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Plum Granny Farm Weekly Update for February 2, 2018 -- February Follies

Posted 2/4/2018 2:46pm by Cheryl.

Hello Farm Friends!  Happy Friday!  Welcome February!
Kerchunk!  Did you hear it?  That was the sound of another page of the calendar being flipped.  We are now in Month 2 of 2018!  The good news is that we are even closer to Spring but the bad news is that we are even closer to Spring!  So much to do! 
But this morning Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, so we are in for another 6 weeks of winter. :- (

Photo:  accuweather.com

Even before we got Phil's tweet, we knew that more winter was on the way.  This morning we covered the strawberries again before the winds really started wailing later in the day.  If the wind didn't get us, the frozen fabric did!  

The fabric had frozen together in spots which made stretching it out without tearing (as shown above), quite difficult.  After getting one section covered, we decided to take our chances on the wind and let the fabric thaw out a bit before covering the last part.

The plan for this week was to get Wally reconstructed.  Oh well, the best laid plans...  We got a call Monday from our Organic Certification Inspector saying that she would be here on Thursday morning.  We really couldn't defer the inspection so we wrapped our heads around the new schedule!  While we had our records in good shape, it takes a while to organize them to make it easier to audit.  Ease of review is important when you are paying the inspector by the hour.

From the inspector's comments, it seems that everything was fine and that we passed.  We'll be getting their final determination in a month or so.

The on-site inspection is very thorough and involves a complete farm walk as well as reviewing our documentation -- half a day at least.  One of the parts that we have to be prepared for is to show our all crops from seed to sale -- a complete audit of seed purchase receipts, empty seed packets, when and how much we seeded, when and how much was planted, when and what was harvested and how much we sold.  

For the newer readers of our newsletter, you may ask, "why do you do this?"  Great question.  We believe it provides an important assurance to our customers regarding how we grow our crops.  Unlike vague terms like "naturally grown" or "no spray", what we produce is regulated through an extensive Federal certification process. From the seed we plant to our tent at market, we have specific requirements that we must meet to ensure that the food you enjoy from us is grown in a way that nourishes the land (and you!).  We deeply appreciate your trust in us and thank you for supporting a Certified Organic farm!  

Of course, farms and their equipment don't seem to care about human concerns like inspections.  They have their own cycle and agendas no matter what the weather or appointment book says.  On Tuesday, the heater in the greenhouse decided to go out.  Not a good time -- they never seem to break in June. 

With colder temperatures heading our way, we needed to do something and fast!  Mr. Fix-It to the rescue!  Thank Goodness for service manuals on the internet.  Ray diagnosed the problem and got it running again!  It's now blowing hot air to keep the plants warm.  ASF (Always Something Farm).

Ray says that the farming is the absolute dream job for a Mr/Ms Fix-It.  And that is so true!  From electrical to plumbing to carpentry and mechanics, farming requires so many skills.  We are very fortunate that Ray has such a broad skill set.  Unfortunately my repertoire is quite limited in that area. 

So I'll go back to doing something that I like to do -- and can do well:  seeding!  It's time to get more of these tiny promises of Summer and tastiness on their way.  Something new we are trying this year is to grow shallots from our own seeds.  We saved some shallot flowers from last season and are using the seeds from the flower stalks as a trial for transplant production.  We are moving away from planting shallot bulbs and instead will grow transplants from seed.  Our French Red shallots grown from bulbs produce a large scape or flower that when cut, can create a perfect environment for mold and decay.  As a result, they don't cure properly.  Seed-grown shallots don't form a scape.  We have lost nearly half of our shallot crop for the past couple of years to bulbs that didn't completely dry.  Maybe now we can grow a few of these shallots from bulbs to produce seeds and grow the rest of the shallots from transplants!  We'll keep you posted on our progress.

That does it for this week's news!  Have fun watching the Super Bowl this weekend or enjoying some time on your own if the rest of your family is caught up in the game.  You'll find us in the nice, warm greenhouse!

Until next week,
Cheryl & Ray

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