Corn/Bean Varieties Now Available or Available Soon

PLEASE NOTE: IF YOU HAVE SENT ME ANY EMAILED/CONTACT FORM MESSAGES ABOUT MY SEEDS BEFORE, BUT HAVE NOT GOTTEN A REPLY, IT WAS NOT BECAUSE I WAS IGNORING YOU. FOR SOME REASON, MOST OF THE MESSAGES WERE BEING MARKED AS SPAM AND DELETED. I have now fixed the issue. Unfortunately, I do not know how long this was going on, and I cannot recover any of the ones that may have ended up this way. I only have access to a few recent ones. If you sent a message a long time ago and never got an answer, please send a new one. Apologies.

For faster responses, you can also contact me on Facebook (this is a link, click me).

The below post is current and updated as of March 30, 2017.

Seed processing is complete and seed is available for distribution.
– Most varieties are in small quantities you will be responsible for growing out and increasing; I generally cannot provide large amounts. A few 1 lb. lots are available of some corn varieties at a rate of $20 per pound. I have no large bean lots available. A normal distribution of corn is 200 seeds, sometimes 300. A normal bean distribution is 25-30. You may order two packets/a double sample if you feel you need more of something (unless noted).
– Samples are $5 each. This includes shipping, in most cases. Single packet orders incur an added $1 small order surcharge due to the cost of shipping supplies. Preferred payments are Cash and Paypal (Paypal payments add 6% to cover Paypal’s fees). I can also accept checks, but it is not preferred – it can be hard for me to get to the bank. The cost for locals (with no shipping needed) is $1/100 seeds of corn, and $1/10 seeds of beans, with a minimum packet charge of $2.
– I can custom-grow larger quantities of seed, though this would have to be pre-arranged by contract, and is not open to all of my varieties as some of them are very special and must be treated as such.
– I will trade these seeds straight up for other seeds at no additional charge. I am most looking for ones I don’t have that have a NY/PA origin, though I will also steward rare indigenous varieties from anywhere in the country. I am focused almost entirely on saving endangered and heritage varieties from extinction – so if it’s available from multiple seed companies already, odds are I probably don’t need it.

The ‘rules’, so to speak:
– Lower 48 U.S. states only – at this time I cannot negotiate on this, sorry – doing otherwise is too expensive and too risky for my tastes. I will only make exceptions to this for indigenous people.
– Indigenous seed banks/food projects that my seeds ‘belong’ to should feel welcome to contact me for low-cost seed or other special arrangements. I will review other educational projects, etc. on a case by case basis. I am generally unable to distribute free seeds to most other situations, or to private individuals. Seed cost is mostly to help alleviate my expenses in production, processing, and packaging; I do everything by hand, and it takes a huge time investment. I’m not turning a profit on these nor am I trying to.
– Please understand I am only one person, working full time off-farm, and it may be several days before your seeds get shipped – I cannot rush orders except in truly extreme circumstances. Good things come to those who wait.
– Unless I already trust you, you will likely be questioned/vetted a bit. Expect this, and please do not consider it an insult or offense. Understand that I want to make sure these varieties are going to responsible stewards, not just those who covet them for their rarity. Beans are fairly easy, but corn in particular is a crop that is very ‘advanced’ on the scale of seed-saving difficulty. It needs a fairly sizable population for genetic health reasons, and is also extremely subject to cross-pollination contamination. As a result, it is not for beginners.

Any inquiries or questions – or requests for variety descriptions if none can be found – are completely welcomed.

Corn available for distribution:
– Tuscarora White
– Navajo Robin’s Egg (Limit 1)
– Katie Wheeler/Iroquois Calico
– Six Nations Blue
– Warners
– Gigi Hill
– New York Red Robin
– Mohawk Roundnose (Limited quantity – limit 1, possibly Trades Only soon)
– Seneca Hominy
– Painted Mountain
– Dakota Black
– Oneida (Only have 2-3 samples to share – to obtain it, you must vow to re-offer it on Seed Savers Exchange, or promise to send me back a fresh sample after you grow it)

