5am: “Wow!  18 degrees- awesome!”  And I was not being facetious!

The one thing that’s changed most during the last 7 months in this farming adventure is my body- and it’s not just that I have muscles to rival Mr. Schwarzenegger’s.  All the outside work has helped me adapt to the cold so that 18 degrees actually feels balmy.  Especially after the -12 degree temps on Monday.  Burr!  Today I went outside to feed the cows and nearly got heat stroke as it’s 27 degrees and I was wearing my heaviest jacket with hat and gloves.  I feel like one of the X men.  My superpower is that I’m impervious to the cold.  So therefore, I could only fight the bad guys if we happened to find ourselves in the Arctic Circle?  Yah, that happens all the time for me.  How ’bout you?


Sunny and HOT!!  96˚  8:30am to 6pm.  Should have stopped mid-day and rested out of the sun.  Got a little sunburned on the edges of my shirt.

Should set up an umbrella for planting so that we have some shade.  Mosquito netting hats for summer?  No skeeters yet, but the horse flies bothered me a bit.


100 black cherry trees from 9am-11:45am.

Harris Kale Vates: 54’

Renee’s salad scallions: 8’

Harris lettuce blend: 16’

Harris Black seeded Simpson lettuce: 12’

Harris Zucchini Elite F1 squash Treated: 20 hills

Harris Autumn cup F1 squash treated: 36’

Harris Fairytale F1 pumpkins treated: 31’

8am to 5:40pm,  Mostly sunny with a good stiff breeze.  Threatened rain sometimes.  82˚  Sunburned the tops of my feet.

Looks like it takes about 2 hours to rake rocks out of one 300foot row.  It’ll be interesting to see if that’s the case next year too as we won’t be plowing.


Harris Burgess Buttercup squash: 54’ (one long single row down the length of the tractor width row.)

Renee’s Holiday mix pumpkins: 13’

Harris Pumpkins Lumina: 35’ altogether in two row ends

Harris Pumpkin Howden: 86’

Harris Pumpkin Munchkin (treated): 12’

Harris Pumpkin Cinderella (treated): 12’

Harris Pumpkin Lil Pump-ke-mon (treated): 12’

Harris Blue Hubbard Squash Standard (treated): 70’

Renee’s early butternut squash: 5 hills

Renee’s tricolor zucchini: 12’

Shumway Purple Top White Globe Turnips: 82’ in double rows

Harris Model Parsnips: 212’ double rows  (this is probably a mistake on my part.)

Harris Swiss Chard Northern Lights: 54 rows (cross rows)

2:30pm to 7pm.  Sunny, bit of a breeze, 79˚

Rose and I went to check out the Hamilton farmers’ market this morning, and it has CHANGED!!  Whoa!  It’s three times as big as when I went there with Susanne 15 years ago.  (I can’t believe it’s 15 years since I lived there.  Where has the time gone?)  There were a lot of veggie vendors there and one dude had produce from Honduras and CA.  That really pisses me off.  I’m going to have to write to the organizers and see if that’s allowed and then insist that it shouldn’t be.  We met a woman who is a jeweler who is lovely and gave us a lot of info on the mkt and another vendor of veggies named Ginger who may be in the slot next to me.  That would be a bummer.  I wonder if I’ll be able to sell any veggies there at all?

We also stopped in to the Barge Canal Coffee company and all my murals were still up except the one in the window.  My mugs were still there too.  All the furniture and the paint jobs in the bathrooms too, (rag rolled walls in a hideous melon color that I remember was in style in 1995.  Yikes.)

The health food store is great. Bought baked tofu and hummus.

In the afternoon we planted:

Renee’s Romeo Carrots: 2 Rows  (find out if she wholesales to market growers because one packet is just not enough.  On the other hand, one ounce of carrot seeds is a huge amount.  See below.)

Renee’s sunshine mix carrots: 3 rows.

Renee’s Green fortune Pak choi:

Shumway blue dent corn: 24 double rows, (might get 2 ears per stalk x 48 plants= 96 ears?  -10 for <100% germination, so maybe 86 ears.  Order/plant more.)

Shumway Bloody Butcher dent corn:73 double rows, (2 x 146 plants= ~292 ears.  Probably plenty)

Harris Scarlet Nantes carrots: 42 rows.  (This is the one ounce packet of seeds- will plant the remaining ½ ounce in 2 weeks.)

Harris Detroit Dark Red beets: 14 rows.

On the seed mats:  Only make them for seeds that need to be put in x=>2” and <4”.  Only need one layer of napkin.  They’re hard to plant if it’s windy; cut them up inside because it’s impossible to do outside in the wind.

Planted onions!  1800 of them, then a few more rows of misc. onions that Dad had picked up from somewhere.  Sunny and hot.  At least 85˚, but there was a breeze.  Had on spf 100 and didn’t get any color at all.  Love that stuff.  Rose was awesome—and amazing worker and really cheerful about it.  We came in at 4:45pm and made seed mats to plant the other things tomorrow.  Figured out that it wasn’t really worth it to make seed mats for anything that needs to be planted less than 2” apart.  They were fun to make for the big things though.  I made pasta with mushrooms, anchovies, capers and garlic, then Rose made vegetarian chili for tomorrow.  Off to bed!  So exhausted.  I hope I didn’t give Rose sunstroke. & a ({zr.  Fixed for free!

Picked up Rose from train station.   Let the first internship begin!

Planted the rest of the potatoes in the morning.

