Spring at the farm at Virtue Cider is a very busy time. Our young orchard and our gardens need a lot of preparation, but we are at the mercy of the season's dynamic weather. (Anyone who has spent time in the Great Lakes region is well aware that we can have 40-plus-degree swings from day to day.) The warm February was a bit worrisome too, as some trees in the area were close to budding — much too soon for apple trees! Luckily, the climate leveled out so we can expect a great apple harvest later in the year. That means great cider to come!
Our spring planting is right on schedule. Part of our mission at Virtue is to cultivate and maintain the historic farmland that is our home. Daffodils are popping up in our orchard, and our veggie and herb seedlings (who grew up in our green house) are making their way into the raised beds on our farm. Our main farmer Ryan has been planting varietals of apple trees, as well as perennial flowers in the orchard that will bloom in succession over the spring and summer.
"With this erratic weather, we have to move fast," Ryan says. "We'll have days of rain where we can't plant, but the moment it clears up, we have to jump on it and get our work done."
Also on schedule are some new lambs that were born in March. We are grateful that garlic + sheep owner Johanna Bystrom (also Virtue Cider events coordinator) has been gracious enough to share her growing flock with us. They help maintain our grounds with rotational grazing and occasional cuddles — but just for the small ones. She and our livestock handler Ike have been working on new fence lines for both the pigs and sheep, to further develop grazing strategies on the lesser-developed parts of our 50-acre parcel. That means less chainsaw operation for Ike and more tasty organic matter for the animals. Win-win for everyone!