June Is Time for Planting & Haying

5 06 2007

Happy Pig!
We have been very busy here at Holiday Farm during the last month- everyone wanted to get their gardens in at the same time due to all the warm, sunny weather which meant that most of the crew were out driving trucks full of our ‘black gold’ compost to needy gardeners up and down Berkshire County and into the Hilltowns of the Pioneer Valley. All that compost makes for a lot of happy plants being put into the ground this  growing season.

Pigs Outside WorkingBetween all the deliveries, we still managed to get a lot of other things accomplished. The biggest is that the seven (no longer small) piglets are finally out of the barn and onto lush delicious pasture. And they are loving it! Jesse built them a beautiful new house on skids so that it can be pulled with the tractor from one section of field to another. Their fencing is also mobile, being an electrified netting that can be taken down and put back up again in a new spot with relative ease. The plan is the move them through sections of field/pasture that are thick with weeds or grass species we don’t like, fortunately, they love them and will ‘root’ down into the soil to get at the entire tasty plant. It took them a bit to get used to the idea of their new house moving along the driveway, but they soon figured it out and walked along quite happily, only balking a little at crossing the bridge and again when first encountering lush grass for the first time ever. We trained them earlier this month to respect fencing, so they are giving the electric net a wide berth. They also have plenty of space to run around and lots of fresh food to eat so they shouldn’t even be tempted by what’s on the other side of their fence, and even if, they will get moved over as soon as what they have looks a little low. As you can see from the pictures, they are certainly happy pigs!

Earlier the toads made their way to the pond to mate and lay their eggs, fortunately we were able to get some good pictures of how they lay their eggs in long lines before they hatched into a Toad Eggs in the Pondbazillion tiny tadpoles. During the next month they should be growing legs and lungs and escaping the pond to head for the fields and forests as toadlets. Conveniently the Education Program is having two workshops in June about toads- one on June 16th and the other on June 30th. They will be exploring the world of toads and making toad ‘abodes’ for the Toad Garden and others for bringing home in the hopes that toads will decide to move in!

Chickens too nervous to leave their houseOur Chickens finally arrived! (Not the chicks- they are due to arrive via mail the week of June 11th- and there will be 75 of the little fuzzies, so come and check them out while they are still cute and small!) The new chickens are 25 lovely young laying hens, all the embodiment of the little Red Hen. They did, as suspected, come to us ‘de-beaked’, but they are having no trouble adapting to their new home. They were also a little wary at first of the outside world, having never really seen it, and were scared to come out of their house when we first opened it, but after a half hour or so, one of them was brave enough to venture out and the others soon followed. They have been installed in new electric net fencing and a mobile laying house and will be moving around the farm- a safer version of ‘free-range’ that allows them access to fresh pasture, lots of sky and bugs while keeping the predators at bay. The three remaining chickens from the old flock (two black hens and the Barred Rock rooster)have been added to their family and all are getting along just fine. To our surprise, some of the hens have already started laying and we will soon be offering ‘tasty’ eggs (a true farm fresh egg with a dark, almost orange yolk and a firm white that stands up in the pan) for sale here at the farm.

Boy Scouts Camping in Pond FieldOn May 19th 60 or so Boy Scouts from all over Western Massachusetts and the Berkshires braved the pouring rain and unseasonably cool weather to pitch their tents in the Pond Field below Cooper Barn for the weekend. They worked all Saturday morning cleaning up hiking and biking trails all over the farm, clearing brush piles and other various farm tasks that we needed lots of hands to help with. The afternoon found them on various Mt bike rides, learning about basic bike maintenance and participating in other ‘badge’ activities. The Mountain Bike Weekly Race organizers were on hand to guide the trail maintenance crews- a boon to them, since their Wednesday race series started just a short week and half later on the the 30th!

While we are not 100% sure of the details, you can find information on the Mt Bike Races by scrolling down the right hand of the screen and clicking on the Mt Bike link.

