New mower!

A new mower may not sound very exciting to most, but living on the farm we have acres of land that have to be mowed! Having a quality working mower can transform the look of the farm! We made it through 2017 using an old mower with 1 working blade and a battery that needed to be charged every time you used it. Now we have a brand new 46" 22hp Cub Cadet mower!

Spring time on the farm comes with many things to do beyond working in the field. There is a lot of upkeep that starts in order to keep the farm looking great! We have many acres of mowing, a treenline that needs to be kept up, flower gardens to be cleaned up and mulched and so many little projects all alround the farm. We could work from dawn until dusk every single day and still not be able to be fully caught up.

When it comes to field work, we have accomplished plenty of that as well! We continue to plant tomatoes, of course. We started three fields of pumpkins, squash and gourds. We have finished most of it but have also been delayed due to wet fields and lack of time. We have also planted onions, beans, peas, radishes, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kohlrabi, zucchini and more!

We are off to a fantastic start to our season! We're very excited to have a fantastic farming season with outstanding produce!

5.15.18 Tomatoes and Potatoes!

We are very excited to let everyone know that we have started transplanting our heirloom tomatoes!

This planting is a couple weeks ahead of last years schedule, so we are hoping for some early season tomatoes! The last couple of days we have transplanted over 1,000 tomato plants! We plan to be planting tomatoes over the next month or so. Last year we had an immense amount of rain through the spring which set us back on planting because the fields were too wet. This year we feel like spring skipped us- we went straight from winter to summer weather! This isn't necessarily a bad thing, just as long as we get some rain along with the sunny weather! When it doesn't rain we are forced to be watering the plants by hand.

Along with tomatoes, we also planted potatoes! We planted some blues, some reds and some double reds (red skin and red inside). Potatoes are unique when compared to most produce because to get potatoes for this year we simply plant leftover potatoes from last year!

There are many spring jobs on the farm which we enjoy however trimming apple trees is not one of them... If it weren't essential to do, we would not do it. It's one of our least favorite jobs on the farm but we love good apples so it's a must! When we trim the trees we mainly try to cut off the water sprouts, unless more major trimming is required. If we let water sprouts continue to grow they'll turn into full branches. Water sprouts typically grow straight up reaching out to get as much sun as possible. When trimming apple trees you don't want branches overlapping, growing together or growing straight up. This causes issues as they get bigger. This is why we work hard to eliminate those sprouts to keep the trees growing healthy and producing good fruit!

5.3.18 Outdoor Planting Season Begins

The snow has melted, the ground is drying, the sun is hot and we are ready for the spring weather! We have taken this opportunity to catch up and get back on track from a lonnggg winter!

You have to start by determining when the field is ready to be worked up. Do it too early and it will be too wet and the soil will clump too much. Do it too late and the field will be too dry and won't have enough moisture to promote early seed growth. We are at the perfect spot right now!

We are currently in the busiest time of the spring season, planting. We started working up the ground earlier this week to prepare. Today we planted our first set of sweet corn, so we are prepared for an early batch!

We've also got some garlic coming up! This is always exciting because garlic is planted in the fall with hopes that it all comes up in the spring time! We see it as one of the first true signs of spring around here.

We'll have another update soon, so check in the next couple of days for that! :)

4.24.18 Spring is here!

We have survived one of the snowiest springs in history and the largest April snowstorm! Spring time is here and we are busy at work to get the farm prepped outside! We are weeks behind because of the snow and mud, but between Friday and today we are almost dry enough to get into the fields!

Our maple trees have finished producing sap and we're boiling down the last of our sap/syrup, which means we'll have our final product soon! We worked hard yesterday taking down all the buckets and pulling taps from the trees. In the next couple of days we'll hand-wash nearly 100 buckets and lids and put them away for storage until next year.

We have started building our greenhouses and will finish up early this week. We have thousands of plants that will call the greenhouse home until the fields are ready and the weather is steady.

4.4.18 Winter wonderland on the farm, in April?

April 3rd, 1974 was our previous snow record with 5.90 inches of snow. April 3rd, 2018 we set a new record with 7.50 inches of snow.

Oh Minnesota, why must you play these cruel jokes on us?

April snowfalls make life on the farm that much more difficult. It creates more mud, covers fields to prevent field work, makes travel around the farm difficult or impossible (by vehicle at least) and just generally puts us behind from a normal year.

We are hard at work down in the basement with planting and preparing for the season. There is a lot of work that can take place both inside and outside in the spring. It ranges from obvious spring jobs such as planting to less obvious jobs such as reorganzing the barn to ensure that once the season gets rolling we are able to work efficently!

We are very excited for this years season and for our CSA! We're planning more events for this year, new types of produce and more! Please reach out to us with any questions you might have about our CSA or CSAs in general!

Just in case anyone was curious the top 10 snowfalls for April, here you go!

Top ten largest April Snowstorms in the Twin Cities 1891-2013
Rank Date Year Amount (in)
——————————————
#1 April 14 1983 13.6
#2 April 27-28 1907 13.0
#3 April 19-21 1893 10.0
#4 April 29-30 1984 9.7
#5 April 6-9 1923 9.6
#6 April 13-14 1928 9.5
#7 April 13-14 1949 9.3
#8 April 1-2 2002 7.6
#9 April 8-9 1980 7.6 (tie)
#10 April 4-5 1957 7.4
— https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/climate/journal/13_april_snow_records.html

3.27.18 A fallen tree and a jungle of baby plants

This has been a week of progressing on spring's two biggest tasks; planting and making maple syrup! Our basement greenhouse is fully underway with tomatoes, peppers, celery and many more varietys of produce growing! We have thousands of more seeds to plant, but we will soon run out of space until we can get the outdoor greenhouses built! The plants have grown substantially since we starting planting back on March 5th and we continue to look forward to watching them grow!

