Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Wonders of Spring on our Farm

 Can spring really be here? As I look out through the falling snowflakes in mid-April I  wonder at God's ability to meld one season into the next!

Spring on our farm is a wonder to behold! There are new chicks, flowers poking their "noses" through the soil, and many plans for the new season running through everyone's heads!

The last batch of chicks  that hatched in February now look like miniature full grown hens. They've enjoyed fresh grass and the warm spring sunshine since they could venture from the heat lamp during the late winter days. They'll prayerfully be laying eggs by early July! 

Inside the farmhouse another batch of chicks, ducks and turkeys are hatching in our incubator.In just

a few short weeks our flock will prayerfully have reached 350 laying hens in various stages of
After the family came home from church
on Easter Sunday, these newly hatched
chicks were brought to me in bed where
I was/am recuperating. 
development. We seek to serve our customers with the same fresh, natural country eggs we enjoy serving up at our 12' long farmhouse table!  

     With each child comes a different bent...different interests. Faith Anne (13) loves flowers. So with we're venturing into flower farming along with our Certified Naturally Grown vegetables, poultry, and baked goods.  We have flat after flat of flowers that will soon move from the greenhouse into the field. Breaking  through the soil now in the field are black-tipped wheat and muli-colored Larkspur.
This is a flat of branching sunflowers that are ready to be
transplanted as soon as I'm able!

We've purposed in our hearts to establish a farm commercial kitchen. With the Lord's leading, we have met with a state inspector to explore the building's needs and are researching equipment needs. We hope to have the same fresh ground whole wheat bread, cinnamon rolls, and canned jams and relishes at all of our 9 markets this season. Please pray for wisdom! If you know of used restaurant suppliers in the area or see a DEAL, please contact us. 

In the farmhouse sewing season continues. Faith Anne made her first apron totally
alone, and a dress for Easter with help from her sister Hope. We're so proud of her! I've made several

jumpers and aprons, with Charity at my side. At six, she's a remarkable sewer! She made a kerchief to hold her hair back, a one dimensional doll, and handkerchiefs with embroidery on them with very little input from me. She's delighted with a small drawer of scraps, buttons, and scissors. Oh, the bliss of little girlhood!

I've been trying to write all this... while trying to recuperate from a concussion. God IS FAITHFUL and was protecting me during  a farm accident. I was flown to Chattanooga and thanks to the prayer of sisters and brothers in Christ I was released with "only" a concussion. I've been trying to be "good" and heal, but it has been a difficult process. One doctor told me I was lucky...I believe I was protected by God's hand.  I've determined to finish this up today as I promised a group of young mothers I spoke to in Knoxville that I'd have some information for them online this month. Oh my, the month has FLOWN by! So if this blog posting isn't up to par, please be patient with me. :)

I spoke to a dedicated group of young mothers on gardening with young children...or children as a whole. I felt really connected with the group as I've been steeped in motherhood for over 30 years now, and have been where they are for all those years! I'm just now sensing a bit of release from having a baby at my side. God has kept me in touch with the blessing by adding Samuel (2) and Josiah (8 months), my grand-babies, to my life here on our farm.

I introduced the square foot gardening model to the group and how it lends itself so nicely to gardening as a family.  With raised beds we saved sooo much time, energy and frustration was averted.  Mel Bartholomew wrote a helpful book called, Square Foot Gardening that can direct anyone into growing fruit and vegetables in a miraculously small space. It has been proven that one\ 4X4' raised bed can feed an adult a great variety of veggies throughout the growing season. With this intensive method you can plant 1 tomato per square foot, or 4 lettuce plants, 9 bush bean plants, or 16 carrots or green onions per square foot!  I highly recommend a 2X4' bed for a preschooler and a full 4X4' for a budding gardener in grade school. There is soo much to learn in a garden...especially a square foot garden!

I HIGHLY recommend Mel's books and methods. They have their books, downloads, and DVDs on sale right now. I highly recommend their school package for $35. I have each resource offered in the package and you as a parent can use all the information and activities for your children over the years, especially if you home school your child. State that you home school if asked. Mel is VERY pro-family gardening! He has been very supportive to our family over the past 20 years. In fact, we won their national school contest one year and placed second another year!

