Posted by: A Part of the Solution | January 13, 2012

Our Second Year on the Farm

I’ve lived at the farm for two years now. We accomplished lots our first year. You can read about all that in this blog post. Now we’ve completed another year–our second. And we’re starting our third year.

This second year was accented by long and short term WWOOFers. We had a spring-into-summer WWOOFer, and a summer WWOOFer, and a fall WWOOFer as anchors to our volunteer/intern program. We again hosted WWOOFers from every time zone in the lower forty-eight. We again hosted WWOOFers from five foreign nations. And we have now hosted WWOOFers ranging from their teen years into their sixth decade. Props to the stalwart staff of this farm! You all squished an amazing number of bugs. You all weeded and watered and hoed and pruned and harvested and composted to beat the band.

In our second year, WWOOFers became more important to the livestock side of our operations. Our pastured pig herd grew by multiples. We were grateful for the extra pairs of hands when building shelters, laying pasture lines, watering and feeding, and giving bacon rubs. Our flock of chickens grew from eight to fifty. Egg production in our second year peaked around thirty-seven on a good day. I’m anticipating more volume once this spring is fully under way. We said good-bye to our second rooster, too: Purdy was a gentleman and will be missed.

Our second year on the farm brought us many brand new experiences. We processed our pastured turkey flock by hand, and have vowed never to do so again (we’re thinking about a mechanical plucker to speed the pace along). But customer feedback on the turkeys was consistently good. People enjoyed the fine grained texture, the juicy meat and the extraordinary flavor of our Narragansett turkeys. We also saw Fern and Willow, who came to the farm in the first week of April at two months of age, give birth on the fourth of December. Of their twenty piglets, seventeen survive and are healthy and lively to a one.

This second year developed our skills quite a bit. The farm manager requisitioned and operates a walk-behind two-wheel tractor, a seeder and  a wheel hoe (with a trenching and a skimming attachment). These allow us to work the garden with more speed, accuracy and flexibility than hand-tools or a full-sized tractor can provide. We processed one of our original hogs right on the farm. He’s yielded up many, many good eats. In addition, his great size allowed us plenty of material to experiment with and refine. Our sausage recipes really are our own. Our bacon is becoming consistent in its finish and salt level. We’re looking forward to constructing a smoker before the year ahead runs out.

The year just past we also witnessed something of a minor miracle here on the farm. We used the kickstarter.com site and raised enough money to put a well in down by the barn so as to have a source of water not drawn from the kitchen during the cold months, and suitable to support sows and piglets all the year round in our farrowing center on the lower level of the barn. We admire the ease of drawing water for our twenty-nine pigs this year, compared to getting water to six pigs last winter.

Once again, we’re in discussion with various commercial kitchens, both catering and restaurant, over our pork and our veggies. We planted 1480 row feet of more than fifteen varieties of garlic. Lots of chefs are casting their eyes upon our projected garlic scapes and even the eventual garlic bulbs themselves. Core farm staff still debate the merits of pastured broiler chickens. We have farmers markets interested in our presence if we can bring the birds.

Here comes a whole ‘nother year everybody!

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Responses

  1. sounds like wicked good progress!

    • Thank you. We certainly feel like we’re underway.

  2. Had a dream about your garlic scapes last night.

    • You’ll be back in time for the end of the season’s scapes this summer!


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