Monday, March 29, 2010

March Newsletter

Hello all,
Folks like to say that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. Well, this might be true of the weather, but it sure isn't true here at Bluebird Farm where march started calm and slow and has developed into a regular stampede of activity at the end. The cool wet start lulled us into a false sense of a slow spring. Meanwhile spring sprung upon us over the course of about two days. So March came in like a friendly house cat and is headed out like a herd of elephants.

The real awakening this Spring has been in the garden. We have been trying to prepare the soil whenever it is dry for a few days. Then the fun part--planting! We have transplanted lettuce, kale, cabbage, broccoli, chinese cabbage, and spinach. We have also begun direct seeding peas, beets, radishes, salad mix, arugula, and some herbs. Unfortunately, wetness prevented us from preparing the ground in advance of seeding. When we seed directly into newly prepared ground it means that the weeds start the same time as the vegetables. This leads to our favorite activity--weeding! Ideally we would like to be able to prepare the ground, allow weeds to germinate, do a shallow cultivation to kill weeds without bringing more seeds to the surface, then plant our vegetables. No such leisure this spring.

We have also been busy seeding summer crops in the greenhouse. Our mouths were watering with thoughts of juicy tomatoes, fresh basil, and colorful peppers as we seeded over 1000 plants. We are looking forward to 21 varieties of tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes, canning tomatoes, slicers, tomatoes for drying, and of course a healthy selection flavor packed heirlooms you can't get anywhere else but your backyard or a local farm.

Burning the midnight oil seeding tomatoes

Meanwhile, the animals have done their part to keep us busy. We have broiler chickens outside on pasture. We move their pen forward whenever they run out of fresh grass. When they are young this is only once a day, now it is twice a day. They are busy eating, growing, and fertilizing our pastures. The layer flock is in full swing as well. We are using them to help fight back encroaching honeysuckle around the edges of our pastures. The pigs to are busy working for us in the woods. They are rooting out roots, grubbing up grubs, and generally enjoying being forest pigs. Their paddocks are in areas newly cleared of trees. After they have eaten most of the old tree roots and tilled up a paddock we spread some cover crop seed. They then trample this into the soil and we move them on to the next paddock. We love our pig tractors! They work all the time, don't need to be paid, don't require any diesel, and in the end they taste delicious.

Just when we thought we were busy the farmers markets have started. Scott Pyatt of Catawba Valley Brewing Company generously offered the use of his patio for an early Spring Farmers Market. You can find us there Fridays April 2nd-May 7th from 4-6 pm. Then, beginning May 8th you will find us at the Morganton market Saturday May 8th-October from 8-noon. If you live in Hickory or Conover areas you can also find us at the Hickory Market every Wednesday from 12-5:30 beginning 28th. The Conover Market starts Saturday April 24th and happens every Saturday from 8-12:30

Whenever we are busy, and sleep becomes a secondary priority, I start thinking about why we are doing what we are doing. The short answer is that there is no short answer. Our reasons begin with personal interest, but are sustained by our belief in the importance of this work for the environment, community, health, and the economy. Perhaps no one summarizes these thoughts as well as the farmer, poet, and writer Wendell Berry. If you have not read any of his work I encourage you to do so. I frequently read short pieces of his writing for inspiration and encouragement. He reminds me that what we are doing is more than just farming. By choosing to do what we do in the way we do it we place ourselves in opposition to the all to common pattern of the destruction of local communities and the environmental by large economic forces with no local interest. This story of exploitation occurs all over the world from India to our backyard. It is visible in the high suicide rates of farmers in the midwest, in the destruction of entire mountains in West Virginia, and the decline of downtowns everywhere. Unfortunately, our current economic model offers only one kind of solution-Bigness. It calls for infinite growth on our finite planet and scale far beyond that of communities. In our drive for bigness we replace correctable small-scale issues with large scale problems and we have no large scale solutions.

What we hope to contribute to is a responsible local economy. Wendell Berry reminds us that such an economy must be based on the belief that "the world is rooted in mystery and sanctity", that this is an economy of use and return. This is an economy where we undertake our work with "praise, gratitude, responsibility, good use, good care, and a proper regard for future generations." It is heartening to see that so many people are beginning to realize the folly of our current model of bigness. We are thankful to all of you who for saying enough is enough. We look forward to building on all of our early enthusiasm to maintain and build on the participatory community we believe already exists in all of us. We all know how to cooperate, we all want to help, we all want clean water, air and healthy soil, and we all want to have a say in our community, but we are told over and over again to close our eyes, ears, and mouth and open our wallet. Buy!, Spend!, Drive!, Fight!

Thank you for not listening and choosing to participate in our community.

Humbly yours,

William Lyons and Marie Williamson
Bluebird Farm
4178 Bluebird Dr.
Morganton, NC

Field Preparation at our leased land

Last fall

Cover crop seeded in November, growing green in March.

Making beds

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sold out CSA and 2010 Farmers Markets

Our CSA is full

Thank you to everyone for your support. It is wonderful to find a community of people interested in good food, healthy land, and strong community.

