We had a great Thanksgiving week at The Farm School, but there was not much time to write an update of everything that we got up to. We had a short week of work on the farm, with the adult students heading off for the holiday on Tuesday evening, and the kid’s programing only running through Wednesday. It sounds like everyone really enjoyed their turkeys, and there was plenty to eat for everyone.
Although we have not had much really cold wintery weather yet, the farm is taking on the feeling of winter more and more every day. Most of the fences are down for the winter, and the green of the pasture grass has faded to the light brown of winter. The home gardens are resting under blankets of mulch hay and wood chips, and our stack of round wrapped bales is growing by the day. We got our large tractor setup with a bale grabber this fall, and that has made the work of loading, unloading, moving and setting up round bales so much faster and easier than it has ever been for us. Rather than borrowing a bale grabber, or contracting out to get someone to come use theirs to do our work, we have been able to get wagons of bales parked in the yard where we can unload them before they’re driven off to get reloaded. Instead of trying to get all the bales delivered in one or two crazy days, we have had a much more gradual and easy-going go of it so far, and I really appreciate that!
The Learn to Farm program spends these weeks between Thanksgiving and our winter
break renewing everyone’s training with the draft horses, tractor and chainsaw, in preparation for the intense firewood production season that is coming after break. We have a nice pile of logs in the farmyard, setup well for safe bucking, and with one-on-one supervision, we’ll get everyone a few hours in that work to keep those newly acquired chainsaw skills fresh. Bradley is taking two students at a time to re-introduce them to our draft horses, Tom and King, show them our equipment, and give them a few hours to drive the team around the farm and keep themselves comfortable working with horses. Finally, everyone also gets another couple of hours on the tractor, and with more direct instruction, we’re introducing bucket work and heavy lifting. All of these tools and
skills are the foundation of our firewood work, and we want to make sure that everyone has the skills that they’ll need to move that work ahead efficiently and safely. This span of the program also starts to have more and more classes, as we transition from full days out on the farm, to a more even split of classroom and outside time.
This has been the last week of fall programing at the Program for Visiting Schools, and we are ending on a high note with a full week of fourth and fifth graders from The Orchard Gardens School. A good portion of these kids are native Portuguese speakers, and it has been wonderful hearing them fill the farm with this beautiful language. They have been actively translating for each other throughout the week, and while this has slowed some of our programing a bit, it has
made us distill all of our wonderful chatter into concise and bite sized pieces, finding the relevant meaning in all the talking that we’ve grown accustomed to. This has been a really enlightening process for everyone, and has been a great way to reconnect to our message and work with a fresh perspective. We’ll spend the next couple of months working on the farm and infrastructure, and welcome kids back again in late winter.