Beans available:
– Skunk/Chester/Flagg
– Seneca Bear Paw
– Wild Pigeon
– Seneca Bird Egg
– Seneca Allegany Pinto
– Early Mohawk Pole
– Cattaraugus Cranberry
– Seneca Stripe
– Cornplanter Purple
– Ga Ga Hut
– Iroquois Corn Bread/Tuscarora Bread Bean/Skarure Bread (Limit 1)
– Deseronto Potato

Others:
– Seneca landrace sunflower
– Titan sunflower
– Holstein cowpea
– Good Mother Stallard bean
– Mitla Black bean
– Tobacco mix (misc. varieties grown here such as Adonis, Japan 8, Connecticut Broadleaf, Red Russian, etc. – mixed, no choice, sample is just a pinch due to tiny seed size – this can be had for $2.50 or $2 + SASE)

Tentative plantings for next season:
Corn
– Ganondagon
– Elon Webster Flour
– Mohawk Roundnose
– Puhwem/Delaware White
– King Philip Improved?
– ?

Beans
– Teaching Drum #18
– Teaching Drum #21
– Teaching Drum #27
– Munsee Wampum
– Six Nations
– Octarora Cornfield
– Algonquin Fisher
– Seneca Cornstalk
– Etowah
– Hyote
– Miami Potawatomi
– Mohawk Bush
– Kahnawake Mohawk
– Powhatan
– Odawa Indian
– ?

WANTED LIST (I will swap my seeds for things on this list, or buy these at just about any non-astronomical price):
Corn
– Unusual spotted or speckled corns, such as Winnebago Spotted, Bighorse Spotted
– Any rare Northeastern native varieties or heritage NY/PA developed varieties not on my SSE list (my whole SSE list is available for review, upon request)

Beans
– Norridgewock
– Tonawanda Seneca
– Mohawk Vermont
– Hodson’s Silver Wax
– Any of the rest of the Teaching Drum series
– Any rare Northeastern native or heritage NY/PA developed varieties not on my SSE list

Please feel free to use the contact form if interested and I will get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks!

2016 Final Note

Frost took the most tender plants over the night of 10/10/16 into the morning of 10/11/16. The rest of the tender vegetation was killed the night of October 25th into the 26th. Only the hardy crops such as kale, beets, and celery remain. The growing season is now over, and all significant harvests here are currently completed. The 2016 growing season was one of our best on record, and does a lot to help make up for the last two years of absolute heartache and devastation. This is despite a season-long D2-D3 drought, which crippled many farmers in the area. However, we were able to irrigate enough to battle this.

Rare Corn Varieties

As hinted at in the last post, I have been growing and preserving extremely rare corn varieties in the past few years. I am currently a steward of multiple hyper-rare varieties of which I most recently grew out four : Gigi Hill, Seneca Hominy, Mohawk Round Nose, and New York Red Robin. I have begun a chin-marked selection of Painted Mountain and a mottled/’cow speckled’ selection from a mixed gene pool.

Here are some notes on the four.

Gigi Hill – Flint. Tuscarora Reservation near Buffalo, NY. Mostly blue or dark blue, with some purple, pink, and clear kernels mixed in. Cobs white, husks green. Plant height approximately 5-6′, no lodging noted, most plants with 2 cobs but some producing unusual clusters of up to 6 cob-lets. 8 rows, irregular lengths – my best cob was probably 8″ or so but the typical was more like 5″. Some cobs seem to display some underdeveloped glumes, especially at the bases of the cobs, and these dry out to be pretty sharp and can be a bit rough on the hands for those hand-shelling! Recommend a sheller for this one. Matures a few days after Seneca Hominy.

Seneca Hominy/Ha-Go-Wa – Flint. Steamburg, NY. Mostly white, with some blue, pink, and purple kernels mixed in. Some cobs are about 50/50 white/blue. Cob base white, husks green. Plant height approximately 5-6′, minimal lodging. Most plants have two cobs, or one larger cob. 8 rows, usual length about 4-6″. Dries easily, shells easily, comes freely from the cob when hand-shelled. The quickest to maturity of the four; matured a few days faster than Painted Mountain flint.

