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


  1. Thanks for all the farming news. Happy springtime to you.

  2. Blogs are so informative where we get lots of information on any topic. Nice job keep it up!!

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