Home / Slow Food / Farm Update / Week 2 of Our Organic Farming Apprenticeship
Published on April 29, 2012, by in Farm Update, Photos.
brush burning

It is week two of farming and we're on fire!

inside greenhouse

The beginning of the week saw in in the basement greenhouse working with seedlings. It was a rainy day, and we were stuck inside while nature watered the plants outside.

sorting seedlings under grow lights

Kate selects trays to work with from under the grow lights.

deduping seedlings

We spent many hours "deduping" seedlings. We take seed tray cells where several seedlings have grown, and carefully divide them into their very own cells. Tragedy struck when all the collards we worked with were killed by the frost after we put them outside. It was a tough blow considering the time and care we put into them (not to mention money). But that is farming!

brassica seedlings

These brassica seedlings are ready to be deduped. See how there are more than one to each cell? We separate them to maximize our yield.

butter lettuce seedlings

These little guys are going to be butter letuce. If they survive that is , it's been a weird year.

tractor on fire

With the heavy rains, the fire danger was low. We took the opportunity to burn some large brush piles on the farm. We started the fires in the wood stove, then filled the tractor bucket. The brush we burned was an invasive species Erick had cleared out. He priced out what it would take to hire a wood-chipper for all the brush and it would have cost over $60,000! It was our only choice to get rid of the brush.

planting on the farm

Once the weather cleared up, and the fields dried a little, we were back out planting in the fields.

young farmer and devon cattle

It seems like this was a big week to bond with the cattle. Here farm apprentice Tara T. and Rachael talk over morning hay. Charlotte's my favorite yearling. She's a sweety.

mucking out the barn

It's not all roses and sunshine. Every morning we much out the stalls for the yearling calves. This particular day I got to a major over-hall. These calves are here to ween them their mothers. Pretty soon they will be out on fresh grass. We had to wait until the grass was high enough for the cattle, otherwise the grass would suffer.

newborn calf

Three calves were born this week. We breed our cattle for beef, and stockers. A stocker cow is sold to another farmer to start, or fill out his herd. One of our bull calves, "Duke", was sold to a nice lady from Pennsylvania this week. Duke was kind of a pain in the butt, and I did not mind seeing him get on the truck. Cows are a lot more docile than bulls. There's something about all that testosterone.

devon cattle grazing

It was incredibly rewarding to herd our cattle onto fresh grass. After long winter months eating hay, we rounded them up and walked them to fresh pasture. Even after two weeks I feel a real attachment to our cows. Not in a way were I will be really sad to see them head off to become burgers and steaks, and more of an appreciation for their lives, and what they will provide in the future.

road construction

Part of our marketing efforts for this year is to build a half-mile of road on the farm. One of our hardships is that we do not have good road access for people to get to the farm. We are on a dirt road, and because of Woodstock zoning laws, we can only have two road signs (not good if you're in the middle of no-where). We won a competitive grant (more on that nightmare later) to help fund the road. The road will give us good access from a main road, and make it easier for people to get to the farm to buy our goods.

farm road construation

Farmer Erick is the man running the excavator. It's a wonder to watch him run that thing. I bet he could pick up a China cup from one table and put it on another without breaking it.

farm paperwork

While Erick is on the excavator and we are in the fields, Patty is inside making sure all the paperwork is in place. In addition to the mountain of paperwork necessary to make a small farm run, the computer crashed this week and she had to get it fixed. She maintains the books, write the grant proposals, interacts with customers, organizes the crew, takes care of her two young daughters (3 and 6 years old), and still finds time to cook for all of us. She's truly amazing, and I have no idea how she does it.

farm road construction

THe new road should change things big time for the farm. It should be done in about 2 weeks. I took a turn doing what I could directing trucks and filling in where I could. This is a seven day a week project on top of the normal farm work. After these weeks regular farming should almost feel easy. Ha...