Thursday, February 27, 2020

BGF News - February 2020 - Vol. XLIII, No. 4

What's up on the farm?

Precipitation in the past month: Rain: 0.00"
                                                            Snow: 3.00"

While it is only the end of February, Spring is definitely in the air around the farm. We are seeing and hearing flights of geese and swans moving north, there is a softness to the air on certain afternoons and then there is this, the sound of moving water as the snows melt and the frost comes out of the ground. Turn up your speaker volume for the full effect.

We are also seeing the first hints of green in some of the hardier plants outside, including this parsley plant growing in a sheltered area of the herb garden.

But for us, the real harbinger of Spring is seed starting for our seasons's transplants. It starts slowly, with onions, leeks, shallots, celery, edible flowers, long season herbs and chard & kale (photo left) for the high tunnels. These crops are all sown and most are germinated and growing. In the next couple of weeks, things will start getting serious on the seed front with sowings of broccoli, cabbage, chard, kale, collards & head lettuce.

Besides sowing seeds, we have been catching up on lots of inside work including cataloging seeds, test germinating older seed, completing the garden maps and planting charts and stocking up on our yarn & wool roving inventory. We continue to make slow but steady progress on the storm damage to the house with the bedroom & living room nearly done and the office well underway. It will be such a relief when everything can go back to where it belongs (we are currently "office-ing" in our dining room).There are some outdoor activities that are getting done as well including starting to clear spent high tunnel crops, pruning fruit trees & bushes and on those bitterly cold days,  gathering eggs every 2 hours so they don't freeze. 

We've also been managing orders and harvesting for our VegEmail deliveries and working on planning, communications and record keeping for the 2020 CSA season. Speaking of the CSA, our veterans have had a chance to sign up and we are now releasing any available slots to new members. If you are a veteran CSA member and haven't yet signed up, please do so soon to ensure your spot. With the recent, heartbreaking news of our friends at Grinnell Heritage Farm retiring their CSA this season we are seeing a higher number of new member signups and we anticipate filling all our available slots. If you are a new member and are considering joining us for the 2020 season, now is the time to act. You can get all the details and sign-up form here: Blue Gate Farm CSA 2020

Upcoming dates of note:
March 21: Heartland Fiberpalooza - Winterset, IA
mid-April: CSA invoices go out
May 1: CSA  balance payments due
May 2: opening Downtown Des Moines Farmers Market
June 2: 1st CSA delivery

Remember if you can't wait until spring for farm-fresh products, you can place a VegEmail order every two weeks and we will deliver them to Des Moines, Knoxville or you can pick them up on the farm. Eggs, fresh produce, popcorn, jam and herbs all rotate through the availability list until the start of the farmers market season in early May.

Is a weekly newsletter not enough for you? Do you want to read more about our life on the farm and see more pictures? Follow us on Facebook at Blue Gate Farm or on Instagram at bluegatefarmfresh. CSA members can also connect with other BGF members to share recipes or ask questions on our FB community page at Blue Gate Farm Community.

That's about it for now. If you have any questions or comments, be sure to let us know.
Best from the farm,
Jill & Sean (and the whole BGF crew)

Indigo, Luci & Sky

Monday, January 27, 2020

BGF News - January, 2020-Vol. XLIII, No.3

What’s up on the farm?

Precipitation in the past month: Rain/Ice: 0.4"
                                                             Snow/Sleet: 18"

Boy were we spoiled by the December/early January weather! It was warm enough the second week of January that we were able to set fence posts to protect the mulched strawberry bed from marauding chickens! Seemingly, winter returned to the farm and we are feeling bit whiney about it. The dogs and alpacas don't seem to mind too much as long as there is plenty to eat but the chickens are pretty offended and don't really want to leave the coops in the snow. In protest of the weather, egg production has decreased a bit which we don't mind at this time of year with lower demand for egg sales. 

Chicken sledding party
We did manage to sneak away for 5 days to visit family in Colorado earlier this month. It was a great chance to take a breather and focus on something else for a change. Huge thanks to Jill's parents and our farm crew who took over the care and feeding of the farm, making it possible for us to go. Naturally, the weather took a turn while we were away so their jobs were made much more challenging.

Since returning home, the weather has driven us indoors for the majority of the hours of the day, so we are attending to the many annual tasks that this time of year brings. Website updates, farm crew meetings, seed inventory, placing seed orders and planning garden maps for the 2020 growing season are all on the to-do or recently done lists. Seed sowing hasn't started yet, but by the next newsletter it should be underway. Fiber work has just ramped up for the year and there will be LOTS more to come. Our fiber customers were so amazing this past season that our stock is very low. More spinning, more dyeing!

OK, enough talk about winter, let's think ahead to spring and the upcoming CSA season. Now is the time to sign up for the 2020 Summer CSA. Renewal emails have gone out to our veteran members and we will hold spots for them until February 14th, at which time we will open any available spots to new members. If you are a veteran 2019 CSA member and didn't receive a renewal email, please let us know ASAP and we'll get you the link. We wouldn't want you to miss out on the beautiful bounty of produce that we are planning for this season. If you would like to become a new member of our CSA or have questions, shoot us an email to mail@bluegatefarmfresh. com and we'll get you rolling.

We continue to do our bi-weekly VegEmail deliveries. Harvesting for these sales can be a bit tricky as we have to closely follow the weather forecasts to ensure we can harvest in a timely manner. With unheated high tunnels, the crops may be safe under their row covers, but if the air temperature isn't above freezing, we can't harvest. Then, in extreme cold, there is the challenge of getting the harvested crops down to the packing shed without freezing. We sometimes have to harvest several days ahead of a delivery and then transport the crops to the barn in our market coolers on a sled. It all makes for some interesting logistical gymnastics.

Remember, if you can't wait until spring for farm-fresh products, you can place a VegEmail order every 2 weeks  and we will deliver them to Des Moines, Knoxville or you can pick them up on the farm. Eggs, fresh produce, popcorn, jam and herbs all rotate through our availability list until the start of the farmers market season. If you want to receive the VegEmail announcements, just fill out the form here: Mailing List and be sure to indicate which delivery location you prefer.

Is a weekly newsletter not enough for you and you want to read more about our daily adventures or see pictures of the farm?  Follow us on Facebook at Blue Gate Farm and/or share your recipes, experiences and questions with other BGF members at Blue Gate Farm Community.

That’s about it for now, if you have any questions or comments be sure to let us know. 
Best from the farm,
Jill & Sean (and Indigo, Luci & Sky)