My first day working on the farm was pretty easy. I spent a couple of hours working in the greenhouse planting seeds in containers which looked to be about 5″ in diameter. After dumping the old soil from the containers, we refilled them with a mixture of potting soil, compost, and not-sure-what-else. I planted five seeds in each container, each about 1/4″ deep. If the seed is too deep, it won’t sprout. If it is too shallow, it may wash away when watered. Using bigger containers like these, instead of the real little ones that will only hold one plant, allows the seedlings to grow to a bigger size and allows their root systems to become more established, that way they will have a better chance of surviving once they go in the ground. As I understand it, when we transplant the seedlings this spring, we will turn the container over to dislodge the soil from the container, break the potting soil into five pieces, each piece containing one seedling, and then pop each one of those into the ground. Sounds easy enough. How much do you want to bet it’s not? 😉

My second day was a little more physical, but not too much. I didn’t take any pictures until after everything was through because I was uncertain about whether I should stop work just to take pictures. Now that I am a little more comfortable with the operation and have gotten to know the people I work with and for, I don’t think stopping to take an occasional picture will be frowned upon as long as I don’t overdo it. I’ll try that approach next time.

The farm is a fairly good size operation and all the rows from last season were still covered with plastic mulch. Under the plastic mulch are two lines of drip tape for irrigation. All that plastic and drip tape had to come up in order to prep the fields for the new season. By the time I got out there around 1:00 PM, most all of that stuff had been plowed up and either hauled off or piled up at the end of the rows, so I missed being involved in that part. In the future, when something like this is going on, I may run out to the farm for a few minutes in the morning just to get some pictures of whatever it is that I’m missing out on.

In general, the tractor runs along a row and drags a contraption behind it that has three forks. Two forks, one on each end, line up with the side of each row. The third fork is in the middle. The tractor straddles the row and drags this contraption behind. As the tractor moves down the row, the two outside forks dig up and loosen the edges of the plastic mulch while the middle fork pulls and rips the plastic loose from the ground.  The plastic then bunches up in front of the middle fork and is dragged to the end of the row where it is piled up and left to be hauled off later. Unfortunately, the forks also tear up the edge of the plastic so bits and pieces remain embedded in the dirt/clay. Most of those pieces have to be dug up and pulled out by hand, which makes for some pretty sore finger tips even when wearing gloves. There were quite a number of volunteers out there when I arrived and it only took a couple of hours to finish it off. Not being able to come in until the afternoon makes me feel like I’m missing out on all the good stuff!


The Greenhouse

Inside the greenhouse

The seeds are sprouting

The Three-Forked, Plastic-Removing Contraption hooked up to the Contraption-Pulling Machine, also known as a tractor

Plastic mulch from last season still covers the rows

The edge of the plastic is really embedded in the ground

A plastic-covered row is no match for the Three-Forked Contraption

Torn plastic and mangled drip tape

Not sure what the green building will be used for, but the greenhouse is to the right of that building

This is all that's left of the 8" of snow we got last week

Like I said, this is a pretty good size operation

Whoever put these rows in knew how to drive a nice, straight line

Every now and then you've just got to stop and have a pow-wow. But since those three represent the owners and farm manager, I decided to let it pass -- but just this once! 😉

Row, after row, after row. You can just imagine how much plastic and drip tape had to be pulled up and hauled off

View from the loft above the barn

View from the loft above the barn

View from the loft above the barn

Sam, one of the volunteers, doing his tractor thing