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Friday, April 06, 2007

The Big Chill

After 2 weeks or so of well above average temperatures it is now freezing and this is not good for anyone.

We spent a frantic two days getting protection on the crops we have in the ground under very windy conditions. We did manage to keep row covers on everything that needed a row cover so I do not expect much loss with the annual crops. Most everything we have already put out can take quite a bit of cold so with row covers there should be little to no loss.

I also harvested all the lettuce and spring mix that could be damaged by wind and cold. This means we have quite a bit of stuff for sale right now. If you are in the SW Ohio/EC Indiana area and need fresh yummy greens (I have rarely had such good lettuce) drop me a line so we can set up a time for you to come out and buy some.

I don't know if I can say the same thing about the blackberries, raspberries, apples or pears yet. 2 days before this cold snap arrived the pear decided to go into full bloom and even if the flowers survive temps as low as 18˚F (very doubtful) there are no pollinators out and about to pollinate the flowers. Fortunately pears have the ability to put out 2 sets of flowers. Apples do not and even though the apples had not yet "pinked" (the stage before flowering) this does not mean the flower buds did not start to break dormancy and if they did they will likely be killed and there will be few apples for us this year. I am thankful apples are not a major crop for us or we would be in trouble and I wonder how my friend Scott Downing's orchards are doing. He is one of the bigger apple growers in this area and apples are a very major crop for him.

I am worried about the raspberries and blackberries. Both had leafed out right before the weather turned cold and they likely were developing flower buds that will be damaged by this weather. Than again, both are pretty feral as domesticated crops go and can take a lot of weather abuse before giving up. I am hoping we will be plesently surprised this summer with bumper crops from both.

I gotta say this was not unexpected. For the past 10 months or so we have had temps that are either 25 degrees above normal or 25 degrees below normal and when the temps got warm early I had a feeling we would see some fridgid temps before May. It would not surprise me to see a freeze around my birthday in mid May or later.

I did do one kind of bonehead thing. I ordered chicks early and we picked them up on April 1 and put them out on pasture. I knew this might be a bit early but we have biggish plans for poultry this year and had to start raising birds by April 1st. The thing about chicks is they have to be kept at around 90˚F for the first 5 to 10 days of their lives. this is reasonably easy to do indoors with heat lamps. It is far trickier to do outside on pasture. Eugene did fashion a small hoop structure for them and we have a chicken tractor inside with a lot of straw bedding and 2 heat lamps in the tractor and so far the birds are comfy and happy. The hoop structure is not great at keeping heat in but it does keep the heat sucking winds at bay so the lamps can do their job. Hopefully, the lamps will be enough for tonight when the temps may go below 18˚F. The good news is the weather is predicted to moderate starting Monday and will be in the normal range for about a week.

Climate change makes for a lot of adventures in farming

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