A Farmer’s Perspective: July 7, 2019

A Weekly Account of Life on the Fairview Farm

By: Asher Wright

Weekly update: July 8th – July 19th, 2019

I hope this email finds everyone well. It certainly feels like summer out there doesn’t it? We have almost hit 90F at the farm a number of times now and with 70%+ humidity that makes for a pretty hot day. The crew is staying hydrated and the animals have plenty of shade so things are plugging along nicely. Here are some more details from the past 2 weeks.
  • Our friends at Beacon Village Farm lent us their plow and disk harrow to prepare the corn maze. Historically we have used a small rototiller so this allowed me to bust out field preparation within a week. We did a rain dance and the soil moisture was right and it was a go. On Monday July 1st I plowed the corn maze. The reason we plow is to do the initial tillage (working the soil) pass that kills the sod that is out there. If you don’t use a plow you have to use herbicides to kill a perennial stand of plants. Once you plow you let the soil sit for a day or two to kill the grass below it. Then you come along with a disk and begin breaking the soil up into smaller pieces.  The goal is to increase seed-to-soil contact to aid in germination and nutrient uptake of the small seedling. I then disked the field a few times between July 4th and July 8th and the seed bed was ready to plant. On Tuesday July 9th our corn planter arrived but had a job-ending breakdown one pass into the field. Insert hand-to-face emoji. Fortunately we had another person with a 4-row corn planter in our network. He and his team bailed us out late in the day on the 9th and we got the corn in and fertilized before the rain that came in throughout the rest of the week.
  • Walker has been improving and upgrading our apply sprayer and he put some final touches on it last week and troubleshot another breakdown and repaired it.
  • We repaired the bush hog’s broken PTO shaft. The PTO is for Power Take Off, its a shaft that connects to the splined drive shaft on the tractor and it’s how all tractor implements that are mechanically (not ground driven) operated get their power. If your shaft breaks you out of luck.
  • Once we repaired it we got back on some bush hogging and cleaned up the the weeds around the corn maze and the old pig hoop house site. This also included hauling pig panels and trash out of there to get it prepped and ready for the new hoop house we will be getting sometime in the future.
  • We replaced a broken float valve in one of our pig waterers and brought another water tank online to be used for a new pig field for the Warren Wilson gilts that are ready to be moved out of the viewing area. The crew also built new fence that will enclose that space and we plan on moving the gilts out next Monday.
  • I had a meeting this week to get our fall agritoursim check list and we are making a comprehensive plan to bust all of those items out before Labor Day. It’s a lot of work in addition to the normal operations of the farm, so if we are running around looking frantic, or as Grace put it “manic”, then you will know why 🙂
  • We have found a good source for some Jersey dairy calves so we are good to go on those cute little buddies for bottle feeding.
  • Ronnie and hay team busted down 10 more acres of hay for us and we put up another 24 rolls of hay for the winter this week.
  • We finally got our delivery of straw bales that we will use for bedding for our animals. This helps them keep warm when cold and it also manages the “living bed” that is beneath them like we talked about previously. The straw is parked in the tractor trailer in the sawmill pasture. We have 525 bales in stock now and we will go through these over the next 10 months before we get more. This saved us about $1050 dollars plus labor, time, and vehicle wear-and-tear over buying these one truck load at a time from the local store.
  • What’s straw you ask? Well, straw is the highly lignified stalk that supports a cereal grain head (wheat, barley, rye, oats). Once the seed head is dry and ready to be picked by a combine, you harvest it, and the combine spits all of the straw out of the back of the machine while keeping the grain in the hopper of the combine. Then a square baler comes along and turns that windrow of straw into 50-60 lb bales. These are great for bedding and mulching but they have no nutritional value. Straw is not to be confused with hay. Hay is for feeding animals and contains nutrients, straw is a by product of cereal grain production and is general not used for feed, it only contains fiber. If you call the straw bales hay, I’ll be sure to correct you in a polite way 🙂
  • The team has continued to systematically weed whack our fence lines and we also brought our 3rd whacker back online so we are going to really get ahead of it the next few weeks. As we speak the team is out cleaning up the blue berries for this weekend’s U-Pick fun.
  • We hired our next two interns who will be joining us August 15th and September 1st. Darla Will be joining us first from California. She is taking a gap year between high school and college and I believe she is going to bring a lot of great energy and hard work to our team.