Late Spring Snow

Every time we think winter is over we get assaulted by a freeze or snow! It’s only a couple days before Memorial Day and we had a snow storm that dropped 6-7 inches of snow!

It wasn’t really supposed to snow. A light dusting they said. Will melt as it hits the ground they said. When we came home from work it was already snowing and sticking! We frantically covered everything as fast as we could while we felt the temperatures plummet!

As you can tell from the picture we had a lot of plants to cover. Here is the laundry list of what is buried under the snow: garlic, carrots, broccoli, beans, beets, turnips, parsnips, radishes, lettuce, spinach and onions. Luckily we had already built tunnels for the broccoli and greens since they were planted early so we just needed to pull the fabric down the sides. But the remaining vegetables had just surfaced with a few leaves so we quickly laid the fabric on the ground directly over the plants.

Just before bedtime it was still snowing so hard we didn’t want the tunnels to collapse overnight. We went out with our head lamps on and tried to carefully clear 3 inches of snow off the tunnels. Since the fabric is fairly light it easily tears if mistreated. When we woke in the morning it was still snowing! We cleared off the snow again accidentally making a small tear in the broccoli tunnel, but not enough to be detrimental. The bean row was looking a little rough because of the height the beans so we pulled the fabric off and turned pots upside down between the plants and draped the fabric back over. This lifted the fabric off the plants to keep the the stems from breaking from the pressure.

The forecast kept extending the 32 degree weather causing us to have to leave covers over the plants for 4 days! Finally, on the 5th day, we completely uncovered all the rows and are happy to report the only damage was freezing of some of the bean leaves. Luckily we have plenty of collected seed from these heirloom beans so will be able to quickly replant.

In the end everything we learned over the past couple years about using row covers and tunnels saved this year’s crop. Although all of this spring’s bad weather delayed the growth of the plants this year, we are excited to say we haven’t lost the fight to get vegetables out to our customers!

See the garden rows under snow and then the reveal that shows they survived!

Bomb Cyclone March 2019


While most farmers in the U.S. have already started planting, we have once again been delayed due to a massive snow storm. This one made national news. A bomb cycle is a weather event when the pressure drops significantly more than usual causing high speed winds and in this case an extreme temperature drop and many inches of snow. We stayed home from work to be sure we didn’t get stuck trying to get home to take care of the animals. That happened once before we got the chickens, thank goodness.

This storm resulted in a white out and many people were stuck on highways for over 24 hours. We ended up with a 5 1/2 foot drift 40 feet in length that blocked our road. Note the snow height on the far side of the tractor in the picture.

While the man of the house was plowing out the 1/2 mile long dirt road, the lady of the house was shoveling snow off the walk ways, including the path to the coop. You are probably asking yourself, “don’t you have a snowblower?” We do have a very large one but the snow was so wet and heavy it’s not able to do it’s job! They say people can easily have a heart attack shoveling snow and I agree, especially under these circumstances!

It will take a while for this deep snow to melt but the moisture should really help when we finally get to bed prepping.

Get a glance at our view of the bomb cyclone from inside our house on the farms YouTube Channel:

Last Harvest – Pumpkins

After pulling up the pumpkins in spring due to cross-pollination and then cleaning them out due to the hailstorm, they now went through snow which devastated the plants. But look! We still managed to get over 50 pumpkins? That’s 3 growing cycles the plants went through in this areas short growing season! Clearly squash plants like our environment!

Pumpkins are the last item to harvest for the 2018 growing season. Nothing else survived the October snow except our wintering over carrots which are now in a covered tunnel. If you didn’t see the post on the tunnels you can see how well they wintered over last year. Search on tunnel.

So what are the sales figures for the year? Let’s just say we lost this year. The hailstorm took it’s toll. The bees swarmed and either left or died last year so we are not able to harvest any honey this year. The new bees we got in the spring need to build up their stores for the winter.

I also need to personally take the blame on lost sales on eggs. We have had these chickens for over 2 years and I didn’t have the heart to get rid of them to bring in fresh new egg layers. I had convinced myself that they would continue to lay enough to cover our egg customers and I was wrong. Not only did they slow down they also started laying strange shaped eggs and started to have physical difficulties. Kind of like a woman in menopause, but unfortunately a chickens egg laying system can be fatal when they don’t work properly and that was the case here. We are starting to lose chickens to old age issues. Lesson learned. New chicks are in order for next year.

See what’s left of the garden on the farm’s YouTube Channel:

Another Spring Snow- Chicken Run

While we made great progress on prepping the plot for planting the meteorologists had different plans for us. Like usually happens every spring on the prairie, we had a significant wet snow storm that covered everything with about a foot of snow! Since we didn’t have anything planted the only crisis we had was dealing with the chicken run. Since we have 1/2 inch wire cloth on the sides and 2 X 4 inch fencing across the top. It does not readily allow snow to pass through and quickly holds it, creating a lot of build up. It almost creates an igloo style insulation. Since we work away from home we get up early to feed and water the chickens and open the chicken door into the run.This morning we had to get up earlier to shovel a space for the chickens to walk. After shoveling we lay down hay to keep their feet from freezing.

