Season Begins Next Week!

The season begins next week!  If you have thought of buying a share, now’s an excellent time to consider it.  Please call me at (302) 540 0912, or e-mail at oh.farm@yahoo.com, if you have any questions or would like to visit.

In the meantime, a photographic tour of the field!

What’s growing for next week?  We have some broccoli, but the nascent heads are only barely to be seen.  We may pick some broccoli greens as a complement to our Siberian kale.

Our heads of lettuce were small when I took this photo, so I watered them and covered them with row cover.  The miniature greenhouse environment should help them plump up for next week.

We also have some “Sugar Ann” snap peas.  They’re tiny!  We’ll start harvesting them as soon as they’re ready, and keep it up as long as we can.  They may be ready for next week.

What else is in the field?  We have some rows of excellent potato plants, soaking up the big rain and the hot sun.

Our recently transplanted tomatoes aren’t quite recovered from transplant shock.

What’s that plastic sheet doing on the field?  It’s killing weeds, and preparing for a plot of herbs and flowers.

And finally, a little mysterious damage.  The bottom of our squash plants’ cotyledons (seed leaves) are all pitted and holed.  Well, this plant gave up its secrets.  Slugs!  Those plants have been covered and watered, too, to grow enough to outrace the slug damage.

Here’s a more pleasant photo to end on.  Rows of cole crops, growing and growing.

Spring Clean-Up! Success!

Last Saturday, April 22nd, we hosted our first big “volunteer event” of the season, the Spring Clean-Up.  The nineteen of us fixed up the stables and the goat fence, cleaned up the fields and the orchard, and thoroughly cleaned and organized the barn.

The rain put us into the barn around lunchtime, and we got a lot of work done!  The change is pretty unbelievable.  After concluding the work, we took a tour of the medicinal herbs growing wild in the field.

Thanks to all who helped out, and a special thanks to Melody Caulfield, who organized the whole thing!

Summer Camp Down on the Farm!

Summer Camp at the Farm? Hooray! A week at the farm! This summer, children, ages 8 – 13, can spend an intensive week at the farm, chock full of things to discover and experience. The history of and innovations in farming: shadoufs and aqueducts, wheel seeders and flame weeders; the interplay of soil, sun, and water; bugs – who’s who and how they help and hurt; all about the plants, when and how they grow and why, how we help, what we eat, plus wild foraging between the rows of our tamer, more familiar produce; and animals on the farm, how they’re the same and different, their jobs at the farm, how to care for them, and then play with them!

And in the late afternoon, we’ll discover how cultivation and culture come together in music, fine arts, the written word, and crafts. Each day will focus on a different piece of music, artwork, or writing with the chance for the children to make their own music, their own art, their own poetry or stories, their own crafts, or spend more time in the fields and meadows or with the animals- however the child is inclined. Children bring their own lunches and we meet rain or shine! Camp runs from 9:00 AM – 3:30 PM with late pick-up available from 4:00 PM to 5:30PM. Space is limited, so to reserve a place follow the link http://kranzhillfarm.org/summer-camp/  . See you this summer! We can hardly wait!

Spring Clean-Up at the Farm!

Saturday, April 22nd
10 AM – 2 PM
Bring a friend and a picnic lunch!  Spring at the Kranz Hill Farm!
On Saturday, April 22nd, from 10 AM to 2 PM, we’ll be cleaning up the farm to make it look excellent.  We’re expecting a photographer at the farm the following week (April 25th), and want the place to be neat and clean, so that we can show off its beauty without all the clutter.
This cleaning could be important for the farm.  Our lease on the property is up this year, and we are planning to apply for a ten-year lease with the state park.  However, we will be in competition with other organizations.  If we can show the park that we’re able to take care of the property, and mobilize a bunch of interested community members, it will make the argument that the farm is a real asset.

The Midnight Farmer What Farms At Midnight…

In these past couple of weeks, we’ve really leapt on the farming season.  Plans to get into the field earlier were held off by snow and ice —

— but last week’s lovely weather had us spreading tons of mushroom soil.  Once the soil was laid down, we plowed and harrowed, and the soil was prepared for planting.

It’s a rough preparation.  We could do a lot more, but other duties left us cutting corners.  We may pay for it later in the season — weeding is going to be a challenge.  But in the meantime, we could begin putting in our cole crops, right on time.

Yesterday, I planted about 1300 seedlings — “Imperial” and “Gypsy” broccoli, “Platinum Dynasty” cabbage, and “Winterbor” kale.  (This kale is the same variety and greenhouse that gave us the excellent kale of last fall!)  I was impressed how quickly it could go.  The work was done in about 5 and a half hours.

