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I celebrated Solstice, and the beginning of the return to light, with a good bonfire and gathering at the farm. The scene was a stunning one: the full moon backlighting the dark crown of trees; sparks and embers hurtling, frolicking through the air; a great circle of companions to spend the evening with.
Happy Holidays to you all!
I. Many lights make hands work.
So when the light leaves, my hands don’t work so much. It’s coming into the dark time. I’m struggling with it. My body and/or mind is feeling thwacky. Part of me craves the summer energy that comes from being constantly busy.
Why can’t I wake up on my internal alarm clock when the light fills the room? C’mon, I already slept 9 hours. When mid-afternoon rolls around, I am ready for cocktail hour. By 5:30 I’m ready to eat a hearty dinner. By seven, I feel lost and somewhat ready to implode. What…go to bed? Stay up and read into the seemingly endless night? Go outside and walk in the dim moon light? I’ve tried all of these options. None feel quite right. Perhaps because I’m doing them all alone.
Yes, it’s the time of year to slow down, to not work as much. To go on vacation. Or spend the vacation money on installing a wood stove for the apartment. A great choice and investment, but that far-off beach is still calling. Arm-chair travelling only goes so far. So I’m slowing down and spinning my wheels a bit.
II. So it’s the Learning Season
Went to Animal Powered Field Days in Vermont.
Went to MOFGAs farmer to farmer conference, which was superb. Inspiring and enriching.
Spent a few afternoon with local horsemen, trying to learn the workhorse trade. The art.
Participated in an Ag-related panel discussion the other night; this Friday attending a hoophouse workshop; next week there’s a roundtable on local agriculture infrastructure.
Relearning, too. Trying to refocus. Turning inward, and also away from the garden’s throbbing center, moving out to the property’s periphery, the edges, the transitions, the woodlot. It’s an important season. Offers a chance for reflection, and important element in learning and making adjustments in the system or in the style of stewardship that I am persuing as a farmerette.
Stack of books.
III. Fall notes
Ate fresh raspberries off the cane on November 3rd
55 degrees on November 17th
So mild this month some trees are budding back out.
Lots of Rain- hurrah.
The annual wind storm, last wednesday. This time the hoophouse didn’t fall in.
Hoophouse poly came off today–now they are just bare ugly skeletons.
But still eating greens and carrots fresh from the garden, November 30th.
Poe and I, we’re ready for SNOW!
I can say that November is my least favorite month. Call it ‘the sticks,’ ‘the blahs,’ ‘the first dark month’. And it is looking quite novemberish on the farm…everything brown and flat or unremarkable in cover-crop, the leaves mostly down so that the wind moving through the trees has a new *sound* and *sting*, long shadows and pinched daylight. Here is some more of that covercrop: oats still not winter-killed, growing thick:
Despite the slowingdown of the season, work and projects abound. Below, the greenhouse renovation nears completion:Allowing for a tripling of space, part of it subterrainian, for enhanced thermal gain and storage:
Garlic planted and mulched. This year I grew a covercrop on the area to be planted, then planted the garlic directly into the ground, no tilling or bed prep needed! We’ll see how this method plays out…
Today I pulled some of the last rows of tomatoes, the plants ofwhich had begun to resemble tarnished skeletons strung out on a line. The final blankets of plastic mulch pulled up, too—one of my least favorite fall tasks.
The chickens got a section of the barn made-over for them so that they can be indoors for the winter, with an option to be outside of course.
For now, they are still happiest outdoors, grazing and scratching, pestering the sheep who have been known to head-butt them out of the way.
Sadly, my ‘summer camp sheep’ will return to their main home on Thurday. Though I will miss them, it’s just the right time for them to be going, as I’m about out of good pasture for them. Hopefully they’ll be back in the spring. They’ve made me very interested in pursuing sheep-for-fiber.
Some bed prep has been accomplished for early spring planting. The rows below have been disc-hilled, and will be mulched with hay for the winter. Then in spring I will just peel the hay to the side and do a final pass in order to have a good planting bed. The beds are raised so that they will dry out and warm up quickly in the spring. Spinach, radishes and lettuce, I’m already thinking of you next year!
But for now I’ve still got plenty of those greens growing in the hoophouses. Spinach, Asian greens, Head Lettuce, Collards, Carrots, Mache, Tatsoi. Yum!
There are things I like about November. Such as having time to lay in the hammock and soak in the late afternoon sun. Or go for longer walks through the woods, which have undergone such a spatial change in the past month it is like a whole new world!
This coming weekend: MOFGAs Farmer to Farmer Conference!
Also exciting: having worked with draft horses two afternoons in the past weeks: once with a neighbors Fjord, and once with a pair of Suffolks. So very much looking forward to encorporating horsepower into the farm in coming years.
Hanging out with the honey bees. Three colonies of four are still with me now. Not sure if they will make the winter; will be feeding for next while to help them keep their honey for winter. Did you hear? Maybe a true cause of ‘colony collapse': read more here.
Progress on the expanded greenhouse! The final roof panel and hardware arrived today, so hopefully in the next few days that element will be done. Contrast the former, old roof materials on the left with the new twin-wall polycarb on the right—can we say improved light transmission!?!
The side of the barn features a newly graded gravel and stone pad, which will be where the wash and pack will happen, under a roof. Thanks Chris Bentley!
Here’s that Rainbow I’ve been alluding to. Started off small and pretty…
…And then spanned the entire sky. It even went double for a little while. What does it mean??!?!
In anticipation of co-housing all the chicken clans in the barn for the winter, I’ve transitioned them slowly to hang out together. First in neighboring fences, then comingling a bit, then all-together living together. It’s fun to see the different varieties together. They still have little tiffs now and then, but for the most part have adjusted. And the Auracana rooster is mighty proud to have expanded his henny pennies thrice over!!