Category Archives: Greenhouse

Nursery Greenhouse Phase I


Every spring without fail, we make lists of all the things we want or need to do on the farm. Our lists always contain more items than any of us can accomplish in any given year, let alone the short couple of months we get once the snow starts retreating, and before the temperatures warm up enough for planting. Once that occurs, the hectic life of farming swings into full gear and some of our intentions fall by the wayside or get put off until next year. Over time, we have begun to learn how to assign priority to these tasks and choose one or two important projects each year. We are also learning to work in phases. DSC_0870

Phase 1 of our new fixed nursery greenhouse began last week. Unlike the other two, this greenhouse will be heated to start our seeds. We will also use it to raise potted plants for sale, and perhaps microgreens in the off-season. We have not even begun to figure out everything we will use it for! Very exciting! The north wall will have the composting facility behind it to help to insulate the greenhouse. We also plan to use barrels painted black inside, filled with water for a heat sink. Initally, we will heat with a propane heater, but eventually Mike hopes to build a rocket heater with a cobb, a masonry structure formed around the vent pipe of the stove which will run down the length of the greenhouse. The idea is to build one fire to heat the cobb, which in turn, gives off heat throughout the night. The propane then becomes the backup…

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The giant rock at the corner is here to stay. Made a good footing! DSC_0803 DSC_0826

Seeing Todd in shorts, you wouldn’t know that it was a blustery 40 degrees all week. The wind never stopped blowing!DSC_0804  DSC_0809

Crushed stone and then a poured footing… DSC_0840

Then the wall building began. DSC_0838

Phase 2 will involve building knee walls and anchoring the other corner pipes. We hope to have the plastic on before long, and we will have a staging area for hardening off plants. We will still use the Sanderson greenhouse for the next few weeks to get our babies growing!

A few more new things on the farm…

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Meet Wyatt, Mike and Desi’s new farm dog — a rescue mutt with a really sweet personality. He’s an awesome buddy for Charger, and even Grammie likes him!

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Also, a new paddock for Prudance and Ruby.  They are very excited about their new space to roam! DSC_0865And last but not least, I uncovered the garlic today. Looking good!

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Filed under Antique Barn, CSA Shares, Farm Animals, Four Season Gardening, Greenhouse, Uncategorized

Maine Town Declares Food Sovereignty


I am sharing an important post today from the blog “Food Renegade,” about a town in Maine that has declared Food Sovereignty.

To quote the first paragraph: “Sedgwick, Maine has done what no other town in the United States has done. The town unanimously passed an ordinance giving its citizens the right “to produce, process, sell, purchase, and consume local foods of their choosing.” This includes raw milk, locally slaughtered meats, and just about anything else you can imagine. It’s also a decided bucking of state and federal laws. Read the whole article here: http://www.foodrenegade.com/maine-town-declares-food-sovereignty/. Please come back and share what you think about this after reading…

Meanwhile, here on our own farm…

Yesterday's rain melted away most of the snow cover.

Yesterday’s rain has melted away most of the snow cover.

Inside the large hoophouse, all but one bed is planted.

Inside the large hoophouse, all but one bed is planted.

Emerging mesclun mix.

Emerging mesclun mix.

Michael is working on a cold frame where we will experiment with propagating some starts this year.

Michael is working on a cold frame where we will experiment with propagating some starts this year.

It is hard to imagine, but soon these rows will be brimming with life.

It is hard to imagine, but soon these rows will be brimming with life.

Inside the small hoophouse, the first bed of carrots has emerged.

Inside the small hoophouse, the first bed of carrots has emerged.

We will harvest full-grown carrots by the time we give out our first shares in June.

We will harvest full-grown carrots by the time we give out our first shares in June.

The same view of the barn as yesterday's post so you can see how much snow has melted!

The same view of the barn as yesterday’s post so you can see how much snow has melted!

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Filed under CSA Shares, Farming and the Laws, Four Season Gardening, Greenhouse, Planting, Spring

More Greenhouse Planting Means Spring Can’t Be Far Behind!


DSC_0519Come, take a walk through the snow with Shelby to find out what happened in the large hoophouse Saturday!

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The snow was over her froggy boots!

DSC_0522Inside, things were very different!

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She found that everyone was working on something. Richie was using the broadfork to loosen and aerate the compacted soil…

DSC_0513Then, papa worked with the broadfork and Uncle Mike pulled weeds from the onion bed…

The remaining spinach, red lettuce, mache and bunching onions had been harvested. Most of these crops had been harvested for shareholders before Christmas, sold at the last farmer’s market in December, and fed our family during the winter months. Time now to clean it all out so we can plant again! This time: carrots, more lettuce, bunching onions, and spinach for spring!

DSC_0527Ok, I can do this. I remember the rake! Mimi taught me how to use it last summer!

DSC_0529See? You use it to make a path on the dirt!

DSC_0531 And break up clumps, like this!

