We ended up with lovely weather for our annual CSA Pot Luck. As usual there was lots of amazing food to share with a relaxed , happy time for all. After our big meal we enjoyed horse drawn wagon rides and for some a walk in the woods. Later in the afternoon the children made a jungle gym out of the straw bales that we had put out for people to sit on and had lots of fun playing on them. It was a nice end of the season party for our apprentices and Michelle Jory, who helped make the day enjoyable for all. It is very special to be able to form a community around the food that we grow and eat.
The coming week will wrap up the main season of our CSA and we are happily anticipating slowing down a bit after that. We hope to plant our 2013 garlic crop this week and mix up potting soil so it will be ready for the winter startup of the greenhouse for next season.
I am happy to report that we have had a major break through with the milking of Mabel. She was not very happy about being milked and was kicking to the extent that it was impossible to milk her. Finally, after much perseverance, she has turned into a dream cow at milking time. Mac is now permanently separated form Mabel and is being bottle fed. We have a small milking machine system to keep me from waking up with numb arms in the night and are now able to start thinking about making yogurt, butter and cheese! Our apprentices, Michelle and (Ken-reluctantly) were a big support to me in this endeavour and I am very grateful. Ken thinks that I am crazy to want to take on more work and perhaps I am, but for some reason I am excited about the prospect of having our own milk and making our own dairy products.
Today was a typical busy day at Orchard Hill Farm. Tuesday is always a pick-up day and after the flurry of activity in the morning getting the produce ready for the pick-up some of us moved on to other things. I walked around the farm and took pictures of all the goings on at the same time. Elizabeth, Michelle and Caesar were weeding mesclun in the main garden, Ken was plowing this year’s corn ground (now that CSA working share members picked all the popcorn and ornamental corn), and Bill was seeding wheat in the field that he had cultivated yesterday with our Suffolk Punch Horses, while many of our CSA members were picking and snacking their way through the raspberry patch. We will now seed the corn ground to rye for a winter cover and start in plowing this year’s squash ground and plant it to rye as well. We will finish seeding the hoop houses with greens tomorrow for our Fall CSA and bag up our cured sweet potatoes. The gladiola bulbs need to be dug and put in the basement over winter and a bit more cover crop seeding done in the main garden to prevent erosion over the winter.
As I was strolling around trying to capture pictures of all that was happening on the farm I snapped a picture of the garden plots for next season seeded down with mustard, rye and Sorghum Sudan grass. I then walked over to take a picture of Bill planting the wheat. The seed bed looked so beautiful with its soft, fluffy soil and lots of organic matter. I cast back over the summer, sorry that the ground wouldn’t be the destination of the 2013 CSA main garden after all, despite Ken’s careful preparation of the land. The hay had been cut and left in the field to be worked in, more hay from another field had been brought in addition to increase the organic matter, the land was then plowed in 2012 and planted to buckwheat. Soil samples were taken and minerals and compost spread and worked in to balance the soil. The reason for the change of garden location was the wire worm problems we had right next door in this year’s early garden…the warm winter last year seems to have been the contributing factor and perhaps a soil type preference. So we changed the location of the garden for 2013 and started preparing ground on the other side of the lane in hopes to avoid wire worm. Then we found wire worm there too! After considerable alarm and research we are starting in on a new cover crop approach that includes mustard and trying to avoid cereal grains in May when the click beetle (adult wire worm) lays it’s eggs. The challenge is coming up with a rotation that works and still adds back organic matter to the soil and leaves the ground covered over winter to prevent erosion. There is considerable research going on for wire worm problems and we will be experimenting here as we try and keep abreast of other people’s results. One of our CSA members, Jeff Tolman, a retired Ag Canada entomologist, has been a great assistance to us in our quest to figure out what to do. All I can say is, we should have a bumper crop of wheat in 2013 after all the care that went in to preparing the ground.
Sunday is our CSA Pot Luck and next week is the last week of our main season CSA. We will be sadly saying good bye to our two wonderful young women apprentices, Amanda and Elizabeth. All of our apprenticed have given us so much support and energy over the season we are very appreciative and grateful to them all! Bill will be staying with us over the winter and for next season and we are very happy to have him with us for another year! Michelle has also been a big boost this season as she has popped in and out to give us a hand! We wish her well in her farm search.
September is a big fall harvest month on the farm, at the same time we are looking forward to next season, working in summer cover crops and planting the over winter cover crops and fall grain. With only three weeks left in our main season CSA we are deciding how to divide the harvest amongst our members and what to set aside for the Fall CSA.
Today CSA working shares helped us bring up our squash and pumpkins from the field. In the afternoon we started to dig our sweet potatoes and have them curing in one of the hoop houses. Amanda spent part of the afternoon tedding the last of our hay for this season. We are hoping to take it off on Monday, weather providing.
It is already September 1st! Our CSA working shares are always a big help when they come to lend us a hand with the harvesting and washing of produce for our pick ups. Today they suggested we take some photos of the pick-up room with the produce ready to go before everyone arrived to “pick-up” the days offerings.
The fall harvest time is upon us. This week we dug all the remaining potatoes. The horses actually dug the potatoes and we picked them up and bagged them. It was a full day, but very satisfying. Anna McFaul, a past apprentices, was here to help and enjoyed seeing our potato digger at work. When she was here we were still using a walk behind potato plough.
We have been having a bit of a challenge milking Mabel this week and have decided to take Mac away from her to see if that helps. We had hoped that we could leave him with her and just milk off enough each morning for house milk, but Mabel decide this week that she’d rather keep all the milk for Mac. We’ll see how it goes from here…
Ellen and Della were home for a visit last week and it was lovely to have a bit of time with them both. Della is a very responsive two month old and we look forward to seeing her continue to develop her own personality.