Thursday, April 3, 2014

Building Unity Farm - The Farm Journal begins

This month marks the two year anniversary of our move to Unity Farm. We planned the farm with the desire to be as self sufficient as possible.  Kathy closed her art gallery and now works on the farm full time.

In the past two years, we have installed a poultry yard, created paddocks for the animals, and removed 2 acres of trees to plant the orchard.  We built a hoop house for produce and inoculated shitake/oyster mushroom logs from our woodland management work. We  developed a 1 mile trail system and planted a diverse range of multi-season annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees for the bees.  We've worked the property and orchard/blueberries organically.

At some point, “Building Unity Farm” must transition into an operational and maintenance phase.   Given our two year anniversary as a working farm, today I’m turning my Thursday blog posts into the Unity Farm Journal, describing the weekly activities that are involved in running the farm.  It’s not art, romance or glamour.    It’s mud, heavy lifting, and joyful chaos.  Here’s my first entry in the Unity Farm Journal:

First week of April 2014

Our daytime temperatures are consistently in the 50’s with nighttime temperatures hovering at freezing.   The snow has melted and the paddocks have become a sea of mud.   The ducks can swim across the female alpaca compound which reflects the amount of snow we had this winter and the amount of rain we’ve had in Spring.

As usual the weekend was filled with farm tasks.     We finished the spring planting in the hoop house and now have beds of garlic, romaine, spinach, chard, peas, carrots, and bok choi.  We’ll plant beans and cucumbers in the next few weeks.      Here’s what the hoop house looks like with greenhouse blankets to protect the early seedlings from cool nighttime temperatures.

 I created templates, pictured below, for seed planting to ensure appropriate spacing between rows and plants.

Now that the ground is thawed, work on the farm trails can continue.   When I first laid out the trails, I traversed uneven ground just to bring access to every corner of the 15 acres.   Now I’m refining the trails, adding landscape timbers driven into the ground with rebar to terrace sloping paths, like the one below.

Last week I described my effort to create a trail to our vernal ponds.    We also have a cattail area - an acre of skunk cabbage, cattails, and forget me nots.   It would be very disruptive to walk through such an environmentally sensitive area.   To bring access to this area, I built a bridge and floating pier from the Marsh trail into “cattail hollow” which I’ll finish next weekend.  Here’s the general layout

Our major project last weekend was to complete our reconstruction of the bee yard.   We now have 10 hives set up, all outfitted with a landing board, a ventilated base, 2 deep boxes, an imrie shim to enable pollen patty and fondant feeding, a hive top “bee tea” feeder, an inner cover and outer cover.    Here’s what the bee yard looks like and a closeup the girls coming back to the hives covered with pollen.

The upcoming weekend will be filled with more animal/bee care and bottling of our hard cider if time permits.   My daughter turns 21 this weekend, so we’ll toast her with Unity Farm Cider.

1 comment:

Janet A said...

Happy Birthday Laura. Just spent a bit of time with your grandmother and she told me of your upcoming birthday.