We got our first hard frost on the farm last week. The cold snap was well forecasted, so we had just enough time time scurry around. But really, we could have used at least 3 more weeks. Cover up, tuck in, and haul out. Below are some photos and narrative.
The grape harvest this year is great. We’re still working on getting the vines all oriented in a trellising style and on pruning cycle that works best and we like. It was great fun this summer watching the vines respond to compost tea applications (maybe it was the tea?). We have grapes for sale, contact us if you are interested. They’re Valliants which make excellent juice, jam, and jelly.
Hops are in, spread out on screens, and drying. It was a late afternoon, turned full moon night harvest in order to get the cones in before the weather turned. Grateful for Randi’s help. This year, the hops will be dried and packaged in 1-oz vacuum sealed bags for local hombrewers. There are 16 different varieties, we were able to harvest from 6. The eventual goal is to get our Cascade row in production such that we have enough yield to take down the street to the brewery.
We harvested out flats, boxes and bags, crates and coolers, bushel baskets and tubs of ripe and nearly-ripe produce from the field and spread out almost 1000ft of remay/row cover with well-wishes and hopes that what was left just might survive the snap.
A wet 1-1.5″ of snow the next morning greeted Jeremy early morning for the CSA day. (the newsletter is coming shortly, this week’s is online here). I took off on Wed afternoon to go to Raleigh, NC for Farm Aid leaving Jeremy to fly the farm solo.
…and the following day it fell to 25 degrees. (Meanwhile, I’m visiting a farm in Raleigh where okra is growing over my head and raspberries are fruiting in excess, spreading out around a banana tree).
There is an ever-growing list of things to do. Though after returning from Farm Aid, we’ve got some good new energies fueling us along.
As a farmer and member of Dakota Rural Action, I was invited to attend last weeks’ Farm Aid workshops, farm tours, and concert. Farm Aid has generated a loyal following for its big name, mega hip benefit concert. However, Farm Aid is a whole helluvalot more than just a hip concert. Farm Aid represents an extensive and diverse national network of organizations and people, all advocates of small family farms (DRA is one of these). The three-day event began with inspiring keynote presentations and round-table discussions, offering a platform for exchanging ideas regarding how to cooperatively and effectively push policy changes and build strong, healthy food systems. It was an honor, a blast, and absolutely humbling to be surrounded by so many bright, motivated, passionate people. The following day, we got a chance to visit a couple local Raleigh city farms, featuring a farm incubator, a farm accelerator, and a banana tree. And finally the concert event, which was simultaneously jam-packed full of learning, sharing, and networking opportunities for folks around small farm topics. Thank you, DRA, for bringing me along.
Since getting back, I’ve been gushing to Jeremy about all the extraordinary highlights – three days, a lot to think about. Good fodder for conversation as we clean up what the frost left behind.
One last thing: we have Cycle Farm chickens FOR SALE. We are butchering chickens this Sunday, September 21st. The birds came to the farm as day old chicks in the mail from a hatchery that specializes in pasture-raised poultry. The birds spent the summer on pasture, in tractors, in rotation a few days after the lambs. Along with natural forage on pasture, Jeremy has been mixing a feed to ensure they are getting the proper protein and minerals they need. The feed is a blend of organic and transitional whole grains, all non-GMO. The birds are doing really well, we’re pleased with how healthy and active they are. We’re also thrilled with the positive impact they are having on the land and vegetation in our orchard. They will be 11 weeks old and we’re hoping they will come in at around 3.5 – 4 lbs each, dressed weight. Our average weight for the first batch was 3.7 lbs, ranging from 2.9 to 4.5 lbs. On Sunday morning, we will slaughter and clean the birds, and cool them in an ice bath. If you are interested in purchasing some chicken, please let us know as soon as possible. We will have the birds available for pick up on Sunday afternoon from the farm. This way, if you want to cook it up fresh you can do that, or take it home to freeze whole or parted. We’ll be charging $4.50/lb for the birds. This price reflects the cost of the chicks, their feed, and, in part, their tractor, waters, spa membership fees – and hints at paying for our labor. Please contact us if you would like to reserve a bird(s) or have any questions.