Thursday, December 10, 2015

Unity Farm Journal - Second Week of December 2015

We’ve had a very warm December that has enabled us to do much more outdoor work than usual.    The effort of the past weekend  focused on refining our mushroom areas and permaculture plantings.  

Our end goal is 500 logs in production as follows

360 Shitake logs (4-8”) on 30 a-frames (pictured below)
 36 Shiitake logs (8-12”) on 12 4x4 bases
 24 Ganoderma Lucidum (Reishi) on the ground
 24 Nameko (Japanese mushroom) on the ground
 56 Oyster totems

We’ve decided to discontinue Lion’s Mane (poor yield) and retire those oyster logs that are no longer fruiting.    Last weekend we used the Terex front loader, forks, and our manure hauling trailer to move all the old logs into an a large pile adjacency to the orchard road where a commercial grinder can reduce them to wood chips for our trails.

Going forward we’ll focus on Shitake for 3 reasons
1.  Price point is nearly double of other types of mushrooms
2.  Shelf life is weeks, not days
3.  Fewer insect pests attack Shitake

Next weekend I'll be wrapping up my latest University of Massachusetts course, Organic Vegetable Production.   My final paper “Organic Pest and Disease Control in Sherborn, MA” covers all my experiences raising vegetables at Unity Farm, as well as the experience at surrounding farms - Sunshine, Sweet Meadow, and Dowse.    It will serve as a primer for agricultural practices at Unity for years to come.

As the holiday season approaches, we’re getting ready for the visit of family and friends.   As farmers, we’re very tolerant of our close partnership with the land and the animals we support.  We do not impose our lifestyle on any visitor.   If you want to shovel manure, you can, but there is no expectation that any visitor will follow our daily routines.   Tree house climbing, zip lining, hay hauling, forestry management and tractor driving are only for the willing!

It’s deer hunting season in Massachusetts (shotgun Nov. 30 – Dec. 12 and Primitive Firearms Dec. 14 – Dec. 31).   Local deer seem to know that Unity Farm is a vegan/vegetarian priority, so we have a deer freeway around our barnyard.   The alpaca/llama do not like deer (not clear why) and tend to trumpet in alarm when deer graze around our paddocks.    The Great Pyrenees always react to alpaca alarms with their own barking,  all night long.     You may have seen memes of the World’s Most Interesting Man - “I don’t always….”   Here’s our version:

We've posted no hunting signs every 50 feet around the perimeter of our 15 acres.   Given that rifle bullets can travel miles (assuming they miss their target and trees), we need to ensure our 150 animals are not harmed in any way during hunting season, so we have created a buffer zone using our property and surrounding properties.   We are careful to wear bright colors and avoid runs through the forest at dawn and dusk during hunting season.   I look forward to less 3am barking when the deer return to their usual range after hunting season!

1 comment:

Loren Maloney said...

Always a good idea to take precautions during hunting season, however, thought I would add a comment for clarity. As you mentioned, there is no rifle season for hunting deer in MA. Since shotgun slugs have a much lower muzzle velocity and higher wind resistance than rifle bullets, the maximum distance a shotgun slug will travel is about 500 yards. Muzzleloader bullets will typically fall to earth well under 500 yards as well. Either way, hope you never have to rely on your buffer to keep your animals safe.