Mohawk Round Nose – Flour. Rooseveltown, NY. Overall white, a few with a pink cast. Most cobs white, a few red. Very thick cobs, the thickest I’ve seen, and large kernels just a little too stumpy to match Hickory King in size. Plant height approximately 5′ in poor soil, no lodging. Most plants with one well developed cob, usual length 5-6″. No glumes on mine, but not easy to hand shell as the large kernels seem to catch one another – best with a sheller. Third in maturity of these four, after Gigi Hill.

New York Red Robin – Dent. Unlike the above three, not an Iroquois variety of corn, but was collected in Cassadaga NY nonetheless and is an old variety. Very stocky cobs and robust plants, no lodging noted. Plant height approximately 7′, cobs about 8″ long but very fat, 10-14 rows. Kernels varying shades of light to dark red with a creamy cap, cobs mostly red. The deepest red ones are absolutely stunning. This is the highest yielding among the four. I shelled mine before it really should’ve been, so no comments on the ease. The last to maturity of these four, a few days behind Round Nose.

I am willing to distribute or trade some of the seeds I have produced from the four described above; I already have distributed or promised some of them. Quantities are limited. For educational purposes, colleges, etc. there would be no cost for samples in most cases, depending on the project. Please do not be offended if I ask you questions or “vet” you before offering/selling you seed – it is nothing personal! It is simply very important to me that these varieties end up in semi-responsible and informed hands, so that hopefully such hands are helping me ensure that said varieties do not go extinct.

If trading, I am mostly interested in other rare varieties of corn. Right now I am particularly looking for unusually spotted corns like Big Horse Spotted and Winnebago Spotted, though I am happy to consider any rare variety I don’t already have. I will make an even exchange for other rare corns or beans, especially ones from NY or PA. At this point I am NOT interested in obtaining anymore ‘common’ varieties ex. Bloody Butcher or the like.

The current plan for plantings next season include the varieties Katie Wheeler, Six Nations Blue, Tuscarora White (Meadowview strain), Navajo Robin’s Egg, and Warners. Seed will be available of these in late 2016 and into 2017.

Posting this up so the whole of the internet can see it. If you are interested – please contact me via the Contact Form or the farm Facebook page. Thanks.

Sorry, but I am only willing to ship seeds to the lower 48 US States (basic flat-rate $7.15, your rate may be higher or lower depending on quantity and whether or not you’re close enough to qualify for Regional Rates instead)… No shipping to countries outside the US, or to AK/HI, things get too tricky and expensive this way and I don’t want to deal with that or wind up with people disappointed and seeds lost because an order got seized by customs or something.

Yearly Post?

Due to having taken a new full time job last winter, and having to balance that with the farm pursuits, I have not had much time for updating this blog. Even the ‘in season’ page has been a little bit ‘behind’, so to speak. Sorry to anyone who might be reading this. Keep in mind – you can always get more timely updates on the Facebook page as it’s way easier for me to put short blurbs there.

The four corns we got from GRIN were able to produce a reasonable seed crop this year. For now we have limited seed from these varieties available for distribution. This is low cost or free for educational purposes or organizations with good intentions for the seed. For individuals, we would ask for an equal or greater number of good seeds in return later, or else a cash donation based on the number of seeds distributed to help cover our costs in growing, harvesting, and preparing the seed.

We received a hard freeze a few days ago that ended the growing season, so the only things available now are items out of storage. The chickens are getting older, and are molting besides, so there are not many eggs available right now. We will probably have to butcher some of the birds for stewing and replace them if we want to keep selling eggs… or we could just let them grow old, and not sell eggs anymore. Even egg sales – which are among our only items that regularly sell – are so variable they are impossible to predict. Sometimes we sell almost no eggs and end up with an entire fridge full, while sometimes we can hardly keep them in stock, so making a decision based on the sales is hard.

Our attempt to have a CSA for the 2015 season failed. Despite our willingness to proceed with only 3-5 signups, and having at least this many showing interest when it was initially discussed, the actual offering generated almost no interest. Only one physical signup form was requested, and this was never returned to us.

