September 9th – September 16th

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Harvest’s bounty

The Learn to Farm class of 2018 graduated on Saturday, marking the end of a remarkable year of work, learning and community building. This class was a powerful and productive whole, but was also made up of spectacular individuals. Each and every student poured their hearts, plenty of sweat and maybe even a little blood into the work of this farm, and our community is full of thanks and amazement for their time here. The farm is a better place for their contributions, the work of The Farm School has been carried forward for another year, and our community is a better place with them in it.

Saturday’s graduation program included a section that the students called ‘telling the

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We’re converting the hoop house from tomato production to winter greens and carrots. 

seasons’ in which they recounted the year on the farm that they are now completing, while acting out many of the most significant parts of each season. This review of the year was an amazing snapshot of the length of their commitment to our farm, to the breadth of work that they have completed, and to the variety of tasks in which we have immersed ourselves through this year on the farm. It was striking to be reminded of the places in the year where certain pieces of work take on seemingly mythological proportions, the focus of nearly our whole organization is brought to bear on one area or project, and it feels like the whole world exists in that work. I am thinking mostly of the cord wood production period of the program in the winter, and the veggie production period running through spring, summer and early fall. The immensity of these projects, the repetitive nature of the work, and the exhaustion that came with each day cast these endeavors indelibly in the memories of our students, and they figured prominently in their reenactment of the seasons. Fell, buck, split, stack, fell, buck split, stack was the cadence of the winter, repeated at graduation to recall the work of cordwood.

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Summer’s end on the farm 

We got another inch of rain this week, and although we have had a nice period of drier weather since the deluge of July and August, this last rain seems to have had nowhere to soak into. Several of our beef pastures are again under standing water, and we have had to adapt the beef grazing rotation to keep the cows off  some of the swampier fields. We have parked the cows in the Circle Pasture, and I have setup five round bales in there to feed out over the coming week. I hope that a week’s time will let the pastures dry a bit and allow us to graze them the following week, but we do have another inch of rain forecasted for Tuesday. We are creeping up on the end of our grazing season, which usually runs through the end of October, so I am beginning to consider the condition that we leave pastures after grazing since we may not have the cows back over the same ground again this year. The grass above ground is a good indicator of the root system below, and our goal is to leave strong roots to ride out the winter with enough vigor for spring, so we try to leave as much residue on the soil surface as we can. Some of our pastures are growing extremely well with all of the rain we had this summer, but some of the lower and flatter areas seem to have just gotten too soaked, and to have stopped growing.

The pigs are growing well up on the hill at Sentinel Elm Farm, and turkeys have begun to

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The turkeys are growing for Thanksgiving! 

really put on weight now too. Our lambs are starting to approach a good market weight with five or six more weeks of grazing ahead of them before heading off to slaughter, and this year’s steers look incredible in the beef herd. These weeks are the last breath of the flush of summer, and the gentle slope down into fall is just becoming visible over the horizon. The hornets in the orchards are nearly panicked, sensing their own imminent demise, and we too are working hard to squeeze everything we can from the season before it ends.

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