Thursday, October 6, 2016

Unity Farm Journal - First Week of October 2016

What a year at Unity Farm: a plague of winter moth, a spring gypsy caterpillar infestation, deep drought, and maybe Hurricane Matthew, which is heading up the coast, might affect our foliage color and branch-falling.    Life on a farm is never boring.

Every October we press cider using the apples that were most successful that season.  This year our mixture is 40% McIntosh, 40% Cortland, and 20% Macoun.    Last weekend we hand pressed 250 pounds and created a cider with a ph of 3.3 and a specific gravity of 1.054 which will yield a finished alcohol by volume of 6-7%.   Although the drought created great stress in the apples, they are very flavorful and we extracted 2.5 gallons of fresh cider per bushel (42 pounds) we pressed.

After two weeks of fermentation, we’ll rack the cider off the yeast, and age over the Winter, bottling and carbonating in the Spring.

As Halloween approaches we always plant garlic and this year, we’ve created a 16’ x 16’ main garlic bed and three 4’ x 8’ satellite garlic beds.   The garlic will grow strong enough before the snow falls and then will become dormant over the winter, exploding with fresh growth in the Spring in time for a July harvest.

We’re starting to experience nights in the 40’s so we moved the pigs from the Summer Cottage to the Winter Pig Palace.   They now spend their afternoons with their bellies facing south to absorb the warm of the sun.    By nightfall they burrow in their hay under blankets and snuggle with each other to keep warm.

As the temperature drops, the last of the black swallowtail caterpillars is finishing its fall meals on dill, anise, and rue plants.   They’ll soon form a chrysalis and overwinter.    Our cornflowers will be filled with young swallowtails in the Spring

One of the most popular items we’ve sold recently at the farmstand are our “hyper-local” honeys.    We have nearly 100 hives spread in town around Sherborn.   The Wellesley honey has been particularly popular.  

Our work on the Unity Farm Sanctuary continues and we’ve signed the purchase and sale agreement, removing all contingencies.    This December, the real work begins as we start to create the educational center and enhanced animal rescue at Unity Farm.

One surprise this week.   Kathy went out the front door to collect eggs and what did she find - three around moms and a dozen new guineas.    Try as we might we have no idea where they nested.   As is typical our 60 guineas want to become 500 guineas every year by building secret nests in the forest.   The babies are warm and feed in the brooder and in 8 weeks, we’ll likely move them to a farm in Maine.

This weekend will be filled with more apple pressing and fermentation duties.  Next week will be a day in Denmark lecturing, then off to China for a week of policy and technology work before heading to New Zealand for an invited lecture.     Kathy and I  agreed that next Fall we’ll put a ban on all travel!

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