This was the opening week of the fall session at the Program for Visiting Schools at Sentinel Elm Farm, and we hosted a large and wonderful group of seventh and eighth graders from The Charles River School for three days of work on the farm. We endured another stretch of astonishingly hot weather while the kids were on the farm, but they held up great and got a lot done. The thermometer went up over ninety-five degrees Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons, and with high humidity it was difficult to work outside for any stretch of time. We had undertaken so many big projects in August that the farm still needed a little polishing to get into tip-top shape, and the visiting students helped get it all done, while taking regular water breaks. The kitchen was a really busy, and hot, place through the week, and we ate some amazing meals, as usual. Despite the heat, we are moving towards the end of the growing season, so work around the farm has begun to turn toward cold season preparations. The hoop-house tomatoes came out of the ground this week, and beds were prepped for our usual spinach and carrot planting. Students worked to clean and rehab the winter chicken coop in anticipation of moving the laying flock in there when the weather turns really cold.
We finished a bar-way in the northwest corner of our sheep pasture this week, giving us
the opportunity to get into that field with the manure spreader, and to get the sheep out of there and across the street into a neighbor’s field. I have been dreaming about making this bar-way for years, and I am really excited to put it to use. Unfortunately the new sheep field has grown tall and weedy this year without regular mowing, so I am not sure we’ll get the sheep in there this fall. We’ll get it mowed as soon as possible, and see if there is time for anything to grown up through the mowed mulch for some late fall grazing. If there isn’t enough time for regrowth, we’ll just have to wait until next year and try to keep ahead of the mowing to keep the grass green. We will definitely get the manure spreader onto the sheep field this fall, using the new bar-way, and spread manure for the first time on a field that really needs it. That pasture has barely been keeping up with the sheep, and I am really excited to increase fertility in there with a healthy dose of composted manure from the dairy.
The bull went in with the beef herd on Monday, a couple weeks later than we usually like, but still on time for calves to arrive in the middle of the next grazing season. We rent a bull every year from the original Rotokawa Devon herd imported from New Zealand years ago, usually hosting a different bull every time. This year’s bull is a very handsome youngster, just the right size and shape for us, and I am really looking forward to seeing his calves next summer. We always want a reasonably sized bull, hoping for easy birthing calves, and we aim for getting shorter and stockier as we develop a herd best suited to thriving on a 100% grass diet.