Thursday, April 23, 2015

Unity Farm Journal - Fourth Week of April 2015

This week a coyote visited the barnyard during the day.   Daytime activity is not unusual for females which have an active den of hungry pups.   We have fox, coyote, and fisher cat dens at Unity Farm, so there is a high predator load.   What happened?  The guinea fowl alarmed.  You would think that this would cause the 65 guinea fowl to flee - seeking safety in the coop or the top of tree.   Instead, all 65 guinea fowl assembled from  throughout the 15 acres of the farm and charged the coyote, chasing it off the property.   The coyote turned and threatened the guineas a few times but there is nothing like 65 screaming guineas to intimidate any predator.   Later in the day I walked the Great Pyrenees along the trails where the coyote was running and they franticly followed the scent.   As livestock guardian dogs, they know the coyote is their natural enemy.   No lives were lost and the coyote has not returned.

It’s spring and time to restart our usual monthly healthcare routine for all the creatures of the farm.    We inspected the eyes, ears, skin, and feet of every animal, trimming toenails, removing ticks, and applying ointments to winter-cracked skin.    The good news is that everyone is happy and healthy.

We’ve been hard at work building new hives, new hive stands, and portable bee benches.    Kathy has agreed to install Unity Farm hives in Medway, Holliston, and Wellesley.  Soon we’ll have Unity Farm bees gathering pollen over a 15 mile radius.

Kathy and I bottled 10 cases of Unity Farm hard cider last weekend.   In my medical school years when I ran Woodcliff Winery in the 1980’s (near the Marin County Civic Center), winemakers from Mondavi, Phelps, and Bonny Doon taught me everything I know about fermentation.  The cider I make today uses the same methods as french chardonnays.  I import the yeast and malo-lactic bacteria cultures from France.   My wife was has declared that Unity Farm ciders taste more like Dom Perignon than Angry Orchard.   Here’s a photo of my hand bottling each 22 ounce container from the carbonation kegs

We ordered our 2015 mushroom spawn this week.   We’ll inoculate 2 different subtypes of Shitake, 1 type of Nameko,  1 type of Gandoderma Lucidum (Reishi) and 1 type of Agarcus Augustus (Almond Agaricus) this year.    The Gandoderma is a healing mushroom from China and next week I will discuss a clinical trial of the mushroom for cancer care with colleagues in Shenzhen, China where I will be planning a healthcare IT innovation center with the mayor.

We’ve planted our 2015 zucchini and kabocha squash (Japanese pumpkin) in a 25x25 foot bed of alpaca manure, 2 feet deep.   We’re looking forward to a bumper crop this year, but we’re a bit wary of the frost warning tonight, so we’ve covered every plant with a cloche.   The rhubarb is already sprouting

On Sunday morning I begin my 23.5 hour commute to Shenzhen, so Kathy will keep the farm running in my absence.  It’s challenging to be gone during planting season, but the opportunity to make a difference in the healthcare of 1.3 billion people is compelling.

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