The 2015 growing season was also a disaster, and despite not thinking it possible, it was in fact even worse than the catastrophe of last year. The year was basically a repeat of the last one, only shifted forward to all be one month later. There was horrendous cold in February that killed several of our fruit trees outright (as opposed to being in January). There was flooding through the entire month of June that was hideously destructive (as opposed to last year’s May flooding). This was also followed by a drought. Many things we planted did not produce much to speak of; though things were off to a great start, weather did them in or stunted them so badly they could not recover.

As a result of all these things, 2015 was another year of great losses for us. We were definitely not able to recover even the seed/planting investment, much less anything for our time, fuel cost, etc. This is a dangerous thing considering our house is basically falling apart around us; we are in dire need of a new roof and other repairs we cannot afford.

Due to these facts, we have come to the difficult decision that it is no longer practical or wise to continue attempting to increase our plantings/numbers of items offered for sale. We have been consistently unable to move anything on a reliable basis, and 2015 was the worst year yet for sales, adding insult to the weather-related injury. For example, out of the first 7 days we had the sales shack open for the year, 4 of them were no-sale days (zero dollars and zero sales, for anywhere from 6-8 hours per day of work/watching/waiting). When combining the other 3 that did have sales, we sold only 73 dollars worth. Over the years I have tried Craigslist, Facebook, paper flyers, larger signs, but none of these have seemed to change anything. I did not even really have any orders via email/message this year, which has been a good part of my sales from previous years. Unfortunately, Furniture City Foods also no longer exists and no longer is a market for me. Biodome Project in town has bought some items, but they are limited as to what they can use/move and also they produce some of their own and don’t need mine.

Because of these poor outcomes, it has been decided that we are going to greatly scale back next year. We will be returning to primarily planting for ourselves and our own interests. We may have occasional items offered for sale, but nothing is going to be planted in as large of quantities. The bottom line is, because of the disappointing sales and outcomes, it’s become more of a chore/upsetting task/heartbreak to keep up with the enormous amount of farm work. Since I mostly do all of it myself, other than the plowing/planting, it’s just getting to be too much for me to handle on my own. I have tried to solicit help by bartering free vegetables or practical training in exchange, but even if people talk a big talk beforehand, it is extremely rare that anyone turns around and lifts a spade when it comes down to it. As it is I barely have any free time in the summer; I only went fishing once this year (in April actually, before the farm stuff really started), and I haven’t been hunting at all yet since I just finished with harvesting last week. I’ve had almost no time left for the other things I love, and all of the stress and hardship is turning farming into something I no longer enjoy. As a result, it’s time for re-evaluation, and a year of ‘doing less’ farm-wise is the only way I see to do that. If it turns out that I can figure something else out to increase sales, draw more interest, or get people to buy from me regularly, then I can increase the scale again later. For now, that’s just not the reality.

And no, though most people cannot understand why… I simply cannot do farmers’ markets.
I do not have ‘staff’ to cover for me, I cannot have a dedicated day off all the time,
nor can I manage all the logistics of market fees/insane insurance costs/having a ‘professional booth’ (banners, baskets, awnings, all that shit is expensive),
timing, managing picking, packing, setup etc. which all have to be done very early in the morning even though I worked until 10-11 PM the night before,
transportation of everything,
etc.
Alone.

If anyone still wants a specialty crop grown for them, I am happy to do that, as I will basically grow anything. However, a contract would be required to be drawn up and signed in advance. I can no longer justify planting great amounts of things that just get fed to my chickens or composted. Similarly, if someone wants something specific, let me know and I will be sure to include it. I would grow it just for you.

Other than that… I’ll hopefully see you in better days.

– A

Year of Hardship

Unfortunately, this is turning out to be the worst growing season we have experienced (and, from the stories our elders tell, among the worst there has ever been around here). We are making the best of it, but many crops are having at least partial crop failures due to the constant rain and flooding with little to no good weather in between.

The only crops currently without moderate to major disease issues are the lettuce, onions, and the cucumbers. The onions, carrots, and other smaller crops are being choked out by weeds because we cannot weed them without destroying them in the sodden, clumpy ground. The lettuce has bottom rot and the cucumbers have some powdery mildew, but not enough to do much to them. All the rest of these diseases are causing some losses, from small to large.

