A busy Monday.
We had a woman named Lauren come out and helped us weed out the raspberry patch this morning/early afternoon. I met Lauren at the march Winter market in Oxford. She had just moved to town and needed a place to play in the dirt and asked if she could help us out. I said yes. And she works for food. She was an interesting person, secular and politically left of center and because she teaches Medieval Lit at a college in PA she is fluent in middle and old English. I think that's way cool. She's here to be with her SIO while on sabbatical. And she seems to be a careful gardener which is good. We have lots of work for her to do this spring.
When she arrived I was folier feeding garlic, spinach and the strawberry plants in a hoophouse (that are already in flower!). Eugene and I had already made 2" soil blocks and transferred some basil and pac choy to those and he was getting ready to plant more seed. he stopped his seed planting and worked with Lauren weeding out the raspberries for about an hour and when I was finished feeding fish emulsion to plants I got in on the action.
I noticed the raspberries are beginning to leaf out. This is early for them but considering we have had temperatures about 25 degrees above normal who can blame them. They probably think that it is far later in the spring than it is. They are hardy plants as long as they are not producing flowers and fruit so if they leaf out and the weather decides to go to 25 degrees below normal next week they should be alright.
Lauren had to leave around 2pm. She got a nice big bag of lettuce and a couple of garlic bulbs and a bag of dried basil. It's like having a CSA again only this time the member is engaged with the farm and I do not write a newsletter. Of course no money is changing hands, but that is okay with me. Right now we can use help more than cash.
After she left I read email and than ordered the first of the planned 600 meat birds. I ordered a straight run of 50 rock cornish cross day old chicks to be picked up this coming Sunday and a second batch of 100 cornish hen chicks to be picked up Easter Sunday. It sure will be fun to have baby chicks again. They are entertaining and a good source of meat, manure and income for us. Hopefully Danny boy and Nate will not think of them as snacks. Last year Nate was quite bad about wanting to kill the chicks but we managed to keep most alive other than the first day we stupidly put them on pasture and than left the farm to do a farmers market and also left the dogs out to "guard" the chicks. When we got home, Nate had pushed their fence down and had killed a couple of the chicks and was mouthing a couple of others when we arrived. We had to punish Nate and gather up about 25 peeps that had run into tall grass and weeds to hide from the huge predator and put their fence back together all before unpacking from the market. It was a bad scene, one that will not be repeated.
As I write this blog entry I am making a chicken and vegetable soup for dinner. I have been having cooking problems for the past week, ever since the element in the oven burned up. I find I am oven dependant and not having one has taken me out of my cooking comfort zone. Granted, I know how to make literally hundreds of dishes on the stove top but complete meals here often include baked squash, biscuits, a cake, roasted potatoes, roasted chicken, etc.. And at the moment I cannot embellish meals not make dessert from scratch (which is a good thing health-wise but a bad thing enjoyment-wise)