Row 4: Dark Red Norland (45#)

Finished out the Russet and Kennebec rows and then put in a 5th of the leftovers.  First section closest to the drive way is Russet, then Kennebec, then Dark Reds.  Left 5#s of each of the Russets, Kennebecs, and Dark Red Norlands to plant in the kitchen garden.

Spent rest of the afternoon shopping in Walmart for work clothes.

Picked up truck from Schutz’s- gas line had come apart at the filter.  Fixed for free!

Picked up Rose from train station.

Stacked plank wood from sawmill for furnace.

Dad and I moved scrap metal around and cut some huge piece of metal off an old corn planter in order to turn it into a potato hiller.

Planted 3 300’ rows of potatoes. Row 1 (closest to corn:) Yukon Gold (50#)

Row 2: Russet Burbank (~40#)

Row 3: Kennebec (~25#)

Bought the potatoes from Sirko’s nursery; $21 for 50# bags.

This is the first post of what I’d like to be a mostly daily type of post.  I’ll be writing down what I did that day and any new things I learned.  I’ll probably have some commentary mixed in because I’m that kind of girl, but they may seem to be just a random checking off of a to-do list. For that reason, I’ll label them all “Daily Log at such and such a date” so that less interested readers can skip right over them.

Planted corn today.  68 rows which are about 300 feet long.

Upper field: Arrowhead, 12 rows; Harris 1001, 20 rows; Delectable, 16 rows.

Lower field: Arrowhead, 10 rows; Delectable, 6 rows; Silver Queen, 4 rows.

Dad drove and I manned the hoppers, making sure the corn was in the right place and coming through the planter at the right pace.  It was invigorating to ride along on the back of the tractor admiring the view and listening to the click, click of the corn planter as the sun came and went.

Learned how to pull off the corn hoppers, (the bucket mechanism that holds and feeds the corn to the planter mechanism,) and empty them.  Short discussion on when to use a planter plate with smaller holes so that the small corn kernels don’t get double planted, (when planting 20 acres rather than one it becomes quite important,) and that you need to make the rows as straight as possible so that cultivating with the tractor later is easier.  (This means to remove the weeds that have grown up between the corn plants.)

Visited Sirko’s nursery and loved it.  They’re just across the river and through the woods, (literally.)  Lovely, lovely people with a beautiful nursery with the best prices in town.  Very helpful to me when I called back in March and said, “I’m starting a market garden.  What should I grow?”  Much discussion about clematis and spirea.  Can’t wait to move into the little house so that I can go plant shopping for flowers.

Weeded for about 2 hours:  got rid of the garlic mustard that has taken over the east side of the little house, and then started with the eastern side of the small bed in front of the little house.  Can you say overgrown?  I knew you could.  Actually pulled a muscle in my shoulder blade in my enthusiasm.  Am going to have to take apart the strange wooden box that’s surrounding the former garlic mustard bed as it’s rotting away.  What was this?  Some sort of little garden? (Dad tells me this is where former tenants had watermelons and flowers.)

Cut the seed heads off the rhubarb plants, and then pulled up more garlic mustard from over the bank near the grape vines.

As I said in an earlier post, yep, farming.  It fits in so nicely with my life plan which can be neatly summed up as, “And now for something completely different!”

What am I up to?  Here are my main thoughts on what I’d like to do here.

  • Trying to farm in as natural a way as possible.
  • Following the natural systems as much as possible meaning increasing biodiversity on the farm.
  • Use sustainable methods as I become aware of them, and farming with an assumption that this land will be passed along to future Spooners who will want to farm it.
  • Eliminating common “negative externalities” associated with agriculture including soil degradation, over-extraction of nutrients and water, emissions of methane and nitrogen which can pollute air and water sources.
  • Find out how many people a small farm can feed.
  • Find out how to employ folks in the community.
  • Create an open source type education base and a community of knowledgeable and enthusiastic farmers who love to teach.
  • Our land is eminently suitable for raising meat and milk and we wish to study how that can actually develop the soil and biological relationships inherent within.
  • Put cutting edge research to work for us such as findings that organic foods contain 90% more nutrients than conventionally grown plants and that chemical fertilizers and pesticides actually disrupt soil microbe relationships leading to lower yields.

For those of you who don’t know, the plan is this: 1. Graduate from Columbia U. with my BA in Urban Studies in May, (a 20 year, roundabout process in which I tried 5 different majors.)  2. Immediately put it to good use by moving to my parents’ farm near Cooperstown NY and putting in a market garden, buying some animals and attempting to become a part of the eat local movement.  3.  Assure all my detractors that I have a minor in environmental science, and not just cities. (much good it will do me.)  4.  Get my butt kicked by nature as the farm is need of tons of fencing work and general clean up. Dad retired from milking dairy cows almost 10 years ago and has been renting out the place to house heifers for other farmers and the other farmers have done a minimum of upkeep.  (Dad is suffering from lung disease which makes physical work very difficult.)  Maintenance and building some new structures for chickens, corn and grain storage, etc. is a priority.

                All this while putting in an acre of crops, selling at farmers markets, fixing up the old farm house I’m moving into and finding some part time work to tide me over ‘til the money starts pouring in…

There’s hundreds of dollars to be made at farming!

The biggest part of the plan is to learn as much from Dad as I possibly can in a rapid amount of time.  Dad was born on this farm in the house that I will be moving into, (and spent my own childhood in) and has been farming it since he was knee-high to a grasshopper.  The chance to learn about farming from someone who is so learned on the subject and has such a tie to one piece of property is a rare opportunity and I’m glad I woke up to this fact and can be a part again of the farm I grew up on.

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