At the end of April we had one afternoon when the ground finally dried out enough for us to get in the fields and plant. April 30th we kept testing the soil until finally at 2pm we felt it was just dry enough to be able to use our new Grillo walking tractor and rotary plow.
Our walk-behind two-wheel tractor, affectionately called “Katy” (Grillo means grasshopper in Italian, we’ve been told, but we think the Grillo logo more closely resembles a katydid), was our big investment last fall in order to have better tillage for our fields this year. And till she did, all day long. We ended up getting five beds of peas, two beds of kale and half a bed of cabbage in before it started raining at 8pm that evening.
During that long day of planting, Elijah meanwhile was very busy learning to roll over. We would leave him on his back on a blanket in the shade while we planted another row of peas, and would return a few minutes later to find him off of his blanket, lying on his belly and not sure how he got there.
And then, two days later, it snowed 14″. We snowshoed down to the county road and counted nine trees down on our quarter-mile driveway. Our power was out for most of the day, and our phone was out for several hours. It was a deeply unreal experience. It seemed impossible that just two days before we had been working barefoot in the hot sun, planting things. But as we labored for the next two days to clear our driveway, the long hours of daylight and returning warm weather made it clear that it was indeed spring, just a record-breaking snowy spring.
Since then we’ve just been waiting for what we call “windows”, or times when the soil dries out enough between rains for us to get in and work the ground without damaging the soil structure and making everything a big muddy mess. We had a nice long window last week, which gave us our chance to plant all of our onions, shallots and scallions (somewhere just shy of 10,000 plants, we’re guessing), as well as some broccoli, radishes, turnips, kohlrabi and the rest of our cabbages. All in all we’re still running behind on planting, but not as badly as before. The next window we get we need to plant all of our summer crops–tomatoes, peppers, squash, melons, cucumbers. It seems ridiculous to go straight from seeding our very first peas to planting our tomatoes with so little in between, but that’s just how this spring has been.
There are definitely a few casualties of this weather. No, it wasn’t the kale that got buried under a foot of snow. That emerged unscathed (although deer later snuck through our fence and ate some of it). Instead it’s the arugula, lettuce and other spring greens which we simply have had no chance to plant. With so few dry days and the temperatures now soaring into the eighties, we may have missed our opportunity to plant many of those spring crops altogether. Because of that it’s likely that our first box will come a little late, and it’s likely to be a light one, too. With only a week or two between “winter” snows and summer highs, spring has really taken a beating this year.
Elijah continues to get more mobile and more interested in our work every day (although he hates it when his mama sits in front of the computer writing blog posts). We joke that his first solid food is dirt and watch with amusement as he rolls himself along, helping us plant or weed, it’s hard to tell which. He’s getting quite brown skinned and blond haired from all the sun, in spite of the sunscreen and sun hat and shade canopy we try to keep him under. Every day he reminds us how the only constant is change as he develops into his own opinionated self. And of course, he’s growing like a weed, which from the looks of our fields these past few rainy days is pretty darn fast.