Thursday, October 15, 2015

Unity Farm Journal - Third Week of October 2015

I’m in China for the next week with limited access to social media sites, so a few blog posts will accumulate on my laptop until I return.

Here’s the farm update.

Mid-October is a remarkable time of year in New England.   Mornings are crisp and afternoons are warm.    The work is easy because clothing layers can come on and off to arrive at perfect comfort.

As is typical on the farm, weekends and nights are buzzing with activity.  From dawn to nightfall, there is harvesting, hauling, and storing to be done.    This week, our cider recipe was

40% Honeycrisp
20$ Macoun
20% McIntosh
20% Gala

Our tanks of cider are fermenting at 55 degrees for two weeks then a secondary malolactic fermentation will last all winter.  We’ll bottle in the Spring.  Here’s what cider pressing looks like, aided by the buff geese, which are always eager to help.

The Shitake mushrooms are bursting from their logs and we’re selling to local farm stands and markets.   We’ve exhausted our farm supply of oak logs, so we’re buying loads of oak from nearby arborists.    A perfect load of 100 logs, each 4 feet long and 6 inches in diameter arrived on Wednesday night.     Kathy and I will be inoculating them until it gets too cold for us to do the drilling, spawn inserting and waxing into over 50 holes per log that is needed to prepare a Shitake log

We’re at the peak of Fall color right now with oaks glowing yellow and maples glowing red.  Now that I’m familiar with all the technologies needed to build tree houses I’m able to take an idea and turn it into a structure in a few hours.    About a quarter of our farm is true wilderness - filled with deer, turkeys, pheasants, foxes, and raccoons.    I explore it on deer trails and have purposely not developed the area.    I found a 100 year old red maple that shared a glen with a stately pine tree.   I imagined a 14 foot high observation platform in the red maple intertwined with the boughs of the pine.   Using treehouse attachment bolts with very minimal impact on the maple, there’s the finished result.    I call the area Momiji Matsu - Japanese for Red Maple and Pine.   I have one more observation platform to build this year.   A 4 foot diameter pine overlooking the railroad tracks will soon have a 16 foot high platform to watch the slow freight trains pass the farm.    I’ll call that platform, which will connect to a confluence of 4 large pine trunks, the Crow’s Nest.

Fall color takes many forms - the last wildflowers of the season are blooming and the bee yard is splashed with purple asters and daisies.

The alpacas and llama enjoy a breakfast of alfalfa mixed with molasses.  Their coats have fully regrown after their May sheering and they are ready for winter.   Alpacas love cold but not snow.   My work is keeping their paddocks clear of snow with tractor/snowblower.

The hoop hose has one final burst of vegetables for us to harvest.  Although the temperatures at night can be near freezing, the hoop house is like a tropical garden during most of the day.  Here’s a view of the lush lettuces, chard, and spinach awaiting harvest.   In the chard, a leopard frog keeps the insect population under control.   Running a fully organic hoop house is probably the only way you can attract leopard frogs to your vegetable beds.

Imagine the contrast I’m feeling this week - from solitary platforms in the maples to the bustle of Shanghai.   Although farming is a passion, helping improve the healthcare of 1.3 billion people in China is my mission this week.

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