It is Saturday evening and I sit here trying to catch up on the business side of farming; emails, blog posts, accounting and such. I am learning as I go but as a farmer , you have to do it all or at least I do. It has been a week as most, productive and rainy. Dad was able to get two fields of peas planted before it rained. Cream, Purple hull and Blackeye Peas are all in the ground, at least one planting each. Our melons have not done well with the wet ground but the sweet corn is loving it. Lots of produce coming soon: squash, zucchini, beets, broccoli, cilantro, potatoes, and much more as it warms up. We are harvesting lots of greens still and they are just getting good. Hopefully the heat holds off so we can continue to harvest for weeks to come. I am so pleased with the gardens this year even though the rains have kept me from planting lately. So much to do everyday but at the end of the day, in the quietness of the farm, I am at my happiest. I am thrilled to be a part of Deep Roots CSA, I can not wait for the opportunity it holds for our community and our local farmers. Enjoy some photos from my farm this week. thanks for joining our journey!
A few pictures of what is looking good and growing in the garden. I was harvesting greens for market Friday evening and really felt positive about where the garden was in terms of growth and control. Things are coming along, growing a little slower due to the night time cooler temps but the rain has come when needed so far. The first weeks of CSA boves will be heavier with greens as the summer crops still grow but patience is key and this will also help to teach you about eating seasonally. Eggs are seasonal as well and this time (Spring) is when they produce the most. Also the color and flavor is better because we have lots of green grass and produce scraps for them to eat. Farming takes me on an emotional rollercoaster almost daily but its those really great days that make the hard days bearable. I had a really great day on Friday. I checked cows in one pasture and Surprise! a brand new calf was there, I had no idea any of my cows were pregnant because they all have calves nursing at the moment but this calf was there and doing great. My dad went to check my other cows for me and found my new week old calf had an injury, huge hole in him to be exact. We think possibly the momma stepped on him right after birth. So I took my sister later that day with me to doctor the little bull calf. And we managed to get him cleaned up and antibiotic spray applied. I held him for quite sometime while we treated him, he peed in my boot- about half full (it was a ton of pee) but he never fought, he is a good little guy. And then that evening as I was harvesting, I just felt a sense of accomplishment-happiness-relief. I have learned a lot in the last 4 years farming and still have a long ways to go but I feel this year is a turning point. A move in the right direction, streamlining the process, doing things the right way the first time and improving on all the screw ups from the past. Its those days that make it all worth it. Life on the farm, the best life I could ask for.
As I sit here in Hillsboro waiting for the chickens to be processed, I figured I could let you know some of the vegetables we are planting now. Chandler Family Farm has been busy digging in the dirt planting as many seeds & transplants as we can. The earliest vegetables to come off will be Truchas Romaine, Red and white bok choi, Cabbage, Broccoli and hopefully some Cauliflower. We have lots of kale-red russian, lacinato and dwarf curly planted, swiss chard and spinach-red kitten, bloomsdale, & a few other varieties along with head lettuce in the garden. Onions have been in since January although I am not happy where they are size wise, they will get big in time. Sweet corn has sprouted and i can check on its progress every time I come in and out of the driveway. If you are familiar with the farms location, the sweet corn field is right up front next to Business 175. The other field will be cream peas, cucumbers, eggplant and sunflowers. This year we planted a new crop-Milo (Grain Sorghum) to feed the chickens with. One of the biggest expenses on my farm is the feed for my livestock. To help with that cost we are going to try and raise some of it ourselves. Every year, we expand a little more and make the farm slightly more diverse. Raising Poultry, Beef and Produce now, maybe Pork and grain in the future., who knows! So back to produce. We planted about 800 tomatoes so far and still have maybe 100 to go. That includes cherry types: Indigo Rose, Apple & Blue Berries, Sweetie (red), Sun Sugar( orange) and Yellow Pear. Large slicing hybrids: Celebrity, Mountain Pride, and Better Boy. Large Heirloom: Pineapple Pig, Black Krim, Amana Orange, and that's all I can remember at the moment. We have high hopes for tomatoes this year! I like to try different varieties to see what works best for me and my farm. With that many plants, I am going to string them instead of using cages, another new experience that will be. We have squash planted, at least the first round. I hope to plant every 2 weeks to have a continuous supply and a rotation of types: summer/winter, color and size , or zucchini vs. yellow. The shade cloth is going on the hoop house hopefully this evening. That is going to allow me to plant and harvest greens all summer long!!!! So, a lot is happening as it should be. Stay tuned for more updates and thanks for the read- Jennifer
My days seem crazy lately. I try my best to keep a good balance between farming, being a mother and doing my job at my actual paying job. It gets stressful quick and I definitely have my failure moments but I always know that this is the life for me and totally worth all the craziness. So my day starts with animals chores, feeding & watering the chickens and now PIGS ( yes another wild idea), then I go onto either seeding trays, harvesting or planting in the garden. Oh wait, that's not how my day starts. First, I get Thomas up and ready for school which is a challenge , he is a night owl unlike me, then off to school we go. So back to farming, the to-do list is always long and ever changing, I just do what can be done or what is most pressing at that moment. My cows are in 2 lease pastures that are on opposite sides of town, they need to be checked at least twice weekly but because some are soon to calve, I really need to check them more often so we do that late in the evenings or before work. Planting, Planting, Planting is top priority right now ans luckily my dad can run the tractor for the larger crops and I can plant at home by hand. Most everything is planted by hand here at CFF except for the cowpeas and corn. I have some really great friends who are able and willing to get down and dirty when the times comes. Thank you! They know who they are. On most spring days, it is hard to stop for lunch, I drink lots of coffee and my healthy diet falls by the wayside. When Thomas comes home from school, it is time to feed all these animals all over again. Egg collecting, moving chicken tractors on pasture, and watering the greenhouses are added evening chores. Then I attempt to feed, bathe and spend some quality time with my son but it can be difficult. Luckily he LOVES to be outside, loves to plant flowers and work on the farm so that is where we do most of our bonding. Its go go go time on the farm and Thomas follows as best as he can. Last night while checking cows, we got out of the truck and blew bubbles in the pasture, it is the little things that make him happy. I do whatever I can to take that moment to show him that I appreciate his willingness to follow his mom on this crazy farming journey we are on. And thanks to all of you that support us, we certainly couldn't do it without you!
Highway 19 Produce is harvesting the best strawberries now, contact them for some. You can find Chandler Family Farm at the Good Local Markets in Dallas on Saturday and Sunday.
If you are interested in the Deep Roots CSA, we have a few spots left but hurry deliveries start May 3rd.