Home / Slow Food / Farm Update / Building a Barn, Clearing Land, and Getting the Farm Ready for Winter
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Published on November 20, 2012, by in Farm Update.

With our farm apprenticeship over, I wanted to reflect on my last weeks working on Devon Point Farm. The transition of going from weekly CSA pick-ups to preparing the farm for winter was a weird one. It was difficult to wrap my head around the fact that we were not growing food for our summer CSA anymore and were were preparing the farm for winter.

There was still the Winter CSA to take care of, but my duties did not involve that at all. For me, I was done with food. However, being a farmer means you have to have a pretty diverse skill set. The only thing is, you might not know what skills you are going to need until you are actually using them.

In addition to carpenter, electrician, plumber, business entrepreneur, marketing expert, and photographer, I now have added large machinery operator to my resume.

articulating dump truck

Say hello to my little friend! This green machine is an articulating dump truck. Instead of the steering controlling the front two wheels like a normal car, it pivots in the middle using quite large hydraulics. That means it turns like no other vehicle, and can be quite interesting to navigate around a job site. Between the almost 6 foot tall wheels and rugged body, this thing will drive over just about anything.

dump truck driver

This is my fish tank-esque view from the cockpit of the Green Giant (as I came to call it). It smelled like years of sweaty men, and a little like diesel fuel.

clearing farm land

Part of our farm project(s) was land clearing and reclamation. Land that the Natural Resources Conservation Services deemed suitable for farm land was cleared of trees by a land clearing company, then Erick came through with the excavator and pulled out the stumps and rock and piled them into windrows. Then Erick loaded everything onto my truck to move to another part of the site. A lot of work to say the least.

clearing farm land

Erick piled stumps onto the truck. One load at a time, I took them out of the field.

farm land clearing

Rocks were another issue. We needed a good place for the tons upon tons of stone that we pulled out of the ground. Where do you hide enough stone to fill a large house?

farm land clearing

Bingo! Dig a hole. We need subsoil for the foundation of the new barn going in, which left a large hole in the ground. We filled the hole with the stone, covered it with dirt, and BAM! Problem solved. Look how big that thing is. Makes my truck look small. We filled that hole and more.

barn construction

We have had a lot of equipment coming to the farm. Between the land clearing, the barn builders, my truck, the excavator, it has been Tonka Truck heaven. Here, a cement truck loads a boom arm that fills the forms for the walls of the new barn. The barn is being built to house the cows in the winter.

new england fall foliage

Once and a while, it was nice to look up and see the New England Fall foliage colors.

migrating birds

Migrating birds would fill the sky from time to time on their way to warmer climates for the winter months. Their songs could be heard over the rumble of heavy equipment in a juxtaposition of nature and mechanization.

pumpkin patch

We held a pumpkin patch on the farm every weekend during October. There is a tie between orange and blue as my favorite colors. The large splashes of orange on the ground with clear blue skies and crisp fall air made for a pleasant atmosphere on the farm.

tomato stakes

Before I spent my days in the dump truck, I helped the ladies pull out tomato stakes. Since we drove them so firmly into the ground with a post pounder, we need a little help from the tractor to pull them out. A single chain hanging from the bucket wrapped around the post once would bind and pull the stakes out with ease.

tomato stakes

You have to be careful and work as a team. If you don’t… Someone might get their fingers pinched….

winterizing the farm

Tara helps gather the pulled stakes into handy racks that we built from an old pallet an wood found on the farm. Tara is a force to be reckoned with. I had to hustle to keep up with her.

tilling vegetable beds

Patty tilled the beds to plant cover crops for winter. The cover crops with prevent erosion, help fix nitrogen in the soil, and keep the farm looking tidy.

raccoon hat

As the days got colder and we were no less busy, my hair started to grow out. The observation was made that it matched quite perfectly with a Davy Crocket raccoon hat. Also in the picture is Emily, another apprentice, one of the hardest working ladies I have ever met, and a bright spot on the farm.

fall colors back road

The fall foliage is beautiful around the farm. This is my favorite part of the road we put in this spring.

farm kid

Three year old Julia supervises as we work in the fields. It has been great to watch her grow up these past months. Life on the farm presents a lot of advantages for kids. Farming and a connection to our food is something that all kids should be at least exposed to, and sadly, many are not.

winter vegetables

6 year old Lexi speeds around as Patty and Tara harvest minutina for the Winter CSA at Devon Point Farm. The white fabric behind them is called remay and used to add another 4 degrees of temperature protection for field crops. This helps extend the season by protecting from early frost allowing the harvest to continue.

farm construction

My last day on the farm was spent laying underground electrical conduit. Remember, jack of all trades, master of farming! Erick, Uncle Frank, and I ran electrical conduit, and water lines for the new cow barn.

It was by no means an easy summer. The hardest steel goes through the hottest fires as the saying goes. I started the summer with an idea that I wanted to be a farmer, but not 100% confident that I was actually going to pursue it. Even with the 16 hour days, exhaustion, physical pain, and all the other joys that come with farming, I really only have one thing to say about it. I LOVE IT!!!

Over two years ago (more like 4), I felt an itch that something was missing in my life, philosophically. I have figured out how to scratch that itch, and I am going to follow that path fully focused and with passion.