June 11th – June 17th

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Lettuce growing in the Flat Field

We had two tiny rain events this week, both coming in at under a tenth of an inch, so our last meaningful rainfall was on Monday June 4th. We were already well under our average rain amount for the spring months, so this dry run has only deepened our deficit. The soil under the grass is dry and hard, the dirt road running between and around our farms and fields put up clouds of dust when we pass, and Alex is running irrigation just about full time. Despite the lack of rain, our pastures are in good shape, full of nice tall grass and growing back pretty nicely after grazing. Before being grazed, the nice tall thick grass has been able to maintain a pretty moisture rich environment under all that cover, so things are holding up remarkably well. One benefit of our tall-grass-grazing is that each pasture plant is given the opportunity to dig its roots down deep into the soil before grazing, so our pastures are able to be more resilient in drawing moisture from the deeper reaches, and energy from their nice large root structures. I have been really pleased with the performance of our pastures through this dry spring, and we still have quite a bit of grass out there in the paddocks ahead of the dairy herd, beef herd, and even the sheep. My thoughts are almost constantly on the rain in spite of our solid pasture situation, and the ten-day forecast is up on my phone about a thousand times a day.

The dry weather is great for growing veggies, if we can get irrigation everywhere it’s

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The tomatoes in the hoop house are growing well. 

needed in a timely way. Most of our plants benefit from these drier conditions to resist many types of health problems as well as insect pests that depend on having some moisture to thrive. The ample sunny weather also means that there is plenty of solar energy to absorb, boosting growth and making those plants that get enough watering, quite vigorous. So now the race is on to get those water loving crops the irrigation they need to take advantage of all the sunny weather, and if the veggie crew can keep ahead of it all, we’ll have abundant harvests earlier than usual, and sweet delicious produce for all of our customers and community.

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Rows and rows in black plastic

We’ve had a second calf in the beef herd to go along with the little heifer born a few weeks ago, and both mother and baby are doing well so far. We watched a little nursing difficulty on Friday afternoon, though the calf was not interested in a bottle of warm milk that we brought over from the dairy, and seems to be getting enough milk to grow and be happy. The beef herd, made up of some pretty large and ornery cows, is much more difficult for us to get hands on and intervene with nursing and mothering problems than the dairy herd. We don’t have the facilities to restrain a beef cow and manage nursing by getting the calf on the teat by hand, so when things go really badly, our only real recourse is to remove the calf and bring it to the dairy for adoption. We considered that option on Friday, but thought twice about trying to remove a calf from its mother while she was being fully attentive and motherly. The beef herd is generally quite docile and safe to work around, but one of the only times that they can be really aggressive is when a mother cow responds to her baby in distress. We will keep an eye on this pair, and try to make sure that the calf seems like it is getting enough to eat.

We’ve made more progress on our milk facility renovation, with siding, plumbing and

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Our new dairy facility entrance

electrical work this week. We have a door in place on the outside, the framing is all ready inside to receive the fancy waterproof wall panels, and the sinks have been ordered. Plumbing and electrical will be inspected next week before the walls are insulated and closed in, then fixtures, plugs, switches and faucets can start to go in too. Our new bulk tank is in the barn waiting to be setup, and the sinks can go it once they arrive as well. I’ll let you know how this coming week goes!

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