Colvin Family Farm

  (Pikeville (serving Knoxville, Chattanooga, Franklin, Maryville, Farragut, And Crossville), Tennessee)
A Community Supported Agriculture
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March at Colvin Family Farm

Howdy from Colvin Family Farm!

We're having an eventful month so far--exciting happenings and semi-disasters have kept us hopping as we try to fit our busy Spring schedule between the predictably unpredictable East, TN weather--snow and freezing temperatures, flooding rain, and sunny hot days...

We hope you're having a great Spring, we can't wait to see you all at the farmers' markets!

the Colvin Family
Colvin Family Farm 2013
CSA Share Program

Be a part of a 25 week seasonal cooking and eating adventure and change the way your family eats in 2013!
Keeping on schedule with our plantings in the greenhouse makes this one of the more important projects we've been up to this month--believe it or not we've already seeded the lettuce that we'll be harvesting in mid June! We've already seeded more than 300,000 transplants for the new season!
We had 3,000 crowns of asparagus delivered this week! Although we won't be able to harvest any off of this new patch until next Spring (at the earliest), it's exciting!
The supplies were delivered to the new farm for our packing shed this month...
We had to remove a few stumps that were in the way...
To grade out where we'll set the pad...right now we're waiting on it to dry out again so we can have fill dirt hauled out so we can shape the loading dock.
We've been able to find a few days dry enough to work on the hightunnel, we hope to have it finished up within the next couple of weeks so that...
...we can get our tomato transplants in the ground!
Over the past week we have finally been able to work ground for our Spring crops--I don't have pictures ready, but we've transplanted lots of onions, broccoli, kale, collards, lettuce, leeks, kohlrabi, spinach & more!
The biggest setback we have had this month would be when a terrible wind storm blew down one of our greenhouses, and damaged one of our others--we lost a couple thousand transplants, and had our work cut out for us saving what was left!
We had to dig flats of baby transplants out of the "rubble." We then stacked what flats weren't up in the back of one of the box trucks, and hauled everything else to the other greenhouses, and spread them under tables temporarily.
On to some exciting things--we now own a semi-commercially sized incubator that holds nearly 150 eggs! We are starting to expand our flock of Black Australorp chickens without having to ship in new stock from an out of state hatchery!
Hatched out on the first day of Spring, this was our first chick in the new incubator :)
We're always doing our best to learn from other folk--this past month a few of us Colvins were able to listen to Will Allen speak about his success with urban farming. While we're the exact opposite of urban farming, it was awesome to hear this amazing man present solid farming advice.
And one last exciting tidbit--we've got our globe artichokes planted--we are really babying these and with a seasons experience trying, we hope to have a successful harvest this year!
 
 

Announcing the 2013 Virtual Farmhands!

Announcing the 2013 Virtual Farmhands!

Eating our way through the 2013 seasons!

For the 2013 CSA season, our farm has hired three local bloggers (we're calling them "Virtual Farmhands") to share weekly recipes, pictures, storage tips, and other practical advice on their blogs,  and our CSA forum!

We hope this will help beginners, and even veteran CSA members get the most out of their share throughout the season, and provide a place to ask questions, or find/share answers on the forum.

Meet the farmhands here, or read the guest blogpost that Betsy wrote for our farm blog: "CSA Investment, Risks and Payoffs."

Lia Ballentine, will be entering her third season with our CSA program this year...
Meet Lia
Betsy Farquhar is a mother of three, follow her as she juggles CSA with her busy schedule...
Meet Betsy
Kristina McLean is a professional blogger, gardener, csa'er, cook'er and more...
Meet Kristina
 
 

February At Colvin Family Farm

February at Colvin Family Farm
In a nutshell: wet

With more than a foot of rain, we have had a wet, wet, wet month here on the farm. All through the month we kept thinking It couldn't get any wetter, but we kept being proven wrong! Despite the inclement weather your brave, sacrificial, hard working (let me pause this spiel a moment for you to go find a box of kleenex) sweet, nice, caring farmers (calm down I'm joking :) have kept ourselves busy slogging through the mud to do what can be done above water. It has been an exciting month watching things take shape for the new season!
One of our most memorable activities was when Isaac, Caleb and I spent five days in Little Rock, Arkansas prying information from experienced farmers at the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group's (SSAWG's) 2013 conference. We had a great time making sure our instructors were busy :) and networking with other natural farmers from the Southeast.
Since we are constructing them on worked ground (no sod) it was too wet to work on constructing our hightunnels. However we were able to finish up one of the greenhouses on the home farm, and frame in another to prepare for the Spring planting rush. It is amazing that we already have 130,000 plus transplants started for the new season!
Another very exciting (for me anyhow) project was drafting the plans for and purchasing the supplies for a brand new 2,000 square foot packaging facility for the new farm. 

Below we've got a bunch of pictures from the month, I hope you all enjoy!
I've recently swapped from small (320x240) pictures to larger (640x480) images in the newsletter/blog. Is this too big for you all? Is it slowing the emails down too much?

Thanks so much to all of you for making it possible for us to do what we love! We are excited about the new season!

Adam Colvin
Colvin Family Farm (CNG)
www.ColvinFamilyFarm.com

There are many Greenhouse pictures this month--if you want to see some non greenhouse pics scroll towards the bottom.

