Thursday, June 6, 2013
Building Unity Farm - A Day in June
And what is so rare as a day in June?
Then, if ever, come perfect days;
Then Heaven tries the earth if it be in tune,
And over it softly her warm ear lays
JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL
Unity Farm is at the peak of growth now, fueled by warm days, cool nights, and Spring rains.
The Bluebird Meadow, pictured above, is filled with tall grasses and wildflowers. The three bluebird nest boxes I built are filled with growing chicks.
The Orchard, planted just a few weeks ago, is blooming and filled with its first growth of orchard grass, timothy hay, and meadow mix.
Our 8 bee hives are filling with honey, a mixture of pollen/nectar gathered from the orchard, viburnum, and wildflowers.
Adult rabbits are running thoughout the forest and their babies are hiding in our Cotoneaster brambles
We have an active fox den on the property, midway up the drumlin in the deepest part of our forest, in well drained soil, about 100 feet from our upper wetland. My guess is that it was an old groundhog den, since the first three feet of the main entrance were recently enlarged and dug into a tall oval shape that enables the fox to bolt out at a full gallop. Every night when I run our Great Pyrenees through the forest they want to leave the Woodland Path (Unity Farm has 4 paths - Woodland, Orchard, Marsh, and the Old Cart path) to explore the den. The alluring scent of fox urine is irresistible . The one downside to having an active fox den on the property is that one of our Guinea fowl disappeared on Tuesday night. I believe she was laying an egg in the forest (Guineas are terrible parents) and she was grabbed by a fox before she could fly away. I found a broken egg, a path of feathers, and no Guinea. All the Guineas come home to roost at dusk, but on Tuesday night, only 17 of our 18 Guineas returned.
The Unity woodland is covered with ferns of all kinds - cinnamon, hay scented, and sensitive ferns. I used my scythe to recut the trails through the sea of green underbrush. I've also had the seasonal joy of removing poison ivy from the trails by pulling it out at the roots.
The new alpaca had their first vet visit this week and we've updated their rabies and CDT (clostridium perfringens types C and D and tetanus) vaccinations. We checked their ears, eyes, and teeth. All were perfect. Since they lived with goats, we checked them for parasitic infections by gathering fecal samples. Sometimes people wonder how I've learned farming skills. How do you master alpaca rectal exams? Just do it!
The most amusing part of the vet visit was checking each new alpaca for the RFID chip implants that are used to positively identify them if a fence is breached and they wander off. The vet scanned Tahoe, our young male gelding alpaca and could not find his chip. Just to check the equipment, the vet successfully scanned me, since she had read about my experience as one of the first humans to have implanted RFID identity and medical records technology.
The weekend ahead will be filled with mushroom log inoculation, adding woodchips to trails, and clearing some of the fallen poplar on the Orchard trail. There's nothing like a Spring weekend of farm chores to refresh the body, mind and soul.
Posted by John Halamka at 3:00 AM