One of the most exciting and busiest weeks of the year is this one right here. All the pent up energy and preparation of growing transplants and working the soil really shines now that the danger of frost has passed. While the past several years have taught us to expect the unexpected when it comes to weather, we’ve got a nice warm stretch to carry us safely into the next several months of frost-free weather. And of course, one of the first things to take advantage of this is the tomato plant. Yesterday we planted out our first planting of tomatoes – all 1000 off them! We threw in a few peppers and ground cherries for good measure, but it was definitely a tomato day. So this week’s post gets dedicated to that once-thought-to-be-poisonous, now-thought-to-be-delicious fruit (it is technically a fruit), showcasing some of the varieties that we hope will grace our market table and CSA boxes come late July and beyond.
The first tomatoes ready to harvest will be the cherry tomatoes, and we’re growing a delicious and eye-catching handful of varieties – the famous sweet candy Sun Golds; deep, dark and raspberry-tasting Indigo Rose; and Gram’s, a red heirloom from seed saved by a fellow just down the road in Darien, Wisconsin.
Shortly thereafter we’ll be inundated with a rainbow of tomatoes, including mouthwatering varieties like Black Krim, Yellow Brandywine, Valencia (vibrant orange), Hillbilly (striped red and yellow), Aunt Ruby’s German Green, Rose (purple), Green Zebra (striped yellow and green). Of course we’ll have delicious reds as well — Italian Heirloom (my personal favorite tomato of all time), Wisconsin 55, Rutgers, and the tongue-twisting Crnkovic Yugoslavian. Once you master that, you can move up to a genuine slavic tongue-twister like “Strč prst skrz krk” : )
Tomatoes are one of the easiest plants to save seed from, which is one big reason why the variety available is so astounding. Most “regular-leaf” varieties don’t cross-pollinate, so with even a small distance between varieties, you can get plants to grow true-to-seed. And each tomato plant produces an abundance of seed – thousands, easily. Anne studied at a seed saving center in northern Thailand in 2008, where they made sun-dried tomatoes after scooping the seeds out – talk about a delicious no-waste system that supports itself year after year!
We have another, second planting of tomatoes just germinating now. It’s far more humble in size, but at 500 plants it’s still sizable! More of all these delicious, beautiful varieties to carry us through the first frost in the fall and maybe a little beyond if we manage to cover them up a little bit.
These plants mark the beginning of warmer, sunnier days, the summer that we’ve been denied for so long now, and promise abundance and delight day after day. Some other plants that have been waiting anxiously for water to remain in a liquid state include cucumbers, cantaloupe, summer squash, watermelon, lemongrass, and ginger! We’ve got 20# of ginger root waiting to be planted – hopefully in just another week or two.
To those of you drawn in in hopes of a titillating blog post, well, it turns out it’s actually about birds and bees. Plenty of reason to be excited! We received about 40 chicks this week – Red Rangers – which we’ll be raising for a couple months as an experiment to see if we want to do them on a larger scale (like a few hundred at a time). CSA members will get first dibs on the birds, but hopefully we’ll have some to offer at farmers’ market as well. Right now the little peepers fit comfortably in our hands, but it won’t be long before they’re big enough to head outdoors and start scratching around in the dirt. One thing that really intrigues us is the idea of integrating animals and vegetables into complementary systems – for example, putting chickens on to a field with a cover crop the year before planting vegetables, or letting them graze through the fall fields to clean up plant debris and scratch up all the larvae that would otherwise grow into pests for our vegetables. Lots of experimentation will be required to figure out something that works, no doubt. Pigs are a potential addition for next year, now that we’ll have a full winter here to think, plan and prepare for a few oinkers.
Pear blossoms about to open – just in time for the bees!
Also, we’ll soon be getting the first of our bees! We’ll be starting 3 hives this year, after Colony Collapse Disorder wiped out the 4 hives that were going strong in the fall. One is from a package (the most common method), which we are hoping to install this week (depending on when the truck-of-bees arrives from the south), and we’ll be getting two nucleus hives (nucs for short) in mid-May, which are more developed colonies, from a local bee-breeder. Packages are much harder to come by this year due to the severe bee hive losses across the country this past winter (thank goodness it’s actually past!). We’re curious to see the difference between the two types – packages typically are commercially sourced from all over, meaning queens (and by extension, all the bees) aren’t as genetically adapted to our region. But hopefully the queens in the nucs will be better suited to our weather, even though that has been wildly unpredictable the past couple of years. Driving into Jefferson to get chicken feed, the Rock River is still overflowing its banks and submerging huge sections of the riverside. And just the other day, I heard on the radio that this is the slowest planting spring in 30 years of recordkeeping; something like 4% of field crops had been planted. Last year folks were planting corn in early April! But in the midst of an absolutely beautiful week of sunny 70s, we’re hopeful that the good weather holds for the season.
