Spring begins

Just a couple thoughts today... This seems to be our only sunny window for the week, and since I'm playing the cards at the farm while Ted's on vacation, I got to decide how to make best use of the dry weather:

1. Prune!!!  We had 25 more (mostly big) apple trees to prune as of this morning.  I think we're down to about 18 after today's work.  This was the first day I got to spend a big chunk of time in the trees with the core crew, and it was so lovely.  Pruning continues to be one of my favorite activities-- not just farming activities, but all-around all-time activities-- because it starts as a big jumbled mess, lets you climb trees and think three-dimensionally and move your body in unexpected ways, and ends with a much tidier framework for the tree to grow into the season.  My biggest pro tip of the day: start with a hand saw for big cuts, then move to loppers, then your little hand pruner to avoid making unnecessary cuts and undoing work you've already done.  It's pretty satisfying to prune out big branches that are crowding out the rest of the tree (or encroaching on a pathway, or reaching too far to the ground), too.

 Before pruning

Before pruning

 After pruning (sorry it's not the same angle!)

After pruning (sorry it's not the same angle!)

2. Plant outdoor potatoes!  I realized on my ride home that today was the first time we've planted outdoors this season- a perfect way to commemorate the coming of spring and longer days.  After we'd made good headway on the trees, everyone helped pull off a section of plastic that'd been keeping four beds warm and dry over the winter.  We spread gypsum and chicken pellets as a team, which I then tilled in before trenching the beds for potatoes.  In the sunshine during the last hour of the work day, we laid out our big honkin' seeds and tucked them into their trenches.  A big rain is expected again this week, so I wanted to get these taters in the ground and move the plastic to an adjacent section of land to keep the water from soaking it (and making it that much harder to dry out enough to till when the time comes).  The potatoes will get a nice soaking and start to sprout as the days continue to lengthen.

 If I were bent at the waist planting the third bed, this would be a great shot of three common planting positions: kneeling, squatting, stretching.  Whatever works!

If I were bent at the waist planting the third bed, this would be a great shot of three common planting positions: kneeling, squatting, stretching.  Whatever works!

 Phil and Sophie laying out "Huckleberry Gold" potatoes, a new (for us) variety with a purple exterior and gold interior

Phil and Sophie laying out "Huckleberry Gold" potatoes, a new (for us) variety with a purple exterior and gold interior