Our older children each had their own beds at one time and enjoyed the wonder of growing their own snacks and side dishes for the family. It seems now that we used to live in our garden! Our boys took that knowledge and have used it and grown in their knowledge and farm full time!  Some of our favorites have been:  Easter Egg Radish, Sugar Ann Snap Peas, Sun Gold Cherry Tomatoes, Juliet Grape Tomatoes, miniature white cucumbers, and green onions. If you can't find the particular varieties I've mentioned, don't let that stop you from buying any radish, or cherry tomatoes you can find online or locally.There can't be a better way to spend a warm summer morning than working in the raised bed garden, then flopping out on a blanket for a good story!  Make it part of your daily/weekly schedule to spend time in the garden with your child. The book I mentioned is full of diagrams, pictures and ideas to guide you. Mel makes the method so easy that he'll even tell you how many cups your child should pour from his bucket of sun warmed water onto his plants!

Some of our family's  favorite garden catalogs are Johnny's Select Seed, Territorial Seeds, and Baker Creek Seeds. We rarely ordered the usual...we liked finding the colorful, the odd shaped, or the rare varieties. It's fun to pull a radish...but it's always a treasure to find your favorite colored Easter Egg variety emerging from the ground! It's never too late to order a catalog or request one when you order online. They are a GREAT educational tool that is FREE! In our family the younger children never had a Sears Christmas catalog to page through repeatedly, but they sure wore out seed catalogs! 
            (I have received no remuneration for the links or recommendations mentioned.)

If you're like me, you are ready for the warmer days ahead!  I began this blog when it was snowing outside (and not dizzy) and finishing it up near the end of the month! I was looking forward to seeing my Redbud tree bloom at the beginning of the month, and now the late blooms are fading...Here's a look at early spring on Colvin Family Farm

We had "Dogwood Winter" earlier in
month where the temps dipping
to 25 degrees. Here we're covering crops
to protect them.
Faith Anne seeds the flowers for her market flower garden.

I'm teaching Charity how to cut
seed potatoes.
We planted over 2 TONS of seed potatoes. We had help from two SPECIAL families from Victory Baptist Church! Thanks ya'll!

Caleb harvests onions that we wintered over in the high tunnel
 for our last winter's markets.
Slicing onions planted for the season.
Luke helps  his big brothers plant
onions now that school is over.
Can you spot the queen bee? Isaac is our bee keeper, and
we pray to have lots of honey for sale this year!
He's been busy adding hives to both farms.
Fun in the farmhouse!
Joasiah (top) Samuel (middle)and
Levi with his homemade Lincoln
Log town (bottom)
An early planting of lettuce in the high tunnels. The drip tape
marks the planting spot, and the boys hand plant the
lettuce seedlings on each wet spot.
The Farmer's Wife

                                                                          Boys on the transplanter mid -month.

A view of our strawberries before the first cold snap with the high tunnels
in the background.
Charity is learning a lot these days...she's a big girl now
that Kindergarten is behind her!
Learning to sew and make bread are some of her favorite things
to do!

One of our new ventures with the farm is the addition of
organic pastured poultry. The guys have been building
these movable pens that will run alongside our vegetable
fields. Look for more on this as the season progresses.
The bottom picture is of 15 pens stacked and ready for
the chicken wire and tin roofing. Then they'll be moved to the other farm.
Cheap tarps are a great gift from Daddy!
The lil' boys set up a soldier's camp...then they march
around the yard barking orders to the Red Cross girls
who are also learning to march! (Charity and Faith Anne)

As the season takes off this week, we are looking forward to a season full of blessings...the harvest, relationships within our family, our CSA family, and with our customers, and sharing Jesus Christ's love and forgiveness with everyone we meet. Come share the season with us! Visit us at  http://www.colvinfamilyfarm.com/!  

Part of this week's harvest! Praise God!

" For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow
from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater. So shall my word be that goeth from out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please; and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it."
Isaiah 55:8-11

Abundant Blessings,
The Farmer's Wife
Val Colvin