With the Learn to Farm graduation last weekend and the departure of the wonderful student farmers, Maggie’s Farm was certainly a different place this week. The bunkhouse wing of the farm house has gone quiet, there are no delicious baking projects to sample on a pass through the kitchen, and all of those smiling faces we have grown to love are missing. Although the students are gone, harvest and chores continued, and we started sprucing the campus up in preparation for the new class coming in a couple of weeks. The kitchen is getting its annual make-over, with an inventory of equipment and a refinishing of the floor, the parlor is getting rehabbed as well, and all the bunk-rooms will be repainted. We have also started our annual round of program and planning meetings, digging through the whole Learn to Farm Program to scrutinize each part, to make sure that the purpose and effectiveness is clear for each component of the program, and to find ways to improve what were doing across the board. There are parts of the program that we seem to wrestle with each year as we continue to seek a structure that works for everyone, and this fall we’ll be working on the independent project section of the program, our assigned reading curriculum, and our advisor work. Each of these are significant aspects of the Learn to Farm year, but we still have work to do the refine them into their most positive and effective forms.
mud is many of our pastures. I had hoped that a week of drying would make these pastures a bit firmer and more ready to graze, but with three and a half inches of rain on Monday and Tuesday, things only got wetter rather than drying out. We’ll keep the beef herd stopped through at least the middle of next week, eating wrapped round bales in Circle Pasture, and hope that we can get some good drying weather for the next few days. The grass in the better drained pastures is growing really nicely, so I am really looking forward to getting the herd back out for some good fall grazing. Fall’s chillier weather is usually really good for our cool season grasses, and October can be one of our better grazing months as we fatten up those steers for November slaughter. The weather patterns around here were pretty scrambled this summer though, and I am trying not to count on anything playing out the way that it usually does.
We purchased a six month old Normande heifer calf this week, hoping to add a new genetic line and a bit of diversity to our little dairy herd. Indigo came from Chase Hill Farm just down the road, and we are really looking forward to seeing her grow up to be a big part of our dairy in the future. Chase Hill has Indigo’s grandmother and mother in their milking lineup, and we are always happy to gave cows that come from good stock like that in our barn. She is old enough to be weaned at this point, and we have just put her in with the herd to find her own way. She may find a mother cow who is willing to let her nurse, or she may just give up nursing, but we’ll keep a close eye on her and support her nutrition if needed.