Scrolling back through my posts over the last few months, my eye is drawn to the pictures first. The most striking thing about the pictures is the stark transition from the browns and greys of winter and spring to the overwhelming green of summer. The conversion that the New England landscape goes through from winter to summer is astonishing, and seeing it over a series of pictures really makes it crystal clear. We actually spend many more days with little or no leaf cover on most of our trees, although the thick green canopy all around us now sometimes starts to feel like the standard. I am appalled every year by the unreasonable force of the grasses, shrubs and bushes as they fill every void and push ever outward and upward. Most of my time, from now until the fall, will be spent in a vain attempt to beat back the riot of leaf and shoot in the hopes of keeping our farm infrastructure above the flood.
The beef and dairy herds have started their second rotation through their grazing pastures, and as rain gets scarcer and the soil gets drier, I have really started looking out weeks in advance and worrying (as usual). I look at the grass growing in the pastures and wonder if it will hold out, whether it will be tall enough by the time the cows get there to graze, and whether there will be enough water in the soil for it to regrow in time for the next rotation. I also spend a silly amount of time looking at the ten-day forecast in the hope that rain is coming. We’ve had a fifth calf in the beef herd, and Patty, due in two weeks, is the last expectant cow in the dairy. We will start breeding again in July in the dairy, hoping for calves in May, June and July, and the bull will go in with the beef herd some time at the start of August.
The full-blown harvest and market schedule starts at Maggie’s Farm next week, signaling a real shift into the veggie season. With full harvest days on Monday and Wednesday, markets on Tuesday and Thursday, the timetable of the farm really has to fit itself into the rhythms of the fields. We keep doing livestock chores to start and finish the day, and we’re now spending Fridays in ‘Tracking’, with each student selecting either Vegetables, Livestock or Small Fruits to focus on every Friday for the rest of the program.
The peppers have all been planted, carrots are poking up in their beds, we’re harvesting strawberries, and all the veggie beds have been cultivated and are just about prepped for planting. Weed control continues full steam all over the farm, mechanically, manually, and with hoes.
We have gotten the pigs out to their summer quarters, and after two mass escapes in two days, I think we are looking good out there for a nice few months of growing, rooting, and resting. Pigs absolutely love to be out on the ground, tearing everything apart, arguing constantly about it all, and having a great time. The pig area for the summer includes lots of wet spots, lots of shade, and lots of green plants to eat. The pigs will have it all torn up in no time, but we’ll work to get them more space soon.
We brought in our first square bales last night, purchased from John Moore, who cuts hay just on the other side of the ridge. We’ll try to get between 1500 and 2000 bales of first cut hay in the dairy barn hay loft before the season is over, and add another 500 bales of second cut to that. All of that hay is in addition to the 175 round wrapped bales of haylage that we also buy and produce for winter feeding.