2013 CSA Program


Be a part of a 25 week seasonal cooking and eating adventure and change the way your family eats in 2013!
-----------------------------
February in Pictures
In the first picture, I had to show that we have had some actual Winter weather :)
However it has stayed a very exciting Spring weather in the greenhouses!
I hope to transplant the Kohlrabi (forground) within the next couple of weeks.
I couldn't be much happier about how these flats of lettuce seedlings are growing out :)
Onions, Spinach, many different brassicas (Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower etc...) There's a lot of potential setting on these greenhouse tables!
Boc Choi (foreground), lettuces and more...
This is a closeup shot of some of the early Spinach transplants..planting number one...
....our second planting....
....and our third planting. Our fourth hasn't come up yet, but the idea is to (hopefully) keep Spinach coming in regularly for the entire Spring season!
A 288 flat of tomatoes--we're actually starting to pot a few up for a planned transplant of March 14th in our high tunnels. We'll see how that works :)
While I've majored on the big and the pretty there are plenty of flats that are still small and just coming up--like this celery....
...this Lettuce...
...and much more (chard, cauliflower, kales, etc.. in this picture).
A large project this month was finishing greenhouses. Since we have already over filled our other greenhouses this became imperative!
Other than running the stovepipe on the woodstove, and a couple of the tables, the first new greenhouse is ready to put flats in!
Totally un-farm related, but this is a beaver lodge out in the middle of about twelve acres of beaver dammed pond/swamp behind our property--cool huh?
Another non-farm picture, I found the first bedraggled little blue violet of Spring on a hike behind the home farm.
We were privileged to visit Hines Valley Farm, a small Certified-Organic farm in Loudon, TN this past month. In this picture owner/operator John Ledbetter poses in a field next to his high tunnels. Thanks for having us John!
I promised little brother Levi that I'd put a picture of his first snowman in the newsletter. He did a pretty good job for a little fellow!
At the 2013 SSAWG conference we got to talk with our local sales representative (Rod Heyerdahl) from our favorite supplier Johnny's!
 
 

CSA Update

Hello folks!
We are now ready to accept 2012 CSA signups! We've been keeping busy making plans for the new season, what to plant, when, where, how much etc... we've also been planning seed orders, and are placing them as we can--and believe it or not we start planting for the new season in just three weeks!

We are pleased to announce that we're planning for two midweek deliveries in the Knoxville area so you won't have to miss your share if you're out of town on the weekend! We also are planning new delivery locations this season--a Saturday delivery in Oak Ridge, a Wednesday delivery in Chattanooga, and a Thursday delivery in North Knoxville.

 Thanks for your support--we look forward to seeing you at one of the markets this year!

Adam Colvin
1-866-865-8329
www.ColvinFamilyFarm.com


Recent Pictures:


Hazy Winter Morning

"Smoky Mountain" morning view--classic East TN Winter morning!

Our First Snow

The first snow of this season! It stuck best to the trees.

It came down!

It was coming down hard for a while, and the kids wanted to run out in it!

Charity

Charity "catching" snowflakes.

Mulching the Garlic

Titus tucking the Garlic crop under a warm blanket of straw mulch

Tractor Mechanic

Dad's been busy working on rebuilding a 1948 Farmall Cub that we hope to use for cultivating this season.
 
 

April Update

April Update from Colvin Family Farm! Like April Farm Update! on Facebook

Flowers are blooming all over the farm scenting the air with Spring, strawberries are climbing into full-scale production, and it's been so wet we've had a hard time working in the fields on "schedule"--we've had an interesting April!
As we gear up for the market season, we're in the "what if" mode--we keep mentally running through what crops are coming in, and what we think will be coming in by the first week of May. It seems strange that even though we're a couple of weeks behind our "schedule" on some of the crops, we already have ripe strawberries, and on several crops we're more than a month ahead of last year! Each season is different from the other--and each has it's good parts!

Anyhow, we are excited as things fall together one by one, hopefully it will be dry enough to work a few new fields this Monday, so that we can transplant Squash, Cucumbers, and Melons, and seed our wheat, oats, and main crop of potatoes!

Adam Colvin
1-866-865-8329
www.ColvinFamilyFarm.com


April at Colvin Family Farm:

Onion Patch

Our Onion patch earlier last week--they really are doing well! We hope to keep everybody and their mother's uncle covered up with sweet slicing onions this year!

Seed Potatoes

The same goes for our potatoes--this pictures shows our seed potatoes stacked in the back of our farm truck. We have several hundred pounds out already, but we are needing to work another field up before we can plant the main batch.

Plowed Field

Caleb started working this field and--the plow broke! If it isn't too wet, something else will happen!

Killdeer Nest

We found another killdeer nest--it's neat to watch wildlife! It amazes me how they can build their nest on the ground--you wouldn't believe how well these eggs blend in with their surroundings!

Levi & his flat

Levi and "his" flat of vegetables. He is raising his very own produce for the first time!

Celery

Celery flats. We potted these up from the small plugs earlier last week.

Tulips

I love Momma's tulips--they're only pretty six weeks out of the year, but they're defnitely worth it!

Greenhouse

Both of the greenhouses are full of tomatoes, squash, melons, tomatillos, herbs and more!

Bumblebee

We are very thankful for our pollinating friends--this bumblebee is busy in the apple tree!

Potato Digger

Caleb and I (Adam) drove to Mobile, AL to pickup this potato harvester that we had imported from China yesterday--if it does a good job, it will take one of the most labor intensive harvesting jobs and make it easy!

We have more pictures on or Facebook page--click here to see this month's album!
 
