Wednesday, May 17, 2017

BGF News - February 2017

Blue Gate Farm News – Volume XXXII, Number 2    February 2017

Weather notes:
Precipitation to date in the past month: Rain/Ice: 0.45"
Snow: 2.75"

What’s up on the farm?

Happy February from the farm. It feels a bit like we have taken a southern vacation with all of this recent warmer weather. In a normal winter we would still be frozen up tight, but the frost is already out of the ground this month, and I don't anticipate that we will regain that this season. While it is absolutely delightful conditions to get some early spring chores done, it also contributes to a weekly "mud season" rather than getting the normal month-long version in March. Crazy stuff! Will just have to be patient and see what the spring brings us.

The dogs love this weather as we are outside more so they are not feeling so "neglected." The alpacas pretty much take it all in stride, though they would like the grass to start growing again for better grazing. Percy is disgruntled as he has been placed in 'paca jail (the old, permanently fenced chicken yard) because he was making free-use of the chicken feeders when he visited (multiple times a day). This isn't good for him, the chickens or the feed bill. As soon as we relocate the alpaca pasture, he should be able to move back in with Boris.

The chickens have taken their cue from the increasing daylight and really ramped up the egg-laying. We are currently getting 11-12 doz eggs a day, which makes for a lot of egg washing during mud season. The ladies aren't particularly fond of mud, but they do seem to prefer it to snow. They too are ready for more green things to graze. They seem to have taken on Percy as a role model, as a number of them have located holes in their pasture fence and enjoy taking a walk-about around the farm. Their favorite destination seems to be the upper garden where they have repeatedly scratched the straw mulch off of the garlic plantings. Sigh. I keep telling myself as I fork the mulch back in place that they are eating weed/oat seed that had fallen off the mulch, but it doesn't make me any happier to have to keep replacing it. Every time I think I have all the fence holes patched, they discover a new one. It's a good thing I like chickens!

This past weekend we hosted one of our favorite events of the year, our annual retreat of the Gang of 4 Farms (now 5 farms). We spent a lively weekend of eating, chatting about farming & politics, eating, taking a tour of the local, Amish-owned, organic potting soil company and eating some more. One of the farms even took the time to do our annual Certified Naturally Grown certification inspection before they headed back to their own farm (thanks Rob!). We really appreciate this dedicated time to share ideas, questions, challenges and resources with other like-minded farmers.

The marathon of last month's seed ordering has morphed into boxes and boxes of seeds being delivered. They have all been sorted and stored and are now ready for the next stage…sowing! That begins this coming week, starting with onions, leeks, shallots and edible flowers, followed by long season herbs. So our winter's rest time is done and now its time to get farming again!

Just to allay your fears that your farmers are just lolling about eating bonbons all winter, we are pleased to report that our bi-weekly VegEmail sales have been booming since starting up just after the first of the year. Big high fives to our fabulous customers, who have been placing record-breaking orders for eggs, veg, stewing hens and popcorn. These sales are so critical for helping to pay the feed and seed bills that are coming in this time of year. And even though we have gone through most of our storage crops, the crops in the new high tunnel are coming along to provide fresh greens to get us all through the rest of winter. We plan to continue these sales until the start of the farmers market season at the beginning of May. If you aren't receiving emails about these sales, and would like to, please let us know.

We're hiring! We are starting to advertising for farm crew members for the upcoming season. If you know of anyone in the area who might enjoy a summer-worth of suntans, whole body workout and bonus vegetables, send them our way! These are paid positions that start as early as mid-April and possibly go through late December.

2017 CSA Season
The sign up period for the 2017 CSA season is now open to all. If you are a veteran CSA member and didn't receive a subscription email, please let us know ASAP.  The 2017 Base CSA Membership is $500 for the 20 week season. Deposits ($50) are due at the end of February with balance payments will be due on May 1st. We will send out invoices for those amounts mid-April. We anticipate the first delivery of the 2017 season to be the first week of June, weather-depending.

Is a monthly newsletter not enough for you and you want to read more about our daily adventures or see pictures of the farm?  You can follow us on Facebook at Blue Gate Farm.

That’s about it this month, if you have any questions or comments be sure to let us know. 

Best from the farm,
Jill & Sean (and Blue, Luci and Indigo)

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