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Still roasting

We got about 36 rain drops yesterday, not enough to make a dent in our >6″ rainfall deficit this spring.  After two years of droughty weather in a row, maybe it’s time to think about a backup irrigation system that consists of more than two watering cans.  This dry weather has been tough on our early vegetables, with poor germination and struggling seedlings.  Forecast is calling for a good soaking from Sunday into Tuesday – let’s hope that’s true.  If we get some good rain soon, I think a lot of what is in the garden will recover quickly.

This Monday will be our last pickup at the Brigham Hill Community Barn, so get your meat orders in.  We’ll be back to our normal pickup at the Potter Hill barn as soon as we have some vegetables ready for harvest.  In the meantime, feel free to shoot me an email if you need something.

In other news… videos of pigs doing pig things.

 

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Rain, please

There is no pickup at the Community Barn on Monday (Memorial Day).
If you’d like some sausages or other meats for your weekend BBQ, please send me an email and we can arrange for you to get what you need on Saturday or Sunday.

Things are in full swing at the farm.  Plants and seeds are going in the ground.  All tractors are up and running (for now) in spite of my best efforts at sabotage.  The pigs have graduated from Stage II Electric Fence Boot Camp, and they have taken up residence down the hill under a big elm tree.  Next week, we’ll start rotating them through 4 acres of pasture.  The beef herd has grown by 1 (It’s A Boy!) – Lois and Abigail are both diligently attending to their babes.  Lois more diligently than Abigail, as usual.

We do need some rain – we’re all dried up in all but the wettest spots in the wet fields.  We’ve had “0% – 25%” of normal May rainfall.  I’m guessing that’s closer to 0%.  The seedlings are hanging in there, but it’s harder for them to ward off pests if they aren’t growing vigorously.  Seeds are going in the ground, but germination is spotty so far.  Funny how we went from drought (remember last summer?) to all of the snow in one month and then back to drought.  Does look like some wet weather next week, but let’s hope it doesn’t get all monsoony around here.

I read a couple of thought-provoking short articles this morning – one about soil fertility from Gene Logsdon’s blog, and the second about farm-to-table from Harvest Public Media.  Both recommended reading.  In fact, you should read everything that Mr. Logsdon writes (or has written).

Don’t forget – get your deposits in for this year’s Pastured Pork CSA!  This is going to be the best year yet, with a new feeder for 100% ad-lib feeding and 4x more pasture for the piggies.  We depend on your deposits to keep things running until harvest time.  Beef CSA details coming soon – it will look about the same as last year.

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Never saw it coming

Wow.  If you had asked me a month ago where things would stand on the farm in the middle of May, I would have said that hopefully I’d actually be able to get some tillage started.  After a cold winter and tons of late-melting snow, I really thought we’d be spinning our wheels in the mud until June.  Thankfully, that’s not so.  After 2 weeks of summery weather all wrapped up in a July-style drought, the fields have dried out sufficiently for me to get some tillage done in even the wettest places.  Potatoes, onions, radishes, leeks, mesclun mix, arugula, carrots, and beets are all in the ground after a busy week of planting.  Now we just need a little rain to get those seeds germinating.  Just a little… I mean it, OK?

In spite of the droughty weather, our wet hillside pastures are green and growing like crazy.  The cows have just moved to the field at the very top of the hill.  Feel free to come up and take a look – it’s a nice view with the cows on green spring pasture, dotted with dandelions, and Wachusett in the distance.  Check out the pigs, too, for a different view (see above) while they are still in fence training boot camp.  Once they reliably respect the electric fence, we’ll move them down the hill where they can graze and root on pasture of their own.  And, yes, pigs do graze.  Even with a trough full of grain, they will choose to eat grass and clover in addition to digging for subterranean goodies.

If you like the idea of eating pork that was raised locally in an ecologically conscientious manner, with an eye towards animal welfare and good husbandry, then sign up for our 2015 Pastured Pork CSA!

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And then it was summer

A lot sure has happened in the last week.  For one thing, an entire season went by, and apparently it’s summer now.  The redness of my neck confirms this.

And….. drumroll….. our first calf of the year was born!  It’s Abigail’s, and so of course it’s a heifer (three for three!) and she’s beautiful.  I think her name is Maple, unless she comes up with something better.  Though she has a limited vocabulary, and would likely name herself Moo or Blehh.  Anyhow, the cows are out on pasture, working their way around the garden before we send them down the hill.  The piglets have graduated to Stage Two electric fence training next to the barn.  And after three straight days of tillage, the first half-acre of garden is nearly ready to plant.  Onions will get transplanted next week.  Potatoes will go in the ground, too – right on time, judging by the dandelions that have just started flowering.  The first plantings of beets, carrots, radishes, and arugula are all on track for next week as well.  All told, we’re just a week behind schedule.  I am astounded by this.

Last year’s roots are officially done for the season, but we have plenty of sausage and other cuts of beef and pork for the grill.  Amazingly, we also have a couple of pork shoulder left, in case someone out there wants to fire up the smoker.

For those of you starving for something fresh and green, we have some die-hard green onions that made it through the winter.  They look great, but will only be available for a limited time before they begin flowering.  And for a short while after – onion flowers are pretty tasty.

Get your orders in, and we’ll see you on Monday.  Thanks!

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Basket case

Basket case – I’ve encountered this term a few times in the last week, generally referring to my new International Cub tractor that I bought off the side of the road down in RI.  I was curious about where that term came from, and this is what I found for etymology (courtesy of Wiktionary):

The term originated from WWI, indicating a soldier missing both his arms and legs, who needed to be literally carried around in a litter or “basket.” Today it indicates a state of helplessness similar to the metaphoric removal of the appendages, most frequently in the context of mental health or aptitude.

Pretty gruesome, but I think it applies.  To the tractor, in a way.  And to me, obviously, if we’re being honest here.  A friend told me we better get some good weather (i.e. so I can actually get out of the garage and into the field) or the tractor would really be a basket case. And he’s right – I’ve got the left side final drive off (one leg), the head is off (well, the head), front axle was off (arms), and I’m about to drop the oil pan (metaphor exhausted).

Incidentally, If I wasn’t a farmer, I think I might be an etymologist.  If that’s a thing.  And if it is…. nice.

We’re back at the Community Barn on Monday with meats (and shockingly still beets), but note that pickup time is changing from 4pm to 6pm.  We haven’t had a customer yet before 4pm, so we may as well get another hour in at the farm.

Finally, I’ve been remiss in not mentioning this until now – Zach Kerzee is selling his Simple Bread at the barn with us on Monday.  Please place an order through his website if you’d like to pick up a loaf.