I could write pages and pages about the goings on at the farm this spring. We’ve been busy and the land changes each moment. I’m now listening to the flow of the creek that surrounds the Lovena Farm. It has sounded more like a river this spring, and many farm visitors has mentioned there interest in kayaking it! I heard a canoe was floating along the other day! Fun! In the last month the fruit trees have all budded and all kinds of herbs and plants are popping out of the ground all over the property. Gifts and surprises each day! My new favorite is lemon balm tea to start the morning. I’ve also enjoyed the garlic chives that are scattered around just like the daffodils.
Last Saturday we had a BARN RAISING party and that it was! On that sunny, 65 degree day something like 75 folks showed up. A crew rose the 17 foot Quanza barn, while others weeded 180 ft beds of garlic, mulched strawberry paths, built an herb spiral, cleaned and oiled tools, built a raised bed in the greenhouse, organized the greenhouse (THANK YOU), built 2 compost structures, mowed the cover crop, prepared beds by hand for spinach, worked along the shore with the native plants, ate salads, BBQ and frolicked about in the gorgeous spring day. The energy was alive, positive and happy all around. Community. We built it that day. Thanks for coming out!
In the last week, spring growth has the crops taking off at crazy speeds. In the last 10 days broccoli, cabbage, head lettuce, spinach, fennel, bok choy and mustards have been transplanted it really feels like we’re gonna have produce coming out of our ears. Yeah! I was relieved to have the soil dry up just enough to till the entire field last week. With the combined factors of a thick, grassy cover crop (lots of rye) and being on a flood plain, the soil stays pretty saturated. Before I tilled, I started the day sharpening the tines with an angle grinder and then vibrated for 5 more hours on the Beaver III turning over ½ acre. Both were new experiences for me and it made me laugh to see my life play out this way. It tilled beautifully, exposing dark, crumbly, soil rich in matter. It smells so fresh fresh too. I left a 1500 square foot area for no- till section. Today I’m walking 2 blocks down Johnson Creek trail to a horse farm that has finished manure! We’ll add 3 to 4 inches to suppress the cover crop in the no-till section and maybe buy some straw for mulch 2 blocks down the street at Wichita Feed and Seed.
Here’s a day in the life of Farmer Mel. Let’s take yesterday. Wake up hearing Cocky the rooster at 5:30am. Walk along the creek, visiting the compost toilet on the way. Breakfast, Evan (helps out 4 mornings a week) arrives at 7am and we harvest rapini from the collards that are flowering at chest level. No bending over for this task. Oh my they are so sweet and I think much tastier than broccoli raab. We then walked a few blocks to try to talk to the horse farm before she heads to work, but we couldn’t find her. Back at the farm Travis another integral part of the operation arrives with cookies and Evan and Travis started the moving the tomatoes into 4 inch pots while I harvested 20 pounds of leeks for Patisserrie Lily restaurant down in Sellwood. Carla, a new volunteer helped to clean them as we initiated the washing sink and then we finished up potting the tomatoes. They look so happy to have more space!
Lunch time came and I ate toast with goat cheese, apple slices and a mess of raw fava tops and pea shoots. While mowing the cover crop to prepare for tilling the other day I couldn’t help but stop and harvest a big bowl of the pea shoots from the Austrian field peas (part of the cover), along with delicious yellow flowers from a brassica that had gone to seed. After lunch, when I was coherent again (thank you food) Carla and I planted out 100 cabbages that will be ready end of June-ish and 125 broccoli plants in beds that had been cultivated by hand several weeks back. I then filled a big box with the leeks and rapini and biked down Johnson creek trail to Sellwood for the restaurant delivery. I noticed a man harvested nettles along the trail which reminded me it’s time! Frogs croaked and the sun came out for a spell.
Back at the farm I finished up the transplanting and chased Canada geese out of the fields. I don’t want them to get too comfortable hear because they get into the crops. I chase them trying to look big with hands flailing and they make me look ridiculous as they fly to another spot in the field and I continue the chase for some time. As I transplant, I keep checking to see if one of the chickens who snuck out the fence has found her way back in. I’m thinking about all the new transplants . .. .I have learned that chasing chickens and trying to shoo them into a particular spot doesn’t work so well. Just as I finished and it’s getting too late to see, the rain hits, watering in the transplants. What timing! I walk the land and decompress before a shower and dinner and am grateful to be alive. What a beautiful day.