Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 year in review

I thought I would write a short one summing up the year in order to clear my mind and get ready for the upcoming year.  First of all I want to talk about bishop our beloved dog who we had to put down a few weeks ago. He was the most interesting dog I have ever met he would actually sit sometimes in the middle of the yard and watch the sun go down. I could never tell if he was just one step away of being a Buddha or maybe he was just slightly retarded either way he was one of the best dogs ever, a valued friend, my husbands co-pilot and a truly singular dog in every way. So for right now we are actually 2 Dogs Barking Farms but I am sure that will change once a new pup finds their way to us. So raise a glass to Bishy tonight he was one great freaking dog. My favorite farm memory of Bishop was the time he got his big head stuck in the cucumber trellis freaking hilarious.

Now about our little micro farm its been quite the year.  From getting flooded and seeing the Hudson come right over the road and make the land look more like a lake than farmland (I of course promptly named it Lake EB) to planting old favorites and trying tons of new things I have never tried to grow before so some successful and some well not so much. Oh well that's one of the things I like most about this new enterprise of ours there is always always the hope and the promise of next year. It wasn't long into this season when I was already mumbling to myself next year I will do this, next year I will definitely NOT do this. We did not make it to market this year with the late start due to flooding it just never came together for us but maybe that was a good thing I think we definitely needed a year of just growing things and not necessarily worrying about the marketing and selling side of things. But we will make it to market this year so Ballston Spa Farmers market watch out 3 Dogs Barking is coming!!!!!

So on the cusp of 2012 I have already poured over the seed catalogs and have decided on what I am going
to put in the high tunnel once the days reach 10 hours of sunlight and I cant wait each day is getting a little longer now that we have put the longest day of the year behind us.  Then we just have to decide on the rest of the crops for the many mini seasons/plantings for balance of the year. Its really exciting to think that you are not just focusing on they typical memorial day through labor day growing season but with the wonderful high tunnel we should have an early early spring crop and late spring early summer crop then onto fall and even next winter not to mention the outdoor plantings starting in early spring and lasting through late fall. I love all the planning lets just hope I can back up the planning with enough energy and physical endurance to make it all a success.

Happy New Year Everyone! Hope its a great year for all!

Monday, December 12, 2011

I wont bother calling myself a young farmer...

Just read a great article on about who the new young farmers are and what their seemingly collective hopes and dreams are. I wish I qualified as a "young" aspiring farmer but I think at 42 I am probably more like a "on the cusp of middle age" aspiring vegetable grower. But I wanted to sit and think about why I wanted to devote a large part of my free time and almost all of my husbands time to try and grow food.

First the practical has been seriously tight the last couple of years and I noticed a disturbing trend when I was at the grocery store...I wasn't buying fresh vegetables because quite frankly they were not in the budget. Well Tommy and I could both seriously stand to loose a good bit of weight and I figured not eating vegetables was only going to compound the problem and also I love to cook I mean I LOVE to cook so it dawned on me that all the things I couldn't afford to buy to cook well hell we have 2 acres of prime Hudson River frontage I forgot what kind of soil but its good stuff I tell ya and forget buying it we will just GROW it instead. So for the first time this year I was able to make stuffed squash blossoms with ricotta and a dash of red chili tempura style and let me tell you it was incredible.

Second the philosophical reasons which where largely covered in the article (I tend towards practical) just seems noble to grow things not only to feed yourself but to feed you neighbor and maybe just hopefully make enough money to cover the expenses but maybe just maybe make a nice little income. I also love the feeling of being outside with my hands and feet in the soil and the wonder and joy of seeing things grow. Its like hatching little babies and frankly its pretty amazing.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

3dogsbarkingfarms: Looking forward to 2012

3dogsbarkingfarms: Looking forward to 2012: The 2012 Johnny's Seed catalog came the other day man it felt like xmas morning! I heard myself saying is that what I think it is? Oh man I ...

