More Winter Chores


Time to deal with the raspberries. Only two months late! I would like to have “winterized” our little home berry patch in November, but work, farm and kid activities (not to mention general laziness) kept getting in the way. So last weekend, I finally made the time to get it done.

Mostly just a matter of pruning back the top third of the Summits (they’ll fruit again on the lower parts of last year’s growth) and getting rid of the Tulameen canes, which only bear fruit once, on two-year old stalks. A little deer net repair (the good stuff is expensive, so I just zip-tied the torn spots), some quick weeding and then a nice, thick layer of composted manure.

It’s not really an ideal place for raspberries (too much shade), but most years our little patch provides enough for delicious pick-and-eat sessions, occasionally more. Is there anything more delightful than fresh-picked raspberries? The Tulameens produce unbelievably great fruit–thumb-sized, sweet, juicy–but the plants themselves struggle here. The Summits grow like crazy, but the fruit isn’t nearly as good. Not sure what to make of it, but I do know a little winter maintenance pays off, and we’re always thankful to have raspberries in the summer.

Still Smokin’


What a happy surprise! I went to turn the compost at the farm, expecting to find it done for the winter after that icy weather last month. Figured I should turn it anyway, but had resigned myself to not seeing any action until spring. While the tractor was warming up, I pulled the tarp off and dug around a bit with my hands. Nothing.

Then, after about ten good scoops with the bucket, I hit pay dirt. Heat. Steam. Actively cooking compost. I was blown away. Must have been the more careful layering we did this fall, with a nice mix of green weeds and leftover sawdust for carbon, along with chicken-coop waste from our neighbor, Chuck. Also, on the advice of another friend, Phil, I had piled it up extra high to give it more mass and downward pressure.

Whatever the cause, I’m stoked. If we can keep it cooking along all winter, even slowly, then ramp it up in early spring, I think we’ll have a huge pile of awesome compost for the veggie beds and to top dress the dahlias and blueberries. Funny, the things you get excited about on a farm.

Blaze Of Glory


With last week’s hard frost, our dahlia season has come to an end. But what a season. After a slow start, they really started rolling in late August, and picked up steam as autumn progressed. As you can see in this picture taken just a couple of weeks ago, the flowers ┬ákept getting bigger and brighter as the days grew colder and grayer.

I’m going to miss seeing the dahlias brightening the farm and our kitchen, not to mention sharing them with friends and customers. But I’m already looking forward to their return next summer.

Winter Prep


Ahead of what looks to be the first solid freeze of the year tonight, Weston and I spent a few hours winterizing the farm irrigation system. Mostly just a matter of draining all the lines and filters, opening the gate valves and looking for anywhere else water might be trapped. Easy work, made more fun by having my “assistant” on the job. And I think he liked it, too, since it’s a job where he can actually do a majority of the work himself.

In the picture above, he’s opening the ends of the drip lines in the dahlia field to drain that part of the system. Won’t be long before he and Skyla can handle the whole job on their own.

Chilly here today–just a light frost last night, but it never melted in our yard. Just finished stacking some bigger fir logs and even a few pieces of our coveted “cold weather” madrona by the back door. Looks like we’re going to need it tonight. Stay warm, everyone. Feels like winter.

Back In The Saddle Again


Haven’t been tractoring much since we finished mulching in the spring and hauling weeds in the summer. Now it’s time to turn the compost piles and put them to bed for the winter. Of course, it’s a job I should be doing a lot more frequently, but just haven’t had the time. So…now I’m in the middle of combining two separate piles, and finding that our dry summer kept the untarped “compost” from cooking at all. We were expecting steam, worms and rich, dark compost. But instead it’s pretty much dry all the way through, and looks like hay. Bummer.

The ingredients should be good–a nice mix of green leafy refuse and some sawdust for carbon, with a little manure in there to get it rolling. But I hadn’t anticipated that it would dry out all the way through. Should’ve covered it, but it seemed unnecessary in summer around here. All I can do now is let a little rain fall on it, try to get it kickstarted with some fresh chicken manure and soil soup, tarp it up and hope for the best.

But at least it’s fun sitting on the old Kubota again.