January didn't start off too bad. We had snow of course. Duh! The fields were covered, but alas under all that snow were the cold hearty Brussels sprouts. It is always a treat to have fresh produce in the middle of winter. Well it is a treat for those eating them. Not so much for the farmer picking them.
February we had snow too. Shocking I know. This is the time of year that the words "cooped up" have true meaning here on the north coast. As you can see the chickens are feeling it as they stand at the edge of the barn door looking out into a world of white. I never did have a chicken that would step outside in more than a dusting of snow. And I don't take many pictures of the sky on purpose but I came across one of the February full moon. We don't take clear skies for granted around here as we live in one of the cloudiest locations in the United States.
In March I dug up some carrots that had overwintered in not too bad of shape. Their tops had all be eaten off by the deer, but the roots made for a tasty meal of cooked carrots. And surprising as it sounds, we had snow in March too. The chickens were surely getting sick of being in the barn because I found some tracks from a few adventurous chickens.
April gave us the pond project as part of our irrigation grant. We sure could have used the pond during the drought of 2012 but by gum, we were going to have a pond for 2013. The irrigation project became a huge joke later on in the fall as we laid drip line in the mud. But I am getting ahead of myself. In April the pond got dug and before the creek dried up like it does every summer, a huge pump was brought in and the pond was filled in about 3 days.
May started off in fine shape. At one point it was actually getting a bit too dry, but overall things were going well. Ground was getting plowed and disked, the high tunnel had plastic laid by hand and tomatoes and peppers were planted and rows of plastic were being laid in the field.
In June our farm season fell apart. We had the beginning of what turned out to be 16 straight days of rainfall. I thought about writing a blog entitled "It rains 16 days what do you get" to be sung to the tune "16 Tons", but it was just too depressing. June is our planting season. The yard flooded. The fields flooded. Our namesake Peters Creek that flows in between our house and our field should have been on its way to being a dried up trickle of water, but as you can see, it became more like a lake. In between rain drops, we tried to plant in the mud and we did get some things planted, but because it never dried out the rest of the summer, most of our early planted transplants died.
July I have no pictures of the crops. That's because there were no crops other than flats of plants that had not been planted or rows of transplanted plants that were rotting in the field. I do however have a couple pictures that were taken in July. Our broody hen Mama Buffy was showing her chicks how to forage in the yard and I took a picture of our employee parking lot in the pasture.
August brought the infamous "Tractor Stuck in Mud" picture. What is striking about the picture is all the green in picture. Look closely at not only what the green is that is growing, but notice how uniform it is and look for what is missing. That green in the picture is spike rush which is an aquatic plant that grows in ponds. Yes, we had a field of pond weeds. As for what is missing, well, there is no pigweed or lamb's quarter or ragweed or smartweed or any one of a variety of weed's that grow up in the field between the rows every summer. And for the farmers that are reading this, you should know that our fields have been tiled. If they were not tiled, we would have never had anything planted this summer. Oh and in my August folder, I also have quite a few pictures of the neighbor's cows across the road. They presented a much prettier picture than the horror that was behind our house in the fields.
In early September we actually picked some beans. They weren't plentiful, but they were more plentiful than the early plantings of beans that all drowned and died. I was able to get a dozen or so quarts canned and we sold a few too. We also had our first frost on September 17th, but fortunately it was contained to the low lying areas by the creek and did not harm anything back in the fields.
October brought wonderful fall colors. The late plantings of cold tolerant plants such as broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts were actually growing. They did not over-perform, but we got enough off those plants to salvage something from an otherwise disastrous year. The red maple that sits behind our house lit up the scenery as it does every year. And we had our first snowfall on October 24th.
My November file has slim pickin's for pictures of the farm. About all I have is one lonely picture of a head of broccoli that I took in the pitch dark with the flash from my cell phone. It was nicer to look at the fields in the dark anyway. We did sell a good bit of broccoli, cauliflower and celery root in November. Rabbit season also started in November and the dogs and I were able to get a couple of rabbits for the dinner table.
So here we are in December wrapping up 2013. In spite of all the bad that happened, there were bright spots as well. We had an awesome group of CSA member's this year. We thank you all for your patience as we worked our way through the growing season. As usual we had a great time selling at the Countryside Conservancy farmers market at Howe Meadow in the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area. Mike is already getting seed catalogs in the mail. Soon we will be placing orders for the 2014 growing season. Farmers and Cleveland Browns fans have a lot in common. We all know there is always next year.