January is a slow time of the year for us at the farm. Fortunately, there aren’t many pressing tasks either. We’ve been working on burning the pile of willow wood from the tree that fell in June 2011. Yesterday, we had our third and hopefully last fire unless there is something lurking under the foot of snow on the edges that we’ve not found yet. Willow is smoky, stinky, watery wood and I’ll be glad when it is gone. In the ashes of the large fire footprint, we’ll plant a new swatch of prairie.
It wasn’t really cold yesterday, but the windchill was something else as set about pruning the apple trees. We didn’t get very far, mostly working on new water sprouts from last year, other branches that cross and rub, or branches that are growing in a downward direction. Using only loppers, and with our hands getting really cold, we still have a lot to do, but we also did some planning for parts of the trees that will require saws. One of the older trees has some very tall vertical water sprouts that are really major trunks now. We’re planning on taking a couple of these out and topping one of them at the point where a pretty good sized horizontal branch is growing in hopes of making the tree more productive and not quite so difficult to pick from during harvest season.
We’re planning the garden too. We’ve inventoried the seeds we have and decided what else we want. I haven’t ordered anything yet, so I don’t know what it’s going to cost. In a way it doesn’t matter, because we’ve decided not to continue taking a CSA share this year. It was a hard decision because we really like our CSA farmers and the produce their farm has provided for the last few years, but even last year we scaled back going from a full summer share to a half share and dropping the winter share this year. A half summer share, 10 boxes every other week starting in June and going until October is $360 this year and while we will probably spend more than that this year on a grow light for seedlings, building an electric fence, possibly a pump to get water up to the garden near the barn, and on additional supports for tomatoes, depending on what we can salvage around the farm, many of these expenses will be spread out over many years. It’s a sign of our success and indirectly that of our farmers that we are moving on and growing even more of our own food than we have the last couple of years. It would be really silly of us not to take this on at this point since we have so much room and we have some good-sized garden areas prepared.
Today, during this relative down time, we made a trip to the farm supply store to investigate supplies for the electric fence, buy more work gloves (my favorite and I finally have an insulated pair!) and a sled. Not a sled for recreation, but the kind commonly used for ferrying ice fishing equipment out from shore. Our will be used for moving firewood. While it is cold, we might as well take advantage of cutting the limbs off some fallen oaks, especially since almost all our firewood except for the quarter cord I stacked inside before the snow is still buried.