Community supported agriculture (CSA) is a unique business model, since the end product that a shareholder buys into is much more than just produce, but rather a more enriching relationship that includes philosophy, community, connection, and, of course, the weather. By joining the Regenerative Roots CSA program, we are setting aside a portion of our fields for your household, inviting you in to see how we farm, why we farm, and share our story with you. Amidst the season, the largest yield that you will enjoy is the produce, but we strive to educate and challenge you as well, by reflecting on our larger food system, the importance of CSA for our financial predictability, and perhaps what-the-heck you do with that celeriac bulb. As our farm grows and invites more members into the CSA experience (we are shooting for 45 members this season!), we wanted to put together a more formal membership handbook that provides transparency for what we do, what our expectations of members are, and define how we deal with both exciting and challenging scenarios that are beyond our control (i.e. weather events, surplus crops, pests, etc).
Many thanks go out to Rachel Armstrong, a lawyer who focuses on helping small-scale farms, and her crew at Farm Commons for the base document that became our 2013 CSA Member Handbook. FairShare CSA Coalition hosted Rachel for a workshop I attended this winter that focused on legal issues for regional CSA farmers. We discussed insurance policies, volunteer/employee considerations, as well as the importance of providing a clear description of what this whole CSA thing is. We continue to be appreciative of what FairShare does for farmers in this area, by providing resources and a network of other growers to turn to.
We value having transparent communication with our members and we hope that our new member handbook is another step in that direction. Most of our current (and even prospective) members know that our sign-up form has a series of member agreements that summarize our expectations of shareholders; we see the handbook as an extension of those agreements, the paragraphs behind the phrases, and hope that it exists as a great resource for our shareholders. Feel free to contact us if you feel like any details were left out or if you have any specific questions. We take our commitment to our CSA members very seriously, since you are the ones that make Regenerative Roots possible.
Anne transplanting the first of the season’s cabbage with our friend, Rick
We thank our supporters everyday, especially on these beautiful sunny days when we are outside in the field doing what we love to do. The farm seems like it has tripled in size over the past few days; we have been busy transplanting and direct seeding into the field. I hope that peas, beets, arugula, turnips, and spinach are germinating in the soil as I write this. We also seeded our first melons and squash on Monday, which is always an exciting marker of the summer to come.
Kale & Bok Choy – just a day before going in the field.
It’s been an exciting week at the farm, as everything starts coming together for the season. The weather is flirting with slightly higher temperatures, and even some occasional sunshine! The grey was really getting to us after a while. But nothing marks the beginning of the season like putting plants in the ground – we planted our first kale and bok choy earlier last week, during one of those rare sunny, dry days, and it weathered the frosty nights in the 20s just fine. Then, to keep building the momentum, we added scallions and broccoli to the mix, along with nearly all of our onions. All of these plants are quite hardy (well-established kale plants can easily handle negative temps) so the light frosts that mark April and early May won’t faze them a bit. Or the garlic for that matter, which is popping up from underneath the straw mulch. We’ve been growing out garlic seed stock for the past couple of years – we’re hoping that this year is when we start having more than we know what to do with rather than just having enough.
Dennis waters plants in the greenhouse – lots of baby tomatoes in the foreground!
Still, this early in the season, plants in the field are vastly outnumbered by plants in the greenhouse, and after seeding hundreds of onions, kale, and herbs, we are excited to be starting more of our main season crops. We started over 1000 tomato plants – promising a rich rainbow of colors including green, orange, yellow, red, black (really dark red), and striped. Peppers and cucumbers popped shortly thereafter, and we’ve got a big planting of melons and squash in just over week. But our greenhouse is full! Well, we can shift stuff around to fit quite a bit more, and we’ll be keeping lots of plants outside to harden off and get used to the “real world” before getting acquainted with the soil. But it’s amazing the bounty that fits in a couple hundred square feet.
