Finding The Right Pace Is Important
After our family’s winter break, we are always excited to get the farm up and running again. As the world around us in Sandstone comes back to life, we can feel the energy and excitement growing.
But now, two months into the season, we are reminded that there is only so much we can do. So the best way to attack the many tasks is to pace ourselves. We can’t do it all. But if we prioritize the tasks, encourage each other to work honestly and carefully, that we will find the enthusiasm we need for each task and a deeper satisfaction that comes from living in harmony with the ATF team and the world around us.
Right now the most critical (and ongoing project) is amending our new garden. We invested in several truckloads of rich compost. But the task of distributing it is kicking our butts. The trucks couldn’t deposit it very close to the garden so it is taking us much more time to spread it along our 200 planting beds. Joel has been using a small frontload tractor to bring the compost to the edge where it is hand-carried and dumped on the rows. Thankfully, we are expecting a friend with a skid-loader soon, and that will speed the process up a lot.
Crazy Temperature Shifts In the midst of that discouragement, we are so glad to see the trees budding and flowers blooming. Last week we had snow. This week the temp hit 85!
This up-and-down temperature shift really tests us. On hot days we must quickly open up the greenhouse or the heat will kill the newly sprouting plants. And at night, dropping temperatures can be just as deadly for our garden plants, so we must move the low tunnels to protect the new garden sprouts.
In fact, earlier this week, the greenhouse furnace started kicking on and off. Our immediate concern was the threat to the thousands of tender seedlings – could we keep them warm through the night?
In the end, we never really figured out what was the problem, but as the evening cold set in, the heater just as mysteriously kicked on and ran smoothly again.
Big scare. It was a good reminder us how fragile everything really is.
Many Hands Make Light(er) Work
This month we have a number of family and friends who will be visiting – and helping us – at the farm. That is good news since we have fallen behind a bit in our schedule.
Of course, new help means also requires taking time to explain how specific tasks must be done. But the greater bonus for us is working together with friends – good conversation always seems to make the day go faster.
We are thankful for Joel’s parents (who came two weeks ago), Jeremiah and Mattaniah (from North Carolina) will be here for two weeks, and a few others will be coming later in the
Not Just One Farm, But Two
Joel is serving as a consultant to the Osprey Wilds Environmental Learning Center (located near our former garden) to help them get an organic farm up and running at their facility. He is currently training and overseeing a team of AmeriCorps volunteers – pretty much duplicating the tasks and procedures that we use at ATF – so their farm is will be on the same planting and harvesting schedule as our main farm.
We're glad to pass along our experience, insights and knowledge with our near neighbors in Sandstone. And we are encouraged to have other like-minded organizations who share our vision for stewarding earth’s resources and providing locally-grown organic food for people in this region.
Building – Old-School Style
Last weekend we gathered together some local friends to build a timber-frame over and around our bread oven. The process used old-school procedures, with oak pins (rather than nails or bolts) to hold it together.
Until now, a plastic-covered high tunnel was all we had to protect the wood-fired oven – and baker! – from inclement weather. This new structure will transform our concrete slab to an actual building where Jed (our baker) can live and store his grain and other ingredients – helping him take his breads, pastries and new creations to the next level.
The project has plenty left to make it habitable year-round. But it will be livable during the warm months.
On the Home Front
With all that is going on, we continue to maintain our rest and family routine. It seems like we're getting better at protecting our family boundaries and finding more balance between work and home. But I guess that’s a challenge that everyone faces in the modern age.
Thanks so much for coming alongside us with your friendship and support. We are so glad to serve our community of friends fruits and vegetables packed with nutrition (and much more!).
From our family to yours we hope you have a happy Mother’s Day this weekend!
The ATF Team