Luckily snow does not last long here so we should be back working on the plot soon.

 

After the Frost

Last week a somewhat thriving garden. After the frost…..

It’s a little disappointing when you still have tomatoes ripening on the vine when your first frost comes. But then there is also the stress release of knowing you no longer need to spend every morning and evening caring for your crops.

What’s next? Clean up. Let the chicken have at it while pulling everything out of the ground and tossing it into the compost pile. We decided to leave the landscape fabric on the ground to protect the soil. We aren’t sure if it’s a good idea yet but we’ll see what the soil is like next year.We pulled out the irrigation drip tape to be sure water in the tape didn’t freeze and crack the tape. Other than that we are just leaving the garden to rest until spring.

And next year? Of course we will take a look at everything that worked and didn’t work and plan on adjusting for next year. We have 4-5 months to finalize our plan. The biggest learning was that we had too many rows of a single item and couldn’t sell them all. We will do fewer rows next year and only 1 row per item. Only exception is the beans. We’ll have 1 row of green beans, and a second row split between yellow and purple beans. No more 3 rows of tomatoes and cucumbers. Even though they were very popular it was still too much. I’m sure we’ll have more thoughts as the full winter comes and we will have more ideas on ways to make next years crops better. More efficient set up, bigger variety and better yield. That’s what we are looking for next year.

 

Chicken Run Collapse

Yesterday we had a blizzard and the snow was so wet it actually stuck on top of the 2X4 inch farm fence stretched over the top of chicken run. I wish I could have taken a picture of the 4 inches of snow on top of this roof, but we took care of it at 4:30 AM when there wasn’t enough light to get a photo.

The SCH40 conduit is currently being used support the roof, but wasn’t strong enough for the weight. It was like walking into an ice cave that luckily didn’t collapse on us. We carefully popped up the wire with snow shovels to release the snow but one section on the upslope bent and pulled apart. A couple pieces of wood are now added for additional support until a long term solution can be found. We need to keep a roof due to the hawks that regularily patrol our property.

Replacing the SCH40 conduit with metal is our first priority. Then we plan to create a porch on the upslope to the coop to give more protection from the weather and a dry area for the hens to stand outside during rain or snow.

This was our first winter with the chickens so we count ourselves lucky this was the worst thing that happened all season. We are coming up on spring so hopefully we won’t have another blizzard until we finish the upgrades.

Doe a Deer

Deer

With the continuing spring snow, the deer are looking for better shelter. They are very comfortable around us since we removed the back yard fence and haven’t gotten dogs yet. A doe and a couple of young ones tucked themselves under the bush just outside our back door and spent the night there.

If it wasn’t for all the deer poop, eating the lilacs and low hanging apple tree leaves, I’d love to have them stay!

See a video on YouTube: https://youtu.be/e68gpTzq5LU

 

 

More Spring Snow!

Snow and Deer

More snow! How long is this going to last? It’s supposed to continue for another few days. The apple blossoms are partially open. Let’s hope they don’t all freeze. If you look close, you can see the deer laying underneath the lilac bushes.

The growing season is rapidly shrinking. Less time means less harvest. We could regain time if the weather cooperates the rest of the season. Here is crossing fingers.

The cold weather transplants are getting too big for the trays. I may have to plant when it gets above freezing, using a row cover to protect them.

Over grown transplants

This is also effecting the building of the run and preparing the beehives for the bees coming in two weeks!
We will be so happy when the weather warms again, but then it will be a race to get things done!

Uncovering Spring

Peony under snow

After 3 days of snowing, it’s time to try and save all my spring flowers that were buried under a couple feet of snow in some spots. These peonies that were already fully budded out were buried under 3 feet of snow. There is an angled sunroom above it so all the snow that built up on the roof slid down and kept accumulating on this normally beautiful perennial bed! It’s important to wait until the snow is completely done falling so you only have to do this once. Multiple times is too much stress on the plants.

First, I used a snow shovel to pull off the top 2 feet, leaving about 8-10 inches of snow still on the plants. You have to be careful not to dig too far or you will break stems, which I did with some of my daffodils.

I carefully pulled the snow off the plants by hand, not putting any pressure on them except a very slight lift from underneath to dust the snow completely off. And guess what……it works!  They stood right back up by the next day!
PeoniesEven my daffodils popped back open!

Daffodils

More Spring Snow

Snowy Apple Tree

And this is why we are still planting our vegetables in transplant trays rather than starting outdoors!

We are only half way through the storm and there is already 5-6 inches of snow pulling the lilacs down to the ground. We already learned some things the last time we tried to save our bushes and trees from the snow. Unless the branches look like they are going to break, it’s better to let the snow slowly melt off on it’s own. Bouncing and shaking the plant can actually do more damage than good. We found more broken branches on the trees we shook than the ones we left alone.

If you can tell branches are ready to break, carefully BRUSH them with a broom, pushing up rather than down. That should release just enough pressure to keep from breaking.  If you do have a break, don’t give up. We had a real serious crack on an apple tree and tied the limb up enough that it mended itself!

Hold on folks! We have another 24 hours of this!