Hello there. How are things in your world? It’s an odd and unsettled time, to be sure. Here at Quiet Farm we’re keeping our heads down and our hands busy as we navigate the seasonal weather shifts that have us careening from wind to rain to sun to hail and back again, all in the space of a few minutes.
House finch (Haemorhous mexicanus).
Spring is underway, slowly but surely, and our diverse bird life reflects that. The bald eagle pair we’d been keeping an eye on has vanished, presumably for colder climes; now the gorgeous call of the Western meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta) marks our days. Watching the scrappy magpies fight off aggressive egg-stealing ravens is decent entertainment, too.
Big rock (Stonus gigantis).
We’re always working on increasing our growing area, but on our property that typically means removing literal tons of rocks. Because we farm like it’s the 1850s, we do this digging by hand (and pitchfork). Here you’ll see a particularly fetching specimen that we dug out of our future asparagus beds. We couldn’t even lift this rock; we actually had to roll it up a hill. (There’s a Greek myth in there somewhere.) No one said farming would be easy, and it turns out they named the Rocky Mountains that for a reason.
Now merely a fleeting memory.
We have lots of bulbs – irises, tulips, daffodils – that were planted before we bought this property, and it’s always a pleasure to see where they pop up, since we leave them entirely to their own devices. Unfortunately the deer adore these flowers, so most don’t last long; the ones above were eaten down to the ground approximately eight seconds after the photo was taken. They’ve ravaged all our succulents, too. For everyone who thinks Bambi is just so precious and cute and adorable: this is why we can’t have nice things. All the flowers I currently have started in the sunroom will be safely planted within the game fence.
This fox likely has kits to feed, and we’d like our chicks to stay off the menu.
Our chicks moved outside to the grown-up henhouse last week, and thus far integration seems to be proceeding smoothly. The big hens, though, gobble up all of the protein-rich chick feed before the little chicks have a chance to eat, so we’ve taken to isolating them at mealtimes, at least until their relative sizes level out. We’ve seen brazen foxes on the move in daylight a few times recently, and last night had a pack of braying coyotes so close they startled the grazing horses in the neighboring pasture. We’ve learned that growing food, whether animal or vegetable, is pretty much a constant battle against predators large and small.
Hopefully undamaged by our recent frosts.
We experienced a few nights of killing frost early last week – overnight temperatures dropped to fifteen degrees here, which is shockingly frigid for April and way too cold for fruit trees in bud. The massive orchard fans came on starting about midnight each night, and the crew burned brush piles at the end of each row, creating warm airflow to protect the trees. It was spooky and beautiful to see all the fires burning in the dark; we’re hopeful that both our own fruit trees and the commercial orchards survived this freeze.
And now to the other extreme: the coming week looks to be unseasonably hot and dry, so we’ll be fine-tuning our irrigation. Wishing you and yours good food, safety, health and calm during difficult times.