A Break From The Broilers
But As Things Change, They Stay The Same
Waaay back in early March, we were busy (with a foot of snow on the ground) getting the greenhouse cleaned up, organized, and fitted with new heating and venting mechanisms. This was critical because we had to start our first seedlings and the greenhouse temperature had to be carefully regulated through freezing nights and sunny days so our first crops would be ready to transplant once the weather warmed and the fields were ready.
Now, here we are in August and we are planting our last greenhouse crops in the next week or so. We will continue to start plants and vegetables (like radishes, spinach and arugula) directly in the garden, but greenhouse planting is almost over.
At the same time, as we ramped up our season in March, we had one other very important task -- getting our brooder ready to receive our first broiler chicks.
After raising hundreds of baby chicks, moving them to the field, rotating the movable cages to new grass day after day, and making sure they have a healthy environment so they can grow moist and meaty, that task is scratched off our list.
Even though we will be doing a lot less seeding, and we will have no more brooder chickens to tend to, we are still very busy. The result is we have more time for daily cultivation and maintenance of the garden – which is right at its peak during these long summer (solar) days. While “cultivation” sounds so refined, it really means weeding, weeding and more weeding. And the cucumbers and tomato vines are demanding our energy to keep them trellised up.
And remember last week’s blog about giving our vegetables a helpful nutritional spray boost? Well, the tomatoes, eggplants and peppers will be what we spray this week to make sure they are more productive and tastier too!
The Grass Is Always Greener (Where The Chickens Have Roamed)
Our rotational strategy of faithfully moving the broiler chickens pens every day has made a stark (and very visible) difference in the pasture.
As they ate the grasses and dined on tasty bugs, they left behind a healthy layer of nitrogen-rich manure that drastically improved the soil. Now, it is easy to see where we moved the chicken pens, because you can see a trail of lush green grasses (even with the drought). Right beside the "trail" it remains a bedraggled pasture that still has scraggly weeds that are less verdant.
Over time (several season) we should be able to restore the vitality of most of our pasture which has a direct impact on our beef cows as well who will dine on these green grasses and provide some of the best-tasting and nutrient-dense beef around.
As we said last week – we don’t cut corners. Our time-honored rotational animal management and intensive soil/plant supervision = better meat and produce = healthier options for our friends = better stewardship of earth’s resources.
Mission Accomplished – Delivery On Time
Last week, something big happened. But we hope you didn’t even notice.
Joel and Megan and their four daughters went on a family vacation, and for the first time, they were absent for a harvest/clean/pack/delivery day!
It is by far the busiest and most intense time each week – and usually we need “all-hands-on-deck” to make sure everything gets done and goes smoothly. So, there was a little concern about going away for a vacation.
But it all got out the door (and into the van … and to the pickup sites) right on time. Three cheers for the ATF team!
No Matter How You Pronounce It – Tomato or To-mah-to…
This past week we hope you are enjoying your first tomatoes in your orders. When one of our field workers, Jerram, took a big bite of one of the tomatoes that ripened early, he was shocked and said, “I don’t know if I can ever eat a regular store-bought one!”
These juicy and flavorful tomatoes got their start back in April when Daniel patiently grafted some strong “root and stem” plants with more productive vines of flavorful heritage varieties. Hopefully we will be harvesting these delicious tomatoes for several more weeks!
Along with the tomatoes, we expect to be delivering more of the following next week: