We had a pretty dry stretch of weather this week, and that of course had me worried that the rains were gone for the summer. Luckily, we got a few tenths of an inch of rain Friday morning, and more through Saturday, and I’m calming down a bit. Surface soil that had been drying out got another nice soaking, and all the veggie plants out in the fields are looking clean and vigorous. Bradley has corn growing beside the dairy barn at Sentinel Elm Farm, and it is growing visibly taller by the day. Our pastures have been growing nicely all season, and so far we have been able to hold some acreage out of the grazing rotation for making hay. We try to keep some acreage for making the first cut of hay, but this year I am hopeful that we will also be able to get a second cut off that area as well. Every bale that we are able to make ourselves is one less that we have to buy, so we are glad to have the weather that allows the grass to grow well enough that we have this opportunity.
Our broiler chickens, started in the brooder and now living in mobile houses out on
pasture at Maggie’s Farm, are scheduled for processing on the 18th of July. They have just about reached full size by this point, but we’re hoping that they can pack on a little extra weight and really fill out over the next ten days before processing. They look to me to be a much better size than last year’s group, when we were so disappointed in their growth, and I am looking forward to adding them to our product list in a few weeks. The roosters start to show male characteristics, with different plumage, larger combs and wattles, and even a few early attempts at crowing, and we know they’re approaching full size.
This was another big hay week here at The Farm School, and we put more than a thousand bales up into the hayloft of the dairy barn. We try to get between two thousand and twenty-five hundred stored away in there over the course of the season, and plan for
two-hundred days of hay feeding over the late fall, winter and early spring. The bulk of our hay comes to us in round wrapped bales, but the supply of small square bales plays a vital roll in feeding sheep, goats and horses, as well as filling in the edges of the feeding schedule for both the beef and dairy herds. The small square bales also give us a bit more flexibility in our feeding regimen as we transition out of hay feeding in the spring, and they also play a vital roll in feeding animals separated from the group with a new baby. We need to make sure we take enough in now to see us through the winter and to meet all of the vital needs. A big stack of bales in the hay loft helps any farmer feel a bit more safe, secure and wealthy.
Peaches and apples are starting to grow in our small orchards, and at this point, the peaches look like they’ll be the better crop this year. The peach trees put on way too much fruit to start, and we try to do a little thinning at this point so that they are not over burdened
once the fruit starts to really get larger. Thinning also gives the tree the chance to direct more energy to fewer peaches, and gives us larger juicier fruit when harvest comes.