At Rare Earth planting is well underway- the potatoes, peas and carrots are up and prospering. Tomatoes, eggplant & peppers,(thankfully started by our friends over at Crabapple Farm in Chesterfield) are in and growing quickly. Green beans (four varieties), Edamame, salad mix, cucumbers, summer squash and melons all had to wait for warm soil and no frost but have all been seeded and are just poking their heads up out of the earth. There is still a lot to do and plant- more tomatoes, and second seedings of almost all the veggies. But now our biggest project is just trying to stay ahead of the weeds! And the pests (both mammal and insect!) Staying ahead of the weeds just got a little easier with the arrival of Daisy, a 1945 International Cub Cultivating Tractor that belongs to Desiree- but she can only do so much, for real clean fields, we will still be reliant on hoes and hands. Insect-wise, we have a little respite for a bit since bugs tend to like it hot, but Des has found some three line potato beetles investigating the spuds. These little pests are not quite as devastating as the Colorado potato beetles, but they can still do some damage. Squishing commenced immediately.

Our only major problem has been the mammals, so far, especially in the Indian corn since it appears to be particularly tasty to groundhogs- they managed to eat a full half of the crop and it may be a little too late for us to plant again. We will try it, but it may not be ready before frost. The groundhogs have hopefully been discouraged from venturing onto plowed ground again since the first of the sweet corn varieties went into the ground on Saturday, with the rest to be planted tomorrow along with the pumpkins and winter squash for the fall. (Our giant pumpkins went in with the Indian Corn and are thriving- apparently squash plants aren’t tasty to groundhogs.)

The building of the farmstand is in the works with the initial clean up of the site already underway. The plan is to get the lumber sawn up for constructing the Market next week and it looks like we will be building the stand this month and opening on schedule for July 1st. The sunflowers probably won’t be blooming, but they will still be a presence along the road, you will also see the gorgeous, variegated Japonica cornstalks (as long as the groundhogs don’t find them first).

The Children’s Demonstration Garden is starting to take shape. If you come by, remember that it is a ‘Work In Progress’ and that just a short time ago it was still a hayfield. The grass is growing in the pathways and we’ve started having to mow, but there is still lots of sod to be weeded out of the Garden sections, so certain areas still look kind of like Chia pets. Ward’s Nursery in Great Barrington donated some high bush blueberries, and we got lots of seeds from Seeds of Change (thanks Gaby!). The Sunflower House has been planted and Morgan has been working on his vegetable plot. We were given a lot of daylilies, raspberries and perennial flowers from friends and neighbors and they have all been planted!Three Sisters Section of Childrens Garden

The 3 Sisters Section got planted with Hidatsa heirloom beans, Rainbow Inca Corn and Boston Marrow Squashes. We also put in some heirloom potato varieties along the edges since potatoes are a staple of many Native peoples in both North and South America. The seeds were planted using traditional Hidatsa techniques based on gleanings from an account by Buffalo Bird Woman who was born in 1839. The beans will grow up the corn and provide a little extra nitrogen for the corn’s roots, while the corn provides support for the beans. The squash will ramble amongst the corn and shade the roots. We will hopefully be able to save some seed from all three heirloom vegetable crops to be able to share with our community.

Next on the installation list is the Tunnel Garden, the framework for which was put up last weekend and is just awaiting helping hands (hopefully to be provided by the Berkshire Homeschooling Network) to plant cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and green pole beans. Also we will be putting up tee-pee supports for melons, nasturiums and maybe some more beans. We have lots of vining things to choose from.Dandelions Growing in the Hayfield

Upcoming for June- as you drive by the Farm there will be lots of fields getting mown and bales, both square and round being made. We make a lot of hay here during the summer and we have already started. The Garden (John & Peg’s CSA) started distribution on Tuesday, June 5th. Horses are out on pasture for the summer.
First Cutting of Holiday Field

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