Slowly as she goes

By Marianthe Bickett '15

January was one of the slowest months on the farm. Most of the time our weather has been below freezing—the ground is solid, as are the piles of compost, leaves and mulch we use to build beds and work on pathways when nothing growing needs our attention. We had a brief week of snowmelt and but all our plants have been hidden under a white blanket more often than not.

The water we leave out for our chickens and ducks often freezes by mid-afternoon so taking care of them requires three visits a day instead of two. On days where the temperature rests in the teens or below they are hesitant to even venture out of their coops, so we try to position their food and water close by and give them extra straw bedding. Even in the hoop house our greens are dormant, and all the weeding and minor repairs have been completed.

It’s time for planning where each family of annual crops will go in our gardens, reading seed catalogs and selecting exciting varieties for the new season, sharpening tools, and organizing our shed so that there is more order by the time the buzzing hectic spring is upon us. We struggle more and more to keep things settled in our very small space—we are ready for a barn!

But soon we will begin filling flats with soil and seeds and watch as little green sprouts pop up in the nursery. There will be longer hours of sun to encourage a few more eggs from our chickens and muddy puddles for the ducks to frolic. Thawed earth will mean turning the compost piles, wheel barrowing loads of sandy soil and leaf matter to layer for new garden beds and putting up netting for spring peas to climb.

Until then, we relish the rest that comes with this cold.