Watch as Farmers Grow

Monthly Summary August 2011

August 1st, 2011 | Posted by Casey in Monthly Summary

GENERAL OBSERVATIONS:  A real indication of the the success of our training program is the fact that the farm manager and family are able to take a vacation at the beginning of August.  This is one of the most demanding months of the season as our bodies are tired and the harvesting is at it’s peak.  Second and third year trainees get to test  their managment skills and “run the ship” for a bit.  An added challenge is one 2nd year trainee double twists his ankle.  The crew is capable and handles it well.  Thank You!  Some strong, gusty winds and 100 degree days round out the challenges faced this month.  One heavy rain (8/16) dropped .8 inches in just a few minutes!  

EQUIPTMENT 10.5hrs.: IH140 gets some field time in Veg B Mid. to help prepare this patch for bare fallow.  A run through with two center shanks flattens previously formed beds a bit.  May need to build beds up a bit before broadcasting the oats for winterkill.  Training: RC uses Kabota to clean isles of BGB’s.  MR follows with walk behind mower on top of empty beds.  Field beds are generally mowed off with the Kabota and BGB’s with the walk behind mower.  This happens before preparing a bed for planting/seeding.  Kabota used weekly to mow the perimeters of the next chicken pastures in the rotation.  Repaired loose gang with new steel tube bushing and heavy duty washer on disc harrow.  Ford used to disc Mulch SE Mid section (3 passes and clean up passes) and churn down the nutsedge.  Used Ford to disc Veg B North.    

ADMINISTRATION 31.5hrs.:  Payroll, Bills and Workmans Comp Audit.  Staff Metting to update on cover cropping plan and BGB management and prep. for final end of season plantings and winter production.  Website worked on.  Planning for winter production seed order (see special projects).  Finalized seed order (8/26) and placed order.  Field walk through fruit cluster and Madonna fields.  Checking corn, beans and squash for size and rodent damage.  Conclusion was squash is not quite big enough to harvest yet but keep an eye on it and harvest before critters start muching.  MR dealt with  Organic Certification Inspection. 

Discussion of  Limitations.  Awareness and acceptance of your limitations can help in planning.  Example:  you can’t do 20 hours of mowing with 10 hours and a broken down mower.    Here is a list written in log that can be  helpful when prioritizing tasks.  Chores-Water, Shelter, Food:      Self, Dependants, Livestock, Plants – crop care, greenhouse. 

Bank deposit.  Met with NOFA President – Discussed New Farmer Program and working with Duke Farm.  Crew member interested in leasing land for coming season and had discussion with MR about possible arrangements (cost of housing and work requirements as part of North Slope Farm crew) 

INFRASTRUCTURE 26.5hrs.:  Weekly rotation to fresh pasture for the chickens continues.  Perimeter always mowed before moving fences.  This helps with proper fence set up.  Chicken coops get a good cleaning this month and fresh bedding (hay) added.  Some trouble obtaining organic layer pellets; chickens eating organic mash/pellet mix in the meantime.  Walk-in cooler working again!  Market garden fence perimeter weed wacked and fence repaired.  Mowed around perimeter of all the hay fields to see if worthy of cutting and baling.  Old zinnia bed mowed off as well. 


COMPOSTING 3.5hrs.: Composted 4 BGB’s.  New 6’x6’x6′ compost pile started with plant material removed from Veg B Mid and straw in alternating layers.  Pile extended 8/27 with more weeds removed from 6 beds in Veg B Mid.

PLANTING 33hrs.: Mowed off field beds where harvesting is complete and BGB’s that will be prepared for the next seeding.  Carrot and beets direct seeded in Veg B South.  Mowed off remaining BGB’s.  4 BGB’s composted, broad forked, rototilled, raked, rolled, direct seeded with lettuce, turnips, carrots and a final rolling to secure the seed in the soil.  Preparing for winter production planting and cover crops.  Focus is on controlling weeds in tilled ground.  Pig weed- mow, cut and remove.  Nutsedge-mow, cut harrow then drag with spring tooth.  Ford used to disc Veg B North before sedding wheat and clover.  Prep. and plant five remaining field beds in Veg B South with gold beets, red beets, radishes, turnips, kale and scallions.

CROP CARE 82hrs.:  Lots of weeding in Veg B South (current main crops harvesting from) and BGB’s (2 salad mix).  Kale, chard and salad mix weeded and thinned somewhere? in market garden.  Hand weeded 6 beds Veg B Mid.  Hoed 2 beds of young salad mix and carrots in BGB’s and a row of direct seeded chard and beans in the field beds.  We also fit in another round of tomato stringing!

HARVESTING 286.5hrs.:  Kale, beets, squash, chard, green beans, tomatoes, peppers (1st 8/20), eggplant (1st 8/20), flowers, salad mix (new beds 8/25), basil, carrots.  Green bean bed abandoned early in the month due to a combination of over and under sized beans. These plants we will often let go to seed and collect dry beans for winter.   The plan for earliest planting of beets is to top them and store them for late summer or early winter sales (8/26 harvested and topped 275# from Veg B South).   

HANDLING 61hrs.: Routine washing for Hopewell, West Windsor and Summit Markets.  Sorting tomatoes is also ongoing.  600# of tomatoes sorted out and set aside for sauce.  MR picked up Tomato Sauce; 96 qts. from 600#.  Cost $345 or $3.60/qt. with 6.5# tomatoes/qt. plus time packing, drop off and pick up.  Estimated minimum value/jar $10.

MARKETING 163hrs.: Hopewell( 8/4 $751, 8/11 $563.75, 8/18 $622, 8/25 $707)  West Windsor (8/7 $1,770.50, 8/14 $2116.80, 8/20 $1,304, 8/28 $1,610) Summit (8/8 $3,000+. (Note: Blackberries require lots of time sorting.  Possible customer loss as a result.  Beautiful salad mix in field that did not make it to market this week?  Hot weather?  Or maybe crew small this week?), 8/15 $3,390, 8/29 $2,250). Farmstand set up on Thursdays with little traffic. Organized a tomato order for Nomad Pizza 40# Hierlooms and 32 pints sungolds.  Made a couple trips to Solebury Orchards to pick up a fruit order.  We resell this delicious fruit at our farmers markets. 

SPECIAL PROJECTS 17hrs.:  Serious planning begins for winter production in Farmhouse Gothic and Ralph’s House.  Winter field production under tunnels also proposed.  Speial Event:  collecting eggs for Bent Spoon.  Need 10 dozen for Friday 8/13.  New Film: Jared Fletcher delivered copies of The Farmer and the Horse to sell at markets.  Summer Conference:  Two crew members headed off to the annual NOFA Summer Conference in MA.  TOMATO SAUCE:  Ripe tomatoes are collected and stored in cooler until 600# goal reached.  They are taken to Baumans for processing.  DELIVERY:  CH offers free delivery to Rock Road residents.  Produce delivered weekly.  A couple deliveries to neighboring towns with a delivery fee.  TOMATO FIGHT: Tomato Maze cut out for tomato fight.

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