A bit about us...

We are a modern family of three, living on less than two acres with a 3,000 square foot garden that meets our produce needs and allows us to share with friends and neighbors. Our laying flock of chickens seems to expand each year as we raise chicks each Spring to replace older hens. This blog is more of a journal, if you will, for us to chronicle and share our experiences in the yard, garden and kitchen. It is our hope that along the way a few folks might learn something, be entertained, or simply enjoy sharing in our stories and the lessons we learn on a daily basis. I named the blog after the times when I am the happiest, when I am elbow deep in earth.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Opening Soon!

May 19, 2012!!!
Being good friends with the farmers who run a farm stand is such a blessing. I get inside access to planting, playing in the dirt and information. I have been anxiously anticipating them setting an opening date and was finally given an approximate date, May 19!!!! I won't hold them to it though as weather and other circumstances really dictate the date, but I wouldn't be heartbroken if they were open already! :-) They are feeling better prepared this year and ready to open earlier as a result. Make the time to stop out to see them on Carpenter Road in Milan, just North of US-23, on the east side of the road.  I guarantee you will want to go back, again and again.

Vibrant, delicious lettuce
growing strong
The lettuce has been coming for quite some time, stored turnips from last season have come and gone through the weekly farmers market at Original Gravity Brewery (every Wednesday 5-7pm - with Happy Hour being extended for market hours), and lots of wonderful new things are in the ground and growing along already!

Opening day at the Ypsilanti Market
The Ypsilanti Farmers Market began May 1 and, of course, Zilke Vegetable Farm was there with a table full of healthful, fresh food to kick off the season right!

Proud parents of a new 4020
A recent auction yielded a brand new baby for Zilke Vegetable Farm. While Tom was distracted, Vicki scored a gorgeous workhorse of a John Deere for a real bargain. She proudly drove home a new (to them) John Deere 4020 and it hasn't stopped working since! They were able to put its power to work right away. Boy are they ever a proud set of parents to this new addition! :-)

Among many other things, garlic and onions have long been planted, peas are coming up strong and, most recently, thousands of brassicas have been planted as seedlings. In the latest round of plantings, loads of cabbage, broccoli, kale and even romaine lettuce made way into the ground. Conveniently, we have had some good soaking rains right after these plantings to help settle the soil and jump start their growth.

It gently grips the plant and
sets it in the soil
Last Friday, I scooted over to the stand after work to help hive the new bees (another post to come soon) and was able to help plant into the evening. Shane and Lexi joined in the planting fun as well. Tom and Vicki have this incredible tool that gently grasps the tender seedling, makes a furrow and tucks it into the earth, while coming along behind and covering the area with soil. This results in neatly planted rows of young plants, without the back-breaking job of hand placing thousands of seedlings.

What would take hours to do by hand, takes just minutes behind the tractor, especially when there are two sets of hands feeding the machine.

With two seats situated behind the tractor and a work space for flats of plants to sit, everything runs quite smoothly once the "feeders" placing the plants into the grippers find their rhythm. It took me a while to get the hang of it, but Tom took it slow and Vicki was a super teacher! Thank goodness for patient farmers willing to teach those of us who have never had the privilege of being a part of the Spring planting operations!

We spent the evening planting, chatting, enjoying the smell of earth, and appreciating all the new life and promise held in the tiny plants we were handing over to mother nature to nurture through the season.

Vicki took this great shot of young pea plants while giving Shane a turn with me on the planter.  The joy in the delicate tendrils of those little pea plants is indescribable.

I simply cannot wait to be a part of the second season at Zilke Vegetable Farm's Farmstand.  I had the honor of helping out occasionally last year and I really look forward to diving in and finding ways to be helpful again this year.  Let me be clear though, the greatest blessing of my involvement there is not the incredible knowledge I have begun to and will continue to gain, nor the chance to play elbow deep in earth while helping others, but the absolutely amazing friendship that has grown and blossomed through those experiences.

Spring really is a time to appreciate the beauty and growth we see in our lives.

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