We also took advantage of the lousy weather to do some more indoor work. We finished installing A/C units in our walk-in cooler, which will function as refrigeration units thanks to a handy little device called the Coolbot that tricks them into getting it down in the 30s. Not to mention that A/C units use a lot less electricity than a standard condenser. We also built a garden cart! This is by far one of the most handy tools of any farm, or rural homestead. Having worked with commercial carts before, we were always frustrated that they were just slightly too small for the common containers of a farm – flats of transplants and black bulb crates – so we built one to fit! Ours holds more, is much sturdier, and was quite a bit less expensive to boot! We put it to work the second the stain dried, moving flats from our germination chamber to the greenhouse.
A few thousand onions, now in the field!
Lastly, we had our organic inspection last Thursday, which is an annual process that all certified organic farms have to complete. The inspector comes and walks the fields, inspects our records of seed, fertility inputs, potting soil – basically anything that comes into contact with the plant – and also checks to see that we can trace a crop from the receipt for the seed packet to the field, then from harvest to the store or CSA box or farmers’ market stand. It helps ensure you that we keep a close eye on your food and are growing it according to organic practices.
We love these crates. And we can have four stacks of them in the garden cart! One of farming’s simple pleasures.
We continue to be encouraged by the CSA memberships that keep coming in as the weather warms up! We still have quite a few shares available, especially for pickup in Fort Atkinson and at the farm. The SweetSpot is certainly our most popular pickup site – folks must love picking up goodies along with their veggies – and only has a couple spots still available. We are investigating other pickup sites possibilities in Whitewater, send us a line if you have any ideas!
One of our honeybees in 2012, enjoying the available water on a flat of transplants
The farm is an ecosystem. The most visible organisms in our 2 acres are likely to be vegetables, fruits and herbs (and quite a few weeds, of course), but there is a vast diversity of life that interact, either to the benefit or the detriment of those tasty plants that make their way to the dinner table. Bees are a hugely important farming partner, but they’ve been having a rough time. Four hives located on our farm went into the winter strong, healthy, with an abundance of extra honey, but none emerged- all victim of the still-mysterious Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).
The hives were abandoned upon inspection this spring and all of the honey left for them was untouched. We extracted the honey this past week before this season’s bees and wasps are around to rob it all out – nearly 300 pounds! (Check out some video footage from this adventure below.) Many thanks to our CSA member, Peter, for mentoring us in how to go forward and lending us his extraction equipment.
The Jefferson hives from which we extracted, since all the colonies had disappeared long before our spring inspection.
We’re hoping to be replacing a couple hives this spring, and experimenting with catching a swarm or two, but there are bigger forces at work than just those at our farm – this winter is looking to be the worst on record for bees, with many commercial growers losing half of their hives or more (historical loss rates were more in the 5-10% range, now national averages are around 39%). CCD first burst onto the scene about 8 years ago and the situation has failed to improve since then. The jury is still out on the exact causes – there are a plethora of new pressures on bees over the past few decades, including mites, but research seems more and more conclusive that pesticides, particularly a new class of pesticide are to blame for the unprecedented losses that beekeepers are experiencing across the globe. Unfortunately, these pesticides are the most commonly used in the world. And it’s not just honeybees, but also native bees like bumblebees and native bees that are struggling. This is a clarion call to everybody that we need to re-evaluate our culture of agriculture, and support diversified, sustainable farming that treads far more lightly on the land than our current paradigm. Bees give us a huge variety of fruits, nuts, vegetables and other plants that give our diets color, flavor and nutrition.
Enjoy the films below from our April 8th extraction! -Dennis, 4/17/2013
As a small, primarily human-powered farm, it’s exceedingly important that we have the right tools. Two acres can look pretty big when you know that the only way you’re going to hoe that row is by walking, with a hoe. But we’ve found a few tools and are trying some new ones that promise to comprise a toolkit for small, sustainable agriculture. All truly good tools have a few shared characteristics:
They’re durable and will stand up to the heavy-duty use of a farm. Even if they’re not used on a farm, it’s a good litmus test;
They redirect your energy and give you leverage to perform tasks that you could never do without the tool;
They’re ergonomic and require relatively little effort to use, allowing you to use them for extended periods of time without tiring or causing injury;
They’re easy to repair, with replaceable parts you can purchase readily or fashion yourself;
They should be fun to use.
