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From pigs to corn…. and back again

Where we grazed our pigs last year, there is now corn growing.  The pigs helped to turn the soil (although I wish they would have been a bit more methodical) and fertilize the field.  I plowed and harrowed in May.  After picking tons of rocks – and not making a dent in the population – we were able to interplant corn and winter squash.  Then I went back and planted pole beans next to the 6-inch corn seedlings.  If all goes well, we should have a great harvest of flint corn, squash, and beans in the fall, some of which will go to feed this year’s pigs.

Not much new in the garden to add to the list this week – loads of fresh greens are available now, but more good things are coming soon.  Cabbage and cukes in the next couple of weeks, and tomatoes not much longer after that.  Beets and carrots are coming along, too.

Garden Shares are back!  Order a share through the website, and for $20 we’ll make you up a bag of what looks good from the garden this week.

And last but not least, Paul’s hens are laying, and eggs will be available on Monday first come, first served.

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(Actually) Pastured pork

Our pigs are really living the life this year.  They are down at the bottom of the hill where they get access to fresh pasture every week.  We move the pigs before they do too much digging and and then we reseed the turned earth with new forage.  When we open up a new section of pasture, the pigs get right down to business, running around eating clover leaves and burying their snouts in the soil.  Other features of pig heaven include a 1-ton feeder full of non-GMO feed from Green Mountain Feed in Vermont and some nice muddy water holes to wallow in on hot days.  I think I’m going to move in…

If you like great pork and want to support good farming, head over to the Short Creek Farm and download a Pastured Pork CSA signup form.

The Potter Hill website is all up to date with the vegetables we have available this week.  The first squash and zukes are coming in, and the lettuce looks amazing.  Coming soon – carrots, beets, cukes.

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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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It’s pigs

Picked up our first batch of feeder pigs yesterday from the Natick Community Organic Farm.  And they are very pink, and yes, I’ll admit, they’re very cute.  But, I promise they stop being cute right about the time they tip the scales at 200 lbs.  And to go from 20 lbs to 200lbs in 6 months, they need to eat.  A lot.  Help us pay the grain bill and sign up for a 2015 Pastured Pork CSA Share!

If you want to try some sausage (or restock your freezer), place an order for pickup on Monday.