Thursday, October 22, 2015

Unity Farm Journal - Fourth Week of October 2015

October is the best time of year to travel in Shanghai and Beijing.  The temperature is typically between 60-75F and there is little rain.   Air quality is reasonable and transportation systems are at their most efficient.

In my role as Harvard professor, I spend a few days a year in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East helping define technology and policy for improving healthcare quality, safety and efficiency.   My Fall travels to China always occur in the middle of harvest season, which can be challenging for the farm.

During my travels this week, we had our first hard frost - 8 hours of temperatures between 26-29F.   That was enough to kill the remaining annuals  - shiso (Japanese basil), morning glories, tomatoes and peppers.   My wife and a helper composted all the affected plants.   Here’s a view of the wilted tomatoes.

All the leaves have turned and the farm is past the peak of color.

The Shitake mushrooms are at the peak of their fruiting and Kathy is gathering basketfuls every day.    We have 100 new oak logs to inoculate when I return from China.

It’s the perfect time to plant garlic.   We have 6 raised beds devoted to garlic and Kathy is getting 12 varieties into the ground before the soil hardens.

The farm hand who covers for me while I travel used our commercial mower to do the last cutting of the year through our orchards, pastures, and meadows.

He’ll also use a brush cutter to clear the last areas of wildflowers in the bee areas now that they are at the of their growing season.

The pawpaw trees we planted as part of our permaculture are beginning to lose their leaves and the peak of fall color is passing.

The duck pond is filling with falling leaves and needed a cleaning.

All the animals are enjoying the cooler weather, but miss the routine of the extra attention I give them while I’m there, cleaning, special feedings, and walks.

Kathy has done the last of the bee work for the season, since it is now too cold to open the hives.

I started the fermentation of our cider batches before my departure and Kathy has been watching them to ensure they are vigorous but not too vigorous.  I’ll rack the ciders and inoculate them with malolactic bacteria for their secondary fermentation when I return.

The paving project continues and we’ve excited to see the 25 year old asphalt replaced with simple pavers that we can easily replace/repair given the wear and tear of our farm equipment and activities.

Kathy has done a remarkable job keeping everything running during my absence.   I look forward to my return on Saturday when I can catchup with the projects in progress and re-engage with the rhythm of the farm.

No comments: