23 June 2012

Haying (mostly) with Horses

What a long, muscle-testing week it has been.  It's been hot and dry which has been a good thing for a change after all the rain in the last month or so.  The ground is drying out and we have more land available for planting at the farm.  Harvesting has been steady for the CSA pickups and market.

The most exciting thing for the whole crew was putting hay away for the horses.  Ken mowed two fields with a total approximate size of 4 or 5 acres over the course of 2 days.  The larger, 3 acre field was mowed this past weekend and tedded 2 times.  Tedding is a process most simply described as "fluffing the mowed grass."  The idea is that in order to be able to store hay, you have to let it cure in the field on a hot sunny day; otherwise it will grow moldy and become unhealthy and inedible for the animal.  An unexpected rain can ruin good hay.

The timeline for our two days of haying went as follows.  Tuesday we began tedding the large field with Jewel and Pete after CSA harvest with Ken instructing us and Kate and I taking turns doing that and doing other tasks on the farm.  Wednesday morning, Ken tedded again and mowed the second field while a neighbor helped rake and bale the hay with his tractor.  Once the baling was coming to an end after lunch, we harnessed Molly up to hook three horses abreast to the hay wagon.  Kate and I took turns driving the horses while Adrienne or Ken stacked the hay in an orderly fashion so they wouldn't fall off.  The two people who weren't driving or stacking threw bales on. 

Each full wagon load held approximately 65 bales of hay.  Throw in a tall can of Coca-Cola, kettle-cooked chips, strawberry popsicles, and peanut butter ice cream and at the end of Wednesday we harvested 298 bales of hay.  Of course we didn't finish until around 8 PM, but we went for a super refreshing swim at nearby Freedom Pond and pizza after that in Unity.  One of the best experiences I've ever had.

Thursday we harvested for Friday market in the morning and tedded the hay on the second field until lunch time.  During lunch the neighbor baled that field and we harnessed all three horses again for the last 132 bales of hay for the afternoon.  It was a hot day, but not as hot as the day before.  Kate and I had made plans previous to the knowledge of haying to have a potluck with farmer friends in the neighborhood. Although we were totally exhausted, it was a nice way to end the week.

Alimony is like buying hay for a dead horse.
-Groucho Marx

17 June 2012

Pigs are Cool

Don't mind the cute pig.  If you didn't know, Kate and I are raising 8 pigs and selling them by the half.  They will be custom butchered so that you can have as little or as much sausage you want, the off cuts and organ meats if you want them, and the option of smoking them.

We have 2 and a half pigs left to sell so let us know if you are excited to be part of our pig CSA!

Updates on our New Beat Farm experience:

We have been plenty busy planting summer squash, hand weeding, cultivating with the horses, and harvesting lots of lettuce, beet greens, salad turnip greens, mesclun/mustard mixes, kale, and chard.  Between working 4 days at New Beat and doing various projects involving the pigs, Kate and I have been super busy.

We assembled an automatic watering system using a 300 gallon tank we bought, PVC fittings, garden hose, and nipples that go on the end of 4 hoses split off from one.  The nipples are stood on a little stand that I made with some scrap wood and stood up by two pieces of rebar pounded into the ground through two drilled holes in the top.  This type of watering system eliminates several issues; the pigs walking in their water troughs (making it less palatable and risking carrying disease on their feet into their water), reducing the need to haul 5 gallon buckets (~40 lbs. of water per bucket), eliminating the need for troughs, spending less time dealing with their water supply, significantly reducing water waste.  Our water tank is set and bolted onto a snowmobile trailer (courtesy of Kate's dad, John) and filled from a spring until it is about half full.  Any heavier, and the trailer might not be able to handle the weight.  Then we haul the trailer to an area uphill from the pigs with the horses hooked to the forecart; uphill so that the water will gravity feed down the hose to the nipples with enough pressure.

We'd also like to thank our friend Jessie for supplying us with whey, which the pigs looooove drinking.  They're gaining weight everyday due to the extra protein.

We love whey!
Other than that, we're both happy living in our wall tent and working with the crew and horses at New Beat Farm.  If any of you have the inclination, please come visit!  E-mail us when you're coming and we'll be glad to have you over!  The pigs would love it too!

“But as long as you remember what you have seen, then nothing is gone. As long as you remember, it is part of this story we have together.”
Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony