I feel a bit guilty about enjoying this unseasonably warm weather. Part of me also hasn’t had a chance to mentally end last season and start this season. Loads of snow and sub-zero temperatures usually help with that. I found myself today without a hat outdoors harvesting carrots for market this week (its supposed to snow on Thur). My face is slightly burned from the sun and wind exposure–but it feels so wonderful! Its almost like nature is letting us borrow some extra time to get outdoors and do all the things that we meant to do before winter. Is this what its like living in a place that doesn’t ever have winter?! Not sure if I’d want this every year though as much fun as it has been.
With the seed order, crop plan, transplant production plan, labor plan (we’re hiring!) and most of our accounting from 2011 complete–I am able to move onto other projects that need attention. This season we are building shelving and storage for all of the farm tools and equipment in the red barn. I spent a good afternoon organizing the piles of junk I let collect in there all season. I took a trip to the dump as well. I also did a great job neglecting the maintenance of our tools and spent an afternoon removing caked mud in preparation to sharpen them this week.
After last spring when we were pretty much finished in the transplant greenhouse, I let things get really crazy in there and now it looks completely disheveled. There is actually a broken table in the middle as well as dead grass that was growing around the inside near the sides.
One really important lesson from this past season is to implement good systems and follow them! Every week I vow to set aside time to do our book keeping, tool maintenance, organizing and planning. Did I mention we did a year’s worth of accounting in a week? It was painful. I’m sure I’m not the first farmer to toss a muddy tool into the barn at the end of a 12 hour work day and say ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’ but never again!! I will from now on commit to the ‘do-it-now’ philosophy. There just really are not any short cuts in this work. I know that we can only really healthfully grow as a farm/business if we tie all of our loose ends when they are made. This is a personal challenge for me–but I’ll take it!
I’ve also been working on getting materials together to apply for an EQUIP seasonal high tunnel grant through the NRCS (part of the USDA). This is the third year they have made available funds for farmers to put up hoop houses (or high tunnels). I know many folks in the area that have applied and put these up successfully. Our last step in the application process was to have Jeff come out and create a GIS map of the cultivated area of the farm. Not sure how it works, but it was essentially gadgets in a backpack. I’m quite technically savvy as you can tell. We should know by mid-March if we will receive the funding. If we do–we plan to put up a permanent 30’x96′ structure which is twice as large as the hoop house we have up now. Mark your calenders!
I’m hoping to be at market every Saturday from here on out with the exception of January 21st, 28th (we’ll be out of town). Right now the Ann Arbor Kerrytown Market is the best fit. It runs from 8AM-3PM and there are quite a number of vendors and customers. I’ll also be focusing on our Farm Share Card Program! We have 15 awesome members that signed up in 2011 and we’ve got 15 Share Cards remaining! My goal is to have 15 more families sign up before market begins in May so we hit the ground running!