Red Clay Farm Photo Story

Though y’all might like to read the photo story I wrote for class about Red Clay Farm.

It is late January, outside the wind is blowing and the temperatures are in the 30s.  Inside the farmhouse a fire crackles in the wood stove and the farmer looks over seed catalogs planning the spring planting season.  He takes notes marking the type of seed, the price and the quantity but most importantly the quality.  He does not want any seeds that have been genetically modified.  Planning ahead of time what seeds will be planted means that he will be able to purchase the seeds with the surety that they will be in stock.

Once the order is placed and the seeds arrive, the farmer selects seeds from plants that are cold hardy and starts them in trays that are placed under grow lights.  As the weeks go by little seedlings begin to sprout up.  The farmer tenderly waters them as they continue to grow.  Finally the days begin to warm up.   When this happens the farmer moves the seed trays out to the greenhouse to toughen up the plants, before they are transplanted into the field.

Red Clay Farm is a very diverse farm.  In addition to expanding the agricultural aspects of the farm, there are also livestock that need to be tended.  One such item of care is shearing day.  Every spring at the end of March, the farmer and his wife bring in a professional shearer to shear the llamas and alpacas.  This is a long and grueling day but at the same time very rewarding, both for the animals who get their spring hair cuts and for the farmer’s wife who gets lots of fiber that she can knit scarves, gloves and hats.

This year the farm is expanding operations and needs more space than the small greenhouse will provide. The decision is made to purchase and put up a 96ft long high tunnel, which will serve as a place to start plants as well as grow cucumbers, cabbages and tomatoes. The ground is measured off and the poles are put in position, the frame is built next.  Now comes the interesting part, putting 100ft long  plastic on the frame on a windy day.  The plastic is unfurled and slowly pulled over the frame. With the constant buffeting of the wind, the process is slow and several times the plastic is blown off and has to be grabbed and pulled back.  Finally, the plastic is pulled in position and the clamps are put on to hold it in place.  After the ground is tilled it will be ready to have plants put in it.

While the seedlings are growing larger, the farmer begins to till the ground mixing in natural fertilizers that are produced on the farm, such as llama beans and chicken droppings.  Once the plants are a couple months old, they are transplanted to the fields.   Day by day more and more plants are moved out until the fields are full of small plants ready to take in the rains and the warm sun in order to fulfill their purpose in life.

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