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  • Writer's pictureJenna

Buckets of Rain

It’s a damp and beautiful morning here on the mountain. I’m just back from a short run, and getting ready to do some pancake “experiments". What do I mean by that, you ask? I’m going to beat some egg whites and sugar into soft peaks—like you would for an angel food cake—with some cream of tartar. This will make an airy mound of lovely shiny egg whites fortified against collapse with the tartar. And I am going to fold those whites into my regular pancake recipe and see if I can fry up some insanely fluffy silver dollar pancakes with a blueberry topping for myself and my girl. She doesn’t know yet, and I hope it’s a surprise she’s excited for. If it works out I’ll share the recipe soon!

Thank you so much for your messages! I’ve gotten everything from needing help with the RSS feed to kind messages to new ideas and waves from old friends! It has been wonderful! One of the most requested things people asked for is to keep talking about when things go wrong, which I certainly will. Plenty of things mess up on a small farm, though I am proud to share that a decade+ into this adventure, mistakes are happening less and less. The farm is improving, always, but there are plenty of things that could go wrong; starting with weather and buckets:

Last night a couple of storms finally poured down on the Battenkill Valley, helping bring a little more life to the very dry situation we were in. A drought is across a lot of America now, and here it means that grass grows slower and can’t be cut as often for hay, which we depend on, all of us. With only a 100 days of real growing season, we NEED to have bales put up if we want to keep growing livestock, milk, and fleeces. Not just us, but the entire northeastern small farm system.

Last year hay was so dear by late spring I was paying $10 a light square bale. I am hoping we have a better season, but as farmers are cutting hay around here right now (hopefully in before last night’s rain) I can already tell they are holding it close and hoarding it in barns. It could be a cash cow again or we’ll have a summer that’s too wet. I guess we’ll see. This farm is just going to try and keep its barn fuller, longer, and expand how much we can store. Hay storage is a problem for a farm like ours that needs 300 bales a winter and has room for around 150.

Right now the biggest disappointment with our spring work is that potato/mangle garden I was sweating into a puddle over. Turns out the horse manure was damp as can be when turning it over in the ground, black and beautiful soil. But when hoed, turned, and mounded into hills it exposed more and more of the recycled grass balls into dried husks. Within a few days of being planted it looked less like a garden then a weird crop circle of the husks of ancient furbies and overly-ripe seed potatoes. I have no idea if I can salvage it. I will try and keep you posted! But if we were going to lose a garden, that’s the one I’d want to lose. And it isn’t too late to plant another bed of seed potatoes either.

The other gardens are okay, which wasn’t a guarantee. Since we planted them it’s been so dry every morning we haul 5 gallon buckets of water (2-3 per garden area) to water with an old watering can. Cold Antler Farm doesn’t have sprinklers. It doesn’t even have an outdoor hose hook up. I used to hook up the hose inside the back mudroom, but this winter the second of the two washing machine faucets frozen and had to be removed. My plumbing skills have graduated to where I am pretty sure I can repair this myself. But as of right now, buckets.

Anyway, the downpour didn’t swamp the seedlings or erode the soil. A relief. And that’s where I’ll end this mornings update. There isn’t much more to update you on, as the livestock are all doing swell and grateful for a day that isn’t nearly 90 degrees. As am I.

Now, off to pancake adventures!

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