic upswing where all our projects and dreams and goals are manifesting around us. It would be so much more surprising if last year hadn’t been what it was.

necklace

The world is out there for you. You just need to start reaching for it.

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Spring springs some tasty things.

Garlic at the start of the week - happy and excited to grow!

Garlic at the start of the week – happy and excited to grow!

Note: this is a different side of the garlic patch. But yes, it was a swamp from The Great Flood.

Note: this is a different side of the garlic patch. But yes, it was a swamp from The Great Flood.

Swamp. Le sigh.

Swamp. Or, really, a running river. Le sigh.

So maybe you heard. It rained.

It rained for days. And as I am a terrible farmer who broke her rain gauge and never mounted its replacement, all I know is that it rained A LOT. I’ve got video of a veritable river running down the side of the field (and sadly, but not too tragically, running through the bottom of my pea rows), and the trenches it left behind are pretty impressive. My dairy boss nearby market it at 4.8 inches – which translates to¬†a mess for a lot of friends and fields in the area. Today has been a soggy day of runoff and assessing any damages, and determining when we can get back on the ground.

Nature, my friends. It’s a heck of a thing.

Thankfully, one of the only upshots to growing on a hill (hah) is that everything above flood level is now really happy. The perennial herbs are stoked.

happy perennials

My happy perennials – rhubarb, lovage, sorrel, thyme, sage, chives, lavender, and more to come soon.

happychives

The Chive.

lovage

The lovage, which was pretty irate about the severe temperature change two weeks ago, has since recovered and is ready to be celery 2.0 for the masses.

It’s fun to see all these things come back to life.

We’ve had a busy, busy time of things since we last spoke. Lots of seeding, prepping, and now, finally, finally starting to plant. Everything feels so delayed – from the fluctuating temperatures and weird, late-April snow to The Great Flood – but in the next couple days all the happy greens and potatoes should be in the ground, the peas, radishes, spinach, beets and turnips should be a billion times bigger than they were two days ago, and June 1 will be that much closer.

purple passion asparagus

Some purple passion asparagus popped up yesterday!

breakfast radish baby

Baby breakfast radishes ūüôā

Mizuna

Our friends Mizuna

tomato country

Big tomato country!

Darling dearest wife Olivia came up on her birthday to spend the day potting up tomatoes, peppers and eggplants and planting onions in the field. Momma Wags helped put in onions, scallions and onion sets, and Strider helped with the row cover on the first mesclun planting. Grow, babies, grow.

Liv workin

onion sets

Don’t worry – even if we get the cultivator working for potatoes and greens, we’ll still have some crooked rows of things. But they are less crooked with the Valley Oak Wheel Hoe!

dog helps

My dog is better than your employees.

onions sets

Stuttgarter and Red Baron sets – for tasty spring onions.

Certain tasks are¬†easier than last year. We got ourselves a Valley Oak Wheel Hoe from Green Heron Tools with a furrowing attachment to make arguably less crooked rows when we do one row of things at a time. Allegedly the cultivator will be up and running for rows of greens and things, but I don’t want to get too excited until it happens.

In the meantime, this guy is great!

In the meantime, this guy is great!

And the hops are happy and alive and growing. As we gear up to bottle a ginger beer this weekend (which I am beyond excited about – Steve has a killer recipe), I can’t help but be stoked to use these guys in the future.

Hops1

Hops are hoppy and happy.

My dear compadre and exquisite carpenter friend Justin has been coming up to the property after a full day of work to build me a walk-in fridge. I love guys who can build things, especially when they are friends and like smaller projects. Tomorrow my air conditioner I shopped for on PortableACNerd.com arrives, and once this puppy is insulated and dry-walled, I won’t be quite as crazy about running around hours before market trying to pick last minute mountains of peas and beans and bunches of greens. The Coolbot will allow these veggies to stay happy and fresh despite the¬†summer heat.

maurer climbs

Justin climbs around in the dark being awesome.

just walkin

Strider admires Justin’s skills.

On a bittersweet note, Thursday marked my last day official day at the dairy until the cold weather comes around again. I just couldn’t maintain last year’s crazy schedule with another Philly market in play. I am excited to get on the field full time, but I’m really sad to be leaving the hilarious and sweet friends/new family who have helped me grow so much and put up with me for over a year now.

And, of course, I’m going to miss the cows and other assorted farm creatures.

chilling

These punks don’t even care that I’m leaving.

dairy candy

This dairy family even gives me Easter cows. Cows! Good thing they’re stuck with me for life now.

totoro kittens

Goodbye, Totoro kitten!

brown swiss baby

I will especially miss my clan of baby Brown Swiss. Now who will slobber up my ears and hair and hands every day?

So now we’ll be getting down to business – Cue the Mulan!

If at any point next week you are feeling bored or sad or don’t want to be inside, you just let me know. I’ll make a frittata and some tea and put on whatever music makes you happy (because plants like all kinds of music – at least my plants, anyway) and you can come plant or move fencing or seed lettuces or play with the dog. See you there?

See You, Field Cowboys…

dairy and oakley

Photo by Miss Dairy Boss Lady Andrea S-L.

To Market, To Market

Kohlrabi! The strangest veggie in town.

Another herb display picture? Can’t help it – it’s just too cute.

I have been slacking – again. But here are some beautiful photos of our produce at market to tide you over. I will give you the breakdown on all these delicious eats soon.

Things are trucking along here. Our newest mission is clove popping – breaking about garlic bulbs and sorting the cloves by size for planting stock. I can talk more about that later as well.

I went back to the lovely city of Philly this past weekend, and realized how much I missed it. But it was great to talk to my friends and be excited and have them be excited with me, and it’s helping me push through the challenges of planning Wagner Farmstead.

Tomatillos, onions and shallots – oh my!

The most beautiful radishes in the world!

Hot Portugal peppers, scapes, parsley.

Pumpkins and basil? We are having some seasonal confusion.

Hakurai Turnips- you can eat them raw. And yes, again our kohlrabi.

TTFN, Ta-Ta For Now!

-Farmer Liz