So what are these many-splendored implements? Well, I’ll highlight two of my personal favorites:
Dennis with our Valley Oak wheel hoe
The Wheel Hoe
“But the tool of all tools, the modern weed slayer, the great labor saver, the greatest horticultural blessing of the age — that is the modern wheel hoe.” -T. Greiner, 1890
I love this tool. With one of these, an acre isn’t so intimidating after all. The wheel hoe has been around for centuries in one form or another. If you design your system right, you can easily tackle the vast majority of your weeding needs from a comfortable, upright position – save your back for another day! There are a multitude of options for wheel hoes out there – Glaser and Valley Oak seem to be the most popular, but there’s also Hoss and others, and even a build your own design from Whizbang, known for other farm tool designs, like a chicken plucker and garden cart (we’re just about finished building the garden cart!). We love the Valley Oak, as the height can be easily adjusted for differently sized people – like us! – and you can easily switch attachments so it becomes a furrower or 4-tine cultivator.
On our farm, we prep beds with a BCS walk-behind tractor which has a 26″ tiller. This is a much smaller bed than tractor-based farms (they often use 4′ rows, 6′ on center), so we don’t do much double-row cropping except for things like beans, lettuce, carrots and other crops that don’t take up a whole lot of space. For single row crops (tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, peppers, etc.), we allow a couple inches for the plant stalks, and another couple of inches for the drip tape, then literally just walk down either side of the bed with a 12″ hoe and voila! No weeds on my left, no weeds on my right. But what about the weeds in between the plants? Wait, what’s that? It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a….
This is likely the most versatile hoe and my favorite design. As the name suggests, it’s a diamond shaped blade that cuts on all four sides. Push or pull, you’ll kill some weeds. It cuts just underneath the soil surface so you’re not wasting energy moving around lots of dirt. I could do an acre or two with it, but it would be a lot of work compared to a wheel hoe. But combined with a wheel hoe, all your crops that are spaced a good distance apart (12″ or more, depending on your blade size) can be 100% weeded with a wheel hoe and diamond hoe. Do the sides with the wheel hoe, and follow-up in between the plants with the diamond hoe. The latter takes some skill and practice since it cuts on all sides and is under the surface where you can’t really see it. On the up side, you don’t necessarily need to move things like drip tape out of the way (though it’s a good idea), and you can get right up to your plants, but it doesn’t discriminate between what you call weeds and what you call your favorite tomato. That said, you can pretty readily get a good enough feel for it that you won’t kill any of your precious vegetables. I could do the better part of an acre in a day with those two tools.
[A note: It's worth paying for a high-quality hoe. Hard, forged steel goes a long way. Our diamond hoe and hand hoes are made by DeWit and their steel is hard (Rockwell 60, for you geeks out there). What that means is that it will hardly dull at all in most conditions. For a good, brief description of DeWit tools, check out Earth Tools - great folks in Kentucky offering the highest quality tools around.]
Prepping a bed amongst a clover field to plant garlic, October 2011
We spent the better part of Saturday tilling our early season beds with our walk-behind tractor before this week’s rains came. We are thankful for the precipitation, but it is always challenging this time of year to know when the soil will dry out enough to prep beds again. Our bed spacing is determined by the tools we use – the BCS for bed prep, a basic walk-behind mower for maintaining our living aisles, and the hoes discussed above for controlling weeds within the bed. Since we don’t use a large farm tractor, we can space our beds much closer together than many larger produce farms can, allowing us to grow more produce on an acre. Scale is certainly a major part of the equation here. This system worked great for our one-acre operation last year and we anticipate it working well on two acres in 2013. As we make plans about growing (or maintaining) the scale of our operation in the future, the farm tools we enjoy working with are a big part of that discussion.
Anne & Dennis greeting visitors at the fall pumpkin pick.
Last week we focused on the tangible story of putting together our greenhouse. This week we’re talking about something far more philosophical, though it has a big impact on our farming everyday. Our CSA members know this just from choosing a pick-up site, but we only offer CSA shares to people in our area – currently Whitewater, Fort Atkinson and Jefferson (the latter being the farm itself). Certainly there’s a larger, more established market in the big cities of Madison, Milwaukee and Chicago, but we’ve made the choice to really stick to our community – a 20-minute drive in any direction. CSA really ought to be all about the community – we want all of our members to have the very real option to get to know us as their farmers, to be familiar with the land where their food is grown, and to be connected to other members of their community (they may live just down the street!) through the farm.
