Farm update: May 6

It’s been mostly cool and rainy this week. We’re of course grateful for the moisture and lower temperatures, which might keep our snowpack in place longer, but the weather has literally put a damper on our excavator plans. Never mind, though; there are always plenty of other things to do!

Broad Tailed Hummingbird 02 sml

A male black-chinned hummingbird getting its sugar fix.

One of our most successful ventures recently has been installing hummingbird feeders around our house. We’ve been utterly astounded at the sheer number of hummingbirds that have appeared, including both the black-chinned and broad-tailed varieties. They’ve apparently informed all their friends that the bar is open!

Stihl 01 sml

If only we had a wood-burning stove.

We took down two dead pines recently; although we’re not in a particularly wildfire-prone area, there is never a good reason to keep bone-dry brush on your property if you can avoid it. The pine needles will be saved for mulch; the rest of the wood was burned in an old oil drum (as far away from the house and outbuildings as possible). It will soon be too hot and dry to do any open burning, but this cool, damp spring weather is ideal and helps keep us from building up potential kindling piles.

Munro Pump 01 sml

Looks boring, but is actually very important.

In preparation for running our seasonal irrigation, we took apart our frozen pump. Although N actually broke a chisel trying to remove the face, we were able to get it apart, clean it out, put it back together and get it working again. This was a very successful endeavor and one that left us feeling more confident in our ability to tackle unfamiliar tasks. The hardest thing about farming is that just about every single task is new and challenging and something we haven’t done before, but that also keeps our days interesting. (And thank goodness for helpful customer support personnel and the University of YouTube.)

Mint Sprouting 01 sml

See you soon, mojitos.

A friend gave us some true peppermint, which is more richly-flavored and “minty” than the spearmint most Colorado gardeners have running wild in their backyards. I rooted the cuttings in water for a few days, then transferred the rooted cuttings to pots for planting outside and for giving away. I’ve loved making a simple peppermint tisane by steeping the leaves in boiling water, and I look forward to tall glasses of icy mint lemonade this summer. Mint is practically an invasive weed in Colorado, but since it grows with virtually no help (and no additional water), the deer avoid it and it tastes great in drinks and salads, I consider it a winner.

Pile O' Dirt 01 sml

This is a large pile of soil – not dirt. There is a difference.

Because we have heavy clay soils here, we have to start with a pre-made blend that we’ll use for semi-raised beds. Before the rains came we had fifteen cubic yards of mixed soil and compost delivered; it’s now sitting in a massive pile we refer to as Mount Doom, and it can’t go anywhere until the excavator has done its work. Since the end of World War II American farmers have mostly doused their soil in synthetic fertilizers that promote excessive growth (think corn and soy) while ignoring the soil’s complex organisms; only recently have farmers come to realize that the soil is everything, and you can’t grow good food without good soil. We’ll add to this with our own compost and other amendments we deem necessary, but we won’t be dousing it in chemicals – and hopefully we’ll produce amazing, nutritious vegetables.

And with that, we’re off to work. Have a great week!

 

13 thoughts on “Farm update: May 6

  1. Soil prep is soooo important- exactly what you said ” good soil good food” . Let the planting begin! ( soon). WE miss you up here. Karen

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  2. As we learned in our Colorado Master Gardener training, 80% of the problems with plants is soil-related. Important stuff!

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  3. Burning debris is not completely illegal here, but it is too impractical to bother with. There must be water nearby (which is a problem in some regions) and piles can only be as big as three by three feet! Seriously, what can be burned in nine square feet!? I could haul it away and dump it into a canyon more easily than I could cut it up that small. It would take days to feet such a small fire. Furthermore, we can only burn on burn days, when the air quality and atmospheric pressure are just so. We can not burn in the rain because the pressure is too low and the smoke stays low. So, we live in a region where we expect serious fires, but are not allowed to be practical in regard to clearing combustible material.

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    • Hi Tony, I think that controlled and managed burns are the best way to deal with most fire risk in the arid West. That said, “control” and “management” are obviously open to interpretation – and misuse. Lots of fires here in Colorado put firefighters at risk because people won’t clear the trees near their homes. It’s a complicated problem, for certain.

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  4. Pingback: Farm update: May 20 | Finding Quiet Farm

  5. Pingback: Farm update: June 3 | Finding Quiet Farm

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