Look at those rows. Have you ever seen something so cathartic in your entire life? Rightly so, because getting to this point has been an all week endeavor, which began with yet another hydraulic hose attacking me. Preparing our fields for planting is a 4 step process that occurs over a few months time. We begin with the plows, then the discs, followed by a set of tooth harrows, and lastly a few heavy boards to perfectly level the soil.
The field pictured here has been freshly raked with the spike tooth harrows, which means it is nearly ready to plant. The first planting is always exciting, and I was thrilled to finally be hooking the tractor up to the harrows. I plunged the hydraulic hoses into their hook up, and reached down and pulled the pin out of the tongue. I took a step back, looked up at Thomas and said, "ok", and before I could even close my mouth, I was drenched in a torrent of hydraulic fluid. I wiped my face off, and inspected the hose. Sure enough, just like the plow incident a few weeks ago, the hose was dry rotted. I don't think I'll ever learn.
Our luck never did improve. A rain shower halted our efforts the next day, and by the time the ground was dry enough to work, nearly the entire week was gone. We did however manage to get the area we needed for spring crops prepared, which was paramount, as the weather has already pushed us 2 weeks behind schedule.
However, my luck finally improved once I saw the delivery man carrying this down the driveway. Our first year we planted all of our seeds by hand. It allowed for perfect spacing, no waste from thinning, and a consistent planting depth which allowed more seed to germinate. It also provided plenty of headaches and a lot of backaches. So, our second year, we hesitantly decided to purchase a basic seeder. We were willing to put up with some of the seeder's shortcomings in exchange for the convenience. It didn't take long for those shortcomings to become serious problems as the seed began germinating. Each row would have alternating sections plants much too close, and then large, barren gaps. The amount of time we spent filling in empty spaces, and culling out the excess plants negated all conveniences promised by the cheap, inefficient machine. I searched all winter long, determined to find a solution before spring planting. I finally stumbled upon this fine instrument which actually manages to plant seeds with hand seeding accuracy. This lets us finish planting in a mere fraction of the time of previous years, freeing up time to focus on other chores.
We have been fully taking advantage of the extra daylight hours this week. The sun has set on us several nights as we finish setting out onions. The varieties for this year are:
In addition, hundreds more leeks and thousands of bunching onions were also planted. Getting all of these fragile guys in the ground is a painful test of patience. Unlike almost every other species we grow, onions are only planted once a year. I constantly reminded myself of this as I spent the week hunched over them, plugging away, steadily staring at the growing pile of empty trays in earnest.
Calves do the funniest thing after they finish a bottle...they frantically search for more milk, and more often than not, end up trying to suck each others ears like a child sucks a pacifier. One night while we were feeding they managed to form a bovine chain of ear pacifiers. In the front of the picture New Cow is still drinking his bottle. Just behind him you can see Little Bit latched onto his ear desperately trying to find milk. Last in line is Ellie Mae, doing her best Linda Blair impersonation, all the while gnawing away at poor Little Bit's ear.
The cough that the calves had last week has resolved, and they are in much better shape. The warm sun renewed their energy, so this afternoon I turned them out to get some exercise. Ellie Mae got so excited that she somehow managed to kick herself in the head. She never ceases to be a constant source of entertainment.
It's been another busy week, spent rushing about trying to finish chores, and making repairs that can't wait through our longest growing season yet. I've found farming to be quite the paradox, as no matter how much work you are able to finish, you are always left with more than when you started...and that's how I will end this note, with more work left than when I began.