Winding Down (kind of)

5 11 2008

Des digging potatoes with new digger!

October has been a busy month for us here at the farm. We’ve had a lot of babies born, seen the last of this year’s vegetables get harvested for CSA and farmstand and had our first snow. The garlic is also finally all in the ground- which is why I’m a little late on this month’s addition. I had to wait for the snow to melt and the ground to dry up a bit before attempting to get those bulbs in the ground. It was our intern, Bobby’s, last task to help me with before leaving us. He’s been a great help this summer, we were thrilled to have him around and we wish him much luck in all his future endeavors. If he tackles the rest of his life’s tasks with as much enthusiasm and good will, happiness will surely embrace him.

Animal news: Penny (Pinky’s daughter) had her first batch of piglets on Oct. 7th- 14 piglets, our newest record for live births in a single litter. She was intially pretty freaked out, but her birthing went really easy and really fast. She had all of them in an hour and a half! She went into labor right at the start of CSA pick-up and delivered the last one before distribution was over. Needless to say, we were a little distracted that day. She settled down after we moved Portia, her sister, out of her pen. Portia was the worst doula pig we’ve ever seen. She was too worked up, which is the opposite of how it usually goes. She kept stepping on babies and making Penny more nervous. So we moved her to a separate pen for a few days and let Penny bond with her babes and figure it all out. Turns out that she has only 13 active teats, so that left one poor little piglet continuously out, but she is doing fine, she was adopted by Portia, Penny’s sister after we moved Portia back in with her sister until her own birth three and a half weeks later.Penny's little ones

We finished the garlic just in time to witness the birthing of Portia’s litter. She had nine piglets on Nov.1 and while she is a bit of a nervous momma we trust that she’ll settle down and do just fine- after all, she had no problem adopting her sister Penny’s little runtling. The runt is still content to live with Portia and her 9 new siblings, we tried putting her back in with her momma, but she just hops back through the fence and snuggles up with Portia. We don’t blame her, at almost four weeks, her much bigger siblings are a rowdy bunch. Both Penny and Portia were bred to Jake, so we have piglets with spots!

We moved Pinky, Lucy and Jake up to the barn and their autumn quarters, while the weanlings got moved into the field nearest to Rt. 9. The little ones are busy ‘hogging down’ the remnants of corn and pumpkins that were left in the field after harvest. They will eventually move up to the barn for the winter, but we want to leave them out as long as possible since we need to do a little rearranging in the barn to make it comfortable for all the pigs.

LunaWe’ve added to our cattle herd again. Seven young Hereford-Angus crosses joined the others this month bringing our total up to 22 head. Still a small herd by all accounts, they still manage to make their fare share of trouble while we race to catch up on our fencing.

The newbies are lovely, some are spotted black/white and red/white with many carrying some version of the classic ‘baldy’ or white face that breeds true in Hereford crosses.  Two of the new calves are heifers, with the potential for staying with us and becoming part of our cow herd. Luna is a black baldy with a dark ring around one of her eyes in a white face and Celeste, who actually looks like an Angus- Jersey cross, she is all black, but very dainty and feminine compared with the blocky Dexters.

Lucky Loki with ladiesLoki (nicknamed Lucky for obvious reasons) has come to visit us and Froth, Cassie, River and Brook seem delighted. He’s a very handsome 2 year old bull from Wheel-view Farm in Shelburne. He is very much the perfect example of a Belted Galloway bull, all shoulders and chest with a solid, bright white belt, but he seems gentle and sweet with the ladies.

Veggie News: The CSA wrapped up during the middle of October and we are still adjusting to the idea of not getting up early on Tues, Thurs and Sat mornings to harvest. While it would have been nice to continue on till the end of the month, it was a harsh awakening on the last Saturday morning to wake up to a white, frost covered world that stayed that way until 11am, well after the start of distribution. We couldn’t harvest while everything was frozen and so there weren’t many freshly harvested veggies that morning. Folks still walked away with a bulk of storage vegetables- a full share took home 20 lbs of potatoes, lots of winter squashes, onions and more. Sign up for the 2009 season will begin in January, look for brochures in the mailbox starting in December. If you would like to get on the mailing list, email us soon!

The farmstand continued until Halloween. We closed up and emptied the sheds, which will be moving up to the farm. The farmstand will be moving up to the sugarhouse for next season- look for the new addition in the spring! The previous farmstand site will be being utilized as a staging area for the Waconah Dam Restoration Project. Don’t worry, there will still be a field of gorgeous vegetables growing next season- the Project only needs the flat, gravel area where the sheds were. Our new signs will be going in directing farmstand customers up to the farmyard and sugarhouse.El helps with brussel sprouts

Most of the fields have been put to bed unless they have the last of the fall crops in them. We are still harvesting some for wholesale to Berkshire Organics and the Creamery.

Any that are still open will have to wait for cover cropping until the spring- when they will be planted with oats, peas, hairy vetch or clover until we need them. We don’t ordinarily like to leave our fields open at all- but the lateness of the CSA this season makes it impossible to put in the winter rye- it just won’t germinate in this kind of wet-cold. Next season we plan on implementing a new technique utilized by a pair of Virginia farmers, Anne and Eric Nordell, who interplant their fall crops with a single line of cover crop down each row after the last cultivation but before harvest. This leads to a healthy stand of cover crop while you are still harvesting and it also aids in suppressing unwanted, late germinating weeds.

The Education Program started up the Garden club afterschool program again this session at Berkshire Trail Elementary School. The kids are exploring biodiversity, making sunprints, carving pumpkins, and getting dirty again this term. We’re even getting outside and into the garden beds to weed, compost and plant stuff to enjoy in the spring.

Des w/kindergarteners & pigletsWe also brought some piglets to visit the kindergarten class- Morgan got to be the star of the show and tell all his classmates about pigs. It was great fun to see the kids touch them and then run around squealing and pretending to be piglets.

November will see us winding down as the days get a lot shorter and colder, but we will also need to make sure that our animals all are all safe and warm. So don’t be surprised to see us out there in our insulated coveralls, hauling water and feed, heat lamps and bedding. We’ll try and take some pictures.




One response

10 11 2008
Julie Size

I enjoy your blog very much. Please continue to post about your adventures!

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