 

March/April Update

Hello folks!
Spring amazes me each year--no matter how much you're outdoors, and how closely you watch each small change when it happens, suddenly it will dawn on you that Spring has crept up on you again! This Spring is definitely cool, and wet, which has set us behind schedule with working the ground, and even set us back from our seeding and transplanting schedules. What seeds and plants we've put out, have been slow, almost reluctant to come up, and we are in the midst of anxious moments wondering if things will work as they should--this time of year is always like that, but things always seem to work fine--even if it's a week or three late!

Thanks go to all of those who have helped us posting our flyers around East, TN--we have really been getting a lot of interest from folks, and we appreciate your effort! If you would like several of our flyers, let us know and we'll mail you enough to keep you busy! If each of you gave out one flyer, we'd have....well, lots more out there!

For a complete update, go check out our March/April picture folder we just uploaded to our facebook page!

I hope you all enjoy this newsletter, and we here at the farm wish you all a warm, dry, and productive Spring!

Adam Colvin
1-866-865-8329
www.ColvinFamilyFarm.com


March/April at Colvin Family Farm:


Strawberries in January

We're excited about how well our strawberries are looking! Most all of one variety already have fruit and blossoms all over them!

Right Now 2

Planting onions--we've put out more than 50,000 plants already! Our goal is to be able to supply all of our market locations with as many naturally raised onions & potatoes as the market can use all of the way through season (normally these two crops are hard to find on a regular basis) and have them at a price that most normal families can afford.

Dad Grading for the new greenhouse

Dad grading the site for our new 20x60 greenhouse.

Outside Right Now!

Dad's kept busy working on our new greenhouse--this picture shows the frame up, and the roll-up curtains on. The curtains are made of material that is basically a clear tarp--it lasts for years, whereas if we used normal greenhouse plastic for the curtains (as we've done in the past) it lasts for week(s)!

Putting the plastic on!

This morning we put the plastic on--it's always interesting pulling $500 worth of plastic over a greenhouse, and hoping that it won't blow away while you staple it on!

Inside the greenhouse

As you can see Dad framed in a large door on the other end. If during the off season, we need to work on a vehicle or tractor, we can drive it under cover!

Dad stapling the plastic on the greenhouse

Dad, stapling the plastic down on the new greenhouse. So that the staples don't just pull right back out through the plastic, you have to staple through a strap of "webbing" material that is strong enough that the staples won't pull through.

Inside the other greenhouse

Enough about the new greenhouse--here's a peek inside the other greenhouse! Right now it's busting the seams with transplants--this shot shows cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, lettuces, chives, peppers, eggplant & more!

Lettuce Plugs

A closeup shot of some baby lettuce transplants.

Celery transplants

A shot of our Celery transplants--we're excited about giving this crop a try!

Blue Violets

Blue violets are some of my favorite Spring flowers! I love how this shot turned out!

Flowering Quince Bush

Momma has a beautiful flowering quince bush in the backyard.

Flowering quince bush

A closeup of the flowering quince blossoms--they really are pretty after the dull greys and browns of Winter!

Rainbow cloud

My camera didn't pick up the colors very well, but this is a cloud rainbow us boys watched for over an hour over one of the fields. Check out this link to see better pictures of cloud rainbows and information on how they form.

Truck stuck

We had a delivery of fertilizer a couple of weeks ago, and the driver wouldn't listen to us when we told him where to drive--he eventually got stuck four or five different times, and we eventually (three hours later) got him out. I still can't believe that we got him out! It took Dad a day with the box scrape to level the front yard/side field back out!

We have more pictures and updates just uploaded to our Facebook page--if you want to see the rest of the pictures click here!
 
 

February Farm Update

February Update from Colvin Family Farm! Like February Farm Update! on Facebook

Hello Folks!

I can't believe how quickly time is flying by! Signs of Spring are all over the place, and we're enjoying a few days in the high sixties and low seventies. Robins showed up by the hundred on February 1st, the maple buds are starting to show red, some crocuses are blooming in Mom's flower garden, and geese and sandhill cranes are flying north--Spring is just around the corner! We've been busy starting vegetables in the greenhouse to make sure we're ready for our early Spring markets and our CSA startup in May--most seed orders are already in, and we've got our shipment of seed starting mix as well as most of the other supplies for 2011. The only other "big" purchase for the early season, is our fertilizer order from McGeary's Organics in Lancaster county Pennslyvania.

I hope you've got to check out our new website! I just yesterday sorted out the biggest glitch (that I've found) that made pictures lose their description, and "go wacky" when you clicked on them.
I've also implemented a neat idea (borrowed from another farm) a "share size calculator." What size do you need? Check it out on our website now!

Looking forward to the new season--I hope you enjoy this farm update!

Adam Colvin
1-866-865-8329
www.ColvinFamilyFarm.com


February at Colvin Family Farm:

Signs of Spring:

Strawberries in January

Crocuses--these flowers are an early Spring treat!

Outside Right Now!

Or you could look at them as a "teaser," Spring's a comin'

Right Now 2

Closeup shot of the Red Maple buds...

Right Now 3

The trees are already slightly tinged red.

Right Now 4

Sandhill cranes flying North--we probably have thousands of these birds fly over each Spring and Fall!

Brilliant Sunset

Most of the seed orders are in...

Sunset 2

We've got our seed starting dirt in...

Building the house!

And the early Spring transplants are already up!

Carhart

Broccoli, Cauliflower, Collards, Chinese Cabbage, Lettuces and more!

