Friday, November 14, 2014

Unity Farm Journal Second Week of November 2014

The mood at Unity Farm has been somber this week with the death of my father-in-law on Sunday.   He was a significant part of seasonal farm activities and was a kind of third parent to my daughter.    His death from pancreatic cancer was so rapid that we’re all stuck in the first stage of grieving - denial that it happened so fast.

We find ourselves still calling for him to come to dinner, and expecting him to be sitting in his Morris chair as we gather around the hearth in the evening.   He will be missed.

The duties of farming - seasonal preparation, animal care, and the harvest do no wait for anyone, so despite our grief, we must continue with the routine around the farm.    We have pressed the last of our apples - about 450 pounds and now have 25 cases of hard apple cider in our fermenters.    I have applied for a bonded winery license so that we can sell Unity Farmhouse Cider.   Although this year was 25 cases, as our apple trees mature we’ll be able to produce about 200 cases per year - about 400 gallons.

We had our first snow this week and the temperatures are consistently below freezing at night.    We’ve blown out all the orchard irrigation and all above ground hose bibs.   We’ve prepared our ponds for winter mode.     We’ve blown a few tons of leaves from the barnyard to the forest.   We’ve harvested the last of the tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant.   All that remains in the hoop  house are greens and root vegetables - spinach, chard, cress, japanese mibuna, carrots, turnips, radishes, and beets.

The manure must be moved from the composting area before it freezes solid and we’ve created windrows below the orchard with the first 5000 pounds of it.

The farm will slow down a bit December-February as we turn our attention to indoor tasks -  skirting alpaca fiber, pickling/preserving the harvest, and planning for next season.

The alpaca/llamas, great pyrenees mountain dogs, and poultry are ready for the cold ahead,  having grown their winter coats/feathers.   The wood is stacked, the pantry is full, and every building has been prepared for stormy weather.

With all the events of 2014, time indoors for reflection, planning and rest is welcome.  We’ll schedule a time for my father-in-law’s memorial service when all the family has assembled for the holidays and celebrate his life surround by the bounty of our second year harvesting at Unity Farm.


Patti Brennan said...

Sorry for your loss, John -- my thoughts are with you and your family! Patti Brennan

Unknown said...

My heart goes to you and your family. I admire your willingness to open a window into the day to day life that includes, work, love, play, death. You weave it together in your work with technology and but I see your heart in the farm. I feel it is here where we touch the dirt that we come from and will return to , that we find our most human heart. As your colleague and someone who admires you greatly for the choices you make and the values you hold, I will hold your family in my heart this season. I offer my condolence to your wife on the death of her father. Robin Joyce

Anonymous said...

To everything, turn, turn, turn.