Home Blog This Week on the Farm: week 3
January 12th 2015

This Week on the Farm: week 3

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eveninghoopsAt the beginning of each new year I spend a good deal of time putting together my goal lists for the upcoming season. These goals span a wide range of areas and are what I hope to accomplish in the coming year. There is a list for personal wellness and growth, family and relationships, the business, big dreams, and then my own personal creative projects inside of the business, including this here blog.

Last year I wanted to fill this space with useful information about growing flowers, so I created the Flower Focus series and posted about many of my all time favorite varieties and the tips and tricks for each. I also wanted to continue to showcase what’s possible using local blooms after The Seasonal Bouquet Project commenced, so last spring the Seasonal Flower Alliance was born. I also wanted to highlight many of the flower farmers and florists I’ve had the pleasure of meeting along this journey and also have a chance ask them many of my most burning questions, and so The Farmer and The Florist interview series was made.

Well, this season my goal list is a bit tighter and more refined than last. After taking on so many projects, I’m really trying to hone in on key areas that have the largest long term impact and the most personal joy.

tulipg-hHere on the blog I want to get back to posting consistently, even during our busiest times. And I want to get back to documenting and sharing the day-to-day, behind the scenes happenings here on the farm too.

One of my favorite things about participating on Instagram is that it provides a snapshot in time and then you end up with a running image library, illustrating an entire season that eventually becomes a beautiful reference. It also provides a regular window for others into this magical flower filled world we are so fortunate to live and work in. So, in an effort to both document this journey in photos and share the day to day, behind the scenes, I dreamed up a new weekly series called This Week on The Farm.

Even though this is technically the first post, I’ve tried to match the weeks with the actual calendar weeks so that it can be an accurate reference for the future.

pitchforksWashington is quite mild compared to most parts of the country. Winters here are typically drizzly, cool and grey. Snow is a rare and exciting occurrence. Our little farm is just an hour south of the Canadian border, so winter days are very short and dark for us. I like to hide in the house during this span of time dreaming, planning and plotting out the season to come.

Chris is the opposite. He hates sitting still and instead loves being outdoors, bopping around, especially in the rain. While I’ve been hard at work behind the keyboard, he’s been busy finishing up the last farm tasks on the list before winter really sets in.

frost Over the years we’ve steadily been adding covered space to grow our flowers in, with the aim of extending our season as far as possible into the early spring and late fall. The six 100ft. hoop houses out back are stocked with ranunculus and icelandic poppies that we’re planted back in September and will hopefully come into flower by late March. Despite the cold weather we had in December the plants are looking really great. Stocky, green and lush.


ranunctunnel A new fleet of min tunnels were added this fall and are loaded with thousands of baby anemones. These guys were planted later than we intended, but I’m hoping they’ll have a chance to catch up on growth as the days begin to lengthen next month.

We have another dozen or so mini tunnels ready to go up in hopes of even more extra early blooms.


babyanemoneWhile most of the dahlias were lifted in the fall, a few rows got left in the field. A warm, dry spell provided the perfect opportunity to snag the last of the tuber clumps and get them tucked away for winter.

We’re all so excited to be able to share this bounty with other farmers and gardeners around the country. To our amazement, only a handful of tuber collections still remain in the shop!


tubersWe’ve grown tulips for many years now but this is the first season we’ve tried bringing them into flower during the winter months. This little side project was spearheaded by the guys. Both Chris and Jasper have so lovingly tended this special crop. We delivered the first wave of blooms to happy city customers this weekend.

I hadn’t realized how starved I was for flowers until Chris brought me in a big ole bundle of blooms for the dining room table. It made it fell like spring on a rainy January morning.


tulipflower The chickens are finally laying up a storm!

After reading that our kids raise and show chickens, the kind folks at Greenfire Farms sent them a batch of purebred chicks last spring. After many months of loving care, the ladies finally started laying eggs. In late November we stuck a light bulb in the coop, to fool their body clocks into thinking it was spring and have been enjoying fresh eggs for a good month now.

It’s a running comedy show watching the flock of chickens from our dining room window.


If you’ve got a minute, I’d love to hear what’s going on in your neck of the woods this week. Anything particularly memorable, exciting or interesting?


