The first ten days of May saw stellar weather and some significant milestones for the farm. The late April loss of two newborn lambs and one stillbirth were offset by three successful birthings - a black ewe lamb and white ram w/ brown spots to Elska, and a white ram lamb for Opala. Mothers and babies are doing just fine, and we have now successfully moved the entire flock across the road to their summer pasture area.
We will be moving the flock within a portable electric fence every ten days because the barber pole worm parasite requires ten days from when a sheep defecates until the worms can hatch out from the eggs within the fecal matter. By moving the sheep it breaks the cycle and maintains a manageable and healthy parasite load within the sheep's digestive tract.
Here's an interesting video shot by Al as he encouraged the sheep to cross the road in front of him (thanks to our neighbors Heidi Masucci and Katelyn Thompson for assisting with the moving of the sheep):
For some true relaxation on the farm - turn up your volume, expand your screen view and for a minute and a half let the stress of the day slip away as you watch our flock graze while you listen to the red wing black birds and the Dyberry Creek in the background - it's very therapeutic:
We are now able to cut our pastures that were recently limed to raise pH and free up minerals for the grass (and subsequently our sheep) as we recently acquired a used "Big Bee" brush hog (made in Alabama). Here you can see Dave coming down the road on our 195? Ferguson T035 tractor (love that sound :) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qwaB9F1JAXQ&feature=youtu.be
Next up are the plexiglass end walls, and finally the poly cover. The house will have roll up sides and large doors on each end for venting in the summertime. We purchased the high tunnel kit from H. Schwartz & Sons in Wilmington, DE and have been pleased with the quality of the steel and with working with this family owned business.
Water is going to be critical for inside the high
Speaking of farm tours, our first workshop/farm tour/earthen oven pizza baking event has been postponed from May until Sunday, Sept. 29th. Please visit: http://store.mossacres.com/category_s/1941.htm for more details or to sign up.
Early season crop planting has also been going on in ernest. "Purple Viking", "Butte" Russet, and
"Katahdin" potatoes have been planted. Snap peas, carrots, and our signature "Grax" giant beets have also gone in, as have various onion set varieties. Parsnips round out our current planting list. June 10th or so marks the last frost date in our chilly valley, so we need to wait on some of the warmer season veggies. We also brought in additional compost from a local compost supplier and have been spreading that into each unplanted row and tilling it in with the help of Roger Hill and his Kubota tractor.
Rubarb harvesting has been taking place from
the plants given to the farm by neighbor Jim Sanders. The are growing like weeds.
Speaking of weeds...
Wild Food Alert: Wild mustard greens. Al's wife Deena's favorite are just now winding down upstate. We find them to be best sauteed slowly for several minutes in olive olive with onions, lemon and salt and pepper. The much coveted fiddlehead ferns come next. Some wild leeks ("ramps") were also enjoyed, as they are very prevalent in our river valley and wooded hillsides. Dandelion greens will be experimented with as we are new to those.
With the chickens our results have been much
Hard cider: For those of you interested in making hard cider from Apples, Al's trial batch was a solid success. Although very much on the dry side, this first batch packs a pretty strong punch and turned out incredibly clear as it was finished off in a 1 gallon jug after coming out of the 1.5 gallon jug, and allowed to set for about five months in the basement before the final siphoning and bottling.
Until next time, enjoy all our photos below and this amazing weather we have been having - it's nice to get some extended spring weather for once instead of moving directly to summer. Heck, we might even get some fruit in the orchard this year thanks to a more normal bud break.
Your Friends at Old School Farm
|Icelandic wool beginning to shed naturally|
|Chicks under heat lamp in basement - hours of fun!|
|One of our trails with glacial boulders blanketed in moss|
|Asparagus poking through mulch & compost|
|An old horseshoe now imbedded in a beech tree|
|A proud father and his son|
|Uncas (he enjoys having his forehead scratched)|
|Moving sawdust up to raspberry beds for mulch|
|Hop Hornbeam logs inoculated with Shitake Mushroom spawn|
|Getting the old piano tuned up and overhauled for the boys|
|Olive Walter's daffodils live on|
|A push wheel seeder such as this makes planting|
long rows of small seeds much easier
|Our rooster "Owen" stretches his wings.|
|Setting up the portable electric fence|
|A zen moment for Dave while hand |
planting parsnip seeds with Al