Thursday, November 19, 2015

Unity Farm Journal - Third Week of November 2015

The leaves have fallen, the nights are below freezing, and the water systems have been drained for the season.    Salt marsh hay covers all the outdoor vegetable beds, all cider has been moved indoors, and every bucket has been taken down from outdoor paddocks (heated buckets keep liquid water available inside the barn.).   We’re on the countdown to snow.

Thanksgiving is next week, so all the turkeys in the neighborhood are congregating at Unity Farm, which they seem to know is vegetarian ground.    As I’ve said before we have turkeys for every Thanksgiving dinner - the challenge is finding enough chairs for them to sit in.

We had two unexpected bird deaths this week.  One of our older chickens, Snow, who had a chronic respiratory ailment, and an older guinea fowl both died.   We’ve refrigerated their bodies in case a necropsy is warranted but for the moment no other birds are sick and this does not appear to be an infectious disease.   With the spread of Avian Flu throughout the US, causing mass culling of birds, we’re very vigilant.

Last year, we planted American ginseng in a 1000 square foot woodland patch.  Ginseng likes sandy loam soil that is moist, but not too moist.   It takes 2 years to get significant growth of a new planting.     Our challenge is that we are really not sure what habitat in our 15 acres is ideal.    This weekend, we’re creating 10 raised beds in different environments around the farm.   We’ll plant ginseng roots and ginseng seeds, then surround the bed with a 5 foot deer fence.   Hopefully, this “controlled trial” will teach us where best to plant understory permaculture crops like ginseng.

Over the Thanksgiving break, I will be writing a paper for my Umass Organic Farming program entitled “The Organic Treatment of Pests and Diseases at Unity Farm”.   The outline is below:

Pest and Disease treatment/risk mitigation plan by species:
Legumes (Bush Beans, Runner Beans, Peas)
Brassicas (Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower)
Curcurbits (Cucumber, Pumpkin, Squash)
Chenopodiaceae (Swiss chard, beets, spinach)
Solanaceae Family (Potatoes, Eggplant, Peppers and Tomatoes)

When finished, this paper will be a primer for the processes and procedures needed to keep our produce healthy throughout the seasons.    In the Winter, I take a Homesteading course and in the Spring, I take a Farm Marketing and Finances course, which will result in a formal business plan for the future of Unity Farm.

With every passing year, we grow more sophisticated about farming.    Our trajectory is looking good.

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