If you missed the CSA sign up, but are interested in fresh, local, healthy food raised using organic methods to come see us at farmers markets this season. You can also contact us to put your name on next season's interest list.

We will have most of our products at the following markets as seasonally available. We are starting soon:

Scott Pyatt of Catawba Valley Brewing Company has offered to use space on Friday afternoons at the brewery for an early market. Find us there from 4 -6 pm with eggs and pork- and spring vegetables and chicken in late April.

We will be at the brewery for the next 7 Fridays only (this a season sneak preview before the regular markets start). After that, you will find us on Saturdays at the Downtown Morganton Farmers Market 8am-12pm and/or picking up your CSA box at your chosen site.

You can find us at the following markets
Catawba Valley Brewing Company: Fridays March 26-May 7th 4pm-6pm
Morganton Downtown Farmers Market: Saturdays May 8th-October 8-noon
Hickory Downtown Farmers Market: Wednesdays April 28th 12-5:30 pm
Conover Farmers Market: Saturdays April 24th 8-12:30

As always you are invited out to the farm- please call ahead to visit on Wednesday afternoons.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Exciting news! Catawba Valley Brewing Company has offered us some space for a Friday farmers market. We will be at the brewery with farm fresh food for sale starting Friday March 26th at 4pm. We will be there every Friday until May 7th with pork, eggs, and starting in April, chicken and vegetables. Bring a cooler!

Beginning Saturday May 8th you will find us at the Downtown Morganton Farmers' Market 8-noon, located behind Geppettos. Beginning in mid-April we will also be at the Downtown Hickory Farmers' Market on Wednesday from 12 to 5:30 and at the Conover Farmers' Market on Saturdays from 8 to 12:30.

We have been busy as bees in the garden. Our first round of transplants was moved from the greenhouse to their new home in the wide world of sky and soil. We planted lettuce, spinach, cabbage, kale, and broccoli. We look forward to some yummy greens in 4-8 weeks.

After planting everything we sprayed the leaves with fish emulsion. Fish emulsion is a fertilizer approved for organic production. The plants actually take in the nutrients through their leaves. This is important because they don't have very developed root systems to find nutrients in the soil. By providing a little burst of food through the leaves they get a good jump on root growth. This will allow them to begin searching out their own food and water.

We have been watching the soil temperature as well for direct seeding. The temperature in our garden at 4" depth read 48 degrees Fahrenheit today. At 2" it was slightly warmer at 49. This is on the cool end of acceptable for a wide variety of vegetables. We have planted peas, salad mix, radishes, and arugula. There is more on the list, but the rain came. Seeding is hard in the rain because you can't allow any seeds you aren't ready to plant to become damp.

The chickens enjoy their new mobile nest boxes.

The pigs got a new paddock. We seeded their old paddock to a cover crop mix before they left. This allowed them to trample it into the soil. Now they are busy working to transform a new forest edge into pasture.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

CSA payments

This is a reminder that final CSA payments are due by April 1st. All CSA members who have not yet paid the full balance should have received an email telling them their balance due. If you received an email in error or did not receive one when yo think you should have please don't hesitate to call or email.

It's the beginning of springtime, which means its the season of babies at the farm. We have baby green grass in the pasture, tiny red maple flowers, chicks, tender speckled lettuce and the hens are really laying the eggs these days. I feel like I am hunting for Easter eggs when I find the blue and green eggs that the Americauna or "Easter Eggers" breed lay in the nest boxes. What an exciting feeling!

Come on out to the farm and get a couple of dozen eggs. Eggs keep well, and since ours are so fresh, you can refrigerate them for 4 weeks after purchase. There is a springtime special for the eggs- for the next 2 weeks the eggs are $2.00/ dozen. We also have small-medium eggs from the young hens or pullets for $1.00/ dozen. They are great "portion" sizes. Also available at the farm is our pasture raised pork.

We are about to seed beets, peas, and lettuce for the first CSA boxes. We are so excited to finally be planting. We are also setting out transplants of spinach, cabbage, and broccoli.

Here are some fun photos of farm goings ons: preparing the garden and one of our big roosters.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


The Chickens are laying. Come on out to get eggs and pork.

First warm weather and now its cool, a regular foothills spring. The grass and the birds certainly thinks its spring though. We practically watched the grass turn greener overnight. Morning chores are now accompanied by the songs of carolina wrens, rufus sided towhees, carolina chickadees, and many others.

Yesterday we moved our meat chickens outside. They were leaping out of their brooder box and running around on the vegetable transplants. That cost them their greenhouse privileges. The great outdoors is a little colder, but they are happy with more space and wonderful grass to peck at.

Another big project has been to prepare the layer housing for spring. We had to figure out a lightweight system so they can be totally mobile. This will allow us to constantly move them around the farm for their benefit and our own. They always get fresh food while we use them to fertilize pasture, convert forest margins to grass, and clean up after the horse and the incoming sheep.

Today we were cleaning up last falls garden to prepare for spring vegetables. We will be planting spinach, kale, peas, lettuce, arugula, beets, and carrots any day now. Digging last fall's carrots was like finding buried treasure.