Thursday, February 19, 2015


Winter, though officially here for quite some time now, has made itself well known this week.  I'm sure everyone has their own tale of stress and worry related to this unusually cold weather.  Ours is of keeping cows and chickens warm and fed and small plants above freezing.
We plan to have our cows calving in January, February and March so the calves are born before fly and worm season.  It has been a good plan for years now but this weeks' cold temperatures give us pause.  A calf born outside in these temps would have a slim chance of survival.  For the first time in the 9 years Aaron and I have had cows, we begged the use of our neighbors' barn to give shelter to a newborn calf and his mother as well as expectant mothers.  What a relief to see them cozy in there with lots of hay to bed down in!
We decided to go ahead with our seeding plan for the greenhouse even though the forecast told us we would have a big job keeping it warm enough.  We heat some of our benches with a propane hot water heater that pumps hot water thru hoses directly below the seedling trays.  It works really well but twice this week Aaron has had to making plumbing repairs because of frozen pipes.  We heat the air with a wood stove that is keeping the place barely above freezing.  
The chickens...the silly chickens seem not to notice the cold.  They stand in the water trough drinking as ice is forming around the edges of the pan.  And they go to their nesting boxes and lay eggs even today when the high was 13 degrees!
In spite of it all, beets germinate in the hoop-house under floating row cover and the cows give birth to fuzzy coated babies.
Today while 10 degrees and sunny outside, I donned my quilted coveralls and went out to be sure the chickens had water and to collect eggs before they froze.  I went to the heated greenhouse to water newly seeded onions and brassicas.  When I pulled the "inner greenhouse" off of the seeded flats, I was greeted by just sprouting kohlrabi and broccoli.  It really warmed my heart to see those new plants pushing up thru the soil when it is so cold outside and spring feels so far away.  I threw a few logs in the wood stove and headed back to the comfort of our warm house and happy children.
All this is to say, we are doing it again.  We are ready to grow vegetables again.  We have our seeds ordered and our tractors serviced.  We will be back at market and filling CSA boxes with beautiful, fresh vegetables again before we know it!
Beets sprouting in the hoop-house

French Breakfast radishes and drip irrigation under row cover in the hoop-house.

Addiebelle seeding lettuce in the hoop-house.

Cyril holding court

Billy, aka Star Onion, come down from Virginia to help us get the onions going

Addiebelle, Softheart, and Mary

Boss Hog models the warmth of the heated benches where the onions will germinate.

Tinna Winna and the Garlic Crop insulated by ice

A new member of the herd gets his legs under him in the icy pasture.