Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sunshine - YEAH!

Today is a lovely day in ND!  The sun is shining, the snow is melting and there's no wind to speak of.  This week is the beginning of preparation for spring (besides the seedlings that have already been planted).  We'll shovel a path to the cold frames and the high tunnel.  That will be a chore as the banks are 3 feet high in front of the frames and at least 5 feet high at street level in front of the high tunnel but it will be worth it if we can get access to a warm and cozy place to start our herbs early.

Speaking of the seedlings, so far so good on most of them.  The thyme, winter savory, marjoram, oregano and sage look good.  The rosemary has me worried however and thinking I need to make a call to our favorite seed seller tomorrow to order more - just in case.

We're still waging war with the deer who are voraciously routing around all areas of the farm trying to get the dry grass under the deep snow.  While it is pretty cool to see them pawing around out there and pretty serene to see them wandering about (anywhere from 8 to 20 at a time) - I am more than aware of the damage they will do if left unchecked.  We have sprinkled the smallest trees and shrubs with "Plantskyd" a deer and rabbit repellent and it seems to be working - where we sprinkle it - unfortunately we have too many things to sprinkle the whole farm so Ida, our little black dog, has been getting a work out.  It's pretty funny as she doesn't really scare the deer very far away, they are not afraid of a 12 inch dog that is colored like a skunk but she is enough of an annoyance to keep them moving on.

Soon we'll be planting the cold frames, readying the high tunnel for seeds and spring will really be with us.  Some people have told me they have seen robins, I haven't even heard one yet but I'm ever hopeful.  Enjoy these last days of monochromatic color schemed winter, walk, snowshoe, ski, make snowmen, and know that soon the white will give way to green.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Spring is here, REALLY!

With 12 inches of standing snow and 3 more already fallen today you might not believe it but spring is really here.  I know this because today I sat down and wrote out the planting plan for this summer and reviewed the seeding schedule.  I quickly realized that I'm already one month behind on my seeding.  Last year we planted our rosemary on January 21st.  Here is it almost Valentine's Day and I have yet to get anything in soil.  Tomorrow or Monday I'll have to go to town for potting mix and get the rosemary, savory, sage, thyme, oregano and other perennial herbs seeded to catch up.  I've written a two page to-do list for later this spring with items starting as soon as next week and running through almost July.  Guess we'll be busy soon enough!

With snow everywhere and frequent snow storms, February may seem like the longest month - even though it is the shortest, but with planning like ours it can fly by.  Add to the hectic planning schedule a few conferences and we're just run run run all month.  Last week I attended the Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society conference in Watertown SD.  It was great fun and I came home with a lot of great ideas to implement this year but also the renewed energy to tackle the planning projects I started today.  I learned some ways to increase our soil fertility this year while maintaining our organic principles.  I can't wait to try them.  I also learned a few things about frost protection that I'm working on implementing this year.

Later this week (Thursday) I'll head to Jamestown so I can help with the ND Local Food Summit and ND Farmers Market and Growers Association annual conference on Friday and Saturday.  I should be great fun, lots of work and much learning.  On the 25th, my assistant in Bottineau will head to the MOSES conference in LaCrosse.  I have to miss it this year - I've been to the conference for two years running and this year I have a different speaking engagement booked and will miss the conference.  I really enjoy the MOSES conference and am sad that I can't go - but other duties call.  You can bet I'll be back again next year!

So keep smiling, enjoy the snow - becuase spring is coming, really it is.  My planning book says so!