Antlers

We heat the greenhouse with wood--The three oldest boys (myself [Adam], Caleb and Isaac) take turns every third night sleeping out in the greenhouse. This is a very effective "thermostat" of sorts, when the temperature drops to an approximate 55, it wakes the sleeping person who stokes the fire, and checks everything over.

Antler 2

Dad ran the stovepipe out the front.



After being cleaned out, our farm pond has filled up nicely and is ready for the season!

Mural

We've got some land already tilled up and ready to plant our early Spring crops!

Right Now 3

The view out of a hickory tree off the back side of our property

Right Now 4

Another view out of the hickory

Brilliant Sunset

Some limbs got in the way of this shot, but it shows a pretty good view of the "farmyard."

Sunset 2

The strawverries seem to have been growing throughout the Winter!

Building the house!

A bed of strawberries tucked underneath their row covers.

Carhart

We're excited about our new (to us) combine! With easier harvesting/threshing, we'll be able to handle much larger acreage of dry beans, wheat, and oats!

Antlers

Dad really enjoyed driving the combine home.

Antler 2

We hauled our new (again, "to us") Massey Ferguson 165 Diesel tractor home from just East of Nashille this week. We have really needed the extra horsepower and traction that this tractor has for some of our equipment! We also now have the added benefit of if one tractor breaks down (let me rephrase that to "when" one tractor breaks down), we won't be in as much trouble as we are when we depend totally on one tractor.



Dad grew up using his Dad's (my Grandpa's) Massey Ferguson 150, this is one step above the 150, but it's still has a very familiar feel to it!

Mural

This shows some of the size difference between our MF 35, and our new MF 165. We are really excited about starting this season!



As we plan on expanding substantially from last year, the only way we can possibly do that, is with better more efficient methods, and better more efficient tools. We are always changing our methods, tweaking good ones to make great ones, and swapping great ones for unbelievably great ones, but this year we've really taken a step to get some more efficient tools. We now have two dependable tractors, a combine that will make it possible to harvest and thresh our grains in large quantities, we're fixing to put up another greenhouse, we've done a lot of work with our irrigation plans/equipment, and we bought two Jang Clean Seeders (pictures above). These seeders are super exact in seed singulation and spacing, we have plates/rollers for pratically every size/shape of seed, so that we'll be able to get things planted FAR more efficiently this year, while fertilizing in the same pass!
 
 

Winter Update from Colvin Family Farm! Like Winter at Colvin Family Farm on Facebook


Hello folks!
I want to invite you all to check out our new website! We now feature easy online CSA registration, a new blog, many new pictures, a new "Our Standards" page, and much more! New for 2011, we'll be posting pictures of shares with produce labeled on our "In the Box" page (no more sharpies!), and we also have a new Colvin Family Farm online market opening in May! You can now like us on facebook, follow us on twitter, and subscribe to, and comment on our blog! Coming soon, we'll have a customer review page and more--(you've probably noticed our new email template)!

As you can tell, I'm excited about all this! I do hope you'll enjoy browsing through the site, and I'd like to ask you to forward this to all of your friends that you think might be interested in our farm! Word of mouth is our best advertisement!

Thank you!

Adam Colvin
1-866-865-8329
www.ColvinFamilyFarm.com


Winter at Colvin Family Farm:

I think I should mention first thing that I've not been as faithful taking pictures as I should have--I've been glued to the computer for the last month learning how to design websites etc... and what time hasn't been spent on that has been spent getting together seed orders and structuring the "battle plan" for this season with Caleb and Dad--Sorry!

Strawberries in January

An example of our strawberries, tucked underneath row cover, they're biding their time till Spring!

Outside Right Now!

A view or what is outside our front door right now--we've got a good heavy dusting of snow!

Right Now 2

Pan to the Right--the only places that don't have a solid cover, are the places where it was wet!

Right Now 3

One of the fields.

Right Now 4

It's coming down!

Brilliant Sunset

During Winter, we see some of the most brilliant sunrises!

Sunset 2

This picture was taken a week ago--it's really amazing how much snow we're getting this Winter! We haven't had super cold temps yet (although it dipped into the single digits for a week), but we've had more snow and ice in December than we've had in the past three years combined!

Building the house!

No, this isn't an advertisement of Lowes.
We're often asked "What do you do all Winter?" Generally Winter is used to regroup--assess last year's lessons, learn from the mistakes and make a plan that's as foolproof as possible. Also, we get to catch up on farm maintenance, and do projects. Dad's biggest project this Winter is finishing the house! We also are putting up another 20x60 greenhouse, clearing some property, and tearing down the century old farm house we've replaced. Although it's hard to believe, we're already starting seeds in the greenhouse!

Carhart

Yes--this is an advertisement for Carhart! Great tough clothes--make sure you get one with the "Made in America" tag!

Antlers

This time of year deer are starting to shed their antlers, if you have a sharp eye you can find them while out hiking. These two are the biggest we've found (Caleb found both of them).

Antler 2

The only one I ever found, was from a four-pointer. I used a piece of it as the latch to the bag I made out of my first successfully tanned buckskin.



Homeschooling--right now Mom is teaching through world geography. She likes the "hands-on" approach. Here the kids are painting a mural she drew out on kraft paper.

Mural

Dad hanging up the "tropical rainforest mural."

To wrap up this newsletter, I'll say we're staying warm, eating well (although with some of Momma's "hands-on" approach, we're eating "weird" as we "travel through the world while we eat)." And for the most part we're staying healthy!
Thank you to the early birds that have already joined up for 2011! You all are financing our farm's operations for the 2011 season, and we appreciate it!