DSC_0532And then we use this stirrup thingie to get out the weeds!

DSC_0533See? It makes a real nice path on the dirt too!

DSC_0534So many weeds we need to dig out! I can definitely help with that!

DSC_0537We get down to our shirtsleeves and the real work begins. The temperature is a perfectly comfortable 72 inside, while outside its in the low 40s.

DSC_0539We are putting all the weeds into the crate to give them to the chickens. Yay!

DSC_0542A little minute of rest first please…Whew!

DSC_0543Look how many weeds the chickens are going to get!

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Good dirt to grow things in!

DSC_0550Now, me and Papa bring the weeds to the chickens.

A whole bed of bunching onions is growing nicely. We planted them outdoors in September with the other crops before the greenhouse was moved over them in November. On this day, we planted a second bed of carrots, and a large bed of mesclun mix. Soon, we will also put in more spinach here, and a third bed of carrots in the small hoophouse.

A very productive weekend indeed, thanks to everyone’s help!

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Filed under Four Season Gardening, Greenhouse, Planting, Spring

Winter Wonderland


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Happy end of February! The weekend snowfall started as rain, but it was gentle and slow and didn’t stop anyone from getting anywhere. The snow is so beautiful, the way it sticks and glows bright in the rising sun early on a Monday morning!

DSC_0457The storm systems seem stuck in a pattern of firing off a weather event every Sunday. You wouldn’t know from seeing this, that lots of melting went on with the rain which came first, and ended with this soft fluffy sugar-coat of snow.

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It would be easy seeing this, to get locked into feeling like spring will never come.DSC_0467

The woodpile is dwindling…

 

But there’s hope! Because good things are growing… (you already know about the carrots that were planted here a week ago. We shall have to wait another couple of weeks to see anything…)

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…inside the two hoophouses!DSC_0466

There are still salad fixins in here from last fall’s planting of spinach, mache, lettuce and green onions!

DSC_0473Meanwhile, in the barnyard, Prudence gets a mani-pedi!

DSC_0480Have a wonderful day!

 

 

 

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Filed under Four Season Gardening, Greenhouse, Planting, Spring, Uncategorized

Hoophouse Planting — First Carrot Crop of 2013


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After last week’s nearly three foot dump of snow, and this weekend’s additional 4 inches, Spring seems just a rumor. DSC_0397

But not inside the hoophouse, where it reached a high of 90.6, stayed there for almost an hour and then began to drop. DSC_0398

Earlier, the beds in half the hoophouse had been turned over with the broadfork. This day, we raked out clumps of dirt and roots and smoothed the beds to prepare… DSC_0401

The hoppers of the six-row seeder were filled with pelleted seed…

DSC_0405The beds must be fairly smooth for the seeder to operate correctly. We use a short handle on the seeder that helps avoid any damage to the hoophouse walls.

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A small amount of moisture is added to the planted beds.DSC_0432As the sun begins to go down, the temperature drops rapidly, but the humidity has risen.  This is good!

DSC_0429We hurry to cover it all with a layer of black plastic. This keeps in the moisture, and helps promote even germination.DSC_0435

We install hoops over the two rows, topped with a layer of agricultural fabric. Each layer gives the advantage of a zone further south of added warmth. Since the hoophouse is unheated, this is necessary for successful germination. The carrots will come up anywhere from two to three weeks. Once they’re up, the black plastic will be removed, and we will plant a second succession of carrots. By the time we move this hoophouse in April, there will be two well-established crops for harvesting well into July!

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Filed under CSA Shares, Four Season Gardening, Greenhouse, Planting, Spring, Uncategorized

Making It Whole Again


After a stretch of frigid nights down into the single digits, we are having some warmer weather. Light-wise we are gaining an average of about minute a day, a gain that has very quickly become noticeable. Mind you it is still January, and February will likely bring more vicious cold and snow, but just knowing that we are creeping back towards the light, heading out of the dark days makes me feel that Spring is not so distant. Saying this, the truth of the matter is, I am not nearly ready to have it come so soon. I am thoroughly enjoying, and still need cave time.

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The day started out with a few flakes and a dusting of snow.

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Before noon it was all the way up into the 40s sunny, with just a light breeze.

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Perfect conditions to get the new plastic on the hoophouse.

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Calls went out to the friends because this is a job where “many hands” is just the thing you need. DSC_0128

Especially if there is even more than a breath of wind.

DSC_0129The wind held off for today.

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We spent the best part of a day last weekend taking off the ripped plastic, replacing three bent purlins and fixing one hoop, and making all other necessary repairs to the hoophouse frame and endwalls. By the end of the day, it was all ready to go.

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We will plant the first crop of carrots by the end of the month and and we are relieved to have our hoophouse covered and ready in time to warm the soil.

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Welcome to 2013 and a new Mehaffey Farmer!


