The day after a gentle spring rain is always glorious! There’s no irrigation stress and everything is washed clean and shining. Plants look so happy as the gentle breeze and warm sun dry them from the chilly night. Cool-weather crops are especially pleased with spring rain and everything is thriving right now!
This is the time of year when no matter how prepared you are, and how many hours you work, there is still more that could be done. Everything is ready to get in the ground, and the weeds are beginning to jump. We’re headed into the hockey stick of the curve, the big launch event! Growth is getting faster and faster and we’re sprinting to stay on track but we’re loving it!
When you hit May you start to see the payoff for all the hard work and difficulty in the early spring. Meat birds are large enough to withstand cold temperatures and thrive on pasture. Layers are rotating through pastures each week and getting to enjoy huge volumes of greens from clearing weeds and prepping beds. Heading brassica are coming into their full growth stage, and leafy greens and salad mixes are peak-prime-perfection.
We’ve been hitting our stride in the salads and greens department in ways that have never been possible for us in the past. It’s a combination of factors that has made us more effective this year; having the hoop space for the early plantings was a key part of the equation. Combine that with the large amount of early prep work that we got done in February, along with the very successful use of occultation to create planting beds that are ready when we need them, and we are having a stellar start to the growing season.
Last night we got a hard frost that we didn’t expect. There was a prediction for cold, but it didn’t seem like it was going to frost, and I feel like I should have known better. For us at higher elevations, the weather patterns are often backwards from the valley. I usually expect to be a few degrees warmer on cold nights and a few degrees cooler on hot days. On the cold spectrum, the main confounding factor is whether or not the wind is blowing from the North. If there’s a North wind, I expect to get frost during times when the valley might or might not get hit.
When I realized this morning that it had frosted, I also realized that I had not put the frost blankets back on the outside crops, and I was nervous about the young meat birds out on pasture, though I had covered them with extra tarp because of the rain. I was glad to find that as things thawed out, all the plants looked magnificent, from cannabis to the various vegetable crops everyone was shining in the sun. The meat birds were happy and comfortable and all was well on the farm despite the cold temperatures.
Even though everything survived the frost last night, we chose to cover them all up for tonight figuring that since we know it will be cold (although probably not as cold as last night) we might as well provide some protection, even though we’ve now seen that everyone is hardy enough to handle it. As is the rule of the universe, having covered the beds with frost blanket means that there won’t be any frost tonight…
As spring rolls along we are seeing stronger production than we ever have at this time of year and we are very grateful for the community supporting us by purchasing our produce. The CSA is thriving and the farmers market has been excellent for our small farm and we would like to offer a heartfelt vote of gratitude and thanks to everyone for sharing this journey with us. It is good to be in community with so many stellar humans and we are glad for the opportunity! As always, much love and great success to you!
Casey O'Neill co-operates HappyDay Farms, a micro-diversified farm in northern Mendocino County, California. His family raises two acres of Sun+Earth and DEMPure Certified vegetables, poultry and medical cannabis in a small-farm setting while working towards sustainability. Casey is stoked about sharing food, medicine and cultivation techniques with others. He is passionate about representing small farmers and works to support Mendocino County policy-makers in crafting sensible regulations. Casey also serves on the board of Sun+Earth Certified. You can find his radio show podcast at HappyDay Farms - Farm and Reefer Report on iTunes or Soundcloud. You can also find out more about HappyDay Farms here: http://www.happydayfarmscsa.com, on Instagram @happydayfarms and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/casey.oneill.395/ or https://www.facebook.com/happydayfarmscsa/