Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Progress!!!! Lots of progress thanks to the help of friends. Let me start out by talking about day one of greenhouse construction. It started out like this: Aaron Di Orio (there may be an apostrophe in there somewhere, and maybe a couple more capitol letters) showed up with his tools and a wealth of skills and knowledge on everything from making cars run on used vegetable oil to constructing and repairing everything under the sun. The first thing Mr. Di Orio did was start pounding on a tape measure with a hammer. Please trust me on this one; I may be famous for exxagerating, but I kid you not, stage one of greenhouse construction was Aaron Di Orio smashing the tape measure we were supposed to be using to square the construction site with. I don't exactly know what happened. I offered him the corkscrew from my pocket knife, not really knowing why, but to my surprise he accepted it and started jabbing the corkscrew into the metal thing at the end of the tape. Apparently it was jammed and the tape measure wouldn't open and the corkscrew didn't work so he started pounding it with a mallet. Then he said, "I have to go." He disappeared for a little while and I heard, from the direction of his truck, loud smashing noises which sounded like the possible destruction of my garage. He calmly returned a little while later holding the tape measure which looked none the worse for the wear and functioned none the better. He tossed it aside and we used another one. We had like three.

I would like to note that at no point did Aaron Di Orio appear frustrated or mystified by the tape measure incident. It was all just a part of the process of consrtucting the greenhouse, and not being a construction person, who was I to argue.

Speaking of the greenhouse, our goal for the day was to square the area where it was to be put up and hammer in the ground stakes. As it happened, we did all of that and put up the rest of the structure. No joke. We put up the entire greenhouse. By that, I mean, all of the poles that I ordered. At the beginning of the day, there was nothing standing, and by the end of the day, it basically looked like a greenhouse without the plastic and I have to tell you everytime I looked at the structure, I was incredibly elated! I can't believe how much we accomplished, and it was a lot of fun! I'm pretty sure what we did in a day would have taken me a long and frustrating month to accomplish on my own, so I can't tell you how grateful I am for the help and guidance and for the fact that the process was enjoyable.

That all happened on Sunday. What was left was to make end walls, which means, to buy lumber and construct some sort of wall and door at each end of the greenhouse. To the rescue came Paul Alward and company--yes, that's the famous Paul Alward, AKA Dr. Landscape, AKA Veritas Farms. All I can say is that him and his helpers put up the endwalls and doors in a day while I tried to help but mostly just stood around and scratched my head in amazement. So, now that's done and all that's left is the plastic, which I actually know how to do on my own though I'm told I'd be crazy to try and do it on my own because it takes more than two hands. So, I won't be crazy. But I'm so thrilled that the greenhouse is up and soon I can start all of my seeds!

The only other thing to say is, when I decided to call this place Muddy Farm, I had no idea how accurate I was. This place is MUDDY! And it's taking a long time for the dirt to dry. That's kind of a funny thing to say since we're expecting two inches of rain today. But, really, I won't be able to till until the dirt's relatively dry because this soil is on the clay side. When soil is more clay than sand and it gets tilled or plowed it tends to dry like cement. It's great soil, overall, and it will probably dry out more quickly in future years after it's been loosened once or twice, but this year it's really really wet. So, planting may be delayed. But, you know, the weather's never gonna' be perfect. It's always either too wet or too dry or too humid or too cold or too hot for this or that or the other thing so I ain't gonna' complain. HA! Of course I'm gonna' complain. But not just yet. Not completely, anyhow.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Farm Update
Tomorrow, Aaron's coming to help me get started putting up the greenhouse! That's big news. My number one priority times ten is to get that greenhouse up. All my seeds have arrived and they're organized into categories of what needs to go in the greenhouse two weeks ago, what needs to go this week, what needs to be started in April, May, etc.! Honestly, I won't feel behind at all if this thing gets up in the next two weeks, and I think that's realistic. Paul--of Veritas Farms (who still hasn't gotten rid of the misleading s) has also graciously volunteered to help, and my gratitude for both of their skillful assistance is enormous!
I also ordered 60 baby hens from a hatchery called Privett, which is in New Mexico. So, get this, the chickens are born and at one day old, they're shipped 2000 miles to Muddy Farm where my goal will be to be sure that life only gets better after their first two days spent in a postal truck. I will most certainly take pictures of them when they get here later in the month. Basically, their home for the first month will be in my chicken coop in a little round pen that is about six feet in diameter. There will be three heat lamps hanging above their heads. The first week, the temperature will hopefully be about 95 degrees, and then, every week from then on I'll subtract about 5 degrees until it levels off at about 70. At this point, I'm planning on getting my food from Lightening Tree Farm, which is a local organic farm that grows and mixes their own chicken food. And yes, once they're old enough, they'll be happy free range hens. I ordered 20 Delaware's, 20 Barred Rocks and 20 Rhode Island Reds, which are my three favorite chicken breeds. First of all, they're nice, which is a big plus. They're also mellow--they don't fly around the neighborhood complaining at the top of their lungs. And, finally, they lay lots of eggs, especially when they get to wander and are happy!
What Else?
  • I'm almost done with the fence. I'd have long ago finished if it wasn't for the snow in one section of the field. But I've definitely finished the hard part.
  • I'm still waiting for local merchants to start selling air conditioners so I can finish the walk-in cooler. There's no big hurry with that, though. I won't need the cooler until late June, at the earliest.
  • I get picked on a lot by farmer types for blogging (including and especially Paul, who has no right to talk because of the s).
  • I'm going to be doing the Saugerties Farmer's Market on Saturday and the Rosendale Farmer's Market on Sunday, starting in June. I'm thrilled about doing these two markets.
  • Wish me luck on this greenhouse thing.