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July is the new June. We thought our first year at Reber Rock Farm was going pretty smoothly until the sun came out in July and our five humans and eight horses started really FARMING!
In a wet year, a sandy field is a joy. We plowed up a high section of the back pasture that is very sandy loam, and planted beans for a second time. Four horses and two teamsters made quick work of the 2.5 acre field, using the walking plow in front of a disc harrow. No time to bare fallow, we seeded the next day.
We finished planting the beans just in time for road construction to the new barn site to start. 30 2 ton loads of item 4 gravel later, and we got ourselves a beautiful new road and were ready to level the barn site and start the foundational work.
05-06 Hay making
Of course, with sun in July (usually June!) starts hay making. With 88 acres we need off site hay fields, as we can graze all our on farm pastures during the season. Luckily, we’ve got family in the area with 60 acres of beautiful hay fields, so we headed over to Wild Orchard Farm to begin bringing in our winter fodder.
Draft trainees Killian and Rosa did a stellar job mowing, tedding and raking. Our plans to use a motor powered baler pulled by four horses was postponed, when the only non-draft part of the set-up – the gas powered engine that powers belts that run the baler – wouldn’t run. Friends and neighbors came to the rescue, however, and two balers and two tractors later we mowed our first 200 bales of the season.
07-11 Barn building
With the first batch of hay in we switched back to setting the foundation of the barn. With rented excavators (Chad drives excavators almost as well as he drives horses!) and lots of muscle power the farm crew powered through the four hottest days of the summer in the ditch to lay water and electric lines, and set, level, plumb, and back fill the foundation of our 100′ x 40′ pole barn.
The first reward – cooling off under the new frost free hydrants. The barn will serve as all-around storage for equipment, tools, hay and grain; it will house our animals in the winter, freezers year round and provide a shaded chicken slaughter space. Si tout va bien!
Meanwhile, the animals kept growing. The turkeys out grew their brooder earlier than expected, so made the move to a coop in the middle of the yard. With this activity out the kitchen window, Turkey TV became the mealtime distraction; they are hysterical, social and active birds! Soon they were too big for their stage coop, so we built them a roost, scythed as best we could through the field to ensure the electronet would be hot, and introduced them to pasture.
The pigs spent the hot days lying in the cool dirt under the bushes that they are clearing for us along one edge of the sugar bush, and the hens – being sun-dependent creatures, too – picked up their laying. A dozen a day from our 12 hens! Little Paloma, our lone Hereford calf for the year, keeps growing, testing out more and more grass as her rumen develops.
We finished setting the Sonna tubes (culvert pipe set on top of hollow square footings) just in time for the arrival of the cement truck, and then raced to pour, set rebar, and place the threaded steel that the brackets and 6’x 6′ uprights will sit on. The barn floor will be sand and a partial cement pad.
And the farmers get a summer trim! Look for us on the farm or in the farm store, any day of the week. We’ve got veggies Friday – Monday, and all other days: syrup, dilly scapes, soap, frozen scapes, whole roaster chickens and note cards.
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