  1. Michelle Shackelford on

    My husband and I ran off to Mexico for a week! It was beautiful and wonderful! It was our first time there and a welcome escape from the icy cold of northern Michigan. We don’t have much snow right now which is kind of nice. Maybe a foot, much less than the norm.

    It’s time for me to start some seeds in the house and finish my beds in the greenhouse so that I can start planting my anemones and ranunculus. It will be my first time with both of these crops.

    Here’s to spring!

  2. VillageKid on

    I love it that when you get to write and fill us all in, be it a recap of a time during the growing season OR this new series, which I am sure I am going to love, I have time to sit and read the posts completely!! Even in the northern cold areas, or at least our’s, time to just sit and read is hard fought for time!! Thank you for enriching my life with these posts!!

    This weekend will be catch-up time as I now have returned from a week of statewide ag/food conference. Everything here seems to take a ‘week’, minimum 5 days, as travel is always one full day each direction just due to the size of the state.

    Trays that were cleaned earlier will be filled with soil & seeds this week. Some veggies and some flowers, but all put on a series of heat mats and then lights. I am a tad early on some plantings and late on a few others but KNEW leaving them to be tended while I was gone for a week still bordered on plant suicide as spouse still is not totally skilled on seedling watering duties.

    Our poor chickens are not enjoying the mud we seem to have due to too WARM of temperatures. They are laying but looking just so dirty and uncomfortable. Hopefully we can get some boxes of sand into their coop for some good dirt baths this coming week. We are also making the final decisions on what new chicks we will add, to hopefully join one they hatch, later this spring

    It is due to get back into single temperatures, which is a positive or I would be out in the HT trying to figure out what super early seeding could get away with, which is just a tad too early.

    I will continue to watch for more of these great posts!

  3. Bobby on

    Reading your blog posts always brightens my short winter days here in Ontario! at -20 F with the windchill, not much is really happening here. We too keep chickens that lay a gorgeous range of rainbow colored eggs and now that they’re coming back into their laying cycle that has been much appreciated. I would much rather have your balmy winter – no need to break ice out of the chicken’s waters every morning!

    On a brighter note I’m thinking of starting some lisianthus seeds in the next week or two. I have some beautiful apricot and blue lisianthus seeds that came in from Johnny’s seeds and I’m dying to get something growing under my lights (to trick my brain into thinking winter is almost over!) . Do you ever start your own lisianthus plugs or do you purchase them in the spring from a supplier? Keep up the blog posts – love ’em!

  4. Abby Gaddis on

    Just dreaming through seed catalogs here in Maine. Wishing I had more $ to spend. We just had our coldest day yet at -27. The ground is frozen in my high tunnel and my kale leaves are starting to yellow from lack of light…

  5. Mara@TheFarmAtOxford on

    So happy to see your update and to read that you plan to write more often, I love your blog posts… you have such a way with words–easy to imagine being there.

    This week on our 12 acre PA farmette we finally have the last of last week’s snow melting, showing us the green grass again. I stare out the sunroom doors daydreaming about what I’ll do with the land this year. I also hide inside during the winter… have been stagger planting paperwhites to give us weeks of blooms, and plan to start a small batch of forced anemones soon as a winter experiment.

    re: the mini tunnels, do you still follow the same technique as you learned with BareMtnFarm? I hope to add a few later this year.

    Oh and completely agree with Waverly, a flower focus on the heirloom mums would be amazing.

  6. Waverly School Farm on

    I always enjoy the Instagram posts, so I look forward to more peeks into your world via the blog. I hope you’ll still do the occasional flower focus, though! Heirloom chrysanthemums maybe? This week, I’m excited to have put the finishing touches on two beds in the Erin and Chris style… drip tape, pre burned landscape fabric and electrical conduit hoops. Tomorrow, the first batch of stocky little snapdragon seedlings are going in. Can’t wait for spring, which here in southern California is right around the corner.

  7. Leslie on

    I love these posts. It is currently 7 degrees in Kansas. People are out ice sailing and skating on the nearby frozen lake. Everything is asleep in the garden. I tiptoe out every few days to see if anything is coming up. I know there isn’t but I still do it. Now is the time to dream and plan. That is why your posts are so fun. Seeds of excitement and inspiration for Spring sowing.

