We are at the end of a week of real summer weather, with every afternoon topping out right around ninety degrees this week, plenty of humidity to make everything sticky, and no rain in sight. With a full week without rain, I am starting to get worried about our pastures again, though we are not in any real danger yet. We have had a really nice growing season so far, with ample rain arriving with just the right timing, so I think our soil is still holding a pretty nice level of moisture.
We had one last surprise calf in the beef herd to start the week, and the hot weather has been a challenge for that baby who has not yet figured out to seek shade during the heat of the day. The cows are headed into one of their longest stretches of pasture without shade trees on the pasture edges, but the ten-day weather forecast looks like they will not be facing much really hot weather. They are moving into a large pasture in two sections
that we call Lower Barn Pasture and Lower Racetrack Pasture. This is acreage that we cut hay off of so far this season rather than graze, and it has grown back as a lush stand of dark green forage that I think the cows are really going to enjoy. Great grazing means more milk for the calves, and it means growth and weight gain for the steers that we plan to take for processing this fall. Growth, and taking in enough energy to start laying down inter-muscular fat, is what makes beef tender and delicious, and this next stretch of grazing promises to be a really productive period of growth for our beef animals.
We picked up a little load of sixty bales this week, finishing off our first cut quota for storage for the year, and topping off the dairy barn hayloft almost all the way to the ceiling. It feels great to have a huge supply of winter feed, and puts us in a much better position than we were in last year when we scrambled to get just more than half this much during the drought.
Alex and the student farmers harvested the garlic this week, and moved it into the hoop house to cure. The garlic was planted in the fall of last year, just in time to take root before going dormant for the winter under a deep bed of mulch straw. It put shoots up through the mulch in the spring, grew tall scapes that we harvested, and put on nice big bulbs over the last few warm months. We will take cloves out of the harvest to use ourselves as seed, sell the rest, and replant again this fall to complete the cycle and keep process going.
We are headed into our last session of summer programming at Sentinel Elm Farm on Monday, and this final program runs for two weeks with the oldest kids of the summer. We are looking forward to getting some serious work done with these able-bodied kids, and we’re hoping to really get the farm into tip-top shape before the place quiets down for a stretch until school groups come again at the end of August. One big project that I anticipate working on a lot is a new house and yard for our two growing ram lambs and buck goat, hoping to get them away from the girls before we have
unintended pregnancies. These new breeders will live together, as laid out in the AWA rules prohibiting animals from living alone, and will cycle in and out of their respective herds for breeding seasons.