With another week of generous rain, sparse sun, and cool temperatures, the work of the farm carried on under this spring’s enduring weather pattern. The pastures love it, the veggies endure it, and Alex seizes every fleeting opportunity to cultivate and shape beds for planting. We had an inch of rain on Monday and Tuesday, but the sun came out enough over the second half of the week to dry down some veggie beds, and we were even able to cut and bale hay at the dairy farm. We made round wrapped bales, which are rolled up and wrapped in plastic when the hay is about half dry, so the process demands a much shorter window of dry weather than traditional dry hay production. Round wrapped bales, also referred to as balage, haylage and wet-bales, are usually baled after a single day of drying, while dry hay usually requires two or even three days of sunny weather. The wrapped bales are made as airtight as is possible, and the moisture and lack of air inside allows them to ferment rather than rot.
The broiler chicks went out into their mobile houses on pasture this week, emptying the
brooder and giving us the chance to clean and renovate it a before the next batch of laying chicks arrive in ten days. We are going to divide the brooder space in half to start, and change the chick door to make it a little more user-friendly. With more time, we’ll change some of the windows so that they can be opened to allow for more ventilation. The broilers are happy out on grass, and they are quickly learning the routine of daily afternoon pasture moves. The whole house slides forward one length every PM chore, getting the birds off the space they have manured, giving them access to fresh forage and insects, and spreading their droppings over a larger space.
We picked up our second batch of piglets on Wednesday, and they’ve moved into the piglet training area for a few weeks of observation and a chance to learn our fence and water systems. They are a mixed group that includes just about every strain of heritage breed out there. There are quite a few red and white, black and white, and all red pigs in the mix. They are all looking really good at this point, enjoying our high quality Lancaster Ag feed, keeping a close eye on the electric fences, and figuring out how the automatic water system works. We need to put the final touches on the pig summer area out in the woods, and then they’ll move out there for the next few months until processing in October and November.
Sunday is our annual Big Pig Gig fundraiser in Cambridge, and the whole community has working at full speed to develop art and decorations for the event. Party preparations always bring in an eclectic group of wonderful alumni who gather at Josh B’s barn to turn stone, metal and wood, gathered from the ridge, into distinctive farm-themed works of art. This year’s celebration will feature our very own West Hill Woodcutters, an
old-timey band of Farm School musicians featuring traditional American music. The Woodcutters put on a square dance every Wednesday night for the visiting students, and on Sunday they’ll bring the show to Cambridge to entertain our donor community as well.