Thursday, November 12, 2015

Unity Farm Journal - The Second Week of November 2015

There are still a few weekend opportunities to work outside before the snow falls.   We’ve shut off the irrigation, blown out all external pipes, put away the hoses, taken down all the temporary fences we used to keep the poultry out of fresh plantings, and covered all the firewood with tarps.     We’re hoping to finish the driveway project before Thanksgiving because the polymeric sand to hold the pavers in place requires a night above freezing to set.

   Kathy and I inoculated 30 oak logs last weekend (that’s 1500 holes drilled, filled and waxed over).   We’re using a strain of Shitake called WR46 that fruits early and has a high yield.    Our hope is to finish 100 logs before the weather turns too cold.

   All the leaves have fallen, creating a foot deep blanket over our 15 acres.   I’ve used the Stihl Magnum blower to clear the barnyard and pond areas.     The zip line is an entirely different experience traversing 300 feet of forest through leafless trees.

We have diesel powered (no volkswagens) and gas powered equipment on the farm.   I’ve added winter fuel stabilizers to every fuel source and filled every tank to avoid evaporation/consensation/water accumulation and to prevent gas line freeze up.

It feels like the grasshopper and the ant.   By working tirelessly on nights and weekends during Fall, Spring and Summer, the winter will be a time to rest/recharge and enjoy the foods/fermentations/fuel we’ve stored up when the living was easy.

 As the weather draws cold and animals begin to spend more time underground, the coyotes are visiting the barnyard more often.   Every night for the past week, I’ve heard their howling (and the dogs barking), so I’ve run around the forest at 2am, 4am and 6am to keep all the animals safe.

One last construction project for the Fall- building raised beds for American ginseng.   We planted 5000 ginseng plants in the woodland last year but had spotty results - deer and rabbits ate them, moisture was not ideal, and we’re not sure what microclimates they really prefer.    My idea is to create ten 2x2 foot raised beds, each protected by a 5 foot high welded wire fence.    We’ll look for areas with jack-in-the pulpit, bloodroot, Solomon's seal, jewel weed, galax, trillium, wild yam, hepatica, black cohosh, wild ginger and ferns, since those plants have similar environmental requirements.   With ten different “test stations” we’ll have a much more controlled experiment as to where ginseng grows best.    Ginseng, paw paw and chestnut are all part of our permaculture program, creating crops in native woodland.

This weekend I’m in Los Angeles helping my mother with home maintenance tasks, receiving the “Don Detmer award” from AMIA in San Francisco as a policy influencer, and giving an AMIA tutorial about the next generation of interoperability standards.   Back to Boston on the Sunday night red eye!


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