Thursday, September 29, 2016

Unity Farm Journal - First Week of October

The drought has taken its toll on the Fall color, with leaves going from green to brown then dropping off the trees.   The mornings are crisp - in the 50’s and the afternoons barely reach 70.   The shadows are long and the hoop house loses sunlight at 3pm.   The lettuces and spinaches are thriving in the early fall weather and the furry animals relish the cooler climate.

Each week is filled with harvest work and the effort to move Unity Farm Sanctuary forward.    We’re finishing the inspections and well testing of the adjacent property this week and hopefully will progress to a formal purchase and sale next week.    I’m already planning the new trails between the two properties - I’ll call them the Pine Loop, the Pond Trail, and the Coyote Path.    When I’m done, the combined farm and sanctuary will have 3 miles of trails.

The Sanctuary will have an educational mission with an animal care training area, a mushroom cultivation area, a flower CSA, a farmer winery/cider demonstration area, and sustainable agriculture instruction classrooms.

The new property will have 3 new paddocks and a 5 stall barn.   We’re already begin contacted by folks who have animals needing new homes.   Likely our first addition will be a pair of donkeys - one age 12 an one age 20.   They can live 30-50 years with the right conditions.   We’ve been offered sheep, alpaca, and goats.   We’ve thought about our ability to deliver the companionship, medical care, and quality of life needed by each of these species and we’ll probably avoid sheep, which bring different parasites and bacteria to the farm than the existing inhabitants.

The tomatoes are gone and the lettuce/spinach/carrots are thriving, but only in our beds with micxospray irrigation.   Those in outside beds are struggling since the 3 month period with virtually no rain has turned our once fertile river bottom soil into hardpack.  Here’s a New York Times article about our region

This weekend we’ll crush 250 pounds of Cortland and McIntosh apples for hard cider.  Next weekend we’ll do the same.    The following weekend, we’ll host a group of IT leaders and host the local 4H club to demonstrate cider making with just 120 pounds of apples.    This will be the last year we use a hand cranked apple scratcher to create Unity Farmhouse hard cider.

From now on, a 2 horsepower stainless electric grinder will enable us to mill 1000 pounds per hour.

For next season, I’ll likely build a 60F climate controlled fermenting area with enough tanks to support our goal of 300 gallons of production from 5000 pounds of apples.   We’ll still be a small producer but we’ll be efficient.


Claudia said...

I was thinking about the same for Western PA. Very few trees have started to turn, but a lot of the leaves are drying and falling. I love a colorful fall, but do not think I will see it this year.

Anonymous said...

What made you choose that specific apple grinder?