Meanwhile, Back at the Farm

With our PPP (Personal Protection Plan) woven through our operational systems, we are continuing about the business of growing good food. John seems to be pretty much on schedule with spring planting. The lambs are hilarious to watch running and jumping and racing each other around the shade wagon. The pigs are enjoying all the rain that turns dirt to mud.

The big change of not setting up farmers market stands each weekend is still sinking in. We wonder how everybody is doing and miss learning a little something from each of you each week. Even if I don’t get to see you face-to-face, here are conversations that we might have had about how things look on the farm right now.

Derby Day is the first Saturday of May in Kentucky for a reason. The pastures are vibrant, the horses and livestock are in their element, and the thistles aren’t showing yet. 

April has been cool and wet this spring. As farmers market regulars would know, once I shift to shorts in early April, I tough it out, refusing to go back to britches. This year, I reverted to long pants, even long johns a couple of times. I may be stubborn, but I’m not stupid. 

Barn swallow nest outside the on-farm store

The barn swallows returned from the tropics last Saturday—often it is not until sometime in May. Their nest is by the on-farm-store door, and they are not at all happy about the busyness of the delivery drop-off table directly underneath them.

Strawberries in the high tunnel

We have been fighting frost; 24 degrees F qualifies as a hard frost on the strawberry beds. We’ve been pulling covers over them at night and off during the day for full sun and pollination. We will know in another week or so how this crop is going to shake out. Asparagus is not very happy. The early sowings of peas and carrots look good, though are still a ways off. The lettuces and greens transplants look good, even the section where a 9-year-old next-generation farmer drove the tractor and transplanter.

Covering crops to protect from frosts and freezes

The Katahdin breed of sheep we keep are considered hair sheep, versus wool sheep. Their fiber naturally sheds this time of year, avoiding the need to wrangle the sheep to the ground and shear it all off. In the process of shedding, there are these big clumps that look like wool littering the field, some strung out like Halloween decorations. 

Our sheep graze the pastures peacefully, even though their arch nemesis, intestinal parasites, lives among us, looking for a susceptible host. Rather than let a parasite infestation build up in the flock, and routinely wrestle the sheep to the ground to force pharmaceuticals down their throat as recommended by mainstream veterinary medicine, we avoid conflict altogether. The solution is simple, but not easy: Move the flock to fresh grass every three days, where the life cycle of the parasite has been disrupted. It’s a win-win for pasture health and sheep health.

I am now finding that weekends on the farm are awesome. Having time for projects and spring cleaning is rewarding in its own way. We do miss keeping up with everyone at the farmers markets and wonder how you are faring with all this going on, worrying about others. I have been quoted as saying that “I would be at the Lexington Farmers Market every Saturday for the rest of my life,” though sadly that cannot be for a while. When I do go back to the market, I will have a chair and others for you to join me in conversation about who knows what. We can tell stories, swap lies, share jokes, break bread, hopefully give robust hugs to one another. I am thinking that we’ll continue with the pre-order pickup method at the markets for a while. So, your meat will be in a cooler in a bag with your name on it, and your produce will be in the van in a bag with your name on it. 

Our newly minted online shopping cart is an efficient way to get food straight from our hands to yours. Kentucky Proud at its finest. We have heard stories of people refreshing their screen often, hoping to catch the next patch of salad mix to become available. Availability does change daily rapidly these days, and we are updating the offerings one to two times daily. We are still figuring out posting and harvesting synchronization, so check online frequently and add another order if need be. 

In our effort to under-state and over-deliver, we stopped taking on CSA shareholders for this summer season. It looks like we will have a good mix of produce later in May, rather than earlier—still watching to see how the cool start to the spring shakes out. We are in conversation with CSA pick-up spots that are currently closed to meet KY Governor Andy Beshear’s guidelines, and we will need to find nearby alternatives if conditions do not change between now and the start of distributions. We will be sending plenty of notices to our CSA shareholders about the official start date, so stay tuned—no need to call now because we don’t know yet. Until then, use the shopping cart for your produce and meats, and we will help you stay healthy at home.

Community Supported Agriculture has never rung so true. —Mac Stone

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