We’ve come to the end of another wonderful and wet week here at The Farm School, with a blast of warm sunny summer weather on Friday as the week ended. Most of the trees along the ridge are moving quickly through the beautiful early leaf-out stages, and with their new leafs shimmering the palest green, they’ve added a dusting of color to the hedgerows and hillsides. We seemed to be stuck in the clouds all week here, with damp grey weather, but not a lot of measurable rain. It was great weather to get the pastures growing at full speed, but not such great weather for drying down veggie beds, and Alex has been chomping at the bit to get out there to cultivate. We have big plans to plant all of onions on Monday, and with a day-off at the Program for Visiting Schools, we’re hoping to put everyone to work to get it all done.
The student farmers made incredible progress on our new pullet house this week,
starting with a rehab of the running gear that we bought earlier in the spring, and finishing the week with the floor and two walls finished and installed. The running gear got sanded clean and repainted, the wheels were pulled off and re-greased, and then construction began. This set of running gear is a bit sturdier than our others, so we are going to build the house a bit bigger than we had planned. The difference will be great enough that our current plan is to actually make this new house the full sized layer house, and use the one we built a few years ago for the smaller pullets.
Piglets arrived on the farm this week, and they’ve gone into the revamped piglet training area at Sentinel Elm Farm. This batch of ten will spend the summer at Sentinel Elm, and Dave is working furiously on their acreage out in the woods. They’ll spend the next few months growing to just over two hundred pounds on a diet of milk from the dairy, non-GMO pig grain, vegetarian scraps from the kitchen, and whatever they can dig up out in the woods. Once this first batch moves out to the woods, we’ll have another group of fifteen arriving. They’ll spend a few weeks getting to know electric fences and the automatic water system, we will have a chance to observe them for health concerns, and then they’ll move out to the woods on the Maggie’s Farm property. We try to raise about thirty pigs every year to fill the freezers and supply the meat CSA, so I anticipate raising some winter pigs this year as well.
We also bought in three Boer goat kids this week, jump-starting our effort to transition the goat herd from dairy to meat production. We got two little does, and a buck, and hope that he can be ready to breed our two full grown does this fall. With the ever-creeping hedgerows, and the invading hordes of multi-flora rose, bittersweet and knot-weed, we’re beginning to feel like expanding our goat powered hedgerow control efforts will be appropriate. Plus, baby goats are the cutest farm animals possible.
The last bred ewe at Maggie’s farm finally delivered her lambs to finish the week, so the student farmers have suspended night-time lambing checks.
Veggie starts are filling the greenhouse, and the overflow has started to fill the little
hardening off house next door as well. The onions are taking up most of the room these days, and with a plan to plant them out on Monday, things should open up in there soon. The hardening off house gives the plants an intermediate stop as they transition from the warmth of the greenhouse to the exposure of the fields, and helps them toughen up so that they’re ready to meet whatever weather challenges come their way.