You all try to stay warm, and keep safe!

Colvin Family Farm
 
 

Merry CHRISTmas

Colvin Family wishes all a merry CHRISTmas and
a Happy New Year!!
Tags:
 
 

Colvin Family Farm--Fall Update

With the temperature hovering in the mid teens over the past week, the 2010 growing season is officially over! Offseasons are great for regrouping, making new plans/goals, and catching up on farm maintenance (or in this specific case catching up on correspondence)! I'm hoping to rebuild our website soon making it more "usable"--a better recipe page, automatic backup of all our newsletters, weekly picture slideshows, adding customer feedback, as well as adding cool new software that will help us keep in touch with our shareholders--each shareholder will have their own "user account" that would enable them to login to "their" account and view all of their past, present and future--payments, share box contents, as well as a history of their emails & responses. You'll also be able to let our computer know when you aren't going to pickup, and it'll tell our packing list (the biggest bonus for us, [someday you should try to pack shares--remember who said they aren't going to be able to come/figure out which market/which truck/ahhhhh!!!!!]).

And since we start planting again in 50 days, we need to get seed orders made, greenhouses ready, (another one built), see about building a packing shed, walk-in freezer, cooler room, (yes I'm dreaming [don't poke me]), workout next years marketing and transportation plan, etc...etc...etc...

We have several new crops planned for this year: Strawberries, Celery, Radicchio, Fennel, Tomatillos, and more! Check out our all new 2011 crop harvest projection to see where these fit in the season!
Also, we'll have four new varieties of Dry Beans: Pinto Beans, October Beans, Lima Beans and Cannelini Beans! We are planning on renting a combine, that will harvest (yay) and thresh (WHOOPEE) our beans, oats and wheat in quantities that we've been unable to yet!

I'm going to add pictures to try and bring you up to date on what's been happening on the farm--Keep an eye on our website, as I hope to upload a 2010 season slideshow on soon!

We'll see you all next May! Have a great Winter!

Merry CHRISTmas,

Adam Colvin
www.ColvinFamilyFarm.com



Fall Pictures from the Farm

Winter Morning Sunrise

A Winter morning sunrise--I wish the camera could catch the full spectrum of color!

A Business Meeting

Right now we're running through figures--equipment, seeds, ideas--Spreadsheets, charts, calendars--even farmers have their Mondays! Please note the items on the table: three (3) coffee cups, one (1) coffee thermos (it holds four cups full of coffee), four Johnny's Selected Seed Catalogs, a laptop computer, and 4,763 other seed/equipment catalogs.



I love the cloud formations we have during the Wintertime! Look at this one!

Later on...

The same clouds later on--again, I can't seem to catch all of the color--but it was gorgeous!

Snowing!

We've had a little snow, they're calling for 2 inches over the weekend!

Pond Cleanin'

Now, back to Fall--we had a friend come in with his bulldozer and backhoe, and clean out the pond. According to Dad's estimates, it now holds ten times more water!



We've all had our fun as kids playing in leaf piles--Right now it's Levi and Charity's turn.

bushog

We bought a "brand new" (to us) fifty year old bushog this fall--we've been needing one ever since the last tooth stripped (yes, last tooth) off of the gearbox on the other bushog (it was only 35 years old)--they just don't make them like they used to! It does a great job for $100!



I love how this picture turned out! The bright green chard contrasting with all of the fall colors, and it's set off well by the collards in the back! (incidentally, I didn't take this one)



Now for strawberry planting--we spread compost, bloodmeal, and corn gluten meal in beds, then tilled it in lightly.

closeup

The compost is in the background, the bloodmeal is in the upper, left corner, and the pellets are the corn gluten meal.



Then we laid black plastic mulch over the beds.

strawberry plugs

We bought strawberry plugs from a nursery,



Several of them,



Charity helped by watering the holes before we planted them!



You can see the whole operation here! In the far left, Dad and Noah are popping holes in a neat grid pattern over the plastic, In the far background Isaac is pouring worm casting tea down each hole, and then there's Caleb and myself planting them!

asters

one of the most prolific Fall wildflowers are the common Aster--I like em'!



I also like the "blanket flowers" in Mom's flower garden--when they're done flowering they make neat shaped seed pods (back right).
 
 

Colvin Family Farm--Week 18

We've had a delicious taste of Fall over the past week--definitely my favorite season, Fall is refreshingly crisp, cool, sweet smelling--I look forward to it coming in full strength later this month (I can't believe that it's already September)!
When writing this newsletter each week I use words and pictures to send out a "slice" of the farm out to you all keeping you up to date with weekly activities, challenges, surprises and joys, but it is often frustrating that I can't capture the feel, sounds and smells of the farm--walking outside in the morning, dew still covering everything--feeling the crisp refreshing chill of another new day, complemented by the warm touch of fresh sunshine--hearing the early morning sounds--thousands of insects chirping, screeching and buzzing, dozens of birds singing, and smelling the fresh (it's what air fresheners try [and miserably fail] to copy) morning air, smelling of fresh earth here, a tomato patch, and just recently we've started to smell Fall leaves--I love the thousands (or even millions) of smells around the farm--way too many, and way too subtle to list--I've created a veritable monster of a run-on sentence here--better end it.
I like to think that all of these smells, sounds and sensations are packed into each vegetable--maybe we express ourselves best through our vegetables!

I hope you enjoy this late catchup of last weeks activities!

