I’m beginning to feel like these updates are getting a little repetitive, but we’re drawing to the end of yet another week of heavy rain, moderate temperatures, and just a little sun. We had more than an inch and a half of rain to start the week, shutting down tractor work on the cultivated acreage for several days and topping off the soil moisture again. By Wednesday, the water standing in the pastures and fields had just about soaked in, but tractor work was still limited by the wet soil. Our CSA and market harvests began this week, but with the cool wet start to this year’s growing season, there has not been much to harvest yet. All of this rain has really gotten our pasture forage plants growing in top gear, and the acreage that we cut for hay over the past couple of weeks is coming back fast and strong. I think that we are all still a little uneasy after last year’s extended and devastating summer drought, and I am still half expecting the rains to stop at some point here, and be gone for the rest of the summer.
We spent the first part of the week making some changes to the new brooder house, and our latest batch of chicks came in the mail yesterday and moved right in. We’ve reduced the initial floor space that the chicks have access to, with the plan to expand it as they grow. We’ve also made it so that the windows can be opened and closed to increase our ventilation options, and we’ve changed the door to simplify letting the chicks in at out. The move in was very successful, with just one dead chick in the box when it was opened, and everyone busily getting a drink and a belly full of our good organic chick starter feed.
This week marks the transition from our spring schedule to our new summer plan, and with a few bumps along the way on this inaugural run, we are really looking forward to giving every student full weeks focused on individual components of the farm. Our goal, in developing the summer schedule, was to allow each student to dig deeply into a particular aspect of the farm, to gain intimate knowledge of the whole of that area over the week, and to start to feel a real sense of mastery and ownership for it. We hope that this process can build toward the final segment of the program when we turn the operation of the farm over to the students, as much as is possible.
We are still waiting for our first calf of the year in the beef herd, and I am starting to get
a little nervous about the situation. The bull went in with the herd on August 10th of last year, and with a gestation of about 283 days, we expected to start seeing calves some time in the middle of May. There is usually a little lag time between when the bull arrives, and when he is able to get down to business, but this delay has got me a little worried that he may not have been a viable breeder. The bull was in with the cows for an extremely long period of time last year, from August until the end of the year. As a result, we could be seeing calves born any time between now and October, if he bred cows further into his time here. That potential for late calving is another reason that we are eager to get the bull picked up in a timely fashion, usually after about ninety days with the herd, but it is understandably frequently difficult to get the bull owner to prioritize that project. I’ll be sure to keep you up to date, with cute pictures, if we have any new calves in the coming weeks.