One of the best parts of our farm events – sharing of food and community
We’re thrilled to see this passion for local foods – the incredible proliferation of farmers markets, the growing familiarity of CSA thanks to organizations like FairShare (Wisconsin is still way ahead of the curve), and the appearance of local foods on grocery store shelves. (The last link is an editorial piece by the deputy secretary of the USDA, which tells you something.) But with this growth we don’t want to see local food treated like just another commodity, because it has the potential to offer so much more, precisely because of the irreplaceable and special connection people can have to the people who grow the food.
Bonfire following out October 2012 Pumpkin U-Pick
We also believe that small is beautiful as well as essential. Getting bigger means buying in more products, more supply chains, and often a greater dependence on outside sources for the necessary materials for farming. We have a nearly tractor-free farm – and would like to be entirely so eventually – and do the vast majority of our work with hand tools. Quaint? Hardly. It’s intensely physical work to create something real – real food that nourishes us, our land and the community. We don’t want to need to drive an hour or more each way just to reach our markets. Our model does mean more work for us since the market isn’t always as established – more education, more outreach, more advertising is needed – but it feels more than worth it. Especially when our business model and concept is shared by word of mouth to friends and neighbors, from satisfied eaters.
Dennis walks with some visitors through the squash patch
Getting out to the countryside means fresh air, open space, the sounds of sandhill cranes and the smell of soil, instead of traffic and sirens. We welcome our CSA members and supporters to come out to the farm, experience the realities of growing food on our scale, and celebrate the harvest with us!
To learn more about our local CSA program, serving our neighboring communities, visit our CSA Membership page or contact us.
Dennis securing the purlins to the hoops. Three purlins make sure the structure is held together quite strongly.
Dennis putting on a few finishing touches.
Last week during those sunny, sunny days our greenhouse reached 90 degrees! Especially given that winter has held on much more tenaciously than last year (when it was 80 degrees outside), we’re thankful to have a space to grow all those plants so they’ll be ready to go come mid-May when the danger of frost has largely passed. At this point in the season, the greenhouse is arguably the most important component of our farm and we thought we’d take this week to look back at how we built it and maybe give you some ideas on how to construct your own if you’ve got the same sort of oversized gardening ambitions we do.
This shows the basic greenhouse frame before the purlins are attached. The diagonal pieces in the corners help brace the structure in the wind.
So what do you need to build a greenhouse? There are really only a few major components:
A “kit”, which includes a metal frame, plastic covering, and all the miscellaneous fittings, bolts, clamps, etc.
Lumber for baseboards, hipboards and endwalls
A source of heat
A ventilation / air circulation system
There are countless greenhouse kits out there – some lightweight backyard ones can even be found at the big hardware/home improvement stores. But for real durability, we went with a kit from Nolt’s Midwest Produce Supplies, a great company in Iowa that consistently provides great service at great prices and has just about everything a small farm needs.
Anne’s Mom was a big help during this project!
Ours is a simple quonset-style, 16 feet wide by 32 feet long with 4′ sidewalls (meaning straight sides 4′ tall, then the curve, as opposed to a continuous curve the whole way. This provides a LOT more usable space), and a sturdy galvanized metal frame plus a plastic sheet (enough for a double layer, if you want) is less than $1,000. Not bad at all considering we can easily create 2 acres worth of vegetables in that space – enough to provide food for a lot of households! You need some lumber to flesh out the frame – baseboards to prevent air from creeping in along the ground, hipboards to attach the plastic if you want roll-up sides, and any kind of door framing on the ends.We went with cedar for our baseboards and end posts, since we don’t want to use treated lumber, and picked up a couple storm doors for a song at the ReStore. For the rest we just painted over plywood, studs and 1x4s. If you look at the upper left picture, you can sort of see how the entire door frame can be easily removed. That makes getting in with equipment or having lots of ventilation a snap.
Anne and Dennis taking a rest after a long day of work.
