With a stretch of warm rainy weather here to end the week, the worms have come out and are exploring the driveway, paths and games field. There are several explanations for why worms surface after a heavy rain, but one of my favorites (and one of the most likely) is that the wet conditions give them a chance to move safely over the top of the soil, so they take the opportunity to migrate more quickly and easily than they could in their usual underground world. Regardless of why they do it, the first warm wet day of the year, with worms under foot, is a sign that the the season has truly turned. As folks thinking about the health and function of our soil, we are happy to see a vigorous population of earth worms here at The Farm School, and we do our best to stay out of their way when they’re moving across the farm. We had some dry weather and some rainy weather this week, so there was a bit of a dance, as is usual this time of year, as Brad, Tyson, Carlen and Kristen did what they could to cultivate and prep veggie fields for spring planting. Peas went into the ground this week, and so did some hearty onion and greens starts, though the soil is still pretty cool and wet. Bed prep and compost application continued full speed in the new Flat Field acreage this week as well, with the BCS two wheel cultivator moving steadily over those fields forming the raised beds that will make up the back-bone of that growing system. We had heavy rain forecasted for the end of the week and over the weekend, so midweek Thursday and Friday were a real race to get as much acreage cultivated before tractor work had to stop again while the soil is too wet. When I hear the distant murmur of the tractor at dawn as I’m milking the cows, or again at dusk as the work day ends, I know that the veggie managers have seen rain the on the horizon and are squeezing every minute they can out the dry weather, trying to set the stage for rainy weather planting work while they still can.
she’ll pull delivery off well. Our typical six or even eight week lambing season is one ewe away from completion at twenty-one days, and even with that quick pace, we were never overwhelmed by an over-fast sequence of births. We’ve seen quite a few pairs of twins, everyone has had the appropriate conformation and assembly, and the mothering has been diligent and nutritious. I had real trepidation going into the season, having employed our two new rams for the first time this past breeding season, but it seems from the results, and the timing of the event, that those two boys did a great job. Though there is not a direct and quantifiable (at least for us simple farmers) measurement to be made between the day of service and the day of delivery, it is always interesting to me to try to read the sequence of the past breeding season in the tea leaves of lambing or calving season. With the lambs coming quickly and at the very start of the potential lambing window, I can imagine the rams getting right after their work from the moment they were put in with the ewes, and keeping after it diligently until everyone was bred. A three week lambing season probably means that breeding was successful for everyone in the first heat cycle that the rams and ewes spent together, which is remarkable to me knowing that it was accomplished by inexperienced rams.
Unfortunately they are another batch of those pink pigs with docked tails, I believe coming out of a conventional confinement pig operation. We have raised this type of pig in years past, and have found that while they grow quite well, they seem to have lost some of the intelligence and natural pigginess of the more traditional pig strains that we prefer. A confinement pig operation is interested in pigs that grow well, and not much else, while we would like pigs that can thrive in our forest and fields based system. Our approach gives the pigs the chance to dig and root, and to find natural food for themselves, and relies on their agency a bit in the process. Locating and securing piglets in the spring is a real challenge for me every year, and this year I found a source that could supply all thirty piglets at once, for a good price. I guess getting less than ideal pigs is the price we pay for that convenience, but I am hopeful that our good feed, fresh milk, and the forest lifestyle will result in big healthy pigs come fall regardless.