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Winter Greetings from Rolling River Farm and Nursery 2009

Winter Greetings from Rolling River Farm and Nursery 2009

We hope the New Year finds you strong and in good spirits! Winter is here, but the days are getting longer signaling that another spring is around the corner. We are enjoying the heavy winter rains, taking time to catch up on indoor projects, including writing a couple of articles that we include here and hope you find of interest. The last year has kept us very busy (as usual) as we keep up with and expand our operations with the farm and nursery. We’ve added many exciting new varieties this year, both in our nursery and in our own trial orchards. Keep abreast of our “new varieties” page as we will regularly be posting new additions as they come available.  Due to high demand some of our grafted fruit trees such as the stone fruits, avocadoes and persimmons, are in short supply.   Our next crop of these trees will be available starting in June.

The Garden: We had a paradigm shift in the garden this season and decided to retire the tiller and experiment with a no till garden.  Using a wheel hoe, we planted a living nitrogen mulch of vetch and peas between our vegetable rows. In addition we surrounded each vegetable garden area, with beds which will be planted to a variety of cooking and medicinal herbs as well as beneficial flowers such as nasturtiums and nitrogen fixing herbs such as red clover and alfalfa.  By taking out some peach trees we made room to grow a large patch of dried corn and beans. After harvest, we were excited to finally use Marc’s hand cranked corn sheller, as we cranked the cobs through, the corn flew off into a box.  The family was impressed with this very useful and efficient machine.   In the fall we planted wheat, lentils and flax and this next year we will add oats barley, and rice as well as more varieties of dried and runner beans, to our patch. We are also planting varieties of honey locust (which we hope to make available on our website as soon as possible) in order to grow a high protein feed for our animals. The goal is to become self-sufficient in grains for our own use and feed for our animals.   As we were sad to see some of our favorite annual varieties no longer offered by seed companies, we also set a goal to save seed of everything we could. We saved a lot, but not everything. We will continue to improve our methods in the next growing season.

News from the barnyard: This past spring we ordered a mix of large breed heritage chicks to reinvigorate our flock which had become a mix of bantams and medium sized birds. The family said they no longer wanted to buy meat birds (a hybrid mix of Cornish rock cross) because they were too strange and we couldn’t produce them ourselves. We decided on Buff Orpingtons, White Barred Rocks, Black Australorps and leg horns.  We picked them for disposition, size and productive egg laying.  We also raised heritage Black Spanish and Red Bourbon Turkeys ,in hopes of raising our own turkeys from eggs this next year.  Most likely we will set the eggs under some bantams if needed.  We have a beautiful new alpine buck, and an abundance of baby goats that have done a good job mowing our steep orchard hillsides.

It came as a big surprise but we had as an abundant cherry crop this year as we did last year (rarely do you get two great years in a row.) There were also plenty of peaches, pears and apples.  We canned about 100 jars each of cherries, peaches and apple-pear sauce.  We decided hands down that when tree ripened, Yellow Delicious apples make the sweetest tastiest sauce and pies.  Lucius (my 15 year old step son) named it one of the must have best all around apples for fresh eating and cooking.  Unfortunately, late hard spring frost damaged the kiwi crop and months of smoke from nearby fires, delayed the ripening of persimmons, and pomegranates and figs.

This winter’s projects include, continuing to fix up our house, more fencing of pasture for our wethers and does and building a pen for our many ducks so we can more efficiently rotate them through different garden areas as well as the nursery area.

We are looking forward to the season ahead, to growing plants in the nursery and growing food herbs and flowers in the field. May the next season be one of abundance!

Corrina, Marc and the Rolling River Family




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