The Spring Buzz

roto2013Farming is such a unique lifestyle. The ups and downs and highs and lows of the different seasons make for excitement, adrenaline rushes, and a need for the ability to transition from activity to activity almost seamlessly. Unfortunately, this isn’t always easy, and sometimes Farmer Jeff and I aren’t all that good at it. Don’t get me wrong. We love our farm and our choice of an agricultural career, but sometimes adjusting to the schedule can be a bit of a challenge for us. The lull of winter offers great respite from the hectic and crazy regiment that April 1st through December brings annually.

Then suddenly, spring is upon us! The weeds are growing, the grass is growing, the fields need tending, the seeds need to be planted, the flowers in the greenhouse need to be sold, the Christmas trees need to be nurtured, the strawberry fields need to be cultivated, the old raspberry canes need to be cut down and the good canes tied up… and the list goes on and on. Talk about a need for an adrenaline rush, or at least some really strong coffee!

Yet, spring is one of our favorite seasons. To watch the blossoms appear and then turn to tiny fruit for the harvest, to smell the grass after it has been cut, and to admire the beautiful flowers popping up after the winter harshness, brings such joy that you can’t help but be grateful for the gift of the seasons, each unique and each wonderful in it’s own way. So here is to spring, and the crazy beauty it brings to the farm!

Find “King Tut’s Tomb” Giant Corn Maze

Come travel through our giant “Find King Tut’s Tomb” corn maze and enjoy an adventure your family won’t soon forget. Solve an Ancient Egyptian Heiroglyphics message while trying to find your way through the maze. After traveling through the maze one lucky winner each week will receive 4 passes to the amazing Pacific Science Center’s King Tut Exhibit in Seattle. One GRAND PRIZE WINNER will receive an overnight stay courtesy of the Mayflower Park Hotel in Seattle, 4 passes courtesy of the Pacific Science Center to the King Tut exhibit, and a gift certificate for dinner at a local restaurant. Your family won’t want to miss out on this very fun adventure and chance to win these aMAZING prizes.

A special thank you to both the Pacific Science Center and the Mayflower Park Hotel in Seattle for participating in this fun give away!

Gabriel Picking Berries With Aunt Louise

372 by Schilter Family Farm
372, a photo by Schilter Family Farm on Flickr.

Strawberries are ready! Come down to our farm stand and pick some up.

An Interesting Week At the Farm…

Being a farmer requires the ability to roll with the punches, adapt to new situations, and have a sense of humor. The past few weeks have kept us jumping through strange hoops. Here are a few of our highlights from the past few weeks.

First off, we have been battling the weather all Spring. The weather has been unseasonably cool with a few spells of warm weather to lighten our spirits. It seems we are behind the eight ball in our planting, which has been the case for the past 3 years. Our Springs in the Pacific Northwest seem to be getting cooler, wetter, and less predictable. It used to be our goal to have our first planting of corn in around the 1st of May, and all of our pumpkins in the ground by May 15th. This hasn’t happened in at least 4 years. Our ground here in the Nisqually Valley is a beautiful soil, rich in nutrients, but is also sandy and right at sea level. Needless to say, our soil holds onto moisture. Our fields are basically unworkable until we have had around a week of nice, warm weather to allow the soil to dry out. We then can get on the tractor and start working the soil to prepare it for planting. This year, the same as the past few years, as soon as we would finally get a step completed in the soil preparation, the rain would return and we would be sitting and playing the waiting game for the weather to clear again.  When the weather does give us a break, we are on a mad dash to get as much completed as possible. We finally got a majority of our pumpkin seeds planted yesterday, May 27th, a good week over due. Now we get to pray that the summer months are nice and hot, allowing for ripe orange pumpkins by October 1st, instead of green pumpkins which are basically unsellable.  Corn is being planted today, and our other row crops (beans, cucumbers, squash, lettuce, etc.)  will hopefully be in the ground later in the week. We will continue to plant every two weeks for around 6 weeks so that we can have a continuous crop for our customers into the Fall.

After dealing with the field work and planting of crops, our first priority, we are also juggling a few other balls, hoping we don’t drop any. We haven’t been exceptionally successful with that this week. My husband decided he was going to move our pet ponies, goats, and chickens out to a pin in a field adjacent to our neighbor, a reforestation green house company. The idea is that if the animals are “out to pasture” they will require less time cleaning their stalls, and it will be nicer for the upcoming weddings we have scheduled in the event barn which is next to our petting farm barn. Unfortunately things haven’t been going so smoothly during the transition process. Our goats are very curious about their new surroundings, and keep figuring out ways to escape from their large fenced area. At 6:45am this past Monday we received a phone call that our goats were in our neighbor’s staff break room- probably helping themselves to donuts and coffee! Thankfully they hadn’t gotten into their green houses and eaten the tree seedlings. So… my husband and crew spent a good long while trying to catch the goats, return them to their enclosure, and then figure out a more secure fence. So much for this being a time saver! Hopefully the new fencing system will do the job. I’ll keep you posted.

We also opened our produce stand in the past few weeks, which means hiring new staff, training and scheduling. Just another part of transitioning back into full swing. Although we enjoy being open to the public and hiring new staff, it is always a little stressful with all of the other “farming” tasks that we are trying to complete during the Spring. We are well on our way to having all of our staffing needs filled. What a relief!

On the home front, we are responding to what our children would say is the “Red Alert! Major Crisis! Top Priority.” Sadly, one of our 3 barn cats was killed a few days ago by a cayote. She had a litter of 4 kittens just 3 weeks ago, and now they don’t have a mommy. We made the trip to Wallmart, bought kitten formula (which I didn’t even know existed), and have been bottle feeding baby kittens every two hours.  We googled how to feed abandoned kittens, read the instructions, and it sounded easy enough. Well, lets just say that the kittens aren’t taking to the bottle very well. Two of the sweet kittens passed away and were buried by our children next to our pretty pink dogwood tree, but thankfully the other two seem to be thriving quite nicely. I am not sure how I am going to hold up with the feeding regiment, but I have lots of willing hands that want to help.

Hope you enjoyed a quick glimse into our daily farm life!

Bananas, fruit, and more…

336 by Schilter Family Farm
336, a photo by Schilter Family Farm on Flickr.

Come gets some yummy fruit and veggies at the farm.