Adam Colvin
www.ColvinFamilyFarm.com




Colvin Family Farm Update: Week 18
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Watering

We've been battling a really dry season--we started this season not very well equipped for the challenge, but over the season we've gradually enlarged our "arsenal" and are able to do some serious combat now. This picture shows Noah watering a kale bed from a tank in the back of our truck.

The Small Pump

This little pump will run good pressure through more than 300 feet of 5/8 inch hose.

The Water Truck

This is the watering rig. We use a 5 horsepower pump to fill the tank from a lake, then haul it to the field. We then hitch the small pump to the hose on this blue reel, and run it down the path of a bed and water going up and down. One tank per 3 foot wide bed is the equivalent of 1/2 inch of rain.

Lay-flat to Drip-tape

We did break down and do some drip irrigation on our crops like cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and snap peas--this will definitely be the way we work next year as it is super simple and super easy! The little pump hitches up to the blue hose (known as lay-flat), we poke holes in the lay-flat and push a piece of "spaghetti" pipe through it that by aid of the little orange and black fitting hitches up to the drip tape.

Closeup of Drip Tape

This is a close-up of drip tape. It has two blue strips on the side with holes--if you look close in between my fingers you can see the minuscule slit that will emit a drop every couple of seconds (which is why they name it drip-tape). These slits are spaced every 12 inches, and will emit a gallon every hour--the beauty of drip tape is that the minuscule drips work their way down to where the roots of a plant are--we're watering deep with it, not just making the top couple of inches wet.

The Result

The drip tape is then placed next to the row of plants (in this case cucumbers).

Starting Lettuce

Another new method we've started using is lettuce starting. We've always longed for flats of beautiful lettuce plants all the same size all ready to go out at the same time (when you sow lettuce in containers as we have previously done you get all kinds of different sizes, and an unknown amount of plants, wimpy seedlings etc...). With this method we've finally achieved it!

 Letttuce Flats

As you could see in the first photo we use 288 cell flats--these are filled with high-quality Johnny's 512 Organic seed starting media. Then we push down on each cell so it is about 2/3 of the way full and sow 2-4 lettuce seed in each cell. we then cover them with a medium coarse grind of vermiculite, put them under a shade tree and water them daily.

Lettuce Plugs

This is the result (after spending time with tweezers thinning of course)--full flats of beautiful lettuce starts ready to go out!

Morning Glory

Even if it is a pestiferous weed, this morning glory is pretty!

Tomato Flowers

These tomato flowers are a whole lot prettier to me though!

Cucumbers

I love how we have so many bumblebees and honey bees pollinating our cucumbers for us--we've never had to pay for pollination services yet!

Cucumbers Comin' On!

The cucumbers are really about to start crankin' them out! They are covered with flowers and have cucumbers in various stages all over!

Oriental Cucumbers

These are the oriental, burpless cucumbers--a little slower but they're still coming on!

Cucumber Patch

The rows of cucumbers.

Tomato Patch

The late tomato patch

Peppers w/Caleb

Caleb poses in the pepper patch with the first real yellow pepper of the year.

Tomatoes

We've had some questions about how we stake our tomato patch, so I thought this newsletter I'd show you folks how it's done! We drive 5 foot tomato stakes every 2-3 plants.

Stringin' Tomatoes

We take a spool of "tomato twine" (in the box on Isaac's belt) and run it through some holes on the top and bottom of a specially "modified" tomato stake.

Stringin' 3

This is the close-up of the bottom hole--this handy "stringin' stick" makes it possible to wrap strings around the tomato stakes without having to bend over!

Stringin' #2

A shot showing Isaac stringing--you can pretty much walk right through the patch once you get the hang of it.

Stringin' 4

This closeup shows how you wrap the string around each stake. You keep tension on the twine as it runs down your stringin' stick and pull it tight wrapping it once or twice around the stake. Once you get to the end of the row, you walk back down doing it on the other side.

Stringin' 5

This creates a double sided restraint that holds tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers...

Snap Peas

...and snap peas up off of the ground, increasing marketable yield dramatically!

Okra Flowers

Okra blossom--thought I'd add this as they are so pretty! Okra is actually placed in the Hibiscus family!

Fall's Comin'!

Coming back to the beginning of the newsletter--Fall colors are already showing--it will be an early, short Fall because of the dry Summer, Tulip Poplars and Walnuts have already lost most of their leaves!
 
 

Colvin Family Farm--Week 16

Hello everybody!

It has been a great week! We thoroughly enjoyed seeing my brother Matt as he was in on leave prepatory to being deployed for three years, and the 26 year old "bach" brought a quite charming girlfriend to meet the family as well! I like her--she does dishes and, doesn't mind blond jokes (much).

We have certainly done a lot with the week "off," we missed seeing you all at the markets, but we got most all of the fall crops planted, and we also did a bunch of maintenance around the farm--it's pretty easy to fall behind when you are spending all available time doing......something other than maintenance!

We have a bunch of Spinach coming up--the dry spell through this Summer dowsed our hopes of having Spinach clear through the season, but we are doing our best to get it back in as soon as possible! We also have planted, Cauliflower, Carrots, Beets, Turnips, Radishes, Broccoli, Swiss Chard, Kale, and many other Fall crops. I'm sure that Mom has included a great catch up with what we've been doing in her letter, so I'm going to wrap this up with the pictures for the week.

Thanks for supporting us! We look forward to seeing you all tomorrow!

