The start of the growing season is a frantic rush to get everything setup and in place as early and quickly as is possible so that we can capture every possible moment of the short stretch of warm weather from May to October. We’re pushing forward as hard as we can right now to get the starts in the soil, the fences up, and the new animals growing, and we’ll spend the rest of the summer maintaining those things toward harvest in the fall. This always seems to be the busiest time on the calendar, when lots of essential things are crowding each other for attention at the top of the to-do list, and lots of other things that we know we should be doing are falling off the bottom. In a few more weeks, we should have our systems in place for the summer, and then be we’ll able to slow down a bit as the work shifts toward just keeping those systems up and running for the summer and fall. We setup fences in the spring, and weed-whack them in the summer. We plant in the spring, and weed in the summer.
We’ve caught a nice little dry spell over the past week, and Alex and the student farmers have been able to make a great push cultivating and planting quite a bit of our vegetable acreage. We have had pretty cool and cloudy weather however, and the soil has not been
drying or warming as much as Alex would have hoped for by this point in May. The cool wet conditions are ensuring a superior degree of soil moisture however, and this feels like a much more comfortable place to be in comparison to last year at this point when we were already entering drought conditions. With nearly no snow last winter, and the insignificant snow-melt that followed, we went into the spring with dry soil, got nearly no spring rain, and then went into an extended summer drought. Those three factors together put our area into an extremely dry pattern that we are only now coming out of. We have some significant rain forecasted for this weekend, so Alex is racing now to get beds cultivated and shaped ahead of time so that they can be planted next week without the need to drive the tractor over newly soaked soil.
This is also the season when we’re adding new baby animals to the farm, from chicks coming in the mail to new calves in the dairy and beef herds. We have twenty-one lambs out there running around the sheep pasture, eleven piglets in the training area with twenty five more on the way next week, one-hundred layer chicks coming in a few weeks, and turkeys poults after that. The brooder is full of broiler chicks, and we had our first dairy calf Thursday morning at around 1am. This was Phoenix’s first calf, and she has done a wonderful job looking after her little baby boy. The visiting students will vote on a name this morning before they go home, and I’ll let you know what they pick next week. Phoenix is the daughter of the wonderful Patience, and we are all really happy to keep that family line going here at The Farm School, and eager to see her deliver some heifer calves in years to come. We add animals through the spring and early summer, with the beef calves and the turkeys (scheduled for pickup June 22nd) vying to be the last ones to show up. We reverse the process in the fall, processing animals for the freezer and working our way back down to the principal group that will stay through the winter and start it all over again next spring.
As the leaf cover gets thicker on the trees our view around the farm gets shorter, and we
turn our eyes to the work closer at hand. The seed in the furrow, the grass in front of the scythe, and the ewe cleaning her newborn lamb all call our attention to the world within reach all around us, and to the urgency of the task of the moment. The bare trees of winter describe a landscape well suited for gazing back and forth across the year, but in the spring and summer, we keep our eyes firmly fixed on the ground beneath our feet.