Thursday, March 15, 2012

Alice In Farmland

Welcome to the blog for our new farming project! We have yet to name our farm, but things are moving fast. The property we are working belongs to a former professor of Filipe's. The land as well as our home have been in her family for generations, but her own work as an economist has kept her from having to the time to develop it. She was excited to have us come to live and work here, in part to protect her home and property from damage and theft that comes with sitting unattended and in part from a desire to see the land supporting sustainable, organic projects. The estate already has a substantial network of grapevines but no way to produce wine from them, although I find the grapes perfectly good for eating raw! There are also various mature fruit trees including fig, tangerine, cherry, apple, plum and lemon as well as kiwi vines. We have also planted some hazelnut trees and will be planting more fruit trees this week before it gets too warm.

     I have to admit that we aren't completely sure what the ultimate goal of this new project is, but developing low maintenance systems (think fruit/nut trees rather than green houses full of lettuce) is a definite desire of ours. Of course, since my work is limited to the farm for now, I am dedicated to making us as self-sufficient as possible. One goal of mine is to go all summer and through the fall without having to buy any food except rice, pasta and olive oil. We'll see. So far I have seeded and/or planted golden beets, purple carrots, collard greens, mustard greens, walla walla onions, okra, garlic, soybeans (to be consumed edamame style,) purple tomatillos, several varieties of heirloom tomatoes as well as arugula. In order for the produce to be certified organic, which would be necessary if I ever want to sell anything, the seeds have to come from a certified provider. I  chose High Mowing out of Vermont as well as some from Sow True who are located in Asheville, NC.
Seeding in egg cartons
I have also begun raising geese. My first two, Adam and Eve are only a few months old but growing fast. I also became the happy owner of two more small geese, but after only two days they got sick. I spent two days forcing them to drink vegetable broth with honey to stay hydrated and stayed near them to keep them warm in the night but still they died. It was less upsetting for me than I thought it would be, but I am still wondering what I could have done differently. The first two did so well and adapted quickly and energetically to their new surroundings. Filipe has had geese in the past and said I did everything right. Well, as we continue to try to understand what went wrong so the mistake doesn't happen again I also have to accept that life on the farm is not always roses and sunshine- though we have those too.
Big Babies
      Our other big starter project has been the bees. Several weeks ago I purchased two bee boxes. The hope was that a swarm, leaving behind their crowded hive, might chose to take up residence in our boxes. This has been known to happen and at first it seemed likely, as bees came and went with curiosity. Alas, two weeks passed and they remain empty which means that in the next weeks we will have to purchase a couple of nuks, or a small group with a queen.
     As the days get longer and warmer the work is increasing around here, but as I work harder so does the farm itself. Seeds planted begin sprouting in days, the geese have doubled in size in a matter of weeks and the fruit trees seem to go from bare to flowers overnight. I hope you'll follow along on our journey and maybe get inspired to grow some things yourself!


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