Despite the approaching end of our market season, October is shaping up to be very busy. Fall is simply a complicated time of transition with many tasks competing for space in our schedule.
A lot of fertility work happens in October, as we start hauling in manure to be spread and incorporated in the growing beds. We like to get this done after crops are finished but before winter sets in. First focus goes to beds in which garlic will be planted.
The several-week stretch of garlic planting starts in mid-October, when we put next year’s 2,000 heads in the ground. This may stretch into early November depending on weather conditions.
Also sometime in October, we’ll be putting in more blueberry plants. This involves pre-digging the holes and getting everything set up just right, then travelling to the farm near Kansas City from whom we’re purchasing the plants. And of course actually getting them properly in the ground.
October also begins the seasonal meat harvest, as we spread out our butchering needs over several months so as not to get too sick of it. We’ll probably do one kid in early October, along with the three geese that have overstayed their welcome. Then the other kid in late October/early November, followed by one or more deer during hunting season starting mid-November. Somewhere in there we have some extraneous roosters to process as well. We’ll wait on the pig until sometime in December to allow for more growth, and have another adult goat (Gloria) for probably late December or early January. Each non-poultry animal takes us a full day to process, including putting down the animal, cutting/packaging/freezing meat, disposing of the carcas, and cleaning up.
At some point in October I’ll also start on my major fall project of building a permanent dairy/goat barn out in the field, an established location to do year-round milking and house the goats securely over the winter. I have most if not all of the lumber I need already milled (it’s been taking up space in the pole barn all summer) and just need the time to get started once the growing season starts winding down. I want to have this done in time to move the goats indoors for real wintry weather. This is partially weather-dependent as I can’t dig and build foundations when it’s too wet or cold, so am anxious to get started while it’s still nice out.
There is a lot of general cleanup work, especially now that we’ve had several frosts. Dead or finished plant material is reincorporated into the beds or pulled/cut and hauled off, beds are manured and turned in, and possibly mulched or planted in a late-season cover crop like rye. Post-frost crops like greens will stay in their beds longer, and those areas may not get attention until spring. But much of the farm will need some work before the true winter sets in.
We’ve also agreed to several off-farm events. Yesterday we went down to Westminster College in Fulton to speak before a freshman Environmental Science class, and some of the class will be touring the farm later in the month. In addition, I’ll be going in to Lee Elementary School in Columbia to participate in Slow Food’s Harvest of the Month program which introduces kids to farmers and farm products. Last year we worked with our corn & cornmeal; this year it will be garlic.
We’re hoping to have short trip away as a break, probably an overnight in Kansas City. Multiple friends are willing to farm-sit the animals to make this possible, and we’re looking forward to it, weather-depending. This trip will hopefully be combined with the blueberry-fetching.
Firewood is on the agenda; I have plenty cut from last winter but need to start collecting and stacking it properly near the house and under cover for winter. There are a variety of winterization tasks that need attention in the next month.
We expect to be at the farmers market for another few weeks, but the time will soon come when the products available and potential income just aren’t worth the two days of work per week it takes us to prepare for and go to market. This is partially due to an active decision a while ago on our part to end the season early, knowing we had so many other projects on tap that needed to get started in early fall. We could have pushed harder and planted far more fall/winter items, but then would have been far more stressed about failing to make progress on many other things that will help set us up for a better year next year. So we made the choice to cut our losses this year, accept a tight winter, and work toward a good start in 2o11.