Looking forward to 2012

The 2012 Johnny's Seed catalog came the other day man it felt like xmas morning! I heard myself saying is that what I think it is? Oh man I love all the growing and the planting and the harvesting and of course the eating but what I think I love the most is the planning and probably what I am best at (I hope). So here I sit going over the catalog page by page making both mental and physical notes the plans, hopes, and dreams forming for next year. I love how there is always something new that people much smarter than me come up with new strains new products and new ideas it really makes the future and all its possibilities seem virtually endless.
I am still struggling with the whole problem of we are too small to be considered real farmers but I am trying to shake it off and say hey this is what I got this is what I have and this is what I plan to do. I know we can produce a heck of a lot of food with a 1/4 acre of land under intense production and we have plenty to feed ourselves our extended family and couple of markets and maybe even some cool things for my brothers restaurant that he cant normally get or better yet thinking of asking for. But there is always the voice inside my head that says its not big enough or not good enough you have no land you have no animals you don't make your own cheese (well not yet I will figure that out one day) you don't even have a cow.
Looking forward to both the NOFA-MA and NOFA-NY conferences this year Tommy is even going to the NOFA-NY one with me in nearby Saratoga to learn about the things I have no idea about how to preserve the harvest which we really need to do because we had a ton of loss this year because we just didn't know what to do with it all! Cant wait to learn about how to make the most of my small high tunnel, the most of my small 2 acres in the most beautiful spot in the western world (in my humble opinion), and to learn things I did not even know I needed to learn. The best kind of learning in my mind if you ask.
So here's to 2012 with all its unfinished hopes and dreams and the prayer that I find the energy with working a full time job elsewhere to making it work and to making it happen.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Our first season.

Well I guess our first season is almost over...We meant to get to market this year but with the spring flood, all the rain and me not necessarily knowing what I doing we didn't quite make it. Which is okay I think we needed to get a year under our belts just learning how to grow stuff. I have always had a small vegie patch with stuff I like to eat mainly Tomatoes, Tomatillos, Peppers and the like I guess the stuff that makes pasta sauce, salsa, and salsa verde and sometimes venturing into broccoli and beans depending on the year and the energy I just always seem to run out of time!

This year we expanded big time growing tons of Tomatoes, Tomatillos, Chilis of course but expanding into a couple of different varieties of Broccoli and Cauliflower and for the first time zucchini (damn is that the easiest thing to grow or what?), Bell Peppers (well I had one plant a few years ago and it gave me one pathetic pepper but this year did I think about 26 plants and they produced like crazy and still are!), Potatoes (love it its like xmas morning when you dig up your first potatoes), Eggplant (3 kinds), Sweet Potatoes still to be dug up, Cucumbers some for pickling and some for some seriously good eats, and Beets 2 kinds I forgot how much I like Beets which is good thing because there is more out there getting ready to be picked. Of course with all the success there are always failures and this year mine include not getting the tomatoes staked in time caused a lot of loss, my attempt at a mid summer planting of beans, snow peas, broccoli raab largely failed I think due to so much rain. I have some bean plants but only a few and of course that was the thing I was most looking forward to.

But that brings me to what I think is my favorite thing about this new endeavor of farming is hope. I think it was still late spring when I was already thinking well next year I am going to do year I am going to grow year I WONT do it like this. I have already started next years plan and look forward to spending the winter surrounded by seed catalogs and my sharpie.

All in all a good first year learned lots and learned I will always have more to learn which is never a bad thing. Look forward to getting to market Tommy and I have had a good time this year stalking the farmers market checking out what other people are doing and making are own grand schemes. I worry that we are too small that we wont be able to compete with people who have 40 acres or more. But then I look at it this way we might be small but we can handle the work ourselves only need to borrow a tractor once in awhile and don't have the hassle of hiring people. So fingers crossed our small piece of land will produce and become our own small piece of what has to be the ultimate American dream...becoming a farmer.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Taking our lumps and then some...our first year at farming.

So this is the year we decided to launch 3 Dogs Barking Farms and what a year to pick. I remember when I was little I used to love to watch Little House on the Prairie and no matter how hard they tried something always went wrong....the crops would fail and hailstorms would come or maybe locusts but something always happened to show man he had no control over nature. Well I think we have learned that lessen well this year. We have lived her for 6 years and never once has the river flooded well until this year right over the road the river came flooding our small 2 acre homestead but also all the surrounding farmland. So we could forget trying to get in all the early stuff the radishes the spinach the lettuce all the cool weather crops would not go in. Then follows the weeks of waiting for the land to dry out enough to be plowed and watching rain come day after day...Finally the end of may and comes a break in the weather so we rent what we think is he right equipment...wrong nowhere near up to the job of breaking ground. Thankfully a friend with an even bigger plow helps us out and plows the plot. But now it looks like the moon and is nowhere ready to plant. So we still have the tractor we rented and we till the land until its nice and flat but now the problem is everything is so compacted with so much tractor use the land is more suited to play basketball on then to plant in. So the next plan (seems like plan z at this point) is that we will use our tiller and do it by hand. Before we can get outside to do it a freak thunderstorm passes by dumping the biggest hail I ever seen on the east coast. Another just when you thought you were save message from nature i guess. So hopefully fingers crossed we will finish tilling today and tomorrow and get the transplants in this weekend and the direct sow crops in as well. Again fingers and toes crossed at this point.