Farming Update - early November
“End of the season” may sound like kick back and relax time. Hardly. We are a farm, afterall, so when one season ends, another begins. Here’s what we’re up to around the farm and property in the “post-season.”
This late in the year, we’re no longer haying or pasturing our cows, but a couple of weeks ago, Jeremy Bessette was out mowing the hayfields nonetheless. Why? The late mowing takes down the thistles and burdock and other noxious weeds that grow tall in the hayfields after the last cut. This will reduce the number of weeds in the hayfields next spring, and get the grass off to a good start, improving the quality of hay. We'll use what we harvest simply for animal bedding.
Our unbred heifers (young female cows that haven’t had a calf) are still grazing in north pastures, but our milking cows can't find enough nutritious forage there, so they're in the barn eating (non-GMO) baylage and grain. Dairy Manager Sam Dixon lets these gals out on pasture for a few hours a day, though, just for fresh air and exercise. They love it, according to Sam. It’s kind of like recess!
In the cheese room, we’re still making cheese from all that milk. But the real focus is processing! That means cutting, waxing, and labelling thousands of bars of cheese in preparation for the holiday season. Last week, we cut 999 half pound bars!
Although we haven’t had a killing frost at the Market Garden (hat tip to climate change?) Josh Carter and his staff are finishing cutting back and composting all the perennial flowers and herbs, planting a last bed of garlic, turning off water and stashing away hoses. They’re also preparing to spread compost on the fields to feed next year’s crops. And they’re still harvesting late season kale, chard, Brussels sprouts, lettuce, spinach, and cauliflower for Farm staff and local food shelves.
After the wear and tear of summer traffic, the Farm roads are getting some needed attention to prepare for the stresses of winter weather. Groundskeeper Travis Bessette was recently at work on the grader, filling in potholes and spreading 50 loads of gravel along North Gate Drive from the entrance to the Farm to Butternut Hill. Later, he and the team put up snow fencing in the fields along our major roads. The fences help keep windblown snow off the roads.
And now, we wait.