Adam Colvin
www.ColvinFamilyFarm.com

 



Colvin Family Farm Week 16

Noah & the Herons

Noah caught these baby Green Herons in our greenhouse last week! We've seen them flopping around (they're still learning to fly) with their momma over the past few weeks, but it was neat to see them so close up!

 

Field Shot

A shot of the field a week ago--two beds of sweet corn on the left, a bed of Daikon radishes in the center, and to the right are beds of green onions and bell peppers.

 


Lettuce #1

 


Things have been growing well! Take a look at these two shots of the same lettuce bed six days apart from each other!

 


Lettuce #2

 

And here--with enough water crops do just about like we want them to!

 


Speaking of Birds...

 


Mom snapped this photo of the baby swallows that are being raised on our porch--we usually raise eight or ten batches of baby swallows on the farm each year, and we are thankful for the  bug eaters!

 


Field Shot #2

 


This is another field shot showing the 20 different Fall crops out--the light green bed is the Lettuce again.

 


 Late Fall planting of Tomatoes

 


The same tomato transplants we showed pictures of a couple weeks ago are now knee high, and hopefully on schedule for late fall production!

 


Bell Peppers are just now starting!

 


Our bed of bell peppers are finally in production! we were tickled to pick enough for our shares today, and anticipate the time when we'll have eight or ten bushels per picking!

 


Boxes & Boys

 


Luke (in front) and Noah (in back) put together the share boxes for us last week--they were proud to be able to stay up and help us out during a busy week!

 


Hog Haulin' In Style!

 


This shows our fancy "Hog Haulin' Crate." Last week we purchased six, five month old Hampshire/Chester White crosses (pictures next week sorry) and hauled them 30 miles home in this adapted used water crate shrouding. We are tickled to have hogs again, and look forward to bacon and chops (yes we've named the hogs: Ham, Sausage, Bacon, Pork, Chop, and Anastasia).

 


 

Matt & the aforementioned "quite charming" girlfriend

 

This is Matt (on the left) with his girlfriend "Brittany"
(on the right), still....

But Momma is still his girl!

 

...Momma will always be Matt's girl.

 
 

Colvin Family Farm--Week 14

Sorry to all you blog readers that I didn't get this up last week!

 

It's been another long, hot, dry week on the mountain--we've been busy getting all of the Fall crops in, and we're trying to hold down the fort watering! I hope you all enjoy this week's newsletter--have a great weekend!

Adam Colvin
www.ColvinFamilyFarm.com



Colvin Family Farm Week 14

Success!

We've finally succeeded in getting great looking vegetable plants started in plug flats--something we've yet to do correctly with strict Organic methods, and which has slowed production on many crops this season. How? We used Johnny's Selected Seeds "512 compost based media."
This picture shows green leaf lettuce in the foreground with a grape tomato in the background.

7 days old

This is a picture of the same lettuce plants at 7 days from seed.

12 days old

This is a picture of them at 12 days old! They have just shot up! We are tickled to death with this media, and look forward to using it exclusively next year so that we can have tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons etc...early on in the season!

Sick 8 week old Tomato

This is a shot of one of our tomato plugs started back 8 weeks ago. It shows a pretty good sample of what we have been getting with other Organic potting medias--it hasn't even grown past the first two "true" leaves...

Nice 12 day old Tomato

...compare that with this 12 day old "Beefy Boy" tomato! (notice the Fender 351 Heavy pick for sizing reference).

Solid flats of good lookin' plugs!

The flats of tomato plugs just look awesome!

Apple Pickin'

We were surprised and pleased to find one of the old apple trees actually had edible fruit on it this year (they're normally extremely wormy)!

Bag of Apples

They might not be the prettiest, but they sure taste great!

Morning Rainbow

We had a morning rainbow on the West side of our farm this week! We very seldom have rainbows in the morning, I can only remember two others over the past 10 years!

It was a double rainbow!

It was a full arch, and a double rainbow--look real close in the top left hand corner and you'll be able to see the second arch.

Chickens

Mom snapped this picture of the chickens lined up and looking at her this week--I've tried to get a good picture of the chickens similar to this dozens of times with no luck--Mom was just in the right place at the right time.

Packing Carrots

Little Luke packing Carrots for your share this week--he does come in handy every now and again!

One last shot!

I couldn't help slipping in one last picture of the plants in the greenhouse--we are so tickled to have overcome one of the toughest problems we've run into raising organic produce--thanks go to Adrian from Place of the Heart Farm, and Bob Due of Terraced Garden Farm for bringing this mix to our attention!
 

 
 

Colvin Family Farm--Week 13

We've had a great week!

Our main objective was to get our Fall crops planted--which we've succeeded in doing most of them! Sweet Corn, Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts, Spinach, Carrots, on and on and on....we look forward to the Fall as that is most always the best part of our season!
Another goal was to get our grains in, however rains have delayed that until it dries enough for us to bring it in without having to worry about mildew!
We did come up with a better grain cleaning system however! Scroll down to the bottom of the newsletter to see pictures!

Hope to see you at market--have a great weekend!

Adam Colvin
www.ColvinFamilyFarm.com

CSA members: Final payment is due this week--please contact me with any questions!



Week 13 at Colvin Family Farm!


Lil' Brother & Lil' Sister

They've got it made! I remember when I was just a kid (now I'm the ripe old age of 19) that I wanted to hurry to grow up--but those were the days! Barefoot running around in the front yard, wading around making a dam in the creek, climbing trees, exploring our property, picking berries--nothing to worry about!

