Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What's New At The Farm 11/19/2008

After a weekend of rain we're back to working in the fields. We hope to get as much done this week out there as we can as the weather is bound to turn cold shortly. Monday we finished pulling the stakes out of the tomato workshop and trial and have been mowing and pulling plastic ever since. The winter squash workshop is moving right along and we should be done in a couple of weeks. Susie's working in the greenhouses; finishing up some projects before it gets cold.

Last Wed. and Thursday Adam, Elisa, Susie and I went on a field trip to Vermont. Wednesday we visited Karl Hammer at Vermont Compost Company in Montpelier, and also Intervale Compost and Farm, and Gardeners Supply all in Burlington. On Thursday we visited High Mowing Seeds, Pete's Greens and made a quick stop at the Cabot cheesery in Cabot.

We originally were going to go in October, but I thought it best to wait until after foliage season. The motel rates might be cheaper and there wouldn't be much traffic. Wrong! The rates were not cheaper and the weather was cold – we about froze! Next year we'll go in October when the weather is warmer and there's more activities going on at t he places we visited. This year, other than composting, there wasn't much if anything going on in the fields and the greenhouses were awaiting a good cleaning before winter sets in.

At least there was some composting going on; both at Vermont Compost and Intervale Compost Company. Both were interesting but totally different. Vermont Compost receives food residue and baled hay amongst other raw materials. It is windrowed on a side hill and moved down the hill as it composts. Karl has 1200 laying hens that do much of the turning. They feed exclusively on the raw materials and produce 1000 dozen eggs a month in the process. His facility is neat, well kept and organized and he produces a top notch product. He's been at it quite a few years and knows the ins and outs.

Intervale Compost in Burlington is composting on a larger scale. They receive leaves and garden/lawn residue from the city of Burlington. While we were there, there was a steady stream of vehicles coming in with leaves. They use leaves, food wastes as well as manures from local farms. They were using a Pay loader to move mountains of materials into windrows. They receive 20,000 tons of materials in a year and sell finished compost locally and bagged.

Compost is such an interesting product. Turning crop residues and manures and other products once considered waste materials into a great soil amendment is key to good agricultural practices. If we put back what we take out and more, we will continue to enjoy success in the gardens and fields producing our food. Compost can be, and is, made from virtually all material that was once living. From dead materials comes life giving nutrients, organic matter and beneficial microbes to enrich our soils, souls and our lives.

Until next week; actually the week after, next week is the week I finish projects around the house and garden before winter comes. Winter will be upon us shortly and I've got a list of things to do. I suppose I'd better round up the last of the firewood and do some last minute harvesting in the garden. The Brussels sprouts and the mangels can be harvested; the sprouts can also be frozen. The mangels will be put in the cellar for the chickens to consume this winter. I've got some insulating to do in the henhouse and a couple of new doors to put on. I'll start on next year's firewood and start up my boiler for this season. And, yes, I've got to spend a day at camp readying things for winter there also and she wants boughs for decorating the window boxes and I've got to get some hay for the goat and so it goes.


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