Tomatoes – Early Blight (moderate) – slight yield loss, still progressing
Broccoli – Clubroot followed by black rot (total loss of all plants, only harvested a few tiny heads)
Cauliflower – Clubroot (total loss of all plants and NO harvests were taken)
Fava Beans – Chocolate spot and/or Rust (major) – high yield loss due to plants weakening and dying and also, aborting of flowers
Zucchini – Bacterial Wilt on 2/3 plantings (major, fatal to at least 50% of plants), remaining planting powdery mildew (moderate)
Winter Squash – flood stunting, Powdery Mildew (moderate), Bacterial Wilt (25% of plants killed)
Potatoes – Stunting, Early Blight (moderate) – yield loss
Peppers – Southern Blight (minor, killed one plant outright and seems to be gone now)
Peas – Downy mildew (crop reduction, although still gave a reasonable crop)
Bush Beans – Combination Alternaria leaf spot, Root Rot, and White Mold (major, severe stunting of at least 50% of plants and slow and creeping death of others. Minor spread to bean pods, major crop loss due to failure of many plants to set pods at all)
Kale – severe stunting, probably Clubroot – no real harvest at all so far, as plants have failed to grow to size able to sustain it and may never do so
Watermelons – severe flood stunting
Corn – total loss of first planting due to flood washout/burial, 3 out of 4 plantings afterward suffering from moderate to severe stunting or poor emergence

And these are just some examples.

We spent more money than ever this year in trying to expand the plantings, making the soil more fertile, liming everything, etc. and a lot of it has just rotted in the ground or been pummeled or washed away. This is definitely a heartbreaking year and a year in which I do not expect to even come close to making back my initial investment. I have to just be happy to get anything back at all, I suppose, and I do know that farming is a lifestyle of great risk as well as great reward. Hopefully the next few years treat me better because these last few have not been favorable, and I cannot keep doing things the way I do if it’s going to keep ending up this way.

I have also been noticing certain varieties of plant doing better than others under this stress so I will note them here:
– Beans : Dragon’s Tongue – the most unaffected by Alternaria, and yielding the best under stress out of the 5 varieties I planted. Also is the biggest, most substantial, slowest-to-get-tough, most flavorful bean I grow (it just isn’t perfect for freezing, but acceptable) – and is an heirloom besides.
– Zucchini : Cocozelle – ‘Dark Green’ and ‘Dark Star’ are doing nowhere near as well as these. They are my biggest plants this year and the only ones I have harvested more than 2 fruits off of. My Early Yellow Prolific summer squash are practically useless as they are severely stunted and I have only harvested 1 so far.
– Basil : Mrs. Burns Lemon – The only basil I have been able to harvest so far. ‘Mammoth’ is barely growing. Standard sweet basil is meh, growing but not well. Lime basil is barely there, as is the purple and other specialty basils.
– Cucumber : Stonewall – I’ve been planting Stonewall because it is downy mildew resistant – I used to have severe problems with this disease in years past. I no longer do, and Stonewall seems to yield me a few bushels of well shaped fruit no matter the conditions.
– Lettuce : Mayan Jaguar, Flashy Butter Oak – both setting pretty (although a bit mini-sized) heads. Lettuce in general seems to love the cool, wet summer (it doesn’t like heat or dry weather much). MJ and FBO are just the best looking of the 7? varieties I have in.

There is still plenty to be thankful for though. Though the hay season has also been difficult to complete, we have sold enough to mostly cover the taxes, and haven’t had any rained on so far. We do have some regular customers and supportive family members. We always meet interesting new people. One of our ‘farm friends’ helped us recoup some monetary losses from our flooded fields. One of our new batch of chickens laid her first egg last week and I expect the others will soon follow. And, at the least, we have had another year of experience, and will harvest at least something to help feed us through the winter. If it can’t get any worse, then next year can only be up from here.

Living life one acre at a time.

Growing Season in Full Swing

Everything is planted here on our farm, and now we’re just waiting for things to grow.

