Monday, June 24, 2013

Farm Update 06/24/2013

Summer is Here on the Farm!


It's getting hot and humid out here on the farm. We've officially hit the first day of summer and the summer solstice and we can feel it! It's been in the high 80s and huuumid, yet rainless the past week or so. Both Farmer Figgins and Farmer Fahler are a bit on the sunburned and crispy side, but we're hoping for rain the next few days.


The pigs taking a nap on a hot summers day, avoiding sunburns of their own.
Smart piggies. 

We finished the last of our third, and final until fall, planting last Friday.  Which consisted of an extra pumpkin patch ringed with sunflowers. Now its time for weeding and more weeding, and then some harvesting in store for these farmers. One of the biggest challenges of farming without chemical aides is the battle with weeds until our crops are tall enough and strong enough to shade out and out-compete the weeds. 


Tomato patch needs some weeding...like many other things. 

The heat is stressing out some of our cool-season crops, causing crops like the arugula, spinach, and radishes to bolt, but others are loving the heat. Many of the pumpkins, tomatoes, summer squash and melons have started flowering! The Kohlrabi, Cucumbers, Broccoli, Cabbage and Onion and leek crops are all coming along well. 


Starting to see flowers on our tomatoes!

The first summer squash of the season! Looks like a yellow crookneck!

It looks like we've had pretty good germination overall, the only crop that had some problems was the first planting of our dry beans. Many failed to germinate, and I found more than a few seedlings rotting in the soil, or Damping Off. They were planted right before a rainy, wet week, followed by hot temperatures. Luckily, we didn't plant all our beans at once, and the second planting of dry beans had excellent germination. This is exactly why we do multiple plantings, so that not all our eggs are in one basket and we can spread out the risk inherent in farming.

The second dry bea bean planting is coming up real well! 
We've been finding new residents on the farm, including flea beetles in the tomatoes and eggplant, bean beetles on the beans, turnip maggots in our turnips, and most recently Colorado potato beetles on the potatoes. As we've said before, we don't use synthetic chemicals on our crops, but try to use natural, organic pesticides or IPM. 

For the flea beetles and bean beetles I've been using a natural spray I picked up from another gardener's blog. Pureed onions, cayenne peppers, and garlic and let this sit in water for 24 hours, strain this through a cheese cloth. Put the strained mixture in a gallon jug/sprayer and add enough water to fill. I've been spraying this once a week in the mornings on the tomatoes and beans and we've seen a significant drop in damage from flea beetles and bean beetles. The mixture simply makes the leaves unpalatable for the bugs and they move on. Luckily, we're not eating the leaves!
Unfortunately, organic controls like this don't exist so much for Colorado potato beetles and the turnip maggots. For the maggots, you have to rotate your crops away from the infested area, and for the potato beetles we have to had pick and kill all the beetles and eggs we see.

The animals on the farm are finding ways to cope with the heat as well. We moved Rosie's pasture today to give her some fresh grass, her new pasture has three large shade trees that she's loved scratching up against and taking naps under. 


We moved Rosie's pasture today, she's loving all the big shade trees!

The pigs take long siestas during the heat of the day, napping under small trees in a big pig pile. They forage and root in the cooler parts of the day, in the morning and evening. When they need a cool down, they go to their wallow area, which we refresh with the water from their trough every time we empty and refill it. They also enjoy a late afternoon shower from the hose, and will snort and dance around in the cool spray. 



The turkeys have figured out how to get out of their enclosure, which we knew was inevitable. Sometimes they'll hang out on the porch of the house, but they particularly like roosting in a large shade tree in the center of the farm. When they wander into the garden, they mostly nip at weeds and bugs. Though whenever they enter onion, peas, and corn sections we have to shoo them out, they like the taste of those too much! 

See if you can spot them!

They're getting big! Here's Tom, the oldest of the bunch. 

 We also processed our first batch of meat-chickens this week, and we've got a full freezer! The first batch was for our own chicken supply, and to do a run-through and work out any kinks before we moved onto a larger batch of chickens. Our newest batch is doing great, we'll be moving them out to pasture soon! If you're interested in our pasture-raised chicken, check out our Pasture-Raised Chicken page and send in a deposit of $5.00 per bird. They pick up will be at the end of July/early August on the farm, as whole roast chickens, 4-5 lbs. 


Our newest batch of 80 chicks are 2 weeks old,
we'll be moving them out to pasture in a week or so. 




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