It’s been hot and dry lately, for which we’re very thankful. These conditions have helped most of our summer produce get off to an excellent start. Some spring items have suffered, like peas, but overall the past few weeks have been great (we suspect earlier hail damage played a factor in pea struggles as well). We’re very busy, handling the full cycle of continued planting/transplanting, maintenance/weeding, and harvest/marketing, but the farm is in good shape and we’re pretty happy with the year so far.
Probably the biggest challenges so far have been adapting to this sudden blast of (welcome) heat, and handling marketing. We’ve rarely sold as much as we’d like to at a market this year, which concerns us as the bulk summer produce starts to come on. Insect populations are very high and are starting to do some damage in a few places; this will take time to assess and manage.
Here’s a photo essay of recent farm conditions:
The main vegetable field is going strong. This dry weather has meant I could finally disc & plant our north fields, which we manage with tractor equipment (unlike the produce areas) and are planting in bulk animal/human feed crops like alfalfa, pearl millet, feed beets, sunflowers, and cowpeas.
The first green bean plants are flowering; these are the excellent Fin de Bagnol filet beans that can be eaten raw, they’re so good. On the right are some parsnip plants, which we’re looking forward to selling at fall markets or potentially overwintering for early spring sales/CSA shares.
Almost-ready crops include garlic (at left) and beets (at right), both of which are looking very good.
Coming-soon crops include zucchini and tomatoes, which are absolutely loving this dry heat. Zukes are already fruiting, and a few tomato plants have fruit forming. Peppers, cucumbers, okra, tomatillos, corn, potatoes, and more are all growing.
On the animal front, the goats are on permanent pasture for the summer, rotating to new ground regularly. This year’s kids have become very friendly and handleable, key for our plans to keep the two does as long-term milkers. Intending to build up the laying flock by next year, we purchased an incubator after doing the math to prove that it would pay itself off very quickly compared to mail-ordering chicks. This also lets us preserve and select genetics on the farm for breeds and behaviors we want. The first 10 chicks are hard to photograph, but are starting to go outside in an old chicken tractor. The blurred ones nicely capture their energy level.
The lone pig is doing great, now out on grass in a yard next to the dairy barn. He’s getting lots of fresh whey, on-farm vegetable scraps like rejected lettuce leaves and pea vines, some cooked meat/fat scraps from fall on-farm goat butchering, along with organic whole grains; in general the highly diverse and healthy diet we want to feed pigs. Too bad we can’t do more this way.
Speaking of food for ourselves, as always we grow/raise some items just for household use. This broccoli turned out very nicely, though we have no interest in growing it for sale because the yield/unit space is way too low to make economic sense. Our second-year blueberry plants are also fruiting heavily, with the first ripe berries starting to appear. Strawberries are still producing more than we have the energy to pick daily, but these blueberries are a true treat.