Out Here

But I'm blessed to have many memories from being raised on a farm, and I've learned to enjoy today, learn from yesterday, and do the same thing tomorrow!

Newly Started Flats

We've had a lot of trouble this year with getting healthy good-sized transplants--Tomatoes, Eggplant, Peppers etc... The problem? Our seed starting formula--it's what we've had the most trouble doing by organic standards. Our first attempt was to make our own media, compost, topsoil etc... but we ended up spending way to much time weeding our weakly looking starts. So we tried several different medias Fafard, Sungro etc... and each time we couldn't raise a good looking plant! So we finally broke down and purchased...

New Seed Starting Media!

...Johnny's Selected Seed 512 Mix--a compost based growing medium that works! Success after 6 years of trial and error!

Late Fall Tomatoes

These tomato plants are only 8 days old from seed! they're already showing their second set of leaves and they all have healthy purple stems and healthy sets of baby leaves!

Kale Coming Up

We've been busy this week planting more than 20,000 plugs of fall crops--late season tomatoes, fall broccoli, collards, cabbage, cauliflower etc... We're looking forward to having our full variety of crops this Fall!

Cabbage

A head of Cabbage in the field

Tomatoes

Our tomatoes are starting to slowly eek their way into production (5 weeks late).

Coreopsis

This is one of my favorite wildflowers--"Garden Coreopsis" (Coreopsis tinctoria) is a beautiful yellow flower with maroon blotches right next to the center of the flower.

Cosmos

Cosmos are one of Mom's favorite garden flowers...

Bees Like Them Too!

...Bees like them too!

A Double Lily!

Another of Mom's favorite flowers are day lilys. This is a picture of a double day lily--two buds opened on one flowering stalk!

Cleaning Oats

The thresher that we purchased did an acceptable job with knocking the grain out of the heads, but we still had lots of hulls and chaff--so Dad came up with a simple cleaner--it has 1/16" mesh on the bottom of the larger box, and the "smoosher/slider" is made up of 1/4 inch hardware wire. You load the large box with a layer of uncleaned grain and slide the "smoosher" back and forth working the grain over the small mesh. The cleaned grain works it's way through the small mesh into a tray or tub underneath.

It Does a Pretty Good Job!

As you can see, it doesn't do a perfect job, but mostly what is left can be cleaned by sifting it in front of a fan.

Rolled Oats

And this is the final product--rolled oats!

 
 

Week 11

Well, flitter---the power just flickered and I lost everything, but just the same I'm as tickled as can be! We are in the middle of a rain storm that's already dumped more than an inch on our farm! That is a huge load off of my mind as we've been combatting serious drought conditions on the mountain here! Almost all of our time has been spent hauling water around and watering everything! However we have sustained some damage--coincidentally we've had to (for the time being) drop our Wednesday market at Market Square Farmers' Market--I do apologize, but we are presently having to "hit it hard" to keep ahead of the Weeding, Watering, and Wvegetable Wplanting.

We hope that you all have a good weekend!

Adam Colvin
Colvin Family Farm (CNG)
www.ColvinFamilyFarm.com



Week #11 At Colvin Family Farm
Cl
Haulin' Water!

As previously mentioned, we've been hauling water this week--we can currently handle from 4-5 hundred gallons of water in one load with our motley assortment of containers--one 275 gallon water tank that we've owned for 8-10 years, 4 fifty-five gallon barrels, and other assorted "containers."

Waterin' 1

And yes, we do hand water at present--it is a lot of work (trust me), and it isn't as effective as "modern" methods, but we've been able to keep far enough ahead that things were alive when it started raining half an hour ago!

Waterin 2

This is one of my ugliest brothers yet (mean too!) watering the red cabbage patch.

God Waterin' 1

It is a large load off of my mind to have gotten this rain--there is more forecast throughout next week, so we need to get planting (yay we finally can get back to that)!!!!!!

God Waterin' 2

Forgive me for all of the pictures, but I'm excited about it raining---notice the dead patches of grass where the rock is shallow in our front yard.

Onions & Garlic Curing

This is a picture showing our onion and garlic curing racks--they are in our little greenhouse. The top rack has shade cloth over them so that they won't get "sunburnt."

Mom's Hollyhocks

This is the first time that Mom has grown Hollyhocks--I've always looked at them in seed catalogs and wanted to grow them, and this is why! They are gorgeous! (and gorgeous is a #10 on my scale from 1-10 of "describing words"):

#1: Little Brother
#2: Horrifying
#3: Awful Looking
#4: Plain Ugly
#5: Not Good Lookin'
#6: Not Bad Lookin'
#7: Pretty
#8: Lovely
#9: Beautiful
#10 Gorgeous!

Sunflowers in the Oat Field

We planted a 5 foot belt of sunflowers around the edge of the fields that we planted with oats & wheat.

Our Oats Ready To Harvest

And the Oats and Wheat are ready for harvest. We did find time Thursday to get some of the Oats (oat field pictured) harvested.

Step One--Harvesting

We take a "corn knife" and grab a handful of grain, slice it and drop it in sheaves.

Step Two--Hauled to the Truck

It is then hauled to the "mobile threshing unit" (also known as our truck) and...

Step Three--Running It Through The Thresher

...run through our foot powered thresher--it will still need cleaned, but this machine saves us a lot of time (approx. 6 light years a day), and is a big improvement over what we did last year (a stick, a feed sack, and lots and lots and lots of impatience). We are getting a Oat Roller and will soon have rolled oats so you can have a bowl full of local oatmeal for breakfast!
 
 
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