Spring 2013 - lots new on the farm!
by Pete on April 23rd, 2013

It has been one of the busiest springs Jen and I have ever had on the farm!  Since moving down the street late last year to a new house and more land, we have been busy clearing neglected fields and building lots of new infrastructure for the animals and vegetables.  In fact, we've been so busy building new shelters, clearing land and planning that we've neglected to post just some of the exciting changes we have in store for this season.
One of the very first projects we began last summer was to install a new 30'x72' greenhouse to be our "anchor" on the farm.  Since there is more space now we felt we really needed to have our own greenhouse to grow mixed veggies and to extend the growing season a little bit.   2013 will be our first season growing crops in the high-tunnel and so far the spinach, lettuce, bok choy and chard look great!
  Coming soon to the greenhouse we'll add seedless cukes, tomatoes, basil and other warm=loving plants.  Keep an eye out in the mini-store for some great organic veggies from our new greenhouse and fields.  Chard, onions, kale, cabbage, spinach and lettuce will be planted this week with more to come!  All our produce is organically grown and super-fresh!

Other new additions to the farm include our new Rabbit Chalet and Broiler Brooder.  Since we had to abandon our old backyard with the shelter for the rabbits and the brooder for the baby chicks, we decided to build all new and improved structures.  The rabbit chalet houses over forty cages suspended over slanted drop pans so cleaning cages is a breeze.  The sides roll up so in the heat of the summer their will be plenty of cross ventilation but still shady and cool - which the does and bucks enjoy.  The chick brooder in the far left, is almost 2x the size of the old brooder with automatic water system, lots of windows and cross ventilation as well.  More detailed photos of each will be posted soon.

And then...the animals!

The goats...

Yes yes, and the beasts.  Much to say about them.  We are please to welcome five pure-bred Boer goats to the farm this year!  Since there are lots of brambles and woods to clear we thought having some goats to munch around would help with the clearing process, and add character to the place too.  They are a fun loving and spry group of boys.  Folks stopping by the farm to pick up meat this season will meet them for sure!

The pigs

Back this year are more wonderful, healthy, and curious pigs.  Our first group has been on the ground rooting and playing for over a month now with many more to arrive in the next few weeks.  We have lots of Tamworth and Large Black heritage pigs and a small group of Mangalitsa's.   They are all having quite the time playing in the woods and running to and fro.  Growing fast too! 

This year we were awarded a SARE grant (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education...a USDA off shoot) to study a new system of keeping the pigs cool in the summer.    We are in the process of building a mobile cooling wagon which will be moved around the field throughout the summer providing cool shade and regular doses of cool showers for the pigs.  The goal of the grant is to reduce heavy impact on soils by the pigs, keep them cool and comfortable during the hottest months of the summer, and to more evenly distribute manure throughout our fields.  Stay tuned for more info.   We'll be posting regularly about the grant as the season progresses.

The hens

Our new layer flock arrived about ten days ago and are already settled in and laying.  Pullet eggs (the small tasty ones!) are available in the mini-store now!  They are usually available for the first month of so while the hens first begin laying, so get them now if you are a fan.  We think they are the best eggs of the season!  The hens are currently located behind the Verrill Farm greenhouses on Wheeler Road.  Within a few weeks they will be moved the White's Pond field on Plainfield Road, then later on moved to Landmark Field on ORNAC.  Look for the red coops when you are driving around town! 

The meat chicks

The 2013 season of meat chickens is well under way!  Our first group of birds are in the brooder and growing very nicely.  We will again be growing the Freedom Ranger type red feathered birds as well as the larger Cornish breed.  This weekend we'll be moving the broiler coops to Soutter field on Sudbury Road...preparing for the birds to be moved to pasture within two weeks.  Keep an eye out!


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