Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Some August news

Could it be that fall is just around the corner? We notice the mornings are darker. In fact, they are dark enough that chores can’t start until 6:15-a whole 15 minutes later! Even though it doesn’t feel any cooler in the sticky August air, it hasn’t actually broken 90 out here on the farm for the last four days or so.

In case we couldn’t tell it was fall by the weather, the calendar tells us it is. At the end of July we started out fall Swiss Chard. The hot and humid weather caused some fungus problems with the young transplants, but many survived. Today we were out in the garden planting our babies. It is great to see little rows of greens in the ground again. Its time for transplanting again!

We need to get these fall greens in now because before we know it days will be short and nights will be cold. At that point the plants really won’t do much growing. So we need them to be large enough to harvest right around the time of first frost. The trick is dealing with the late summer pests. We sprayed a cocktail of items to give them a fighting chance: fish emulsion for nutrients, Bt (bacillus thuringiensis) for caterpillar pests, and a kaolin clay to word off sucking insects and provide some “sunscreen” cooling the surface of the plants. To cap it all off we pulled out some of the white row cover you heard so much about in the spring. That will help exclude insects from the garden bed.

On the animal front I had an amusing task yesterday. We needed to estimate the weight of our hogs to see if we could take them to the butcher a month earlier. Since we have no scale we use a measuring tape much like tailors use to fit people for clothes. But this tape measures the pigs length and heart girth (the roundness just behind their front legs). With these two numbers we can estimate their weight. Our friendly pigs really enjoy attention. This usually makes the measuring easier. However, they have been spending their days totally covered in mud to cool off. Then they like to scratch on trees-or people. So as I measured around the pig’s bellies they were trying to rub on me. So I got to hug 200 lb, mud encrusted friendly pigs. Needless to say I needed a pre-rinse before coming in the house.

Today the pigs got an extra fun treat. I took down their fence and moved their paddock to the next space over. After some careful exploring to establish where I had placed the electric fence they started running around, and around, and around snorting and bucking. They thought it was great to be in a new space with fresh ground to root up. Incidentally, a new study has confirmed that pigs can express optimism and pessimism depending on their environment. Pessimistic pigs run from new stimulus while optimistic pigs move toward something new-our pigs are a bunch of sunshine!

Some Photos of the Farm


Chickens exploring


A chicken exhibiting its athleticism to catch an insect-too fast for the camera!

You know its time to be more social when buckets become your best friend

Flowers always brighten the day

Rain is nice, but it sure makes the grass grow!

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