August in May

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There are eight tiny piglets, about two months old, hiding in there.

We’ve had about three inches of rain over the past few days, and the farmers and plants are now all feeling much better about the season. Hay producers in the area have begun on their first cutting of the summer, and although the grass is pretty tall, pastures are thin and fewer bales are coming off each acre. The hot dry weather also encouraged the pasture plants to quickly produce seed, in the fear that they wouldn’t get another chance in a prolonged drought, so the pastures are full of seeds as well. We were able to carry our vegetable plantings through the dry period in pretty good shape, and we have actually pushed the first drop-off of our veggie CSA up a week since the hot dry weather advanced the season so quickly. Hopefully this nice soaking rain sets us up for the next few weeks of solid growth in pastures and fields, and we can stop worrying about rain for a bit.

Just about the only ones out there that really didn’t like the rainy weather was our growing broiler pullets, destined to be chickens for the table. They loved the previous hot dry weather, and unfortunately moved out of their warm brooder house just before the rain started. They continued to have heat lamps throughout the colder wet weather, but they’ve spent the last few days all huddled together trying to stay warm. Their little crowd reminds me of the winter penguin gathering from the “March of the Penguins”, except not quite as bad-ass. We are expecting warmer drier weather in the coming days, and once the birds are fully feathered, they’ll be a little better insulated. Our layer chicks arrive in the mail today, so we had to get the brooder emptied, cleaned, and ready for them in time to let it rest for a couple of days.

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The first two calves of the season, both bull calves.
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Long rows of tomatoes, doing their best!

We’ve had three calves in the beef herd so far, and they are all handsome and healthy. We have winnowed our breeding stock down to just the full red pure bred Rotokawa Red Devons, and we use a bull of the same genetics, so our calves are all red, and all very similar in appearance. To a fan of the resurgence of grass farming, grass finished beef, and the cow genetics that work on grass, these short, stocky, thick calves are a beautiful thing to behold. Their appearance on the scene every summer always give me a jolt of optimism and inspiration for the years ahead, and I am consistently struck by the perfection of each calf, and the deep breeding management, selection and care that has resulted in these animals.

This year’s tomato starts have been planted out in the fields, and we are all looking forward to enjoying the fruits of their labors later in the summer. Last year’s crop was wiped out by blight, and the tomatoes are always leading a risky existence.

We picked up eight Berkshire piglets from Shinglebrooke Farm last weekend, and we’ll be growing them up big and fat for fall processing. They will spend the summer out in the woods doing their thing inside an electric fenced area, with grain and excess milk from the dairy to make them big and healthy.