Trowels and Tribulations

Justin blog 4Wow, a month has flown by and it’s hard to believe that it is already almost the end of March!  The other apprentices and I are starting to get into the swing of things.  We know some basic daily farm duties that need to get done at the start and end of the day and are starting to become more independent of needing Marisa’s direction every couple of seconds.

This month has been packed full of information and new experiences.  We have learned a variety of new things from an intro to bee keeping , to an intro to berry production, from  pruning classes, to small farm business classes, to tours of the A&T farms, lessons on Soil Science, and classes on Food Justice just to name a few.  All the information being thrown at us is overwhelming at times but even if I only retain half of all that we learn on a daily bases I would be a very lucky man.  It is wonderful to talk to people on a personal level and not to listen behind a desk in a classroom. Due to our small group size we have been afforded one on one attention with top ranking leaders of the agricultural industry.

Justin blog 2

The end of winter and beginning of spring is a beautiful but busy time on the farm.   It started out with lots of transplanting.  We have been covering and uncovering lots of plants because temperatures will drop below freezing one day and be hot the next!  Crazy weather!  Finding a dry time to till was next to impossible, we ended up having to compromise and till slightly moist land.  Thankfully the sandy soil drains well so there is not as long of a waiting time for the land to dry up as some people have with more water retaining soils.  The strawberry tunnel has also been producing lots of odd looking fruit, most likely because of the cold weather.  My fiancé (Melissa) came over one weekend while I had farm watch and loved the way they looked calling them “Franken Berries.”  Makes we wonder if a farmer could sell the deformed but otherwise delicious berries to families with children at a farmers market.

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One of the more tedious farm jobs that thankfully is over was the process of getting plants ready for transplanting outside of the greenhouse.  We would remove them to be outside during the day and then return them inside at night.  It was easy, just very time consuming.  Most of the transplants are now safe and happy in the ground.  We laid out drip tape irrigation and hooked it up.  The next task was to then surround the fields with deer fencing.  The deer fences are made by two separate layers of thin wire about 4 feet apart.  Apparently deer get spooked by the idea of jumping in between the two fences and stay out completely.  So far it looks to be successful.

One thing I miss most about home is the absence of Fire Ants.  Those little guys really annoy me.  I’ve been bitten more times than I can count, and have a few blisters that look like they may never go away.  😉

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We all have finally finished our different rotation on the specialty units.  I’ve been to Beef, Dairy, Swine, and the agroforestry units now.  Tomas and I were going to measuring the Ash trees when he discovered small holes about 5 feet from the ground.  Come to find out it was a new pest to the area that has not been seen until now, called the Emerald Ash Beatle.  It was crazy how these little holes they create can cause such havoc.

Justin blog

I also got to inseminate a pig (Sorry no pictures) and even milk cows.  Things I’ve never done! I had NO IDEA the rear end of a cow was as intimidating as it is.  It’s scary to be behind something sooooo massive.  I look forward to learning more as this apprenticeship goes on.  TTYL!

-Justin

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