Unity Farm Journal - Fourth Week of September 2014

As we prepare for winter, we’re busy splitting wood, preparing the winter garlic beds, and finishing the building maintenance tasks for the cold and wet months ahead.

We burn about 3 cords of wood each winter, all split from fallen trees on the farm.   We use small amounts of cedar as hot, fast burning kindling.   We use Oak, Maple, Ash, Hickory and Black Bird for hot, slow burning sustained warmth.   We do not use poplar, which burns cool/quickly, instead saving it for mushroom production.

Last week I created a system for labeling all our half-cord wood racks (21 of them).   I painted galvanized strips of metal which now hang from hooks on each rack, coded as follows

Cedar - Red (Red Cedar)
Oak -  White  (White Oak)
Maple - Gold (Golden Maple)
Ash - Green  (Green Ash)
Hickory -  Unpainted  (Hickory has no color names)
Black Birch - Black  (Black Birch)

This winter we’ll have fully cured wood of all types, so we’re ready for whatever Mother Nature throw our way.

We’ve found good homes for many of our Summer guinea offspring and the total count is now down from 88 to 68.  Ideally we’d like to overwinter about 50.

We’ve picked McIntosh and Roxbury Russet Apples.   Our Empires will be ready in a week or two.   We’re looking forward to 3 more weekends of cider pressing in October/November.    The fermentation of our first batch is going well and we’ll likely rack it this weekend and then start malolactic fermentation, turning the sharp malic acid into rounded, complex lactic acid.

We continue to harvest tomatoes, turnips, and greens from the hoop house.   Peppers and eggplants are nearly done producing.   We’ll replace those raised beds with winter lettuces soon.

We'll plant the garlic in mid October, but the outdoor raised beds for overwintering garlic are ready.

The big project over the weekend will be building our room sized refrigerator for storing all the mushrooms of Fall between picking and delivery to farmstands/farmers markets.    Our Italian and Grey Dove Oysters are fruiting.  Our Native Harvest Shitake are pinning and we’ll pick them soon.    We’ve optimized our mushroom workflow by using plastic picking boxes from an agricultural supplier in Canada.   We use one container from log to refrigerator to market.

The bee preparation for winter continues as we feed them, optimize the hive configuration to reduce moisture/cold, and ensure pests/diseases are minimized.

One of the ducks aspirated some water (caused by rough underwater mating behavior) and we’re treating her with antibiotics for pneumonia.  Her breathing is labored but she’s eating/drinking, and alert.

I look forward to a weekend of crisp Fall weather, harvesting, hauling, and preparing for the months ahead.

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