We’ve reached the end of another wonderful week here at The Farm School, with work up and down the ridge moving ahead quickly under blue skies and ample sunshine. Our pastures are exploding with fresh green growth, veggie starts are perking up in their long straight rows, and the greenhouse is bursting with more ready for their turn at planting. Alex and student farmers had a huge planting day Thursday, putting the rest of our tomatoes, those not going into the hoop-house, out into raised plastic covered beds. We had really nice planting weather, and with a nice day of rain on Saturday, those new plants have taken very nicely to their new surroundings.
Tuesday, with tornado warnings and watches even going up in several counties south and west of the farm. For the first time that I can remember, I heard an actual warning broadcast after the emergency alert tone on the radio, and we were told to take shelter in our basements in case of a tornado. Luckily all of the really strong wind and large hail missed our farm, but we know several farmers, including guest instructor Ben Shute at Hearty Roots Community Farm, who were not so lucky. We had heavy rain that totaled almost an inch before everything was over, and a few little wind gusts, but avoided any real trouble.
We got the pig’s electric fence setup this week, and those little porkers are out there happily rooting through the top layers of the pasture in search of delicious treasures. It is really great to watch the pigs have the opportunity to put their incredible snouts to work, pushing their way through the soil and roots, breaking everything apart and smelling out grubs, worms and tasty roots. One of our chief management principles is a commitment to giving all of our livestock as much opportunity as we can to live out the life they have been designed for, and seeing the pigs out there grinding up the pasture is a rewarding affirmation of that goal. The added bonus this year is that they are working through an area of pasture that has been almost totally taken over by the invasive bed straw, so while they enjoy working for their food, they’re helping us renovate acreage that would otherwise be lost or mechanically managed.
and upon a further examination, we found that the ewe had another dead lamb in her birth canal. The second lamb was pulled out with much less trouble, the ewe was flushed, cleaned, given a few stitches in her vulva to prevent a prolapse, dosed with some antibiotics, and sent on her way. The first lamb was pretty large, but signs seemed to indicate to all of us that both lambs had been dead for several days, so it’s not fully clear what exactly happened to lead to the trouble we had. Regardless, the ewe seems to be fine, and will unfortunately have to go off for processing this fall. Experiences like this restore my dedication to putting ‘Lambing Ease’ at the top of our criteria when making culling and replacement decisions.