As May winds down, I am reminded of the subtlety in the change in seasons. May is full of promise. It brings new, green sprouts and the beginnings of the edible landscape. We’ve had lettuces, spinach, bok choy, onion scapes and other little joys.
June promises weeds and heat… but an increase in Nature’s gifts. June promises strawberries, peas and, importantly, brings us closer to fresh tomatoes. Tomatoes are the posterchildren of natural foods, and we’re growing six heirloom varieties. At Black Sheep Farms, it is part of our mission to continue growing “old” vegetables in order to foster diversity in our local food stream. People deserve to have the opportunity to try a white tomato and a purple carrot.
As we continue into the summer months, we also look forward to new flowers. Flowers that are shipped halfway around the world are bred for hardiness and dipped in dangerous chemicals to keep up appearances. Our locally produced flowers are chemical free and are selected for their beauty and aromas. The Buy Local revolution should include flowers, too!
Posted by blacksheepfarms on May 31, 2008
Here in Omaha, there was a small chemical spill this evening. It seems a train was leaking hydrochloric acid, so a section of the city had to be closed off. The news reported that haz-mat crews were on the scene and neighborhoods were being evacuated because of the danger of this chemical. They went on to say that hydrochloric acid is used in fertilizer and food processing! Hmmmm…..
Posted by blacksheepfarms on May 29, 2008
Brian has been invited to present on the topic of local foods for The Nature Conservancy. He will address TNC at Lied Lodge in Nebraska City, NE on June 4. This presentation is part of the staff conference for the Midwest region, and representatives from the Caribbean and Central America are also expected to attend.
The Nature Conservancy works to protect ecologically important lands and waters. For information about their activities in Nebraska, click here.
Posted by blacksheepfarms on May 26, 2008
I’m excited for all the things Spring brings, especially this week. We’re bringing alliums, tulips, lettuces, shiitakes and onion scapes to market. Onion scapes! Yum!
Alliums (like garlic, onions and the ornamental type) send up a main stalk that flowers in a big burst of color. When garlic and onions put up scapes, you can harvest them as immature buds and eat them. Part of their appeal is that they only appear in late May and early June. Eating with the seasons is an important part of life. Just think about all the terrible strawberries you find in the supermarket in February, and you’ll really appreciate June’s fruit.
Posted by blacksheepfarms on May 24, 2008
Part of our vision for the future of the farm is to create attractions for people who want to be involved with a farm or learn about the natural world. One of the items we are building is a butterfly garden. There are many plants that attract butterflies, and one of our favorite pastimes has been watching them float around our home. The boys have a “butterfly house,” so when we find caterpillars, we bring them indoors, watch them build their chrysalises and hatch into butterflies.
Through our plant choices, we hope to attract monarchs on their annual migration by building a Monarch Waystation. They are dependant on a particular plant, milkweed, that is disappearing due to expanding development, chemical agriculture and poor roadside management practices. By creating a “safe haven,” we hope to give the monarchs a place to rest as they travel to Mexico each year.
Posted by blacksheepfarms on May 21, 2008
I beat the kids!
When we were preparing to start farming this year, our landlord, Jim, mentioned that there was a woodchuck on the farm. As evidence, he pointed to a number of woodchuck-sized holes, and he showed the boys one particular hole near one of the garden plots. They were convinced that they would see it there, so that’s where they’ve been concentrating the hunt. Kelly sweetened the deal by stating that the person who spotted the woodchuck first would be rewarded with ice cream.
Yesterday, we arrived to plant the rest of the tomatoes (done!), and, as I turned the corner of the barn, I caught glimpse of the back half of a brown rodent high-tailing it into the building. Ha! The victory was sweet, and I shouted out, “I saw the woodchuck!” Kelly and the kids were a little jealous (I think). I was pretty proud of myself.
We should have some lettuces, spinach, bok choy and basil to bring to the market this weekend. We’ll take stock of it this afternoon and prepare to harvest it tomorrow. I will save some for myself, of course.
We also put up some bicycle-rim trellises for our beans. Thanks to the Community Bike Shop for the materials. Here’s a photo:
Reclaimed Bike Wheels
Posted by blacksheepfarms on May 15, 2008
Our friend, Michael B, recently interviewed us for an article in Heartland Healing Magazine. As we make the transition to farming, we are constantly appreciative of the support and encouragement we receive from friends and family. We are dedicated to spreading awareness of food issues, so we felt honored to participate in this interview.
Posted by blacksheepfarms on May 11, 2008
Today, we planted and staked half of our tomatoes. Some of the plants are already starting to flower, and that makes us excited! Both of us are looking forward to the first Nebraska tomato of the season.
Our lettuces, bok choy, spinach and peas are coming along nicely. We should be able to start bringing those to market in the upcoming weeks.
Bok Choy and Speckled Lettuce
Posted by blacksheepfarms on May 9, 2008
We had a “brisk” morning at the farmers market on Saturday. It was about 40F and windy, so we bundled up and braved the cold. We enjoyed seeing our farmer friends and meeting new people, and we’re looking forward to next week.
Kelly with tulips
At the farm, we have been preparing beds to transplant our seedlings. The boys have been helping out, but I’m not sure if that’s making the work go more quickly. Check the Farm Fresh Photos page for new pictures.
Posted by blacksheepfarms on May 5, 2008