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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Greening Up!

We have not started to see greening outside yet, here around my central Maine farm, though the sap buckets are no longer hanging on the maple trees that I passed on my way to my local post office this morning. If you don't live in an area where folks "sugar," let me say that is one sure sign that late winter has given way to early spring. Catching the sugar maple sap to boil down into maple syrup is dependent on the rise and fall of the sap as warmer days revert to cold nights. The trees are trying to start their engines, but once they are awake and running -- even though they have not yet pushed out the buds that signify spring to most of us -- the wheel of the year as rolled one more bit along its cycle.
Here at Fussing Duck farm we don't sugar, and mark the changing seasons with the arrival of eggs.  Usually our hens take their natural vacation during the time of longest nights; we do not add lighting nor heat to allow them their rest from laying. This past winter, though, our young layers who started in the fall continued all winter long. Around the beginning of the month, the ducks began to lay and more recently the young hen turkey has presented us with a few eggs. I think that the large duck egg, upper right, must be a "double yolker"... something that is not terribly uncommon in the hens' offerings (we get several each laying season) but this is the first I have ever seen from a duck!

Starting around Imbolc/Ground Hog Day (what I call "Spring Finding) in early February, I begin cleaning off the grow rack (a baker's rack in its more typical setting) to start seedlings of onions and leeks. Later, lettuce joins the mix along with cabbages and kale, broccoli and cauliflower and finally, just this week, the tomatoes and peppers met their little soil blocks.
Top two rows of the grow rack currently. Top: onions Bottom: spinach (experiment), onions, cabbage, kale
Row 3: celery and Swiss chard, lettuce, broccoli and cauliflower, more cabbages
Row 4: tomatoes and peppers, newly seeded
Bottom rack contains 3 "volunteer" tomatoes that grew in with the onions and the worm bin (which can be seen in the picture of the entire rack, above.
So while there is no new growth showing outside, these babies hold the promise of much good food in the coming months!