June 18th – June 24th

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Dark clouds moving over the bunkhouse before Monday’s storm hit.

We’ve reached the end of another full week here at The Farm School, with a full slate of harvests, CSA drops and markets, big changes with our livestock, and some wild weather too. This was the first week of summer camp at Sentinel Elm Farm (Program for Visiting Schools), and we had a wonderful group of just girls on the farm for five days of hard work, great food, and lots of fun. Most of these girls have come to the farm previously with their school group, and chose to come back for a longer stay over the summer. They are all super excited to be here to pitch in, and we are even more excited to have them back on the farm.

Monday was super hot, pushing the thermometer up around ninety-six degrees in the afternoon, and the heat was broken around dinner time by some really intense thunder storms. We got more than an inch of much needed rain in about half an hour, though most of it ran off  the hard packed dry ground. Winds whipped the rain just about directly sideways, tore down several large branches, and totally destroyed our summer dining tent out in the garden. We have moved the picnic tables into some shade under a line of trees, and we’re working on getting a new tent as soon as possible. We also got a little rain on Friday night, and with more forecasted through the weekend, I am hopeful that we might break the extended dry streak we’ve been in since mid-spring.

Our broiler chickens went off for processing on Monday, and we kept about thirty-five

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We have tomatoes in the hoop house, but also plenty in the field. 

here and processed them on the farm on Tuesday. Those birds processed on the farm were mostly parted out into cuts, and were put into the freezers in the Maggie’s farmhouse basement for next year’s class. Everyone is excited that the broiler chore is done for the year, though we did get sixty turkey poults on Thursday that we’ll raise in about the same way. I picked up the finished chicken product on Thursday as well, and the birds seem to have really come out beautifully! They were loaded into the big walk-in freezer at Sentinel Elm, ready for the meat CSA this winter, and some other select sales too. We raised Kosher Kings and Freedom Rangers this year, hoping to compare the two breeds in our system to determine if one would be a better fit for us, and it seemed at the end that they performed about the same. This was not really a clarifying result, though I’m happy that both grew well, got big, and stayed healthy.

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A view south over the beef herd grazing in Runway Pasture. 

We had two more calves in the beef herd this week, bringing our total up to four by this weekend. One calf was born on Wednesday, just before the daily cow move, which coincidentally was a really long move through several winter feeding areas to the next area of fresh grass. The new calf and mother would not move from their spot, and I ended up having to carry the calf several hundred yards to the fresh paddock, driving the cow ahead of me. These little calves are born weighing more than a hundred pounds, and this one was still a little wet and slippery from birth. With a long fresh umbilical cord, and plenty strong enough to struggle against me through most of the carry, I had quite a time getting the job done. We got the baby and mother to the new paddock, got them back together, and they seem to be doing great now.

We picked up hay throughout the week, and we’ve almost reached our thousand bales

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Another look at the beef herd enjoying Runway Pasture. 

for the summer. We got way too much hay last summer, and still have about a thousand first cut square bales left over from the winter feeding season. We are going to buy a thousand more this summer, and feed out both stacks this winter, and we’ll hopefully end up closer to an empty hay loft than we did this spring. We have never kept hay for more than a year, but the bales from last year still seems to be in really good shape, and I am optimistic that it will be well received when the grass runs out this winter.

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