Thursday, December 18, 2014

Unity Farm Journal - Third Week of December 2014

On Sunday, December 21, 2014 astronomical winter begins in the Northern Hemisphere (and ends on March 19, 2015).

All the animals and vegetables will be stressed for the next 100 days.   It’s a cold and dark time that brings a struggle to survive.      Here's a photo of a chilly morning along the railroad tracks at Unity Farm, taken by Gary Beach, a Sherborn resident and author of "The U.S.Technology Skills Gap".

One of our ducks, Mulan (they are named by my daughter for Disney princesses) died of pneumonia yesterday.   She aspirated water while mating (ducks are rough) and although we  treated her successfully with antibiotics, she had a relapse and died in a few hours.   She’s buried in our Japanese shrine area.   She was the most colorful of our flock, an endangered Welsh Harlequin.   Her sister, Belle, lives on to carry forward the genome.  In the Spring we may add a rare Ancona duck pair to the flock.

Jack, our last surviving rabbit, is 13 years old and in his last days.   He’s blind in both eyes and recently had a stroke, paralyzing his lower body.   We keep him warm and hydrated, feeding him his favorite food, fresh broccoli.    He’s not suffering but is beginning to fade.

The local predators are finding it harder to stay warm and well fed, so they are venturing into the barnyard areas.   A large Cooper’s hawk tried to grab a guinea fowl yesterday but my wife was able to chase the hawk away.    Again today the hawk tried to capture a bird, but with 68 guinea fowl alarming, every one of them was able to get away.

The voles, moles, and mice continue to dig into the hoop house and I’ve placed peanut butter/carrots in the humane traps that enable me to keep the vegetables from being eaten.   This week the count is 2 voles, 1 mole and 2 field mice trapped and moved half a mile away.   I’ve cleared a few of the raised beds  - chard, spinach, and turnips - and replanted mache, purple choi, and red romaine lettuce, all vegetables that will germinate in the 50 degree temperatures of the winter hoop house.

The holidays are approaching and we’ll have a household of relatives from December 22-December 31.   There will be a few extra hands to help with the farm chores - tending the crops, caring for animals, and helping decorate the farm for the holidays.

There may even be some downtime to plan the projects of 2015, including the woodland planting of new permaculture food sources.  Of the 15 acres of Unity Farm,  5 are pasture/meadow and 10 are woodland.   By adding nut trees, berries, roots, herbs and flowers in the forest, we enhance the sustainability of the land while benefiting all nature's creatures that live here.  Over the past 2 years we’ve finished the infrastructure improvements to the farm and added all the tools we need to keep it maintained.   Our new frontier over the next few years will be creating a wonderland in the forest that surrounds us.

1 comment:

Steve Earle said...

Have you tried soaking a few cotton balls with peppermint oil and leaving them around the hoop houses? Mice hate the smell - although if they're really hungry, they may just hold their noses and dig in anyway.