There is some news in the farmers' market category. We, sadly will no longer be attending the Stangl Farmer's market. We are going to miss all the bright loving people that we have gotten to know over the last year there, but it doesn't make good business sense for us to stay. There is still a wonderful farmer attending the market though: John of Two Barn Farm! He will be bringing the goods all season long.
In Stangl's place, we will be attending the Scotch Plains Farmers' market, Saturdays from 8 am to 2 pm, at 430 Park Ave in Scotch Plains (the municipal parking lot. We are starting off gently with transplants (flowers, herbs, and some vegetables) and will be bringing some of the first food from the field this week. (See the list below!) The Metuchen Farmers' market starts June 18ththis year and we can't wait. If you can't either, stop on by Scotch Plains.
And some news in the Organic Category. At long last, our organic inspection date has been set! Our application was accepted in early May. Since then, we neatened up a few details through correspondence with our certifier at the New Jersey Department of Agriculture and have continued farming along. We don't anticipate having to make any drastic changes as a result of the inspection. I do, however have major butterflies. Three years in the making....
And some news from the the field. We have about one acre planted now. The field plan is moving along smoothly. To mention a few of the biggest groups, out little onions are fattening up, the beets look courageous, the peas are scaling the trellis, and the first round of tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash are settling in.
Things are running smoothly in part because we have help! Morgan Hess, aspiring farmer, has been lending a huge helping hand, while gathering experience for his own budding farm. He not only brings a quicker end to tasks, but a refreshed view on all things farm, along with a keen interest in learning the who's who of farming. He asks me the names of different weeds and plants, is interested in seeing different beneficial insects and pests, and thinking about the life cycles and patterns of all and how they work together.
And a lot of tractor news. Since Jim and I divided up tasks to avoid the proverbial "too many cooks" scenario, I have been getting less time to work on my mechanic skills, since that category went to him. And this is the only reason I was excited that our bigger tractor, the Case 695, sprung a leak just before Jim went on a camping trip: it was up to me to get the ball rolling and the tractor running again!! One of hydraulic lines got a leak. It is thick steel line and it was damaged simply from vibrations of the tractor causing a piece of the hood to rub against it, which is is astonishing to me. It really makes those scenarios when someone escapes by rubbing the bindings on their wrists seem more plausible. After moving the tractor to a safe location and securing the leak, I did some googling (thank goodness for mechanic's forums!) and discovered that brazing was likely the way to go. Something I had never done, or even heard of. I certainly thought of braised greens before I thought of melting metal. Brazing is like welding's simpler cousin and one of the best parts is that it can be done with a propane torch, which we have! The repair was simple enough, after finding the right materials (silver brazing rod and flux to help it join to the metals and practicing a little. The process was pretty amazing too. Skipping the nitty gritty to the interesting, when I heated up the area of the hydraulic line around the hole so that it was red hot- that deep, almost invisible red- and then touched the silver to it, it was as though I had a prop sword. As I pushed the tip of the silver rod onto the line, the silver melted instantly, like it was disappearing into the steel. It was amazing. State changes of materials are mind boggling. What a world.
So that all went well, and I got the line back on the tractor but to further complicate matters, it turns out we had simultaneously runout of fuel!
That is a big no no for diesel engines. From what I read briefly the big reason are a) because diesel is more viscous, you must manually prime the system with fuel (bleed the air out) and b) because diesel engines are such high pressure systems, the fuel acts as a lubricant so running the fuel pump without fuel can cause some destructive wear. Our tractor is set up to conveniently allow air to be bled from the system, however all the pieces of this set up weren't in working order. The primer pump was out of commission and the threads of the bleeder screws were all but destroyed. But with some persistence and the internet, and some helpful folks at NAPA, and then Jim's return and our combined knowledge (and a manual suction pump that we just recently got and had on hand!!) we were able to get the tractor running smoothly again!
And the important part: The patch is holding!! And if it fails, my neighbor said I could take the line of and he would weld it for us! Thank goodness for neighbors. And we happened to have the tools on hand twice!! That is big news for us!
And some dog news. After trying to rehome Ruby this winter, Jim and I worked on training the dogs and thought we made some headway. In high hopes of keeping both dogs, launched into the farming season. Unfortunately, Exie and Ruby had their final spat. It was a rough one and made it clear that we weren't going to be able to keep them both. My mom heroically stepped up to foster Ruby until we could find her another home. And the good news?! My mom, Bruce (my step father) and Ruby are getting along famously! Ruby is keeping a close eye on both of them and has the yard on squirrel lockdown! They all three took a trip to Kentucky to see the Moonbow (like a delightful night rainbow) and had a wonderful time. It seems like Ruby has found a home in our family after all. We are so grateful for this turn of events in her story. She is such a wonderful little dog and now has her own people to lavish her attentions on.
And some thing you might be interested in: Workshares!
We are still looking for two or three more people to come trade some time on the farm for vegetables. If you, or someone you know, is interested and able to come to the farm for just 4 hours a week to experience some of the finest countryside New Jersey has to offer, send me an email or give me a call. We would love to add you to our team.
That is all for now. Missing you all and looking forward to seeing you soon!
Fresh this week:
Baby Bok Choi
Transplants - Veggies and Flowers!!!!
Helen, Jim and Exie the Dog