Pulling on the plastic is one thing I wish we had a video of, but it was just the two of us and our hands were full! The short version of it is that we tied tennis balls and rope to the plastic to pull it over, then we secured the center of all 4 sides, pulling it tight. Then did the remainder one section at a time, one person pulling it tight, the other securing it to the frame. Ideally we’d have a few more people to do it, but the conditions have to be just right and you have to be ready any moment – sunny, warm, and LITTLE TO NO wind. We had about 3 hours in the late morning to get it done before a front started moving in. Every minute we felt the wind pick up just a little more. Talk about a good motivator.
Heavy snows just mean well-insulated sides in the winter!
We just about finished filling the greenhouse with water barrels yesterday, with a little over 10 tons of water absorbing heat during the day. A few more and we should have about 12 tons of thermal mass. Lately the water has been getting to 62F during the day and cooling to about 50F by the next morning. With a full house, that will be almost 300,000 BTUs, or over 87 kWh of energy stored and released every day. You’ve got to love the sun. We still have supplemental heat – just a simple shop/garage heater does the trick – to keep it all from getting too cold, but the water barrels really help reduce our energy bill.
This structure will stand for decades, and the plastic should hold up for a good 4-5 years, barring any unfortunate encounters with hail. That means hundreds of thousands of plants will make their start in the world right here.
For those of you looking for a more interactive blog, here’s our latest video from our Regenerative Roots YouTube channel. Take a peek into our early season greenhouse and see our first sprouts and water barrels for storing solar energy. You’ll likely be as amused as we are with the embarrassingly squeaky tripod partially into the clip. :)
This past week was a doozy! Over the past 10 days or so, we’ve gone through a lot, from having our greenhouse heater fail, replacing it with an entirely new heating system, building a cooler, seeding ginger, and doing some hard thinking about integrating livestock into the farm this year. In other words, we were busy! This will be the first of our regular weekly updates, coming out each Wednesday or thereabouts, which help you stay connected to the farm – your farm – and all the goings-on here.
One morning I went out to the greenhouse and felt the cold, cold air inside, I was really worried. I knew it got down to the teens overnight. But fortunately our onion seedlings stayed above that all-important temperature of 32F thanks to our water barrels releasing heat they absorbed from the day before (which is a lot of heat; see the picture to the left). After a couple nights of tinkering we realized the heater wasn’t going to work, so we scrambled to research solutions to our problem, which seemed to be that the vent-free heater was depleting the oxygen and shutting itself off. That, coupled with reports from some farmer friends who managed to get similar heaters to work but then poisoned their plants with ethylene from the combustion, forced us to reconsider our entire heating system plan. So we called around, ordered some new parts, and furiously set to work making sure our new heater was hooked up, vented to the outside, and now our plants get down to the upper 40s or low 50s at night, as opposed to the low 30s! It’s hard to explain the psychological pressure when some key component of the farm stops working – everything is hanging in the balance, like having plants ready for the early boxes, and just not having space to bring the plants inside the house at night. And it’s hard to explain the sense of relief and satisfaction when your work solves the problem!
The other big project of the week was assembling our walk-in cooler, or, as a friend called it, “farmer legos”. So true! After a discouraging start with a couple panels that just didn’t want to connect, the rest of the structure popped into place in just one day! That was exciting. It will give us the chance to store vegetables at different temperatures (many crops get damaged when stored below 50F), put away bigger quantities for winter storage (good harvest season permitting), and grow into it as we expand our production. Thank you craigslist for this great deal! Fortunately, we won’t have to do either that or rebuild our heating system again. Cross our fingers.
We seeded our ginger for the season, which wasn’t quite as much as we’d hoped due to a partial crop failure from our supplier, but hopefully still enough for us to hope for over a hundred pounds of this incomparable food come September. We love the flavors of the tropics, but also the incredible community and landscape of Wisconsin. So what’s a farmer to do, but experiment and have a little fun? You can read more about some of the exciting tropical flavors of not-necessarily-tropical plants that we’ll be growing in our blog post from January.
Also, we’ve really been thinking about adding livestock to the farm, and we hope to decide over the next couple of months what we will do this year and next. Pigs and poultry are at the top of the list. We’d love to have pigs and chickens out there tilling up the ground instead of tractors, and cleaning up the fields after harvest. Not to mention that they’re wonderful to be around. We’re trying to develop some long, multi-year rotations involving animals, cover crops and vegetables in a system that supports the soil life like nothing else. More on that to come. For now, we need the snow to thaw before doing much about that. Think warm thoughts, everybody!