Spring finally arrived on the farm, and then winter came back, but not before summer made an appearance, too. I keep hearing about, “Last year, we were already … ” and, “A year ago, the farmers market was full of … .” But this year is not last year; we’re playing a waiting game with the weather rather than experiencing August in April. I guess I was hoping for a “normal” season to intern on a farm, but what fun would that be? I’ll just continue layering my sweaters over my long-sleeved T-shirts over my tank tops so I’m prepared for the weather that each day has in store.
In between our complaining about the interminably soggy ground and the yet-unplanted potatoes, we managed to get a lot of work done. In my first month as a farm apprentice, we moved laying hen pullets from the brooder house to the chicken tractors, received the year’s first batch of broiler chicks from the hatchery and sent along two pigs to bacon camp.
In the veggie arena, work really picked up. We harvested overwintered Brussels sprouts and lettuce mix and, as they were green items, promptly devoured them (as did the farmers market customers). We did marathon planting days: sweet corn, sunflowers, arugula, beets, radishes and carrots seeded directly in the field (it will be easy to tell which rows I seeded, as my straight-line-planting skills are in serious need of development); celery, basil, chives, fennel, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers and parsely seeded into soil blocks in the greenhouse; onions (8,000 of them!), broccoli, kale, bok choy, cabbage and Swiss chard transplated from the greenhouse into the field.
And there was the standard farm stuff to do, too, like feeding chickens, collecting eggs, watering, spreading compost, making soil mixes, weeding, stacking straw and hay bales, plowing and tilling earth, cleaning out overwintered plants from garden beds, and cleaning eggs. I’m keeping notes on what we do each day and am amazed at how productive we are and also at how quickly time is passing. I’m definitely taking in more information than I am able to retain!