This was another remarkably rainy week here at The Farm School, with heavy rain almost every day. Our new rain gauge was busy keeping score, and we ended the week having gotten somewhere more than three inches of additional rain. That is on top of the over two inches of rain that fell on the last two Wednesdays in row, so now things are truly saturated. We typically don’t see rainfall like this in July, and these wet conditions are in contrast to the expected dry season we are accustomed to in the summer. The moisture is going to setup a strong second cutting of hay in this area to compliment the healthy first cutting that is already in the barn. All of this rain was the product of a large circulating weather system, spinning counter clockwise with its center south and west of us. The system was quite large and powerful, and stalled in just the right spot to draw a river of warm wet tropical air up from the south, out over the ocean to get well and truly saturated, and then over New England. Areas of rain and thunderstorms moved almost perfectly south to north over us, and seemed to come in a nearly continuous stream. The storm system wavered east and west a bit each day, moving the stream of rain accordingly, almost like a farmer watering trays in the greenhouse, and by Friday it finally started moving east and away from us for good.
We have been working over the past couple of months to renovate and rehabilitate the barn that the beef herd winters in, and we finally got all of last winter’s manure and bedding out this week. The cows generated a really amazing depth of bedding and manure this past winter, more than I have ever seen in there by far, and this year’s dig out was a serious undertaking. We had some big days of digging in there, and some smaller ones, but I am happy to report that it is finally finished. We now have a large beautiful pile of composting manure out in the yard to turn and age before spreading next fall. Most of our attention has been paid to the hay loft of the barn, cleaning it out and repairing it so that we can start storing hay in there with the confidence that it is weather proof. With that area completed, we need to turn our focus to the downstairs area where the cows take shelter, and that required that the bedding be removed. Now we can really see the space, and can envision how we are going to expand and improve the cow’s area. They have done some damage to the walls over the years that they have been occupying the space, and we are eager to give them more room to stretch out, so we are now investigating how to maximize their area and to build in a way that can withstand their pressure. We have dreams of developing the barn that they winter in into a real headquarters for our livestock operations, with the capacity to hold all of our various livestock equipment and supplies, so this renovation is part of a larger dream to develop the entire facility. We hope to improve the barn space for the cows, improve the round-bale feeding system, build a poll barn to hold equipment, renovate the loading the chute, and establish a large functioning composting yard. We anticipate this being a multi year project, and we are trying to bite off pieces that we can bring to full completion each year, until it’s all done.
Squash harvest is winding down, tomato harvest is ramping up, the peas are just about finished, and the cucumbers are at their peak. The rain of the past week will change everything though, loading vegetables with water, and giving every plant all the moisture they need for some really vigorous growth. The hoop-house tomatoes, out of the weather and supplied consistently with irrigation, are immune to these changes, and are coming along beautifully. The grape vines are absolutely loaded with fruit, there are no apples or peaches, and we have been busily harvesting raspberries and blueberries whenever the rain lets up. We usually face two truly hot months of summer, with a varying tastes of summery conditions before and after, and here at the end of July we are at the halfway point of this hot stetch. July was a remarkable month, with the hottest weather that I have ever seen here in the twelve years I’ve been farming this land, and now the rainiest stretch I’ve ever seen. I can’t wait to see what August brings.