After a run off really hot summery weather, with afternoon temperatures well over ninety degrees most of the week, we have finally broken through into some real fall weather here at the end of the week. The thermometer dropped down into the lower forties last night, and our forecast is calling for the lower thirties by Saturday evening. Though the temperatures have dropped significantly, we have been super dry around here for the past few weeks, and things were starting to look dusty and droopy. As I write this Saturday morning however, rain is falling, the bright green has returned to the pastures and plants, and all our animals are all having a rainy Saturday morning snooze under cover (if they can find it).
The hawks are back after the chickens this fall, repeating our experience from the last two years when red-tail hawks showed up in the fall looking for easy meals. Our layers and pullets are still out on pasture, so I am having a tough time coming up with an effective way to keep the chickens safe without the security measures that we have in place at the winter coops. This year, unlike the past two, the hawks have even gotten brave enough to go after the layers at Sentinel Elm Farm, where our Program for Visiting
Schools happens, which had been much safer because of all the kids and dogs running around everywhere. As I’ve mentioned before, I have no interest, nor is it legal, to do the hawks any harm, so we need to find ways to deter them, harass them a bit, and generally get them to decide to go hunting elsewhere.
Our fresh class of Learn to Farm student-farmers arrives on the farm next Thursday, and we have been busy all week getting the facilities and program into tip-top shape to welcome them into our community. We are really excited about some great refinements to our program, hashed out during some in-depth meetings over the past couple of weeks, and the buildings and grounds which are looking great too. We never feel fully ready for the new group, with an endless list of little tweaks we could make to just about everything, but we keep getting better and better, learning as we go. This will be another full class of fifteen students, and we have high hopes for their next year here with us, and for their ability to launch from here to make a difference in the world. Check out farmschool.org/learntofarm to get a good look at the program!
The turkeys have been setup in a large day-yard, and released from their houses. The houses, with food and water, are in their area for shelter and roosting, but the birds are out enjoying the big open space, mixing in with everyone, and generally being silly. We loved the security that their houses provided them, but the exuberance that they show now that they’re out seems to be worth the risk. (They are too big for the hawks). We have not been herding the inside their houses at night, and so far they have been fine, with most choosing to sleep inside on the roosts, some on the feed trailer, and some just nesting down on the ground. Now we need to think of a way to collect them all the day before processing so that they can be caught and dealt with.