South Field Starting to Green – Click to Zoom
We’ve been working on fencing and planting with all of this beautiful weather. The south field is now sub-divided for this year’s paddocks and the far south field is ready for animals. The pigs, ducks, chickens and geese are all enjoying going out there. The south field is for our Yorkshire x Large Black x Berkshire x Tamworth herd. Next we tighten up fences in the north field for the north Berkshire Tamworth herd.
Will and Ben have been doing most of the fencing work. What is shown in the photo above is the corridor between south field paddocks leading back from the far south field towards our home fields. In the far distance you can see a few of the remaining round hay bales from this winter and beyond Sugar Mountain that blocks the cold winter winds from hitting us so hard.
The shade of the aspen regen around me when I took the photo is a favored area by the livestock during hot summer days. This regen came up from the roots of the trees we flush cut when re-clearing this field in 1999. Aspen is also called Poplar around here. There is another tree called Black Poplar that is very different. This soft wood grows quickly. It makes fodder for the sheep and pigs. Cattle would probably eat it too. Enough light gets in that the clover and grasses grow well yet there is enough shade to make it very pleasant. Having some shade in every paddock is important. Pasture should be a mix of grasses, legumes, brush and trees to create balance through out the days and the seasons.
To the left is the extension of the south field plateau that about doubles our planting area this year. We skimmed off half the top of the plateau last year and mixed in the big plateau compost pile to extend the summer crop area for sunflowers, pumpkins, squash, beets, turnips and cole crops. This is then late fall and winter food for the pigs.
In the warm months the pigs will eat the tops of the kale, rape, beets and turnips we plant out in the pastures but they leave the tubers. However when the pastures diminish they become more willing to eat the roots, which are sitting up above the surface of the soil. Some of the roots get missed and grow again the next year in addition to the seeds these plants throw off naturally.
The lane between the lines of fence heading north in the picture is wide enough for me to drive the tractor, skid logs or drive a tractor trailer down in the fall such as when hay is delivered. Over the next few years we’ll even that out so that it simplifies the annual delivery. This will save time and fuel by not having to carry the bales individually up the mountain for each winter.
I plan to plant apple, pear trees and fruiting bushes along the lane. These will be protected by a double fence line keeping larger animals off the trees. The fruit will provide more food for the livestock in the fall.
The snow seems to finally really be gone and the ice is almost melted out of our butcher shop construction site. It is amazing how cold it is inside of the chiller, processing room and kitchen even with these warm days and the open open doorways. The super insulation and high thermal mass are very effective. Energy, specifically electricity for refrigeration, is one of the biggest costs of a meat processing facility. By having an energy efficient plant we are not only green as in saving the planet and all that good stuff, but we’re saving money on our bottom line. Green is good for business. Reducing waste makes sense in all ways. I would rather have that money for buying more apple trees than waste it on electricity that leaks its heat out the walls.
While Ben and Will have been fencing I’ve been planting with Hope. With this warm weather perhaps we’ll get a few extra months of growing season. I’ve risked some seed and planted early. If we get a hard frost I’ll have to replant but it is worth the risk to gain two months of growth.
Once we finish spring planting and fencing we’ll switch to form work in preparation for the next pour of concrete which is the ceilings over the administration (inspector’s office & bathroom) plus over the future warm kitchen and smokehouse which will initially be our cutting room.
Outdoors: 65°F/27°F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 70°F/64°F
Daily Spark: You cannot unsay a cruel word. -Old Farmer’s Advice