Market plans (November 12) and other farm happenings

We will not be at market this weekend, following our biweekly fall schedule. We intend to sell at the final outdoor market next weekend (11/19), the last before Thanksgiving, and then be done for good. Restaurant sales continue to be strong, with a nice set of deliveries this week to Sycamore, Red & Moe, and Uprise Bakery.

As usual, the decision to skip market partly reflects other seasonal needs on the farm. This weekend opens hunting season, and I don’t think we’ve ever gone to market that weekend. I’ll be in the woods along with a hunter friend, and Joanna will be doing farm work and waiting for the sound of fresh meat. Deer have been quite active here for months, a large population that could use some thinning to lower pressure on the woods and fields, and I’ll be happy to replace wolves for a few days.

Also happening on the farm (apologies for no photos; it’s been too busy to remember the camera):

Following our fourth CSA tour, we are now nearly full for 2012 (with two tour attendees still contemplating their decision and two more households on a waiting list in case there is an opening). This is a very good feeling. We are looking forward to the efficiency of a system that provides a home for everything we grow; no more bringing home 30% or more of our harvest from market. The 2012 CSA will be smaller than we need for long-term economic stability, but we’re willing to take a lower income next year in exchange for less stress and more on-farm and product efficiency. We (and members) will judge the results at the end of next year and decide where to go from there.  We’ll certainly be in the spotlight, with little room for disappointment, as we have 3 Columbia-area food bloggers signed up as CSA members.

Winter preparations continue to move forward, as we remove infrastructure, hoe final weeds, mulch beds, seed late cover crops, plant overwintering alliums, maintain compost piles, and more. We had one load of clean straw delivered; it’s amazing how quickly a few straw-mulched beds can make a farm look tidy and attractive.

Food preservation is an ongoing feature of life this time of year. We recently took a delivery of six bushels of organic apples from Blue Heron Orchard in NE Missouri. Three of these were intended for friends and neighbors who wanted access to organic apples, and three are for our own preservation and winter storage. We held a marathon apple-processing session on Tuesday afternoon-evening, in cooperation with the neighbor, working together to turn a bushel each of our apples into canned applesauce and nine trays of dried apples. We also made and canned apple butter, and another round of green tomato-apple pie filling, a great winter treat. We’ve been drying large quantities of green and partially ripe peppers, and will be starting soon on fermenting sauerkraut. We have more food preserved this year than ever; with no more shelving space, we now have full canning jars lining the front of most of our bookcases. A winter project for me is building more shelving/storage area in the kitchen for such preserves.

We’ve now had close to 3″ of rain in the past week, a delightful occurrence. Our stream still has no flow, an indication of just how desperately dry the ground has been. Many tasks are easier now, such as pulling t-posts from beds and moving portable animal fencing. The pig is now doing a much better job of turning up ground than he did in the bone-dry months.

We continue to rotate animals onto new pastures as long as the weather remains nice. Our goat population is larger than usual, with the temporary addition of a buck for breeding purposes. We moved the pig on Thursday to fresh pasture where he can turn in more fescue now that the ground is actually moist. He later escaped after battering down a cattle panel gate, and we found him happily trotting along near the house. Fortunately, he’s quite friendly and can be lured anywhere just by running in front of him; he follows behind like a well-trained dog. And fortunately he didn’t get into any growing areas or cause any other problems while he was out. We redid the gate with more reinforcement, as befits a large and powerful hunk of live pork. Can’t wait for the cool stretch of days we need to start the processing (a goat and many young roosters are on the list, too).

I’ve finally gotten started on our new chicken house, a larger building intended to overnight-house our growing laying flock in a more secure and convenient setting. Its location will allow the birds access to multiple acres of pasture and woods, including our developing orchard. I’ll be sneaking time to work on this when possible, but at least have the foundation done and the frame up. We intend to move the birds in by early December.

Logging is on hiatus as my chainsaw developed an attitude and is in the shop. Just as well, there’s more than enough to do as it is. Still, I’m itching to get back to one of my favorite jobs.

Then there’s the weekly restaurant sales calls, harvest, and deliveries, along with market prep and attendance (probably) by the end of next week. Things don’t really slow down here until well into December.

One thought on “Market plans (November 12) and other farm happenings

  1. Congratulations on the growth of your restaurant sales and CSA success. I don't often comment, but have been an avid reader of your blog the past year. Our small farm (Manoor Manor) is just in the early start up phase. Your generous gift of sharing both knowlege and experience has been a tremedous blessing to me. Thank you both for the time and dedication you give to your craft and your blog.