The Color of Summer

3 09 2007

Elspeth in the PeasWhile August on the farm is usually pretty grueling with days that are long, hot, and humid; this year we seemed to have been blessed with only a minimal few days where it was muggy enough to make everything stick to you. Which when you’re throwing hay bales or cutting summer squash- it makes every little scratch just sting. The August heat is also usually a blessing in disguise because it makes the hay dry faster and brings on those sweet, sweet melons, corn and tomatoes. Since we didn’t really have too many humid days, we’re a little behind on the sweet corn, but the tomatoes and melons (along with everything else) are flowing off the vine and into our new farmstand on Rt. 9. August is also the akin to Wednesdays for farmer-folk in terms of the growing season- we’ve worked really hard for months now, only to realize that we still have three months to go before things start to slow down at all. So we get a little cranky here in August, only to have it disappear come September first. Now we 

know the days will be getting steadily cooler, we might get some much needed rain and the bulk of the crops will be coming in. This is when the farmstand looks gorgeous and full of plenty. By the end of the month we’ll be bringing in the winter squashes and opening up the fields for Pick-Your-Own pumpkins. Cornstalks and broomcorn will be bundled and sold for fall display, we’ll harvest sunflower heads, Indian corn, dry beans and gourds for centerpieces.

Sorry we didn’t get to the newsletter last month….July flew by and then, so did August. In fact, here it is already three days into September and I’ve almost missed my deadline. Also I want to throw out a big THANK YOU and acknowledgement to Ben Garver, the photographer of the marvelous moose in our headliner at the top of the page….he’s a great photographer and I’m sure you’ve seen other photos of his in the Berkshire Eagle, you can also check out his photographs at Flickr.com.

Last month’s farm happenings:

So far this summer we have made over 7000 bales of hay. And we’re still going! We’re well into our second cutting of most fields (though we waited a little for some of the first cut- on purpose in a couple of fields to give the birds a chance to finish raising their chicks.

Animal news

The chicks are babies no longer- at almost 12 weeks old, they are thriving and too big for their brooder box. They are filling out from their ugly adolescent stage and are starting to look like little hens. So we’ve moved them temporarily to the old chicken coop in the barn (usually reserved for winter quarters) until we get a chance between hay making and farmstand construction to build the new 120 chicken condo wagon. Jesse is hard a work making that happen- we’ll have pictures when he’s all finished. Oh, and I think we’ve figured out what our surprise ‘rare breed chick’ (free when we purchased the others) is, it must be the Buff Rock rooster that has appeared in amongst all the others.Crockpot the Rooster We also added another rooster to the older hens- he was a rescue who was found wandering around Plainfield Pond. Claire DiLeo, who was worried that he would end up in the road, rescued him and we found a home for him here. He seems to be nice enough, only ruffling up his feathers and pecking at anyone who he feels might be threatening his ladies. We pick him up and cuddle him once in a while just so he doesn’t get any ideas about getting too cranky.

Two of the little (!) pigs went off to the slaughterhouse in July- making it much easier to feed the remaining five (they had been starting to fight at feeding time). They are getting big and the four boys will probably be going off in the very near future. Lucy, the gilt, will be staying here and joining her mother Pinky, for some more pasture time, working up another field until it gets too chilly at night for them to be outside and then they will move into separate quarters in the barn. They will be able to chat over the fence, but by then Pinky will be due to have her second litter (sometime in October).

We’ve had a lot of new arrivals to the boarding stables- two that had arrived from an auction in much need of TLC are filling out nicely and responding well to fresh air, pasture and lots of sunshine. All the horses appear to be sleek, shiny and happy out there in the pastures.

The Children’s Garden is looking a little wild these days, the tunnel garden has grown well- we need to get out the pruners to keep the cherry tomatoes in check. And the sunflower house needs weeding, but it looks beautiful in there. The hedge of cosmos and sunflowers are blooming and so are many of the other plants- we had a little problem with Japanese beetles trying to eat everything in sight so we did our best with handpicking to keep them under control, but they still did a lot of damage to the blueberries and the hollyhocks. We should be doing some harvesting in the Three Sisters Section by the end of September- that part of the garden looks incredible, wild and overgrown, but that is part of the fun. Everything in there grew so well!

Farmstand being set in place!

Rare Earth & what’s in the garden

The farmstand has been up and running for a month and is going great! Word is spreading quickly through our neighbors (even without signage!) and we’ve already amassed some regulars. The garden is churning out gorgeous organic vegetables, flowers and fruits and we’ve added some locally produced honey from a neighbor up the hill in Windsor. Currently it is filtered (but not pasteurized, so still good for allergies) and he’s promised to get us some pure, raw, unfiltered honey for those of you who like it as close to straight from the hive as you can get it but without the wax. If you want it with the wax- we’ve got comb honey. You can also purchase our own maple syrup.

Current offerings at the Market:

Salad mix, summer squash, zucchini, heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes, sweet corn, string beans, fingerling potatoes, new potatoes, red peppers, paprika chili peppers, pimento peppers, cucumbers- lemon (a great snack!), pickling and slicers, eggplant, flower bouquets, sunflowers, muskmelons (cantelopes).

Coming soon (in the next month):

Russet potatoes, carrots, broccoli, Indian corn, broomcorn, pumpkins, gourds and winter squashes, cornstalks. All natural, pasture-raised pork will also be available (this is a little bit dependent upon whether the electric gets hooked up in the next month, but even if not at the Market, it will be available from the farm).

 

We’ve also hosted a couple of great annual events here at Holiday Farm in the last month. Brianna’s Fun Fair attracted lots of happy children and families out to the farm for a fun-filled day of games and adventures. The Fair brought in somewhere around $2500. for Children’s Cancer Research.

The Mountain Bike Team held their annual six hour race with a total of almost sixty riders. It wasn’t as big as the June affair, but it seemed much more grueling. It was also one of the rare (this year anyway) hot and muggy days. We’re still finding water bottles along the trails and on the edges of the fields. I know the organizers were good about keeping the bikers hydrated and fueled with M&M’s, fig newtons and so forth. The spectators enjoyed a more filling meal of hamburgers, hot dogs and brownies from the Girl Scouts. The race ended in a tie.

In Memoriam:  Basho- farm dog extraordinaire- November 2000- August 2007

Sadly, our dog was hit and killed by a truck on Rt.9 this past month. He did not suffer and for that we are thankful. As Desirée’s nearly constant companion for the last six and a half years, he is a dear friend that is and will be sorely missed. Basho
 Thank you to all those who have stopped with a kind word, condolences, flowers and cards, it means so much to us to know that there are so many others who were touched by his open and happy personality. For those who did not get a chance to meet him, he could always make you laugh and would always chase the stick for whoever threw it, you automatically knew he was safe to be with. May his lovely spirit find joy in the Grace.

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