Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Harvesting, Talking Moss & Some Fun

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Harvest season is upon us and we are frantically rushing about juggling farm chores and ongoing projects while at the same time trying to harvest and put away as much food as possible (and doing a little biking - see above).  This year we were rewarded with a LOT of tomatoes in our high tunnel, and when all is said and done we expect to have at least 48 quarts of some of the most flavorful sauce around.  This will be ideal for
future pizza parties and for our Farm Camp food supply early next summer.   We have also been harvesting three varieties of old heirloom corn - the one with the erratic kernel pattern is called "Country Gentleman" and has a great "old school" corn flavor to it.  We selected three varieties to ripen one after the other as they each had different days to maturity. We will have fresh corn for six weeks by the time we are done, and quite a bit in the freezer.

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Our "Grax" giant beets are starting to get quite large - some weighing several pounds.  They are amazingly sweet, and either golden or red.  The beet greens on these giants are also fantastic steamed.  The beans are still going but are getting near the end - we've harvested at least a hundred pounds of Roma beans over the past ten weeks from one 100 foot long triple row.  It wasn't a great year for winter squash - for some reason they had a hard time reaching maturity before an early frost zipped them a bit back in mid-September.

We have lots of sweet potatoes in the ground, but so far only the Japanese variety planted in the raised beds in compost inside the high tunnel seem to be bulking up.  Parsnips are doing well in the raised beds as well.  Our white potatoes have been a real disappointment so far - the two rows we have partially dug have produced smaller potatoes and very low yields, perhaps due to a wet early season and the flooding we experienced.

Our cabbage did well this year
For these very reasons we continue to feel it best to continue to stay diversified on our farm - each season is different and by growing and raising a diverse variety of crops and animals we believe we hedge our bets with the weather, pests, disease and other unforeseen challenges.  To further extend our diversity we will be adding a handful of dairy goats in the spring to start providing our own dairy products, and we are also considering pigs to forage in our wooded areas and utilize vegetable scraps.  We have some sunflower heads and feed corn drying in the garden right now for our poultry and plan on expanding that aspect of our farm next
year.
A testimony to the power of water - here the Dyberry is trying to take a short cut through our pasture.  The recent flood lengthened the cut.  We are filling it (again) with the debris that accumulated in our pasture from the flood.
Moss Guru, Rick Smith shares his knowledge of moss

This coming season will see us expand some other offerings on our property.  In addition to the planned Farm Camp for 12 - 14  year old boys, we are also going to expand our moss gardens around the property.  For the past three years, Old School Farm owner Al Benner has hosted Moss Workshops at the farm for his Moss Acres business where moss enthusiasts can learn more about how to grow moss gardens on their properties.  We are also planning to develop a haunted hayride over the coming years and will have a trial run for next fall - the seven year old Benner boys are very excited!


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Archery season is opening and Al Benner is hoping to provide venison for his family with the crossbow he recently purchased.  With videos like the one above captured on a game cam in September on the upper pasture, it appears there is quite a bit of deer activity on the property to say the least...

Since photos say a lot more than words, we leave you with a lot this time around.   We hope you are enjoying this spectacular early fall weather as much as we are here at Old School Farm.

Until next time, be well and enjoy the fruits of your labor this time of year...

Your Friends at Old School Farm

Caught on the game cam :)
Dave Benner weeds moss circle garden in old barn silo foundation

Dave cuts cabbage for sauerkraut - just add brine solution to just above slaw
 and then a plate with a weight on it

Deer Topiary made during moss workshop now graces a moss covered hillside at the farm

Our friend Brian picks up his weekly "fix" of Old School Produce

Moss Workshop attendees enjoyed wood fired pizza

Dave Benner carries some corn 

Rick Smith shows off his moss he grew on a felt mat

Farm Manager Dave Campeau and Katlynne Thompson of Moss Acres

Dave Benner & Dave Campeau make pizza dough

The Benner boys shuck corn

Al's seriously good watercress/parsnip soup with bacon 


Jim Sanders puts on an archery clinic

Sungolds - very prolific

In the Sander's geodesic dome - greens go pretty much all year in here

Nature made birdhouse and drum - white ash

A stop to wander the corn patch after biking

They only drive the car on the lower driveway - too many trees up here :)

Owl condo

yikes...what's going on here?  (actually it's a puffball)!

Some nice forage for deer and turkeys

Large hornet nest taking shape above moss mat growing area -
no leaf blowers for now

Simulation of future Farm Camp teepee site

Tree stand 

bronze breasted turkeys begin to fill out

We picked some apples, set them down for a moment
 and wow were the chickens on them quick!


We have attached our sign to the wagon - a better look

Dave and his new (old) mercedes veggie oil machine

Owen Benner - a born thrillseeker

Up on the moss roof

Couldn't believe we got this close 

No power poles along our road...very old school for sure

Cooling off on the moss roof


Sapo storage melon

Coleman tempts chickens to come out from under the elderberry bushes

Jerusalem Artichokes or "Sunchokes" - a tasty survival food - cooked or raw.
Tubers can be left in ground year round and will sprout again the following year.
Very aggressive grower.

Proud Farmer


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