With a few close misses on the rain over the past ten days, unfortunately the farm has really started to dry out again. Irrigation restarted on the veggie beds today, with two water wagons, generators, pumps and drip tape redeployed up and down the ridge.
Our pastures have lost that vibrant green glow they were showing last week, and although there seems to be quite a bit of grass out there now, I am concerned that this might be the last gasp for the pasture plants for the year. We typically graze until the first week of November, but if we only have one more turn through our pasture rotation, I don’t think we’ll get past the end of September. We have secured a pretty healthy supply of winter hay, and even made some of our own, so we might just squeak through the year by a breadth. It is a bit alarming to consider just how much rain we’ll need to make up for the deficit this summer has put us in, and a local farmer shared with me yesterday his belief that we’ll need weather systems coming in from the ocean, rather than as they usually do from the west, to change our current situation much.
The rental bull arrived on the farm yesterday, and went in with the beef herd to get to work. He came from Rotokawa Estates, in Hardwick MA, and he is a new bull for us. Cows are pregnant for about nine and a half months, or 285 days, so we expect calves to start arriving on the scene next June some time. There is always some doubt about how quickly a bull will start breeding the cows, and there are lots of factors that go into that process. Depending on the cow’s heat cycles, the bull’s assertiveness and how easily he integrates into the herd, we expect breeding to get going within a day or two. By comparison, the ram is mounting and breeding ewes within a minute or two of going in with them in November.
Our forest thinning project has continued through this week, with semi-truck loads of chip heading down the hill on a regular schedule all day. I have not had chance to walk down to see the work, but I am getting very positive reports from our forester who is on site to inspect twice per week.
We harvested storage onions from the Flat-Field early this week, and they have been setup to cure in the greenhouse under a shade tarp. The garlic is in, the pumpkins come in next week, the beans have been harvested and the veggie season shows signs of nearing the end.
Although there are plenty of crops that we will tend and harvest all the way to the first frost, we’ve passed some of the big landmarks of the season here at the first week of September.
Our broilers came back from Stillman Quality Meats at the end of last week, and they are in the walk-in freezer ready for sale. This will be our first try at raising birds for sale, and we are all eager to see what the demand out there is like.