Small Family Farm CSA

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"Spring, Spring, Spring", sang the Robin

Farmers are forever optimists.  We have hard seasons, but we survive them and spend our winters recovering from them while dreaming of Spring and rebirth and renewal.  Alas the Spring arrives and the farmer is filled with a renewed sense of hope and anticipation.  Something primal comes alive from within and we are motivated not only by making payments and doing our jobs, but by the ancestral urge to produce food, to build community, use our bodies, and to have a relationship with the land that we live and work on.  There is a feeling that swells from within bigger than wants and wishes that I have a hard time even putting words to.
 
Spring has arrived and the farming season is in full swing.  As we drop tiny, difficult-to-even-see seeds in these humble blocks of soggy soil mix while NPR blares on the radio and friendly, casual conversation takes place amidst the warm, moist air.  Meanwhile acres of potential are quietly coming alive.  I can almost smell the tomato leaves while we seed tomatoes.  I remember harvesting broccoli last summer in a field of blue while we drop the broccoli seeds in the cells.  I remember lovely evenings of weeding onions with friends last summer while we move onion trays around in the greenhouse.
 
It has been a dry Spring.  We’ve had Springs like this before, but maybe not quite this dry.  We’ve gotten maybe 3/10th of an inch of rain since the snow melted in March.  We’re watering our first plantings of radishes and turnips to make sure we have them for the first few CSA boxes.  We are already talking about upping our irrigation game.  It’s difficult to advance in the world of irrigation on a farm like ours where the fields are contoured and on a hillside.  We don’t have nice, flat, rectangular fields that are all connected in cute little strips.  Our farm has fields that come in all shapes: some like semi-circles to follow the contour of the hillside. Some are somewhat triangular due to the roads around them.  Some fields are on the other side of the hillside, far from our well and across the easement road, quite difficult to get water to.  We have 11 different ‘fields’.  We give them numbers, which makes it easy for field planning.  None of them are the same shape or on the same slope.  So upping our irrigation game is tricky.  Buying a giant ‘gun’ that sprays water over an entire field means huge investments in equipment, pipeline, and digging a high-capacity well which might only be effective for 1/3 of our fields.  We’re pretty sure this is not the rout we would like to go. 
 
But dang, this is Wisconsin, if it would only just rain. Like for a half an hour, just a steady rain.  Not a downpour, just the kind of rain you want to get out of, but not run from.  We might get a good, satisfactory, soaking inch in that time that would hold us over for about another week or two. 
 
(Big Sigh)
 
The good news is that we’ve had years like this before and we’ve always been able to pack bountiful, nutritious, glorious boxes of vegetables for 20 consecutive weeks.  We’re getting water to our crops with the sprinkler systems, pumps and water systems that we do have.  It just turns farmer Adam’s beard a new shade of grey every time it happens.  Our full crew of helpers start the first week of May.  Our CSA membership has been sold out for weeks.  Dry weather is generally good for vegetables.  The wagons of transplants are full and ready for transplanting and look mouthwatering delicious.  We have recharged internal batteries and a warm south wind that will carry us a long ways into the season before we begin to question our sanity.  Ahoy!  Up with the anchors and let the ship sail in the blowing wind! 

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