Hello 2013 and goodbye 2012. Wow! What a year! It was a year filled with growth and change for this farm and its people. Almost more than we could keep up with ourselves! But that is not a bad thing when you are chasing a very big and ambitious dream, and the dream is only beginning to unfold. Yes, we work hard here, but it is still rewarding and it is the best work I know! Of all the hundreds of photos taken around the farm, I have managed to winnow this year down to a few highlights:

On Dec. 31, New Year's Eve, we welcomed our newest family member, Silas William Mehaffey!First and foremost, we welcomed our newest family member, who belongs to our son Ross and his wife Acacia. Silas William Mehaffey was born on December 31. He is as they say,  a real “keeper!”

In the cold early winter months of 2012, the boys started work on the foundation and drainage for the new cooler. They also began welding parts for the new greenhouse. Bill and I took a vacation in Florida.DSC_0087

When we got back, we started soil blocks for the starts greenhouse, and planted onions and celery on my windowsills.DSC_0077DSC_0675

We held an engagment party.

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In Spring, we added a hive of bees, then dealt with a swarm which gave us an extra hive. We plowed fields, and harvested the first asparagus of the season and started to plant. Then, we put up our second greenhouse.

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This shot of the new moveable greenhouse was taken just after the guys moved into its summer location. It had covered rows of greens, and now  ready to house tomatoes, eggplants and peppers.

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Some new animals came to the farm, but first, a beautiful new barn to house them had to be built.DSC_0083

Then came Prudance.

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And Gracie and Lilly, who boarded with us for awhile.lilygrace

After the donkeys left, Pru got a new BFF, Ruby the pony who came to replace them. Hi Ruby! Don’t they look like sisters?

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My sister Leslie came to stay for the whole summer in the role of “House Elf.” She kept order in my house and cooked delicious meals for the crew all summer.DSC_0245

And just look at the bounty she had to work with!DSC_0480

Our meals looked like this…

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and this…pretty much every day!

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Two interns came to work with us, Rosie and Susan, They pitched in and gave 110 percent!!DSC_0158

Rich joined us for another summer. (Shelby adores him!) He kept us in succession plantings the entire summer.

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Desi and I made up the rest of the crew. That’s Inigo Montoya, one of her bunnies. The other is a Inigo’s stuffed toy, which keeps him warm! Later, Desi added a second bunny, “Cinder.”

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That’s me in the new greenhouse, planting the tomatoes.

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We had a wedding shower, followed in short order by the most amazingly beautiful wedding this farm has ever seen.

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Literally everyone we know pitched in to help us make this the most amazing day and we all felt the love. It definitely was one of those: “It Takes a Village” weddings.

Desi’s mom Leslie flew in from Washington State for a whole month, helped us spruce up the place and did a tremendous amount of harvesting too! It was so great having her here.

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DSC_0635The cooler got finished just in time to keep things cool for the wedding feast, thanks to our boys and their friends, most notably Dan LeFave, Russell Sanderson, Rob Swiniarski and Brad Gallant. And thanks to Rich for doing double duty harvesting and cooking up a farm fresh meal with his friend Joe, the caterer.

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They even got the old 1930 Model AA flatbed running, those men. They used it to transport the groom and his groomsmen to the wedding ceremony! Aaoogah!

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(They clean up pretty good, don’t they?) The wedding day dawned a perfect August day, with none of the heat you might expect at this time of year.

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The Reverend Carol Waleryszak, Michael’s aunt, officiated, making the ceremony personal, and unforgettable.

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After the wedding it was back to every day the business of getting in the harvest, doing more markets through Christmas, running our fall CSA, delivering vegetables and buttoning up for winter. Whew!

But first, everyone got in a week of much needed R&R, the honeymooners flew off to California, while some of us went up Maine, to Pierce Pond, our favorite fishing spot. We’re slowly learning to build in some away days in order to survive the pace that the rest of our year demands of us.

Unfortunately, after withstanding two hurricanes and several other windy events, a freak December windstorm did some serious damage our original hoophouse in December. Of course it was totally unexpected, but then, such things never are expected, until they just happen, and we say oh well, it’s not the end of the world, and then we move on. We have already repaired most of the damage, and expect to be growing carrots in there by February.

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This Christmas, Ross presented us all with T-shirts with an awesome new graphic he’s working on. Very soon we’ll have our own Mehaffey Farm hoodies, shirts and caps to wear next summer. The eventual design will end up being a more basic, graphic arts style suitable for two and three color printing, but it’s so much fun having this first edition to wear.

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We are glad the world didn’t end on 12/21/12, and now, after a brief holiday and freezing cold interlude, we get to do it all again! These welcome winter months will afford us a little time to think and breathe and plan and prepare.

All in all it was a very good year and we wish everyone the best to come in 2013!

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Filed under Antique tractor, Bees, Canning and Preserving, Cooking with Fresh Vegetables, CSA Shares, Farm Animals, Four Season Gardening, Greenhouse, Planting, Spring, Tractor