Tuesday, February 4, 2014

BGF News 1/2014

Volume XXIII, Number 1    January 2014

Weather notes:  (COLD!)
Precipitation to date this month: Rain: trace
Snow: 5.6”

What’s up on the farm?

Happy New Year to everyone, just a bit late.  We hope the young 2014 has been as kind to you as it has to us.  

There hasn't been anything too exciting around the farm so far this year, besides our annual pilgrimage to the Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) conference.  This is one of our favorite events of the year and we look forward to learning about new farm-related skills, opportunities and techniques.  The best part of the conference though is catching up with farming friends, some of whom we only see “in person” this one time of the year.  

The colder-than-average temperatures have probably been the biggest news on the farm this winter. We are burning through wood much faster than in the past few years, but the additional wood-cutting chores help keep us from gaining too much winter-weight. The animals aren't particularly thrilled with the weather, but as long as we keep them supplied with feed, shelter and warm water, they are all just fine.

Blue and Luci have been enjoying the winter, especially on those sub-zero nights/days when they get to pretend they are house dogs. They do enjoy playing outside in nearly all weather, except rain, and are thrilled when we have visitors (especially kids) who will romp around the farm with them. They continue to take their farm-dog responsibilities very seriously and always let us know when someone drives up our lane, even if it is just us.

The chickens are amazingly hardy and are willing to venture out into all but the coldest temperatures, though on the snowiest days they have to be coaxed out onto the frozen whiteness with piles of fresh greens gleaned from the high tunnels.  Egg production has been slowly improving throughout the winter. We will make eggs available for sale as we have them. If you are in the area and want to stop by the farm for eggs, call and let us know, we will be happy to sell eggs if we have them available.

The bees are shivering the winter away, literally.  During cold weather a honey bee colony forms a ball with the queen in the center of the ball.   The worker bees “shiver” their wing muscles to create heat.  A colony with an ample population can maintain a temperature in the center of the ball in to the 80s! 

The seeds have all been ordered and the last of them arrived this week.  The annual sowing of transplants will begin in the sunroom in the next couple of weeks.  First on the schedule are: onions, leeks, shallots, green onions, edible flowers and perennial herbs. After that, things will start to get serious with the sowings of cabbages and broccoli and the direct sowing will begin in the high tunnels.  Before that can happen though, the winter crops will all be cleared from the tunnels and we will flood each of the beds to help clear the soils there of excess salts.  Then we should be about ready for planting.

We have starting organizing our farm crew for the upcoming season. We are thrilled that 2 of our 3 crew members from last year will be back on the farm with us for another season. We have one opening remaining and are talking to some interested candidates for that job. The line up is looking good!

2014 CSA Season
So, now that we’ve mentioned the 2014 crops and crew, let’s get to the 2014 Summer CSA.  The sign-up period for the season has already begun with veteran CSA members. These members will have until January 31st to let us know if they wish to continue their membership. The following week we will start contacting names from our waiting list to fill in any remaining slots.  If you are a (recent) veteran CSA member and didn't receive a subscription email, please let us know ASAP.  The 2014 Base CSA Membership is $490 for the 20 week season. Deposits ($50) are due at the end of February.  This year, for the first time, we are offering an Early Bird discount: any veteran member submitting their full payment by February 4th can subtract $20 from their total, otherwise, balance payments will be due on May 1st, and we will send out invoices for those amounts during April.  CSA payments can always be made via check or Dwolla. We anticipate the first delivery of the 2014 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)