April 16, 2012

Spring Thaw

Saturday, it was 70 degrees.

Sunday, it was snowing and 30.

Welcome to spring in Montana.

But no complaints from the Cowgills. If there are two things we love, they're digging in the dirt and snuggling up, baking cookies and watching the snow fall.

This weekend, we got a little of both.

Friday was our first day on the farm as a family. Jacob has been out a lot prepping and raking and digging but Willa and I haven't spent much time in the dirt in the last few months. So, it was heavenly on Friday -- to feel the soil, to actually put seeds in the ground and mostly, just feel like we're doing something.

Spring is always a little nerve wracking. We spend February through April planning and marketing -- talking to customers, writing fliers, trying out recipes, planning crop rotations and caring for seedlings. It all seems so tenuous. There is so much time between now and that first cutting of basil or that first red tomato. And so much can happen in that time frame.

The whole farm is just an idea right now. And when you're do-ers like Jacob and I are, it can be difficult to sit and wait and just hope -- that seedlings grow, that the ground thaws, that customers sign up, that the plants will bear fruit, that the turkeys will survive.

So, when we finally get to do something -- dig, prep, plant -- it actually starts to feel real. We can see the farm unfolding in front of us, out of an idea and into a reality, bed by bed, row by row.

Several things have us super excited about this season. One is that we finally feel like we might be on top of things. Last year, with me at home with Willa as a new baby and Jacob still working full-time we were constantly behind.

This year, we seem to have figured out the greenhouse situation (well, Jacob has) and we're actually on time, if not ahead of our planting schedule. And, we're ahead of the game on sign ups for our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscription program (partially because we've branched out and expanded our delivery area to include Helena). You can't imagine how good all of that feels.

The second thing is that we have two interns coming to help us this season. We're beyond excited to have the help, but more than that, we're so excited to glean the energy they'll bring to the farm and teach them all we have to teach about food and farming.

The third thing is that we may have yet another helper in this little bean this season.

Last year, for a majority of the season, Willa was in the crawling, everything-(including turkey poop)-in-the-mouth stage so we didn't get a whole lot of time on the farm. I took over customer service and marketing and packaging and delivering, but I didn't do a whole lot of the digging/planting/weeding work.

And, I'll admit (reluctantly), I actually missed the manual labor.

This year, with a walking, talking Willa Bean -- someone I can reason with (to a point) and someone who will listen when I tell her not to do something (like eat turkey poop), I envision all three of us having more regular family farm days. 

I'm guessing it will look a lot like this:

Or this:

But, maybe not always like this: (Early season, it's easy to be happy to be outside and working. By August, I'm not so sure I'll be so smiley.)


  1. Love this post and LOVE the new brand/tag line!

  2. I am a Montana native, but having just spent the last 10 years in Oregon I am definitely having to remind myself not to mess around with the memorial day frost date! This weekend was the worst with warm weather beckoning me to plant and then the snow fell! I decided to relax on that front. I'm not behind. I just have more time to cultivate and plan...
    What an exciting year ahead on your farm. Do you have a link to the CSA forms? Is there still sign up available?

    1. Hi Ozzy! This weekend was such a tricky one. So warm! So cold! At the same time! Here's a link to the CSA info. We still have about 15 spots left. We'd love to have you. http://www.prairieheritagefarm.com/p/vegetable-community-supported.html

  3. Wait just a minute: You're /delivering/ to Helena? I think I already know this, but it all seems to fabulous written down and published for reals.

    1. I know. Totally fantastic. Pickups will be on Thursday nights. We'll do some of the deliveries, but maybe not all. You'll still get to see us regularly though. ;)



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