Friday, April 24, 2009

Spring...Rebirth, New Birth!

For me, spring means rebirth, new birth, and revitalization. This is no more apparent than in the creation of nature's babies.

We have started the process of creating this year's crop of blueberries. The flowering season is practically over and miniscule green blueberries and small leaves abound in the fields alongside the bees, butterflies and birds.

This spring, the Farmer Mac's family has expanded in other ways. We are flush with babies of the feathered variety, though earlier in the spring our mama goat gave birth to twins and they are healthy and growing.

One of our Mallard ducks hatched out a flock of ducklings this afternoon. Another mother hatched some out on Tuesday. We think there are a dozen additions today, but they move so fast it's hard to tell exactly. From the Tuesay batch, I actually saw 7, but I confess I can't be sure this was the original number. We are now down to 4 as the snapping turtles and hawks consider them delicacies.

Hopefully we'll have a new crop of fledglings for us all to dodge during blueberry season!

Chicks arrived yesterday! We have a dozen Ameraucana chicks that are now three weeks old. This breed lays blue and green eggs, or what are known as Easter eggs. We're still looking for a permanent chicken coop for them, but as they are so tiny right now, there is no immediate rush.

The chicks are living in the small enclosure in the pond fence that we used for the kids when they were born. (And by kids, I mean the baby goats, not our lively children who act like them!)

Pygmy kids were born in February, a male and a female. One has tan legs and the other gray. They are still small enough to crawl under the gate which the male takes delight in doing on a daily basis.

Maali used to do this in reverse, crawling under to get into the pond area rather than to get out. I remember when the first u-pick customer couple said they saw her doing this, I had a hard time seeing how she could fit under it, but I firmly believed the fear and concern that radiated from them and took heed and moved the gate down a couple of inches.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Blueberries in Bloom!

Currently, our blueberries are in full bloom. We were expecting a freeze last week, but thankfully this did not materialize. If the weather and other uncontrollable factors are still smiling on us when the season gets here, we should have a good crop of berries.

At Farmer Mac's, we currently have two varieties of blueberries, ONeals and Croatans. The ONeal variety is a bit earlier than the Croatans and has a crisper skin for a pleasant pop when eaten. The Croatan variety is about a week later in harvesting, is a tad smaller and sweeter.

The Croatans are looking especially good...lots of flowers and healthy plants.The ONeals still are not back up to full production after that Easter freeze of 2 years ago, but we're doing the best we can with what we have.

This year, we took out 4 rows of Croatans to plant a new variety called New Hanover. So far, at least in test plots, this looks like a good alternative to Croatan and something we may add more of over the next couple of years. We also replanted the left end of our back field with ONeals, or rather, we filled in all the spaces from the plants that didn't winter well. Once these get large enough to bear fruit, we should have a good harvest from them.

I've heard from several customers this week asking about the blueberry crop for this year and when we might begin our season. Thanks for your calls and emails! The truthful answer is that it's still a little too soon to tell exactly when we'll be opening, but I'll keep you posted as we go along.

We had the addition of 2 new baby goats this February, a boy and a girl. We gave away the boy baby from last year, so currently our stock is the dad, the mom, last year's girl, and this year's twins. We have several ducks setting right now, but nothing has hatched yet as it's still a bit early for them.

Farmer Mac's health is much better this year than last. Most of you weren't able to see much of him last year because he just didn't feel up to being out and about. Thankfully, he has improved so much that he almost seems like his old self again!