Spring Hill Farm

  (Ruther Glen, Virginia)
Tales from the Back 40
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Fall/Winter 2012

Despite a minor drought and more insects this year, it wasn't the worse year we've had, but we took a loss on the tomatoes, garlic, strawberries and edamame...which I was not expecting. I'm pretty sure the garlic and strawberries were drought related. The tomatoes got blighted out. I'm not sure about the soybeans...they did so well...and tasted so good last year.

Many of my CSA customers signed up again and I have several new customers, so I am full for the 2013 season. We will be at the Ladysmith Farmers Market next summer and have our stand open as soon as we have some surplus that does not have to refrigerated!

We are making Christmas wreaths right now, or I should say I am making Christmas wreaths right now. The only assistance I got last weekend was the dog making sure I wouldn't be mauled by a black bear or bobcat.  Last spring my next door neighbor took down (with permission from  games and inland fishery) a 7ft. 9, 500 lb. bear! Before Thanksgiving in addtion to 2 deer, the hunters also shot a bobcat in our woods! The guys were able to fix the dam on our pond, so we are able to drive across it again, which is a big help for traveling in the woods for greenery...that will cut 10 minutes off my traveling time.

I have some cedar and pine wreaths ready to go at our stand. I keep forgetting to put our sign out. I still have the pumpkins and hay up.  Maybe I'll get the Santa out this afternoon. Either way, it will look more like Christmas by Saturday afternoon. So stop on by and grab one or two for your front and back doors.

We need to pull up the tomato stakes and finish mowing down the fields for the winter. We planted some garlic a few weeks ago, but it wasn't enough. So I hope to a get a few more bulbs before it gets too cold to plant.

So once that is done and the last wreath is crimped, it will be time for a long winter's nap.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

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Winter 2012

Well, its 2012!  Happy New Year. All is well here at SHF.  The winter weather continues to confuse us in the area. One day it is the 50s and 60s, the next minute it is in the 30s and blustery.  All of the flowers are confused. I am in the process of gathering information for the upcoming season and finalizing the budget.  It always seems like a high number, yet it is never enough to cover everything. Thank goodness for day jobs.

We had several bonfires this year, mostly of my son's doing for his friends. But then we had one for church members right before New Year's Eve. It was a blast.  We used to have them all of the time down here when my grandparents were still alive the first Saturday in October.  There is something about being able to look at the stars on a cold clear night and listen to...nothing...but I have to wait for everyone to leave for that to happen.  After everyone left, Fluffy and I went back down to check to make sure the fire was put out...it wasn't. So I just sat down there in the dark with the dog in eternity.  Next thing I know it was 2am New Years Eve. Wow!

The pond was lost during the tropical storm back in September. I still think the earthquake had something to do with it.  So that is the big unknown for this season. Other than that and the usual drought speculation, I expect a great year and can't wait to start with the potatoes in about 6 weeks or so.

 My last living grandparent, Grandma Clara died last summer. For sure, I will miss her calls wondering what she can glean off the farm. When I was going through her papers, I came across all kinds of newspaper articles, including one about my mother winning an academic award when she was still in high school.  So what, you say?  This is my paternal grandmother tracking her future daughter in law years before they got married! So all I can say is if you are afraid of what your relatives may find when you are gone, you better get rid of it now, while you are thinking about it!

Fluffy now alerts us when anyone comes on the property, which is a good thing, especially when we are in the back of the house or down in the fields. Her obedience training is working a little too, although she still doesn't always come when you call her, which is a safety concern when we get near the road.  So she still gets to walk on a leash when we go to the mailbox. I would love to harness her and attach a cart to her, but she's not there yet. But she is a working dog and could do it with more training. She is still queen of the large rodent catchers...Claude is still king of the smaller ones, including a few rabbits. So the animals continue to earn their keep.

 

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Fall 2011

After a very fruitful fall, this year's CSA is done. This is the first summer and fall where we had so much rain.  Some crops fared better than others and some old faithful didn't do well because it was too wet. So it will be interesting to see what next season holds for us.  I think between all of the tropical storms, earthquakes and aftershocks, our pond did't like it and gave up.  We lost a great deal of water.  I'm not sure what that will mean in the future, especially when we have to depend on it for water. I guess we have a few months to see what we can do. 

Now that the frost has come, the leaves are falling off the trees and Thanksgiving is around the corner.  I have already made some fresh Christmas wreaths for a customer who won my wreath in our school auction. I love making them, but it is hard to gather the tips on school days. Basketball makes it quite difficult. But it is not unheard of for me to be outside in the dark with the headlights of the truck or tractor lighting my way. As I have been checking the evergreens, there are a LOT of berries, which makes me wonder if this will be a winter with lots of inclimate weather...stay tuned!

 

 
 

Late Spring

Rain is good!!  But rain can also keep you from tasks.  This blessing of rain a few weeks ago, kept us from getting out ahead of the weeds and I missed a seed sowing date. But things are going pretty good. We got through last week's heatwave and are preparing for the next one. Dear hubby has the sprinklers in working order. Right now our squash, cukes, cantelope and watermelon plants are lost in the weeds.  But dear hubby is taking the week off and should be following up on some of those things. Tomatoes should have been staked, so that should be taken care of too.  School is out so we are transitioning from the school day to the farm day.

The CSA is full for the year. We began back in early May with strawberries and greens. Last week, was the last week for our berries and the greens are beginning to look a little raggedy.  Squash and cukes are coming in, followed by cherry tomatoes soon.

 

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Early Spring

Well, things have certainly greened up around here. Each weekend there is more and more activity outside. The first rounds of seeds have been sown.  We are very grateful for the rains that have been coming regularly and will never taken them for granted again. Except for dampening down the radish and arugula bed last week, the only watering has been done by God. I pray that he will be merciful on us this season and keeps it coming...about 1 inch a week as they say!!

We haven't seen any critters yet, but I know they are out there. Fluffy is still vigilant.  Our peas have a tendency to get mowed down because they are the first signs of life (except for garlic and onions) and must be quite tasty without the first inkling of a pod. If they don't get attacked this time, I know its because of Fluffy standing at the top of the hill and barking half of the night. It will be worth the lost sleep if I don't have to cover or spray with Plantskyyd...which the mosquitoes love on you because one of the ingredients is animal blood...and Fluffy likes it too and stomps on the vines...

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Late Winter

 

 

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The slow days of winter

Happy New Year! 

There's the old saying, "Don't quit your day job". Most days I'm glad I haven't, but then I get a wonderful day off like today (Martin Luther King, Jr.) and then all of a sudden, I wish I could work at home all of the time. Today was a good day for reflection, rest, and wishful dreams for the upcoming season.  I spent the day finalizing seed/plant purchases, checking in with the local feed and seed...and for a real treat, I stopped by some local farm equipment places to look at RTVs!  I even got to test drive one...really nice!  

 

Even on the bleakest of winter days, like today, there is still always something to marvel at or reflect upon:

watching the dog chase something

watching the cat hit the dog

watching the dog hit the cat

watching the winter birds

looking hard at the air to see if what is falling is frozen

walking through with woods (properly dressed with blaze orange...just in case) 

And when there is a snowfall? Oh, yeah! As long as the power doesn't go out...still haven't gotten that wood stove yet. 

 

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