Winter is clinging to the farm, with snow still covering a good portion of the pastures, and lying thick through the woods and shady places all over the farm. Our ten day forecast does include some warmer days, but most nights look like they’ll being going well down into the twenties. We are almost always grazing by the first week of May, so April is certainly lining up to be quite a month for transition and change from where we are now, to pastures full of grass. We set up lambing jugs at Maggie’s Farm this week, in anticipation of lambs starting to come the first week of April. We really try to avoid cold weather lambing, so I am eager for this extended winter weather pattern to change before lambing gets going. We also have our first batch of chicks coming in the mail the first week of April, and I hope temperatures aren’t really cold for those little ones too. These signs of the coming production season seem to be in disagreement with the wintery scene still apparent around the farm, but I expect that things will come back into alignment with a snap any time now. Any time that I’m feeling like spring will never really get here, I remember five or six years ago when we were lambing with temperatures in the nineties, and running a sprinkler on the roof of the old lambing shed to keep the place cool since there were no leaves to cast shade yet. The weather here in New England is unpredictable, changes quickly, and always keeps us on our toes.
This coming week will be our last week milking Phoenix before we dry her off next
weekend. Once she is dried off, we will have no cows in milk for a month, before Patty is due the first week of May. Although this is not a situation that we like to be in, and one that came about because we had to cull Emily unexpectedly, we are going to try to take advantage of the milking break to renovate our milk room. The cement floor is a little rough after years of use, the walls could use a little refreshing, and this will be a chance to renew the plumbing and electrical setup, and refresh our sinks and shelves as well. We also have plans to remove the large two-hundred and-fifty-gallon bulk tank, and to replace it with a much smaller ninety-gallon version. This planned removal means that we are going to have to tear down one of the walls of the milk room, since the bulk tank will not fit through either of the doors. All of this work is the first step in our planned development of a pasteurization facility attached to the existing milk room, with dreams of pasteurizing our milk and developing a product that we can sell or consume on the farm.
Student farmers pruned blueberries this week, trimming and cleaning up the hundreds of bushes at Blue Ox Farm, a local blueberry operation that we work with every year. We harvest blueberries at Blue Ox throughout their production season, leaving some with them to sell on sight, and taking some to sell at our farmer’s market tables and in our veggie CSA. This partnership has worked really well for both The Farm School and Blue Ox Farm, giving us a wonderful resource we wouldn’t otherwise have, and giving them a large and constant customer, and a pruning crew. The students also had a great workshop about accessing farm land, lead by a representative from Land for Good, an introduction to honey bee farming with our great alum Anne, and a trip to Cold Springs Farm to learn about pruning grape vines. The students were also busy in the greenhouse, seeding more trays and giving the tiny onion starts all the tender love and care that they need to grow up vigorous and delicious. Work continued in the winter hoop house, transitioning from beds of spinach to a blank canvas for our summer tomatoes, and we got the first run of trellising up successfully. I’ll include a write up and some pictures once that project really gets going!