Blog Archives

Notes from the Field: part 1

Happy summer, y’all.

You’ll notice that I started using the “read more” feature on here, so my full posts are visible after the cut below (click on “read the rest of this entry” in each post to go to the full page).

I recently pulled out a stack of binders I had packed away from my days at university. When I cleaned out my desk at the end of the program, I recycled most of the notes I had, but some course notes I kept without really knowing what I’d do with them. The reason has become a bit clearer to me now that I’ve had a few years to recover from being in that environment.

I spent some time recently looking through each page of each binder, recalling some of the lectures, professors, and field trips I took part in during the course of my schooling. These notes have been sitting in a box for ages, but now I’d like to share some of what I learned at school by posting them here. Here are some photos of key pages, in addition to descriptions of what happened at the time the notes were made, or what concepts & practices the notes are referring to.

This post covers general practices in various animal exploitation industries. There will be more posts in the near future that are specific to each industry, ie. the “production” of eggs, milk, pigs, birds, fish & cattle. This is a chance to gain some insight into not only the practices used, but the language and resources employed by animal industries. Think of it as an insider look.

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“Feed economically to make a bigger profit” : An example of the kinds of things we feed to animals, many of which are items that could be directly eaten by humans, or are waste “products” of animal industry itself which get fed back to more animals.

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frost harvest!

It seems like no time since my last post about the days getting shorter and summer spilling into fall, but this past week we actually had a risk of frost! For us this meant gearing up to get everything that would have been spoiled by frost either covered up with row cover, or harvested and stored in a place where it would keep. So, with the weather forecast calling for about 4 degrees overnight, we hauled ass on Thursday and worked into the night to collect squash and pumpkins from our fields, after making sure our tender greens were protected and the tomatoes had irrigation sprinklers set up to keep the frost off.

It was a long & at times arduous day, but it was exciting to be in this now very familiar place at a time of day (night?) when we are never there. Things around us became new again; we had to pay closer attention to our steps. We also got pizzas delivered to the farm and ate them out in the field next to the wagons, piled high with jack-o-lantern and pie pumpkins. These tasty warming vegetables will be cured and kept for doling out to the CSA members over the next few weeks (maybe months – cured squash has a long shelf life!) along with the onions and garlic.

The frost harvest, while cold and tiring, somehow energized me. The fall air is crisp and the light & plants look different. The temperatures are much more bearable on sunny afternoons now than they were during many of the days we had over the summer. I walked to the farm on the long path through the woods yesterday for the first time since the spring. The change in the air is palpable.

It is humbling to be here. People thank us endlessly for providing them nourishing food, and there is alot of work that goes into growing it, but observing and caring for plants over time causes one to notice finer details about them, and heightens awareness of nature’s rhythms and how much of an impact they have not only on the plants and soil but on ourselves too. This type of farming does not focus on dominating nature, but rather working with it to encourage growth. And given the 7000+ squash we harvested last week, and the 823 lbs of tomatoes we got, it seems to be a good partnership!

giant carrot flower. look how it curls around to one side like a spider

I walked to work on the path twice in the past week, which has been rare over the busier part of the season. It looks so different out there than it used to – the flowers and grasses are different and the trees are just starting to turn. I saw a young robin on Monday who stayed still as I walked by, and this morning as I passed the river a wood duck flew up across the meadow. I also found the tail feather of a wild turkey. Hopefully I’ll see some one of these days.

the little robin

We had another CRAFT day last week, our second last one. We traveled to Plan B out in Flamborough where we got to catch up with some of our farmy friends. It’ll be tough knowing¬† that next month, many of those friends’ internships will have ended, and we probably won’t see some of them for a while. On the upside, it’s been great to meet so many cool people and learn from them.

Rodrigo showing us the very old tractor

Forest of mushroom logs