Frost on the Pumpkins

2 11 2007

Tilling in the Pumpkins on Halloween

Well folks, here it is November and there has been more than just a little frost on the pumpkins- in fact, they’ve been frozen a few times, which turned most of them into mush just before Halloween. We pulled those that were still mostly solid and brought them up to feed to Pinky, Lucy & the piglets. They don’t care whether or not they would have made perfect Jack-O-Lanterns, they just think pumpkins are tasty. Things are really slowing down here outside on the farm, but that just means that we start planning for next year. We’ve already started having planning meetings for how things are going to go for next season- one big thing is that we got accepted into the Massachusetts Farm Viability Program, which could help us with funding some bigger projects such as improving vegetable storage and distribution, building new animal housing, and fixing the miles of fencing we have here on the farm, among other things.  

Rare Earth: Closed for the Season, Open again for Christmas trees.Well, if you are driving past the garden at Rare Earth, you’ll see that there isn’t a whole lot left in it- most of it got tilled in this month and seeded to a winter rye cover crop (that’s all that green grass-like stuff coming up in the field). The ‘killing’ frost that we got at the end of October pretty much did in everything but the kale. It was hard enough to even damage the broccoli- which is sad since there were some gorgeous heads coming on in there. So we’ve closed the farmstand for the season- we’ll still have winter squash, eggs & pork available in the farm office, along with maple syrup & what is left of the honey 

Piglets are one month old and growing!Animal News: The piglets are growing fast, they are chunky and playful and getting into all sorts of trouble. They have learned that half-sister Lucy is a big pushover and will gladly open the gate just wide enough to sun her nose which is also just big enough to let the piglets out to play. So far they haven’t managed to get too far and will run and squeal their way back to Lucy if we find them out, but at some point they will figure out where the food is and then we’ll all be in big trouble. We’re doing our best to keep them safe, we’re just hoping they soon grow too big to get out through Lucy’s sunning spot.

Laying hens are 22 weeks (laying age) old next week, so we are getting the laying boxes inside the barn ready for new eggs. We’re cleaning them out and putting in new shavings and hoping that they will use them rather than find annoying holes to put them in instead. (some of the older hens have developed the bad habit of laying under their house). The new hens are big and beautiful- having reached full maturity their feathers are luxurious, full, and glossy. They will never be so pretty again- once hens start laying, they put more energy into their egg production than they do into their lovely feathers. 

Lucy’s nose Farm news: Other than the exciting Farm Viability Grant, we’re still busy at work making compost and firewood. We’ve had some major issues with our firewood processor breaking down and needing some heavy duty repairs, but hopefully we will soon get caught up on everyone’s orders. Dicken is getting out in the woods more- doing some forest management and cutting plans for the upcoming logging season. At some point in the next couple of months we will get some good photos of what his forest management looks like in the woods- from start to finish. If you get a chance to hike through the Deer Hill State Reservation in West Cummington, that gorgeous South-facing slope covered in maple trees is a perfect example of what Dicken means when he talks about forest ‘management’.  

Compost is getting turned and screened for next spring’s run of orders. We have to do this now since we can’t really do it in the early months when we have rain and mud, making the compost site a quagmire and wet compost is impossible to screen effectively. So we are also going to cover one long windrow of finished compost so that it is easier to get it screened and ready to go first thing in the spring. This is also the time of year when we get the most material for new piles- lots of horse manure comes in all year, but this is when everyone brings us their leaves- one of our biggest ingredients.  

In this month, when we dedicate a day to being thankful, we would like to send a thank you out to all our hard workers and volunteers from this past season! You made it a great one- so thanks to John Lord, Denise Haywood, Stephanie Bean, Nick Dargie, Marissa & Kendall, MariAnne, Seth Tebo, Jonathan Sawtelle, Rick Solis, Stephen Parkington, Christine LaCasse, Mike Dewket!




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