Unfortunately, we’ve already suffered a lot of weather-related heartbreak here. The winter we sustained was the harshest in many years and one of the harshest ever on record, with almost the entire month of January locked in a deeply subzero state. I am not certain of the coldest that it got but we had some nights of -20 Fs with windchills bottoming out in the low -40s. Our chickens were given 2 sources of supplemental heat and made it out OK. However, we lost all of our varieties of mint, all of our blueberry bushes, half of our grape vines, a few blackberries/raspberries, and most of our strawberries. We also had a young nectarine, a plum, and our sweet cherries succumb, and a few of our more exposed ‘Stillwater Valley’ peaches had some dieback that had to be pruned fairly aggressively.

We also endured a devastating flood in late May as well as some flooding last night. For example, the earlier flooding wiped out our entire first planting of corn, our beans, washed out our onions, and stripped our tomatoes of soil and left them laying in pools of water. This was in addition to great topsoil loss as well as the loss of fertilizer and manure we had spread. The onions and tomatoes were replaced as soon as possible and have since recovered somewhat. We had to replant the other two.

Sadly, last night’s washout destroyed a large percentage of our rare corn we had received from GRIN. I don’t know if they will send me any more to replace it but if not I will have to work with more ‘common’ types I guess. 🙁 This was the least ‘costly’ but the most painful of all the losses, I think.

We are currently selling eggs, maple syrup, and seed potatoes, and will expand this as crops come ready. We’ve tried to get involved in a few different markets offsite but it seems it’s just not going to work this year with our costs and difficulties higher than usual. That said, if you are a restaurant, caterer, market, etc. and are interested in selling our corn or other produce or products made from them, please contact us. We would be happy to discuss options with you.

Things are very busy around here again so I don’t know how much time I will have to update. Haying season will be starting before we know it, and we will be weeding and then harvesting like crazy for the rest of the season. Hopefully we will not have to contend with a great deal of squash bugs, late blight, or the other disasters we had last year (although at this point I’d almost be happy to exchange the D1 drought for all of this rain).

I suppose if you are not ready to be tested, you should not farm!

Long Time No Update!

Life often pulls me away from online things, especially when it’s busy. If I don’t update, it probably just means I’m so distracted by everything else that I forgot 🙂

Our sales shack is complete – complete enough for the winter, anyway. The entire structure is done and painted/sealed up. Only some minor framing-in of doors/windows is left and can wait until spring. The sides are a nice barn red, with a clear Thompsons coat on the front near the ‘sales window’. I decorated up with some milk bottles, horseshoes found when plowing, and so forth. We sold out of it over the course of a couple months this summer, ending in mid-September after the corn harvest stopped. Sales were best on weekends and holidays, as expected, and we will continue to focus our efforts on the weekends in the future, especially since those are some of the only days we have free from our ‘real’ jobs. We actually ran out of corn around Labor Day, as one of our big picks was poorly timed and we ended up having too much earlier on and weren’t prepared. A lot overmatured on the plants, but we remedied this problem by picking it later and hanging it to dry for cornmeal… still waiting to make the first test batch of that, whenever we get the chance.

I had a bout with food poisoning near the end of our market season, too, making it necessary for others to sell my stuff for me more often at that time. I also had to make a hospital visit, which I never really love to do. I’m better now though! Be warned of my presence, cucumber-haggling lady. I know my cucumbers were already less than anywhere else and it causes me great frustration when you come when I’m not here in order to con my poor mother into giving you such things for even cheaper. (Said jokingly, but in all seriousness, I don’t consider haggling acceptable on my fresh items. If it’s in my free pile, just take it, or donate if you really want to. If it’s in my bargain bin or bargain bags, then maybe you can try to haggle, as that’s stuff I’m just trying to move out so someone can use it before it goes bad. But haggling on the stuff I just picked… :\ What do you guys think?)

RE: Corn, things seem to sell a lot better when I also have corn to sell. When I don’t have corn, almost nobody stops to the point that it’s almost useless to sit out there. I’m not sure why this is; I guess everyone is really just that in love with my corn. Guys, I promise that the other vegetables are amazing too…! Also, I noticed more roadside stands than ever this year, so that could have a lot to do with it. I’m not upset by that; I’d rather sell nothing and see every single house have a roadside stand if it meant that more people were eating locally and getting a healthier diet.

