Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Unity Farm Journal - 4th week of April 2014

The state of Massachusetts recognized Unity Farm as a 61A agricultural property this week, so 14 of our 15 acres is now deemed as a working, producing farm!

On Easter Sunday, the ducks, chickens, and guinea fowl laid their eggs throughout the barnyard, giving my daughter the unusual experience of a completely natural egg hunt, pictured below.

The plum trees (ume) are in bloom throughout the farm and it feels like Japan

A few weeks ago we planted all our Spring vegetables in the hoop house and they have been growing nicely, until this weekend, when a vole devastated our spouts.   When we created the hoop house, we lined the sides with poultry wire to keep chickens and guinea fowl out of the vegetables, as pictured below.

However the 1 inch spacing did not block chipmunks, mice, and voles.    The end result of a hungry vole attacking a spinach bed is pictured below.   The tender leaves are bitten off at the base.    We did catch the culprit at work, at least the tail half!

Our solution was to run 100 feet of 1/4 inch hardware cloth 3 inches below ground, secured with river pebbles, and topped with soil, pictured below.   We also added live animal traps inside the hoop house to check on the efficacy of our work.   The traps have remained empty and the spouts are growing again.

We bottled another 20 liters of hard cider, using standard 22 ounce capped bottles instead of pressure resistant swing top bottles.   This bold experiment will demonstrate to us if natural carbonation will blow the tops off capped bottles.

Part of the Unity Farm property is a one acre meadow of Forget me nots, adjacent to a stream.   The area has been inaccessible in the past, so we created a trail and a low impact board walk to Forget-me-not Glen.    I'll finish everything next weekend and post pictures.

Five packages of bees (10,000 bees and a queen per package) arrive on Friday and Kathy will install the packages into new hives in our bee yard.

Next weekend we’ll apply 80 pounds of mushroom spawn to a new Oyster mushroom area and new Agaricus (button) mushroom beds.    Two Agaricus beds are in the shade of a large pine tree outdoors and two are in the hoop house.   We’ll experiment with how well this warmth loving mushroom does in outdoor and indoor settings.


Allison said...

Voles! I did not know what a vole was until today.

Unknown said...

In addition to being a top flight CIO, you and your wife are an awesome farming duo!