Thursday, September 15, 2016

Unity Farm Journal - Third Week of September 2016

The nights are beginning to cool down to the 40’s and we’ve doubled up on the straw in the pig barn in addition to tucking them in each night with 3 fleece blankets.   In a few weeks we’ll move them from the Summer Pig Cottage (shaded/east facing) to the Winter Pig Palace (sunny/south facing) and given them their cold weather quilts for sleeping.    It’s hard to imagine the farm without the pigs.  Like dogs and geese and they are intelligent, emotionally responsive companions that really brighten our days.

The drought continues and we’ve had only half an inch of rain this month.   The apples are maturing but the crop is very small.   This weekend, I’ll do refractometer measurements on the Macintosh and other early apples to figure out when to harvest them.   I’m hoping for a sugar content over 15%.    We’ll likely press cider for fermentation once in early October and again in early November.
Much of the September farm time has been spent converting our summer crops (see below) to fall crops, clearing raised beds and the hoop house for lettuce, chard, spinach, carrots, and beets.  The trick is to get relatively large, robust plants before the days get too short and the weather grows too cold.    If the plants are resilient enough, they’ll continue to grow even in December and January.   Our compost screening machine has been working overtime, making the hundreds of pounds of finished “llama beans” that we use to fill our growing areas.

Unity Farm continues to be a rescue site and this week 3 bantam roosters will arrive to supplement our 100 chicken community.   Everyone gets along and the barnyard literally buzzes with activity every morning when 100 chickens (including the frizzles below), 100 guinea fowl, 7 geese, 6 ducks and 2 pigs get together for the morning feeding.

Early fall is my favorite time of year.  Crisp mornings give way to warm but not hot afternoons.   The humidity is beginning to fall.   The hard work of summer ends with the harvest and preparation for 6 months of cold weather ahead.    As I’ve said before, running a farm is joyful chaos, but the seasonal expectation of indoor downtime is something we look forward to.

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