November recap

November and early December have kept us very busy, despite ending our market season and getting those two days a week back. Here’s a quick rundown of various project, and the status of things around here.

FIELD/GARDEN WORK

October was so wet, most of our fall cleanup waited until November. All the garden beds, and about half the field beds, get new manure spread on them after harvests are complete. We bring it in, spread it on the beds, work it in with a hoe, then mulch over the top with straw. Some beds could be done right away, others have had to wait until their contents are finally harvested.

FINAL HARVESTS

Especially with a mild November, we’ve been holding many items in the ground for our own use. Greens like mustard, kale, collards, tat soi, mizuna, arugula, and more had gotten too old to sell at market, but were perfectly edible for us and friends. We also had quantities of cabbages, carrots, leeks, turnips, and radishes that were enough for us, but not for further markets. So we’ve been eating off these leftovers all month until some recent nights in the teens made it clear that we needed to bring them in. So we harvested as much as we could, put it in cold storage, and will make it a few more weeks. Some things, like mizuna and tat soi and turnips, we harvested into bins for use as goat and goose food while it lasts.

GOATS & GEESE

Speaking of which, we have one more kid to butcher now that deer season is done, and that will bring us back to our standard winter population of two does. Garlic is still giving us over a quart a day of milk, and I’ve been able to really start putting up good hard cheese for winter and spring. We’ll probably dry her off by the end of December, giving her a break before expected kidding in April. The geese will do fine through the winter, eating hay, grain, and vegetable castoffs, and will hopefully start laying big, fresh eggs in late winter (they started in late February last year).

WINTER ANIMAL SHELTER
We built this winter home for the goats and geese, using chain panels purchased from a neighbor and a temporary metal roof with cedar lumber. It’s lined with old alfalfa bales that weren’t quite food grade, which make a solid wall from weather. One side is for each species; the chickens have their own cedar shed.

LOGGING

We’re slowly getting started on the winter logging work, though other farm needs have really cut into this so far. This winter we’d like to finish clearing our future orchard (above) while cleaning out some of our brushier animal pastures to leave just a few nice trees instead of lots of scrub. We’re also hoping to cut a few roads through parts of the property to connect fields and run water along. Finally, we need to push trees back around the market garden before building a new and better fence there. The beauty of logging cedars off future fields is that we generate all the posts we need right on-site.

This heading really also includes firewood, as I’ve been cutting up, splitting, and/or moving the winter’s firewood supply to the house from its various locations.

INDOOR WORK
Then there’s the office work. Lots of it. We have our massive and complex seed order to plan and get out by mid-January, all the annoying and complicated business/personal tax stuff to figure out, our 2010 organic certification paperwork to complete and submit (including digitizing and formatting all our 2009 records), employment practices for 2010 to research and decide upon (more on that soon), updates and changes to our website, and so on. There’s more; we figure we have about 3 months of office work and 3 months of outdoor work to cram into 3 months of down time before farming starts up again in late February. It’s going to be a busy winter.

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