Thursday, February 24, 2011


Here at North Branch Farm, we have broken the stasis of winter. Proof is in the dripping taps in the sugar maples, the ever-lengthening days, and the flock of cedar waxwings devouring the remaining Amber Cider Crab apples. It feels great, but there's also a sense of impending chaos and obligation that comes with the growing season.

Over at the farm the other day, Graham and Tyler were converting a horse-drawn sickle bar mower into a horse-drawn, ground-driven PTO shaft. This means that we'll be able to use power generated by the wheels spinning over the ground, pulled by April and May, to run equipment that we could otherwise only use behind a tractor. Pretty exciting! I don't think I could explain the details without making a mess of it, but stop by the farm someday and if any of us are around we'll show you how it works.

North Branch Farmers will be making their first appearances at MOFGA-sponsored CSA Fairs this weekend, looking for members for our 2011-2012 Winter CSA. Come out and see us Sunday, February 27th, from 1-3pm at the Unitarian Universalist churches in both Bangor and Belfast. We are growing all kinds of tasty storage crops, including carrots, potatoes, squash, garlic, onions, cabbage and beets, to give out over the course of next winter. If you'd be interested in coming by the farm and getting a pile of our veggies every other week from November 2011 to February 2012, let us know!

Ada's waking up, so I'm back on momma-duty. Until soon!

Friday, February 11, 2011

February Thaw

People are calling it a February "thaw" which you'd think would involve the temperature rising above 32 F. But it seems to count as a thaw when it gets warm enough that salty road ice melts and the sun beating on dark roofs causes the snow to shed off. I turned 26 three weeks ago and Lucretia gave me a new download cable for my birthday, so now I'm able to make use of photos taken again. Phew.

Our fabulous winter farm assistant, Graham, is back after a couple weeks helping prepare for the season at his next farming gig. The oil furnace at the farmhouse ran dry, sucked up gunk into its pump and filter, and died a gurgly death. This motivated a whole house fuel-reconfiguration which involved installing a woodstove in the basement to prevent frozen pipes and hooking a copper water tank to the Waterford wood cookstove in the main room, which now heats more than enough water for dishes, showers, laundry, etc. Not to mention the increased thermal mass and increased classy rustic-ness of the scene there.

The livestock had a bout of malnutrition that caused the steers to get weak and lethargic and the sheep to eat their own wool. When we started feeding them selenium, salts and kelp meal they got chipper again and seem to be doing much better. All the critters are in the barn now except for April and May, the Percherons, who eat hay and snow and work in the woods with Tyler & Co a couple times a week. I asked Seth if he had noticed the horses getting stronger, and he said, "I don't know. Actually, their butts have changed shape...they've gotten more square." I think they're pulling their weight, so to speak.

Seth has been putting in time on the Yentes-Quinn house, which may actually get a roof next week! Here is a photo looking out the east end of the upstairs of our house. I couldn't get it to rotate for some reason, so for full effect you should turn your computer screen 90 degrees clockwise or look at it while laying your left ear on your left shoulder.

Ada Ruth in one of her very first unassisted chimp sits, dad as spotter...

and he has quick reflexes.

Sweet Ada Ruth in a puddle of nap drool.

It's good to know you all are out there, living through winter in its various stages and thinking of us every now and then. We think of you as well, despite sparse posts here!
Happy Valentine's Day,