Thursday, September 11, 2014

Unity Farm Journal - Second Week of September 2014

As readers of my blog may have noticed from my infrequent posts, the past two weeks have been truly chaotic, filled with harvest and Fall planting activities during the transition from the dog days of Summer to the traffic filled first days of school.   (And there were a few red-eye flights  as the conference/lecture season begins).

Fall is my favorite time of year.   We’ve had nights in the low 50’s, days in the 70’s, and all our summer plantings are at the peak of their ripeness.    We’ve picked Asia pairs, McIntosh apples, late summer greens, carrots, tomatoes, and eggplant.   Every weekend night has been filled with grill- roasted vegetables and mushrooms.    Every weekend day has been busy canning blueberries (Unity Blue Jam), pickles, and tomato sauce. The hoop house is overflowing with newly planted growth - turnips, daikon radish, broccoli, spinach, and chard.   The cabbage butterflies are laying eggs on several of the “cabbage-like” greens, so I’ve applied an organic soap to the leaves in an effort to avoid too much crop loss.  

We learned last year that garlic and squash are best grown outside of the hoop house, so I’ve laid down a foundation of alpaca manure, moss, vermiculite, and compost for overwinter planting.

Still no alpaca baby - there are reports of 435 day gestations in first time alpaca moms, so our cria watch continues.

The dogs provided an interesting challenge this week.  Somewhere within a mile of the farm, a female dog was in heat (our female Great Pyrenees is neutered).   Our 120 pound male Great Pyrenees, Shiro, lost his mind.   He stopped eating.  He mated (or tried) 24 hours a day.  Our female, Bundle, tried to remove his face multiple times, but it did not discourage him.  After 4 days, it was as if a switch turned off.  He suddenly started playing, eating, and sleeping.   We (and Bundle) were relieved.

The major event of the week was that our 27th guinea, missing for 4 weeks, returned from the forest.  Unfortunately, she brought 16 babies back with her.   I say unfortunately, because our total guinea count is now

27 adults
11 teens
17 tweens
17 toddlers
16 babies
88 guineas

Combined with our 11 chickens, we now have 99 birds to overwinter in the coop.   At best, the coop will fit 66 birds comfortably.   We need to find a good home for our toddlers and babies - two groups of guineas we never planned.   We’ve put up signs at every feed/seed supply in Metrowest.    If you have a few acres, a coop/poultry housing, and an interest in wonderful tick eating guineas, please let me know!

The mushrooms continue to be prolific and we’re continuing to harvest oysters and shitake every day.   2014 is a year of learning for us - when different subtypes of mushrooms will fruit, which are the best tasting, which are the most insect resistant etc.    For now, our sales of mushrooms are limited until we are completely satisfied with the product.

We’re planning for our Fall cider pressing, tasting our fermentations from last year and evaluating how our mixtures of aromatic, tart, sweet, and astringent apple ciders have aged.   We’ll also prepare enough cider to make fresh cider vinegar, using the “mother of vinegar” from last year as a culture.

Over the next few weeks we’ll finish  freezing, drying, pickling, and canning the produce from the 2014 season, such as the sun-dried tomatoes below.    Soon, the leaves will start to fall, and our activities will gradually change to wood splitting and preparing all the citizens of Unity Farm for 6 months of cold ahead.


Anonymous said...

thanks for the nice update, everything looks on par at the farm. there is unity in the world, at least in your small corner of it!

Anonymous said...

I love reading your blog entries about the farm. It gives me a break from my Health IT work.