March updates!

Hello, all, and welcome to March!  Boy, does it feel like spring out there, especially this past weekend when the temps crept up into the 50s.  There’s hardly any snow at all here anymore.  The farm season is slowly getting started…it really won’t be long now until some veggies start coming in!

Last Monday, Sonya got the greenhouse up and running and sowed seeds in a dozen or so trays, including greenhouse and seedling tomatoes, onions, leeks, celeriac, sunflowers, and more.  Much of this has already begun to sprout, believe it or not.

John has been working on random outdoor projects including the usual chicken care and woodcutting.  Tonight is a big night for our chickens as we merge the flocks together to make room for the arrival of 50 pullets towards the end of the month.  A pullet is a young hen, usually about 3 or 4 months old and just on the cusp of laying.  When we discovered that our friend and fellow farmer, Dan Perron, of Sumner Valley Farm was offering pullets for sale this spring, we jumped at the chance.  The pullets are more expensive than newborn chicks, but the savings come from those 3 or 4 months of not having to care for or buy feed for the birds.  By this time next month, we should have a total hen population of around 110.

In the last blog post, I talked about gearing up for our very first foray into chicken butchering.  It went well, and we followed that up with two more mornings of, er, slaughter.  This certainly isn’t pleasant work…as the hatchet man, I have perhaps the toughest task of all…but it’s a part of life on the farm, at least on any farm where animals are involved.  As with anything, Sonya, Kate, and I got more comfortable and more efficient with the process the more we did it (the process being, more or less:  catch the bird, kill the bird, scald the bird, pluck the bird, dress the bird), and we greatly appreciated the help and company we got from a handful of CSA members during our 2nd and 3rd chicken processing days.  Many thanks to Brian McNulty, Kevin Murray, Tom and Emily Marczak, and David Horowitz for coming by to learn with us!

In other news, we have found and hired our two apprentices for this season!  Rachael Oyer is from upstate New York and will working with us from mid-April until October.  Corey Maddox is from Illinois and will be with us from May until late August.  I’ll post more info. about these ladies once they actually get here, but for now we’re just happy that our apprentice hunt is over.  Kate Jones is still here, too.  The start date for her preceptorship at a birth center near Nashua, New Hampshire was pushed back until the first of May, so she’ll be sticking around until then, helping us out with chicken care and a few spring projects.

Something that Sonya and I spent a lot of time working on in January and February was the farm’s organic certification application.  The detailed and lengthy paperwork required by MOFGA was exhausting to work through.  However, as a consumer, it’s good to see that such high standards are expected and that such meticulous record-keeping is required before a farm can call its wares “organic”.  It was a great relief and very exciting, too, to finish the app. and get it in the mail last week.  Now we have to wait for the application to be reviewed and for an inspector to come and talk with us and inspect the farm.  We’ll keep you posted…

We’ve settled on a date for this month’s potluck.  Come on over if you can on Friday, March 26th from 5 – 9 PM for food, conversation, and perhaps music?  Also, perhaps a bonfire if it’s not too chilly.  Please bring a dish to share and chairs or a blanket to sit on/eat on.

Finally, we want to give an enthusiastic shout-out to our friends, Zakk Maher and Emmy Andersson, for the opening of their new store, Square Root Natural Foods, right here in Poland!  The store is located next to the new Northeast Bank branch in the Dunkin Donuts/Subway/Family Dollar shopping plaza on Route 26.  The space is lovely and is filling up fast with fresh organic produce, bulk goods, herbs and spices, vitamins and supplements, and much more.  You’ll find Summit Springs Farm eggs there, too, and perhaps some of our produce once the season gets rolling.  Please go check out the store and support this exciting new local endeavor!  They opened about a week ago but have scheduled an official grand opening day of entertainment and celebration for Saturday, March 20th.  See you there!  For more info., visit the store’s page on Facebook or their fledgling website.

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