Thursday, October 9, 2014

Unity Farm Journal - Second Week of October 2014

Several important updates.

Mint, one of our pregnant alpacas, had a false pregnancy.   Although she gained weight and had all the features of a pregnant camelid, she is no longer pregnant.   However, she is 30 pounds overweight and we’ll now have to restrict her access to grain.  Time for the alpaca stairmaster.

Mulan, our Harlequin duck with aspiration pneumonia is improving after 10 days on tetracycline.  She’s regaining her quack (for almost 2 weeks she’s been voiceless) and is now running with the other ducks.   She’s still a bit fatigued, but is on the mend.

It’s apple picking time.    My daughter and I picked six varieties of cider apples and organized an apple tasting at the farm to inform our cider making activities.

We decided that Empire was our favorite eating apple, followed by Rome Beaty and Macoun.    Our heirloom cider apples - Ben Davis, Northern Spy, and Roxbury Russet were good but had a very firm consistency with a bittersharp taste.    Our plan for the upcoming weekend is to crush cider using 1 bushel of Macoun (aromatic), 3 bushels of Baldwin (sweet), 1 bushel of McIntosh (tart), and 1 bushel of crab apples (astringent).   Although our apple harvest this year is in the hundreds of pounds, we’ll hopefully have thousands of pounds when the trees mature in 5 years.

Our existing cider fermentation is going well and we have developed a standard process - crush, ferment for 2 weeks, rack, add malolactic fermentation cultures, age for 4 months, bottle, age for 2 months, drink!

As winter approaches, all the creatures of the forest are storing up reserves for winter.   The squirrels are storing the acorns that are falling at a fast clip.    The bees are stockpiling nectar and pollen.    Even the preying mantis (find it in the picture below) are eating their fill.

 Leaves are falling, birds are migrating, and mushrooms are popping everywhere.  

This weekend (Columbus Day) is all about manure management - moving 10000 pounds of “llama beans” into windrows, a new squash planting area, and our garlic beds.   During all that hauling I’ll also move one of our wood chip piles into a new mushroom area using a new technique to first grow Agaricus spawn on cardboard then inoculating chips.   I’m hoping for a great spring crop as we expand the number of mushroom species on the farm.   Japanese Nameko and Shimeji are my next experiments.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


You listed the number of bushels of apples that you'll pick, but you didn't translate that into gallons. How many gallons of cider does a bushel of apples produce?