csa week 6 2011

“A much needed break before the big game”. That was how Andy described this past week. With Tiffany’s final day on the farm last Friday and George away in Louisville for the bulk of the week, Monday dawned, fresh from a weekend rain and low key for the rest of us. Deep breath, some good fishing, and a slow and steady pace with just Paul and Andy in the fields is how best to describe most of this week. It is hard to find restorative time as June turns to July here on the farm. The pace quickens, the days are hot and long, and there is just so much to do. Alas, events coincide and a gift of relaxation and crisp cool weather was bestowed upon us here in the hollow: I think we were all pretty thankful. The time was right for digging the bulk of our garlic crop, so the guys went at it and managed to pull, shake clean and store the seed stock along with the fresh bulbs for eating. Thursday noon arrived and everything happened at once: we welcomed back George, fresh from the city and Kate, a short term WWOOFER from Georgia who will be with us for the month of July. We were able to enjoy a meal together, tour Kate around, get her settled into her new home and by 4:00 that day, everyone was out in full force raking, gathering and mulching with the grass clippings from a newly mowed pasture. Sasha has taken over pasture management and his devotion to his grass eating friends, Addie, Bronco, Earl and Rosie shows in this care of the pasture they consume. We practice rotational grazing here. This means the animals are grazed on smaller paddocks and moved as soon as they have eaten the choice greens. This management method helps to prevent overgrazing and lessen the pressure from parasites on the livestock. Depending on the size of the paddock and the location, this can mean bi weekly moves, or longer stays. Once the animals are moved off a space, our optimal pasture management would include harrowing, clipping and raking. Harrowing spreads the manure piles evenly across the paddocks ensuring fertility is distributed across the entire space. Paul purchased a 12 foot wide chain harrow that he used to pull with his tractor. With all the “must dos’ on his list, we never were able to keep up with this critical task. Now, it is done by Sasha and Earl. Once Earl began working the land, we figured he can do a wonderful job pulling one quarter of the heavy metal chain implement. After Earl has done his part keeping the pastures healthy, Sasha hops on the riding mower and clips the fields. The animals like to eat the grass at about 4-6 inches off the ground, fresh growth. Once the grass has gotten tall and gone to seed, they do not eat it, is has less nutrition at this stage in its growth. Clipping both the high grasses and the weeds they don’t eat, ensures a healthy, nutritive diet for the grazers. Finally, we rake the clippings to mulch in our garden spaces. We love mulch and grass clippings are the best. Mulch holds the moisture in the soil and suppresses weed growth: thorough and timely mulching keeps the earth moist and weeds at bay. The day,the week, and the month ended with everyone piling into Andy’s car for a trip to the Metcalfe county fair. With our fill of funnel cakes and tilt a whirls, we all look forward to the big game ahead: JULY.

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