(Want to see a short video of the transplanting?  Check it out at our Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Kranz-Hill-Farm-121028901408320/)

Why the midnight bomber?  Well, after getting the seedlings at 3 PM, and going in for dinner and putting the kids to bed, the last seedlings were planted at 12:36 AM, by the dim light of the slender moon.  Why so late?  I usually prefer to transplant before a rain than afterwards, and we anticipated a big rain for much of today.  And so it happened.  Seedlings transplanted and watered in by the rain.

Now we look forward to these crops at the end of May!

It’s winter, but we’re still here!

 

After Christmas, with the lengthening days, we’re always aware that we’re building up to spring.  My heart starts getting ready for the next season, and every warm spell stirs me to pick up the pace a little more — even if we might just have three weeks of snow in the middle of February.

We’ve put in our first seed order for the year.  In distinction to previous years, we’re only ordering enough for the first three months of planting.  Even though we may lose out on some bulk discounts, we expect to avoid wasting seeds and money when we change plans (and so don’t use seeds we’ve bought) or when seeds lose viability by held for a year or two.

That means early cole crops, lettuce, and root crops, along with peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, and peas.  It’s not a small order — perhaps half of the season’s cost.  But it’s a relief to have it done!

We also have a major change planned for the spring.  We’ve made due with the same small greenhouse for six years, but this year we’ll be “farming out” our seedling production to an Amish grower who sold us some decent kale, broccoli, and cabbage seedlings last summer.  Since his greenhouse is more efficient than ours, we should have more lettuce, broccoli, and cabbage earlier in the season than we have had for years.

Since I won’t be working in the greenhouse, I’ll be able to spend more time preparing the field, and I’m expecting to spread a lot of mushroom soil this spring, to add fertility an improve the tilth.  I am very excited about it.  I’m hoping to add about 500 too 1000 cubic yards (that’s 150 to 300 tons!).  The cost isn’t small, and I’m looking for deals.  The soil should make for bigger root crops, longer carrots, and more consistently healthy crops.

Stay tuned.  Contact us for more information.  Ask about a share, or if you’re interested in getting involved.

A Good End to a Good Season

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We concluded our 2016 season on Friday, with a pickup that included a large variety of greens and root crops.  It was our best season yet.  Our irrigation system was adequate to face the summer’s dry weather.  Our new succession planting system led to a much larger variety available for shareholders each week.  Assistance from three interns gave us the needed extra hands for the season’s difficult parts, and our apprentice, Walt McClure, gave us great help and company since he joined in May.  (Walt will be farming independently but cooperatively on our property next year!)

I’ll be tallying up the year’s harvests by crop, and may be able to share that here in another post.  In the meantime, I have a rough financial report.  Here’s an account I gave to shareholders at the end of the season (slightly amended to include the last week’s value.)

Estimated Value of the Shares
I am pleased that my estimate of the value of the season’s produce has far surpassed the initial cost. We know that making a payment up front is an investment, and, in order for this to be a good business for you all, and for society, we need to return some interest.
Here are the details, through last week’s share. The adjusted value takes into account some inconvenience from having a share smaller than the expected size, or significantly larger than the expected size.
Total Value
Average per week
Adjusted Value
Average Per Week
Tuesday Small
$478.00
$19.12
$452.75
$18.11
Tuesday Regular
$711.92
$28.48
$673.30
$26.93
Friday Small
$489.05
$19.56
$489.93
$18.40
Friday Regular
$729.22
$29.17
$685.15
$27.41
A few notes: This doesn’t take into account missed pickups, so someone who missed a lot of pickups won’t have gotten the same value of produce. It also doesn’t take into account the seconds available at the pickups, or extras like raspberries, apples, beans, or sauce tomatoes. There are also, of course, the overall differences between a farmers market or grocery store, and weekly pickups at our CSA.
The first eight weeks were pretty weak, falling significantly below the expected average half the time. That was the period when I heard concerns from a few shareholders about the value. I predicted then that the shares would improve, and they did. Only at one distribution since have we fallen below, and then only slightly.
Friday’s value has been generally higher, which I attribute to the fact that we have about ¾ the number shareholders on Fridays as Tuesdays. I have tried to bring the value closer together, and had some small success, often holding on to something more for Tuesday rather than giving everything out on Friday. I am pleased that both shares are fairly close, and both far above the expected value.

 

Fall Pork Sale!

willow-haven-pork-1

 

Check out our new page on pork from Willow Haven Farm!  We’re hosting our second pork delivery.  The meat is excellent, and at an excellent price!

Pork From Willow Haven Farm

Haedalia 2016! — Saturday, September 24th

Our annual festival, Haedalia, is going to be held tomorrow, September 24th from 10 AM to dusk!  Come and join us for a delightful time.

Laughing Margaret in Rice

 

Admission is free.  See our Facebook page for more details.