Farm update: 1st week June

We have had a week of success and challenges this week.  This year we converted a new field over to produce on the Hometown Harvest Farm.  Irrigation has been more of a challenge with this field then I expected.  Thus far, all of our other fields, I have been able to pump directly out of a spring house on the farm—so we basically have an endless supply of fresh spring water for our crops.  Because of this, I never appreciated how much water we were using to irrigate.  For the past two weeks I have been work to solve the problem of getting water up to this new field.  We had planned to use a 300 gallon tank, but quickly realized that the tank was way to small for the amount of crops we were trying to irrigate.  We thought about getting a larger tank… but then we had the issue with how do we fill it, and get the tank to the field.  Water weighs a lot.

After several trial and errors, plus phone calls out to our farmer network, we solved the problem.  My 14 year old son and I ran 1,000 ft of hose from the spring house up to the far field.  Through running calculations with one of our farmer friends we realized that the water pump we had on the spring house could have enough pressure to reach the field… but only a test would tell for sure.  So after running the hose, checking and rechecking connections, we had success!  We were able to give all of our new plantings in the upper field a drink last night 🙂

early morning hen house
Pastured poultry is awesome.  We see the chickens getting excited as we move them to new grass.  We currently have about 350 laying hens, and another 75 broiler chickens out on grass right now, and are rooted every few days to new grass.  This way of raising chickens (and eggs), is healthier for the birds, for the environment, and for us, the farmer.  One of the risks with this sort of raising, however, is with predators.  We have had some issues lately.  Our farm dogs have always done a great job at protecting the flock, but I guess as they are getting older, they are slowing down a bit.  Many pastured poultry flocks have a guard dog that sleeps in the pen with the birds.  Nothing keeps predators away better then a big dog 🙂  So we are exploring the idea of adding a great pyrenees to our farm ( ahem zoo).
Tis the season→the local produce fields are becoming a busy hive of activity.  New plants are still going in, early spring plantings are being harvested.  We are seeing our produce list convert over to 100% local.  More varieties of local fruit are just around the corner.  Believe it or not, we will begin to plan for fall in the next couple of weeks.  By the end of June, seed orders for fall plants will need to be placed, and in some cases, those seeds will begin to be planted in seed trays.  We are always working a season in advance to make sure you have lots of local produce to choose from.