RE: my eggs, I kept selling out all the time this summer, not even having enough to meet daily demand. It was to the point I had to take them off Wholeshare, too. Now that winter has come, my stand is closed, allowing supply to build up more as only the ‘regulars’ come to get them… but the hens are laying far less, too, and Wholeshare is getting them again, so we’ll see if it all balances out. I could always get more chickens… 😀 Except no, because then I’d need more coop(s). I’m hoping to move toward getting a small barn again, so I can have some other stock instead.

Our dog has reached roughly her adult size at around 40-45 pounds. She loves the snow, mud, and outdoors in general. Definitely the right choice for us, even if she tries to herd the wheelbarrow and shovels when we clean out the coop.

I took an adult doe this deer season (11/20) and got about 55 pounds of meat out of her. Froze a lot as roasts, around 15 pounds as ground, and mixed 6 pounds in with other ingredients to make korv. Korv is one of our yearly traditions anymore, as long as we get a deer. We’re getting a whole processing setup made here, with a new cable hoist added to the list with our commercial meat grinder, vacuum sealer, and Excalibur dehydrator.

The more self-sufficient I can be, the better it is to me.

A Break in the Weather

After weeks of flooded conditions after constant rains, we have been graced with a hot, dry week of upper 80s. We got a good start to the hay season, and our crops started to turn around and grow better, appreciating the lapse in the cold and the wet. Some of our corn is already past knee high. 🙂

We have a number of herbs and greens available for fresh sales now, in addition to the eggs and maple syrup we were offering before. Other crops will be coming very soon. Peas are in full flower, zucchini plants are getting massive, and the potatoes are the best (plant-wise, anyway) that I have ever grown. Crossing my fingers that below ground will be just as amazing.

Our 5 new pullets are now starting to lay. It started with just one tiny, dark brown egg in the coop, which I thought could’ve been a ‘fart egg’ from one of the old hens. The next day, I got another. Then there were 2 the day after that, and I knew it was not the old mommas. Now, a week or so later, here are 3 in lay – not sure which ones exactly, though! As the biggest and most mature looking hens, I thought the Amberlinks were the culprits, but now I am sure that one of them is one of the Reds as I caught her in the box and saw her lay one! Though still on the small side, the eggs are a beautiful hot chocolate color right now, and add another dimension to my assortment. They’ll get bigger soon enough. Until then… pullet eggs for breakfast, yes please.

Our work on a sales shed is going well, though we have quite a way to go. Door is on, floor is done, and sides are mostly together, with trusses built for part of the roof. Still need to pick up metal roofing materials. We plan to plant grapes on one side of it and let them grow up it, as well. We also have another extra old tractor tire that we may fill with soil and put out in front of it, like we did with other old ones further up our lawn. We will see.

We also have a couple of chive divisions and a few seedling apricot trees available, and some cuttings of various plants for those interested. It isn’t too late yet! Cuttings available include meyer lemon, key lime, pineapple sage, various mints, various blueberry, trumpet creeper, and native elderberry. We will prune them up, dip them in rooting hormone (4 available, your choice) and pot them up for you for an extra charge. Aftercare and final success is up to you either way.

Frosts

The wild ramp season has past, and the greens are yellowing and dying back. We sold a few bunches, though. 🙂

The frost I was worried about before did hit us for 2 days in a row. One was a freeze, dipping to around 26-27. We protected our tomatoes with cardboard boxes mounded with dirt, or some were under plastic nursery pots lined with rowcover. We lost 4 plants completely, and 5 more experienced some damage. I removed and replaced 8 total, as though I probably could’ve saved a few of them, they would’ve needed some babying and production would’ve been set back. Better than I thought, though. With how cold it was I imagined losing them all.

Our corn stayed underground until the day or 2 after the frost passed, popping up safely.