  8. Karate on

    Yay! I look forward to watching your blog grow! All the information you share is amazing – especially for po’ folk just getting started. Super helpful! I’m not too far away, in Victoria, but it’s amazing how different the weather can be.

    I really wish we could keep chickens. Eggs are the best. I had fresh eggs for about three weeks once and they were the best tasting eggs I’ve ever had.

    This week, we’re really tackling the bit of land where I’ll be doing my flower trial. It’s COVERED in tall grass, thistles (which I love, wah!), effing morning glory, and HUGE blackberry bushes. Some of canes are two inches in diameter. The decades old beds are also surrounded by 2-3 inches of water. It’s going to be tough to get it all done with a crazy eight month old, but I gotta do it! I got all my seeds, went out on a limb and opened up a bit (scary!), put away ALL the laundry (small victories), and had a hot(tish) shower. Oh yeah, and I scored $150 worth of really beautiful merino yarn for $60. And I had gift certificates! I freaking love deals. I love them so much.

  9. Sophie on

    It’s piping hot middle of summer here, and my first zinnias are blooming, amaranth and celosia are catching up and cosmos and asters are going nuts. The bloomin earwigs are finishing off my roses though :(

    ps. Any chance we could make it so the seasonal flower alliance worked for us southern hemisphere folks too? It’s not running when all my flowers are blooming and then you have all these amazing flowers to show when its just sticks and grass over here… Or perhaps we could post 6 month old pics to match up?

  10. Dori Troutman on

    Although I love all aspects of your blog and read everything, always (smile!) I think I’m going to love this series the most. It is such a wonderful window into your world. Thanks for sharing! – Dori Troutman –

  11. Daphne Cybele on

    Oh, oh, oh, I am looking forward to more posts with chickens!

  12. Katie on

    It’s wonderful to see and learn more about your life on your farm, Erin. In Chicago, it snowed a few inches yesterday and today brings us a high of about 18, which feels positively tropical after last week’s dip into the negative 20s. I trekked down to a local florist in all the snow yesterday to get some fresh flowers to brighten my home. On the stove has been lots of soups and casseroles. Lots of candles lit at night and hibernating with some good tv shows, knitting and trying to finally finish a quilt for my husband.

  13. Heather M on

    This has aways been my favorite part of your blog! Partly for self-serving reasons, since I’m so near you, I learn a lot just from knowing what you are up to at a given time, but also because even if one doesn’t have aspirations to be a flower farmer or floral designer, it’s fascinating stuff, not to mention the fact that you are very good at making it all so picturesque.

    I didn’t take up my dahlia bulbs this year and am so wishing that I had! My whole back field flooded with our most recent flooding episodes, right up to my dahlia bed!

  14. Terri on

    Inside, sowing thousands of annuals in 72s, watching the Annies and Knuckles (anemone and ranunculus) grow, eating Brunswick stew made with our own rabbits, waiting for a late clutch of hen’s eggs to hatch (babies!), repairing busted pipes from last week’s 4 degree weather. And wondering about your HH watering schedule for tulips… they’re beginning to “scare the sh** outta me”!!

  15. Corina on

    In our neck of the woods, it’s raining, I’m sure. We homestead on five acres, raising a huge organic vegetable garden, goats, pigs, ducks, chickens, but it rains 100 inches of rain per year, so last week we left in search of sun. You are asking if anything memorable and exciting is happening in our neck of the woods. Oh yes! Our neck of the woods were the Redwood Forests yesterday, and we bicycled and hiked our hearts out among these giants. Tomorrow: Joshua Tree National Park. No woods, but cacti.

  16. Ferriss on

    Reading SEEDFOLKS with my students this week in anticipation of ordering seeds and starting them under grow lights in March for their prison garden.

  17. Melissa on

    I have to say I’m loving this Week on the Farm idea! Just beautiful random tidbits of life on a flower farm. On our farm, we are anxiously awaiting baby ducks any day now! Our first anemones are beginning to bloom and hopefully the ranunculus will follow soon!


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