Monday, December 28, 2015

Winter Snows

I awoke at 2:30 this morning to the deep hush that you only get when the Earth is blanketed in new fallen snow. It started yesterday and has been snowing lightly ever since. It's not a lot yet, maybe five inches or 13cm. It's hard to tell looking from my window. But it's enough that everything is well covered in a layer of white and it's reflecting the starlight and waning moon so that it appears much brighter outside than it has in months. I always find the darkest winter nights are those with no snow to reflect the light back. This means that it's officially the end of gardening season and the beginning of planning season, although we are still hopeful that if it warms up a little we might get some turnips out of the garden that are buried under the snow right now. The snow will actually insulate them from the cold drying winds that cause so much damage to plants. Having a layer of snow is actually good for your perennials. 

Planning for a CSA and market garden happens on an ongoing basis. Rotations, sunlight, pests, soil characteristics and fertility, all these facrors and more go into our decisions on which crops to grow and where the following year. We also have the considerations of the tunnels and greenhouse for starting early crops and seedlings too. It's becoming quite a complex thing to manage it all. So I'm writing it all up on paper initially but it will soon be transferred to a series of spreadsheets so that we can plan and monitor our progress and production. The week that it will take me to get it all sorted out will be worth it in efficiency in the growing season. It also means I can order seed ahead of time and that's important for crops that we grow a lot of and for our grafted tomatoes to ensure we get the rootstocks and varieties we want. Popular items sell out fast and I don't want to be left in April scrambling for seeds. 

Just because it's winter doesn't mean there's nothing going on here except paperwork. We are growing wheatgrass for a new customer. Lenna of In The Raw Sprouting Centre in Porters Lake has ordered a weekly supply of 10 pounds of fresh wheat grass for her business and we're happy to do that for her. As you know it's something we've done before and so as we speak the seeds (sometimes called wheat berries) are putting out little roots as they germinate. Once they've had another rinse in the morning they'll be ready to transfer to the soil trays for growth. Lenna is expecting the usual New Years rush of people who want to improve their health so we will be starting with a larger initial batch and then settling into a regular delivery schedule that will continue year round. Wheatgrass is pretty easy to grow indoors so we have space set up that's got the right temperature for the most part and we use clean food grade plastic trays and organic potting soil. Lots of other growers don't use soil, but wheatgrass is one plant that really does well in a soil medium. I'll take some pics of our methods once it's light outside. 

The rush of kids visits and dinners is over now and we're eating turkey leftovers. Yum! It's a good way to load the kids all up with root veggies we have stored for winter. Meghan is going to stay with her brother in the city for a few days which will be a nice break for her. She's leaving today. And Steve is back to work as usual. I think he's home again on Thursday and we're going to friends for New Year's Eve. Other than that it's just a quieter time at the farm. Having said that, it's 3:49 am right now and one of the roosters out at the hen house just started crowing. It wasn't a one off either, he's regularly warbling away every twenty seconds or so. And I can hear the ducks gently chattering too. Oh, now one of the Roos in the greenhouse beside my bedroom is joining in. With any luck they'll realize that dawn is hours away yet and go back to sleep. If I'm awake in the middle of the night like I am now, I always keep my bedside lamp off so as to not wake the Roos. I don't mind the noise and in fact I'm so used to it that I'll sleep through the pre-dawn racket. But the sound carries down the hill and along the river somehow and spreads over the neighbourhood. Our rooster named Gargle was famous for miles for his distinctive crow. Oh, the ducks are muttering curses at the moment and heading for their favourite spot under the house. That means either there's a predator about or Jordan's let the dog out to pee and she's scared them. Either way the yard is now quiet again and all I can hear is the gentle breathing of my sleeping family and the occasional crackle of the fire in the kitchen. I put a couple of logs on at 3 to keep the stove warm so that when Steve gets up at five to get ready for work the house will still be warm. The wood stove is our only source of heat and since its small it requires more regular filling than a larger stove does. But it's the perfect size for our little trailer and with good dry wood and a box fan that blows up the narrow hallway, it keeps the house warm. Our woodshed is now moved to be outside the back door and is expanded in capacity. We could probably get 6 cords of wood in there and still have a wide walkway but we burned less than 3 last winter and we  aren't expecting to burn more than that this winter. I let the fire burn low when it's just me at home and overnight so unlike a modern house the temperature fluctuates quite a bit. But that's okay with me. It just means warming the oven if I want to rise bread or planning ahead and warming the kitchen. 

Well I'm going to try and get some sleep. The roosters are all quiet again so it seems like a good time. Sleep well my friends!  

Here's a pic of the unfinished side of the woodshed. The other two sides have recycled metal sheets we salvaged from our friends shed that got some damage in the hurricane last year. 

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