1. Filling the water catchment ponds with snow melt

    The snow is melting on the hillside and quickly running down the driveway.  This is the water we will use to irrigate our fields for most of the season so it is very precious…

    We use pick axes and hoes to dig trenches in the driveway slush to direct the snow melt towards the pond…

    The water flows into a bigger, deeper trench in the snowbank that runs alongside the driveway and funnels into a pipe…

    The water gushes into the pond….

    We set up the pump to move the almost-overflowing pond water up the hill into a bigger catchment pond…

    The farm (and therefore these photos) are very white/grey/black/muddy brown, but soon, SOON, there will be electric-greens brightening the treetops.  Three and a half weeks before the 2014 Farmer Training folk arrive!! 

     
  2. From now on, we will be posting about what is CURRENTLY happening on the farm!!  Yes, this means you are looking at what our Upper Field really looks like, right now!  Spring is here, finally, and we are watching the snow disappear before our very eyes….

    The bare ground means MUD!

    Certain places on the farm melt snow faster than others:  this is the huge compost pile we built last fall…..

    It’s steamy in the seedhouse, the windows are dripping with condensation….

    Inside, the seedlings are vibrant green and leaning towards the warm, bright sunshine.  

    Each day we plant more seeds in flats of soil blocks.  We keep these soil blocks moist until the seed germinate, then move the flats into the sun.  Soil blocks — free of constraining plastic containers — allow the new roots to grow thick and strong…

    These are our precious tomato plants.  They will stay in the greenhouse all summer — it is too chilly outside, even in the summer, for their liking.

    In pots we replanted carrots, beets and kale stalks (with root mass intact) that had been overwintered in the root cellar.  As these wake up and start to grow again we will leave them in the pots and let them go to seed so we can save their seeds…..

    Outside, work continues on the new animal barn and an upstairs fiber studio.  Tom and Garrett are building a big porch off the studio that connects to the hay barn (the structure in the background)

    We now just need the sheet of ice on the driveway to melt! (: 

     
  3. We go to Market!

    Twice a week we load up the market truck…

    And bring bunches of beautiful, fresh produce to the market in Downtown Fairbanks and in Ester.

    For FTP folk interested in selling produce at a farmers stand, this is a great opportunity to gain experience in transport, set-up, customer service and marketing.  We also have our CSA share pick-up at market:  families and individuals come to receive their weekly assortment of veggies, salad mix and herbs.  This face-to-face interaction between the farmers who grow food and the people who eat the food is so meaningful and crucial!

    And we sell bouquets too!  

     
  4. Square Dances

    Most people are wary of coming to a square dance at first—thinking they won’t be able to follow along, that they have two left feet, or won’t ever get asked to dance—but once they arrive, hear the music and start to tap their toes, they are hooked.

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    The band is the ever-so-wonderful Lost Dog:

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    The dance starts at 7 and continues on into the night…which in summer still looks like day.  We mostly dance in bare feet.  It feels better that way.

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    The dances really aren’t hard, you get the hang of it pretty quick.  And everyone is just there to have fun.  There is lots of laughing, smiling, hand-holding and doe-si-doe-ing.

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  5. The Art of Blacksmithing

    Tom’s new passion:  making things in his smithy.  And how lucky we all are that he loves to share this experience!  Tom is eager to invite everyone to swing a hammer.  FTP participants get a thorough intro and the opportunity to practice and make some tools —- blacksmithing and welding skills are extremely helpful to a self-reliant farmer.  

     
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Spend a season at Calypso Farm! Apply for our 2014 Farmer Training Program.  Program info and application guidelines at www.calypsofarm.org!
    Spend a season at Calypso Farm! Apply for our 2014 Farmer Training Program.  Program info and application guidelines at www.calypsofarm.org!
     
  7. Wool!!

    We have 17 Shetland sheep at Calypso.  They earn their keep by providing beautiful fleeces so that we can create wooly wonders.  Wool is a big deal at Calypso: Susan and her daughters are incredible fiber artists and have much to teach the FTP participants.   In the spring we watch Tom shear the flock, then later in fall we learn how to wash, dye, card, spin and knit the wool.  It’s incredible to be a part of the process from start to finish!   And to be able to visit & say hi to the sheep who’s wool you are wearing!!

     
  8. Felling Trees

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    There are quite a few times when felling a tree (or trees) is appropriate and necessary:  for clearing land to build on, a road, create pasture or field.  The trees that are cut down are cut into pieces for lumber or firewood, the smaller branches are brought to the animal pen—-they love to nibble off all the bark, which is good for them and saves us time:  the branches dry more quickly and soon can be hauled to the bread oven or sauna with the rest of the twigs and brush!

    All Farmer Training Participants learn the basics of using a chainsaw and felling a tree—especially all the safety precautions.  

    This summer we got some great practice clearing a site for the new barn:

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    Tying on the guide rope—-to pull the cut tree down in the right direction.  Note:  most people are wearing hard hats

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    Getting ready to “HEAVE!” and pull the tree down….

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    HO!!  Don’t stand THERE Tom!!!!

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    (Tom moved out of the way) and the tree is down!

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  9. 23:41 7th Feb 2014

    Notes: 8

    Let’s just bask in the beauty of these flowers for a moment…..

     
  10. 22:34 30th Jan 2014

    Notes: 3

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    Oh the Joy of collecting fresh eggs!

    Oh the Joy of collecting fresh eggs!

     
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  12. Pelle, the Farm Dog

     
  13. One afternoon we take a walk in the woods…..

    in a woods like no other woods we have ever seen before:  the boreal forest.  Behind the farm lie acres upon acres of boreal forest.  There are trails back there, and a hike back in these woods is the perfect afternoon adventure or a welcome way to clear one’s thoughts.  The ruckus of the farm give way to soft silence, the delicate birch give way to gnarley black spruce, hard soil gives way to the softest moss…and underneath that:  permafrost.  The air is perfumed by Labrador tea and faint animal paths are worn into the ground cover, exactly how I would imagine a fairy path to look like.

     
  14. Filleting a Salmon

     
  15. Goat Milk!

    Fresh goat milk is distinctly delicious and drinking it one somehow feels instantly revived.   (Maybe because it’s really for the goat kids, and we know so well how they vigorously wag their tails when they drink their mama’s milk.) Not only do we get to enjoy the milk but the milking goats give us a wonderful opportunity to learn about milk and how to milk.

    Most recently we had two milking goats, Modoch and Gypsy, but sadly, both died this fall.  Modoch was well-built, mild mannered and patient.  She got used to lots of new people tugging at her to learn how to milk, yet she never put up a fuss, and for all that she gave we are very thankful.  Gypsy was adorable, curious, and a good mama, we’ll miss her.

    This winter we’re breeding Gypsy’s daughter Marion in hopes that she will be our new milking goat.