We have also been hard at work with our maple syurp! Maple syrup is a lengthy yet rewarding process. We burn thousands of pounds of wood in order to keep the fire hot enough to boil the sap. Over the last week we've been working hard on cutting down a fallen basswood tree. We've hauled out thousands of pounds of wood from this single fallen tree, with more haul out still. After it's hauled out it then has to be sawed into pieces and split with a splitting maul.

We hope everyone has a great weekend!

-The Gyslands

3.19.18 New boiling station!

This was a busy weekend for us! We spent Saturday and Sunday outside working on fixing up our driveway, carrying 5 gallon buckets of sap out of the woods to our boiling station and finally fixing up our boiling station!

50 degree days in March are always welcomed by us! It gives us the ability to get a head start on the season. It helps melt the snow, thaw the ground, dry the mud and lets the sap flow! We carried over 40 gallons of sap from our tapped trees out to the boiling station. The general rule of thumb is 40 to 1, meaning 40 gallons of sap is equal to 1 gallon of maple syrup! We collect our sap with 5 gallon bucks and then carry it to where it needs to be. This way does require a bit more physical labor, but we can get a cleaner end product using no chemicals. Another way to do it is collect sap via tubing and run downhill to a collection point. The issue with this is that those tubes have to be cleaned with chemicals, which we prefer to stay away from.

We started Saturday's work with trying to thaw out the previous boiling spot so we could dig it out a better spot. Well, that didn't go quite as planned.. We ran into 2 inches of thawed mud and then frozen solid ground. After taking a minute to look at the situation we decided it best to move the boiling station over in order to create a fresh clean spot. We had purchased new concrete blocks to reconstruct it all. With our new station we should be able to boil roughly 100 gallons of sap simultaneously.

Finally the fun got started! We had everything set up to start boiling the sap! Having a fire large enough to boil the quantity of sap we do requires a monumental amount of firewood. While the fire blazes on and the sap boils we make trip after trip in and out of the woods collecting fuel for the fire.

We have tapped more trees this year than any year before and we have a better boiling setup than any previous year. We anticipate this to be our best maple syrup season yet! We look forward to having some final product soon to share with all of you!

-The Gyslands

Spring Time is Upon Us!

Spring is always bittersweet.The tranquility of the winter season comes with a feeling of rest and relaxation. But when winter gives way to spring, we feel the pressures of the upcoming season bearing down on us. In order to have a successful harvest season our crops must be planted in a strategic way. The spring season is very important for the success of the upcoming season. We plant over 20,000 transplanted plants and over 100,000 seeds planted straight to the field. This is spanning over 50 different types of produce.

During the spring season we also spend a lot of time cutting down dead trees. Firewood is very important and valuable to us. Not only does it heat our homes but we use a massive amount of wood while making maple syrup! This last week we worked on cutting a lot of firewood, among doing other things. We finished knocking down a huge red elm today. We had to cut it, pull it with bobcat, cut it some more and finally it fell! We'll use some to heat Todd's house, some will go towards our syrup fire and we will put some for sale at our roadside stand!

Enjoy your week everyone, we sure are looking forward to the 50's that are on their way!

3.5.18 Planting has officially begun!

Today turned out to be quite the snowy disaster out here on the farm. We're not exactly sure how much snow we got, because of the wild winds, but it's a lot!

Late season storms are always unwelcomed by us, due to the back peddling it causes us to do. We had the driveway fully cleared, most the snow melted from around it, trees tapped and the syrup boiling spot clear. Well, now the driveway is full of snow, buckets and lids scattered from the wind and our boiling spot is buried under the snow. Once the cover of the snowy night lifts we'll begin to recover. Plowing the drive, searching for buckets and uncovering what was buried.

One may ask themselves, "What do you do on the farm when it's a blizzard?" Well, we jar up honey and plant seeds! Jarring up honey and planting seeds are both long tedious tasks, but they are enjoyable in their own way. For honey, it's oddly enjoyable slowly warming up gallons of honey over multiple hours, getting it to the point of bottling. Seeing that yellow pure raw honey glistening in it's bottle as the sunlight peeks through the window.

Planting seeds is a task we start in March and goes on for months. We must strategically plant our seeds so they'll be ready for transplanting at the right time and eventually ready to put in the earth. It starts off slow, a couple hundred Black Krim here and a couple hundred Paul Robeson there (a couple of tonight’s tomatoes we planted.) It's a process that takes patience and time. It's something that we have gotten down to what some would call, "The art of planting". Starting with the perfect amount of soil, evenly spread and slightly pressed. Then we make shallow even rows for the seeds. After that we'll use our seed dropper to drop in an even amount of seeds along the row. Once the rows in the flat all have seeds we'll carefully spread the soil back down to cover the seeds and finally gently water the soil to feed the seeds!

We enjoy our "snow day" as much as the next guy, but unfortunately a farmer never gets a true "snow day" off.

2.26.18 Maple tree tapping has begun!

With temperatures now teatering above and below freezing, we decided it's time to begin tapping our maple trees! We tapped 29 trees trees along the driveway. We always start with trees along the driveway, because that is where the sun and warmth hits first! Maple trees begin flowing once the trees warm up during the day and then freeze again at night.

Last year we tapped around 49 trees, we hope to add more taps this year so we are able to yield more syrup for all of you! Tapping trees and set up are the easy part. Once we get syrup flowing, we are going to have hours of hard work before us! We will have to rebuild our boiling station and then we'll be carrying hundreds of pounds of sap to be boiled over an open fire!

We'll update all of you once we are onto the next steps of the process!