This season's been a doozy.
We knew it would be from the beginning.
Last fall we moved to new land. Unfortunately, moving the whole farm over to the new property during the winter was just a little too much to handle, so this year we've been farming partially at our new place and partially at the old place. It's a split farm so to speak.
Specifically, the garden has remained at the old location. This gives us time to prepare the garden soil here at the new property for full production next season. But it also means we have to be pretty disciplined with our work since the garden is now pretty far from where we live. No more quick trips over to the farm to start the sprinklers at the crack of dawn. No more “finishing something up” after dinner.
Honestly these are good limitations. They force us to wrangle the unwraglable farm work which eventually means a higher quality of life. This summer we’ve mostly managed to work 10 hour days with a 1 hour lunch break. We feel pretty good about that. Especially when we think back on the loooong days (and weeks) we worked in the first few years…!
In early spring, we knew it would be a busy year. Sustainable farms all over the country experienced significant increases in demand this year and we were no exception. We were able to expand our CSA and sell out fairly early on and we have pre-sold more meat earlier in the year then ever before. Clearly the year was off to a very fast start!
My brother Daniel is working with us full time this year. He’s been with us for many of the past summers, but this year he’s basically taken on full management of the garden. He’s doing a great job. Usually when I go into the garden now, I ask HIM what to do. Along with our other two employees (Jed and Jonah) Daniel has kept the garden running great.
Until recently, the animals have been pasturing on our new land. We did this to help build fertility right away. Nothing builds soil fertility like well managed animals.
Things seemed to be running smoothly going into June. But as the month passed and we got precious little rain we realized we were heading into a problem. Low initial fertility combined with almost no rain meant our grasses hardly grew. After a month or so of grazing we were running out of grass. Waiting for rain is very stressful. It’s difficult to maintain hope and optimism when you have no control in a situation that is slowly sliding towards hardship.
Thankfully, we were eventually able to work out a way to move the cows back to the pastures we were managing in previous years. They have quite a bit of growth in them and should tide our animals over for quite a while. It will still take some work to get our home pastures growing again, but we hope to return to them again before the season is over.
With the solstice behind us, we are beginning to look forward to the fall. Things are rolling pretty smoothly now, and though we are more than half way through the year, we still have a lot ahead of us. For instance we are only about a third of the way through the harvest. And let’s not forget that we have to fully transition the garden to the new property before winter as well.
Our first couple hundred Pasture Raised Broiler Chickens are back from the butcher and for sale now, but we still have several hundred to finish out.
We’re also planning to build a wood fired bread oven in the coming weeks and hope to start baking bread for people in the second half of the year (contact us if you’d like to know more).
On top of ALL that, we’ll also be helping a neighboring outdoor education center start it’s own brand new sustainable farm this fall.
When you add all that onto all the normal fall workload it becomes clear that even though we’re in the second half of the calendar year, there’s still a lot to be done before the end!
Stay with us!