Our young fruit trees lost their buds and will not fruit this year. Our adult ones, though, and our adult wild gooseberries, are peppered with fruit still. A couple of the young gooseberries have some spotty fruit, but it won’t be enough for any kind of sales – just for a sample.

We resumed planting, and almost everything is in the ground now.

Unfortunately, weather forecasters are calling for another round of low-to-mid 30s temperatures this weekend. This is a very late cold spell for our area. If the nights are calm, this could lead to more frost that would kill our corn and every other warm-weather crop we have planted.

We do not have anywhere near enough coverings for all of them, so we’re just going to have to take it as it comes. Hopefully it skirts us, because if it doesn’t it will be hundreds of dollars in losses and we might have to cut back or cancel many of our plans for the year.

We have started building a shed (out of an old machinery shipping crate) to sell out produce out of, if the weather allows us to have any produce this year.

Planting Time

This year we are putting in a large plot of corn, similar to but not quite as big as the plots we used to put in decades ago, for mass quantities of roadside sales. I know people love grilling, steaming, and roasting fresh corn on the cob in the summer, and we will be able to provide for that or for the canners/freezers this year.

Our friend Claire Hanley sent us some blueberry and raspberry bushes and some rhubarb crowns. These plants came from Nourse Farms, which we had good luck with last year (gooseberries/currants, all survived and some are already flowering). We put the raspberries out in our row in our field, a couple replacing a few that did not make it over the winter (though almost all of them did and I’m thrilled to see that). The blueberries are potted up into larger pots to grow out a bit before being moved. This makes 33 brambles and 11 blueberry bushes for us. Rhubarb’s been put by one of our old compost sites – they also sent us an extra crown, so there’s 4 rather than 3. Here’s to their success and to offering more stuff in the future! We will not have any bramble fruits this year, as the plants are still establishing, but I do expect to have some gooseberry/currant fruits. They’ll probably only be in enough quantity for me to eat and hoard for myself though. 🙂 All things in their time.

All my ‘new’ fruit trees survived the winter, except for the 2 apples which were girdled by rodents. We replaced those 2 with trees of the same varieties, and also put in a second Golden Delicious. All of the trees from last year are flowering, too, as are the ‘baby’ peaches I started from seed approx. 5 years ago. I hope they come out anything like their mother… perhaps we will see. My serviceberries are so loaded with blossoms that you can’t even tell they have leaves.

We are also planting more varieties of vegetables than ever, as we have added a second garden plot around the same size as the first, attached over by the corn plot. We are adding things like unusual melons, ‘Wonderberries’, a third type of potato, 2 more types of onions, different greens (Bull’s Blood beet greens, Purslane, etc.), and an expansion of our planting of our peas and our sunflower landrace. The chickens oh-so-love the seedheads in the winter.

Speaking of chickens … when introducing the new birds to the old, we had a bad incident with the mature hens ripping one of the new ones open! Our Commercial Black, ‘Tux’, was the victim. I didn’t know if she would survive at first – the wound was huge and hideous. However, determined to try, I grabbed some regular old cotton thread and a sewing needle and stitched her up (it’s all we had). I used some flour to stop her bleeding. We kept her inside and applied Neosporin cream. Long story short, she took out her own stitches and now you can barely tell where the wound even was as feathers have coated the area again. I think she’ll have a slightly crooked tail for life, but that’s fine as long as she seems happy. We penned them up apart from the old birds for a while, and yesterday was their first time back ‘together’ again. The youngsters are significantly bigger now, and there were no incidents, so here’s to hoping for a harmonious coop.

We will be selling wild leeks/ramps for the next few weeks. $3 for a bunch of 8-10 plants. I realize this is on the costly side, but each plant patch has to be traveled to, and each plant harvested and cleaned by hand/individually, using selective methods to ensure sustainability… and that’s what we have put to consideration.

There is a good chance of frost for the weekend according to the weather guys, though there is disagreement as to how cold/how hard the frost will be. I am hoping that it somehow avoids us, because I really do not want to lose all the fruit the millions of blossoms herald, although we have lost all our fruit for the past 2 years so it wouldn’t be unheard of unfortunately. We will definitely be covering our tomato plants, and have suspended new planting until the weekend passes. 🙁