Thursday, December 24, 2015

Unity Farm Journal - Fourth Week of December 2015

Last week I mentioned the Unity Farm Christmas list.

I’ve been an avid student of permaculture - creating an ecologically sustainable farm that keeps everything in balance.    I harvest thousands of pounds of vegetables per year but compost  the imperfect vegetables..   There must be a better way.

Hazel Marie is the answer.

Welcome the latest addition to Unity Farm, our 100 pound pot bellied pig.  We rescued her (as we have done with several of our farm animals) from a home which abandoned her to the MSPCA/Nevins Farm.   She is a delight with a constantly wagging tail, boundless energy and curiosity about the world around her.    I plan to walk her around the property on a harness and she’ll live in one of our pastures in the newly finished pig barn.   Last weekend I added heated water buckets, a panel heater (pig safe) and interior LED lighting.

My daughter, Lara Marie, approves of Hazel Marie as our official surplus vegetable consumer.   We will find Hazel Marie a piggy companion once we have more experience with pigs.    We really like Patches, a 200 pound male recently surrendered to Nevins Farm, but he will grow to 800 pounds.   We’re not sure we can handle that much pig.   Kathy’s Christmas gift to me is Hazel.

Kathy has had significant joint pain and neuropathy since her chemotherapy.   Hauling hundreds of pounds of bee hives around our 15 acres has been difficult for her.   Although I’m 53 and relatively fit, I find hauling hundreds of pounds of lumber, tools, mulch, vegetables, and firewood around the farm to be fatiguing too.    The Terex front loader is great for rocks, mushroom logs, snow, manure, and wood chips, but it’s not something you drive casually for transportation.    The answer - a golf cart utility vehicle.   My Christmas gift to Kathy is a Yamaha Adventurer One, a golf cart with a 300 pound hauling capacity for her to to drive around the property and do all the things she wants to do, regardless of any physical limitations.

What about stocking stuffers?   I asked Kathy for Havahart vole traps so I can reduce the damage to the hoop house vegetables during the winter when small furry creatures take refuge in the vegetable beds.    I also asked for a labeler/gluer that enables me to put formal labels on all our cider, beer and mead bottles.

Finally, for the family, I finishing the build out of the treehouse I started in the summer.   Although a platform without railings 15 feet in the air sounds great to me, it’s not appealing to everyone.    Here’s the progress thus far turning the platform into a finished 12x12x12 foot cube, suspended in air but accessible via a 3 foot staircase protected by railings.    In Spring I’ll add a roof.   I think the family will like it.

Although Christmas day will be 60 degrees, we’ll soon have the chill of January, so I’ve tucked the vegetables into their raised beds with row covers.   Here’s what the hoop house looks like now.

The farm is looking festive as we approach the holidays.    The cider house has wreath under the barn light, as does the barn, the tool shed, and the house entrance.

The inlaws, outlaws, and all our close family will be at the farm for the next few days.    We’ll revel in the warmth of the season, each other’s company, and gentle sounds of geese, pigs, dogs, alpaca, ducks, chickens, guinea fowl, and cats all living in harmony at Unity Farm.

And to all a good night!


  1. Love to hear that Hazel Marie is a rescue from MSPCA. One lucky girl!

  2. Happy New Year from Kansas! I'm a pathologist in Kansas City and am hoping to sit for the Clinical Informatics boards in the fall I too am an avid gardner and beekeeper and truly enjoy the mix of Unity Farm highlights and commentary on the evolving informatics world.

    After just finishing up my fall/winter garden clean up and composting all the veggies that didn't make it to our table, I LOVE the idea of Hazel Marie! I've been lobbying my husband for chickens to accompany our bees, and will definitely have to add this to the list.

    We too have just moved into our 6th decade and are finding "hauling" things about not as easy as it used to be. The golf cart idea is also a winner. I'll have to put that on my next years Christmas list. My best to your wife for a speedy recovery.