This week has been a whirlwind. Raspberry and blackberry bushes needed planting, tomatoes needed hardening, and our cattle needed moved from their winter pasture (but first they would need sorted).
When we bought our new herd, we quarantined them for the first few months they were on the farm. This allows for any illnesses to be addressed before we commingle our herds. In order to properly quarantine them, we had to increase our stocking rate much higher than the pasture could support. This wasn't an issue until this week because the cattle were eating hay through winter. Well, winter is now over, and the cool season grasses have resumed growth. It was time to move them into the lush spring pasture that they love more than anything.
Last week I talked about planting the strawberries for the berry patch addition. The berry patch will not only contain strawberries, but it also has Yellow Raspberries, Red Raspberries, and Blackberries. These ship to us as freshly dug 1-2 year old plants, and are highly perishable. They also have to be hand planted due to the size and nature of their roots. All in all, we planted 450 raspberry and blackberry bushes. They may produce a small crop this year, but we expect it to be next year before we get a decent harvest.
This week we have been happy to have the help of Tara, who is taking part in the WWOOF program. WWOOF (Worldwide Opportunities On Organic Farms) aims to connect people interested in farming with actual farmers. It is a worldwide based educational program that is rich with culture. Tara is originally from Guam, so we have been able to enjoy some pretty awesome Chamorro treats, like kadu (chicken stew with coconut milk), and latiya (a delicious cake/custard desert). We'll be sad to see her go at the end of the week!
We also managed to start hardening our tomatoes this week. Hardening is a process of slowly introducing plants to the harsh outside environment that they will be grown in. Up until now they have been in a warm and comfy nursery...temperatures carefully maintained at exactly 70-80 degrees, bright lights for exactly 16 hours/day, and a watering schedule designed to keep them disease free and healthy. Now they must acclimate themselves to the reality of growing outside: spring storms, fluctuating temperatures, and varying degrees of light and water. If we were to pluck them straight from the nursery and put them in the field, most would die and the rest would languish. So, we introduce them to their new environment slowly, over a period of 5 days. Each day they spend longer and longer outside, until they are finally "hardened", and ready to be planted in the field.
Lots of other things happened as well: we discovered beetles in our beehive which will need trapping, the storm blew the plastic off of several raised beds and will need to be repaired, and we had our first meeting with the Organic Association of Kentucky to begin navigating the waters of USDA Organic certification.
Until next week,