Thursday, December 17, 2015

Unity Farm Journal - Third Week of December 2015

December continues to be unseasonably warm.   The bees are very confused - breaking cluster and leaving their hives in search of nectar which is not available this time of year.   We’ve created feeding boards for each hive, covering a hardware cloth screen with a patty of sugar.     The bees will recover, but we’re worried about the fruit trees and bulbs, which seem to think it is Spring.   If full budding occurs now, the buds will die in January when the cold and snow return.

I just finished the Fall semester of my Umass Stockbridge Farming program, Organic Vegetable Production.   For my final paper, I created an organic treatment plan for Unity Farm in the framework of a local pest and disease primer for Sherborn, Massachusetts.  Here’s the full text of the paper 

The work on the mushroom area I described last week is now complete.   We have a comprehensive mushroom management plan, infrastructure, and processes.    Kathy and I have about 150 new logs to inoculate and the racks are ready to store them.

Last weekend we completed the last barn cleaning before winter, using our large shop vac and industrial strength Stihl Magnum blower to remove all the hay, dirt and dust that had accumulated over the year.   In theory, the animals will be spending time in the barn soon, when the first snows of winter fall.    The barn is so clean and orderly that a visitor suggested we be nominated for “Farm Beautiful” magazine (which does not exist).

The ground is still thawed and we finished all our 2015 planting - 10 new beds of American ginseng as well as 6 new Korean Bee Bee trees , a late summer bloomer to extend the nectar sources for the hives into the Fall.

As the end of the year approaches, I’m very happy with everything we’ve accomplished at Unity Farm this year.   There are a few small items we’ll need to improve our workflow.  It’s time to prepare the Christmas list, which I’ll share next week.

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