Hello…knock, knock…ahoy there…is anybody home at Seven Oaks??? It may seem like we abandoned ship here but fear not, we managed to survive the wettest year in Saint Louis history. A record 61.24 inches of rain landed here in 2015 making for very poor harvest results, but the 12 inches that fell the last week of the year caused record flooding with disastrous and even deadly results for many in our area. We were relatively unscathed by this other than witnessing the constant drenching as evident in the photo below showing the wild expansion of the swale in back. The strawberry field was partially underwater so despite having planted the new starts in raised berms last year, I’m not sure what I will find this spring.
There were 108 roads closures during that week with long stretches of highways closed so many people were cut off from checking on their homes and businesses causing havoc along with heartache. We didn’t have to drive too far from the farm to see businesses with big red X marks on their front doors indicating that they had been badly flooded but checked out by the officials and cleared of any human misfortunes.
Before the December flooding began, we actually had a nice long fall harvest that has continued to amaze us as we are still eating some of the root vegetables such as carrots and turnips from the fields.
It has been wonderful to add these to all kinds of soups and stews but also to roast in the oven for a nice wintry side dish with some added potatoes.
Even our cabbages were still finding a healthy spot in our meal planning in the late fall.
We are already eagerly thinking about the spring planting as the seed catalogs are beginning to arrive. My new, favorite is Seed Savers Exchange which I think should win a prize for the best catalog cover. Do check out this fabulous, non-profit company at seedsavers.org
We have spent much of our winter planning the newest projects for the farm which we have not previously written about here so as not to jinx the reality of it. We have been very busy working with our architect friend, Tom Moore, who has been helping us design our new barn structure. Yes, finally, a wonderful barn with accommodations for chickens and a honey house to boot! There have been many twists and turns to this process but I think the construction will start very, very soon and we should be underway in the next couple of weeks. Here is a side view of one of the early concept drawings which gives just a hint of the flavor we were after.
And this is how it has evolved.
In support of the new construction, Dave has been working on clearing the north border to make room for the concrete trucks and is seen here chopping down a very old crab apple tree.
I think I may try to be creative with the lower trunk and work on a little chainsaw art for the farm. Here is what Dave has left me to work with…so check back for more on this little project!
We are also planning a new blueberry structure to replace the netting system that we have outgrown over the last few seasons. I don’t have photos of that but construction will begin a week from now so this will be very exciting. Stay tuned!!!
Our most recent excitement took place today as it was time for our annual foray into the orchard for the dormant pruning with our friendly arborist Jon Lanaghan. This year was very fun for several reasons. First, the weather more than cooperated with sunshine and nearly 60 degree temps which made for a leisurely clipping session and second, because Jon brought his wife, Connie, along for fun and she was delightful and fit right in to our happy crew. All in all, the trees are doing well and getting bigger. The damage from last year’s high winds turned out to be minimal and the trees that we so diligently righted and staked are alive and well. We did find evidence of a bit of deer scraping that was disheartening but we will find more effective ways to battle this in the future.
No one will be more excited to follow all of the spring projects here than little Coulter who is growing up before our eyes and will be fascinated with the construction equipment! I would be remiss not to share some holiday photos of him since it was very fun to share in his first Christmas! Of course we had fun shopping for Christmas trees…here he is sporting the Radish hat I knitted…
and riding in his new wagon wearing the Nordic sweater from my needles.
But he has moved on from riding…to walking everywhere as he started toddling very early.
I promise to get back to blog writing now that there will be lots more to write about. I hope to have lots to report on soon with barn building, chickens and bees to write about!
So much excitement at Seven Oaks!!! I’ve missed your blog – and I’m glad it’s back!! Looking forward to following the Spring happenings. Coulter is absolutely adorable (and such a well-dressed lad!), and his grandma isn’t so bad herself. 😉 love!
Yeah …. The blog is back! Looking forward to all your activities and more photos of Coulter. He is SO CUTE!!!
Linda, we are already looking forward to seeing Robin and Damon when they visit the Wards in a couple of weeks! Will keep my camera handy for pics of the gang to share!