We had out first hard frost two nights ago, it got down into the 20s. This resulted in me waking up to a beautiful, white crunchy landscape and the official end of our greenhouse peppers. The brassicas that remain in our garden were covered in ice crystals and all of our water spigots were dripped over night creating crazy icicle patterns on the grass.
All of our animals made it through okay although we'll be putting up heat lamps to make sure everyone is snug and comfortable over the winter. Our pigs are growing every day and we are getting ready to schedule our first butcher date. John and I are excited to butcher the pig marked for our own freezer and to get a chance to do some home meat curing and sausage making now that we finally have a place to call home.
The summer went by in such a wild blur of milking, cheese making, sowing, growing and harvesting. I don't think I could have asked for or expected a better first season on our new piece of land.
Thanks to the lovely folks at Fiddlehead Farm we were able to get our cover crop planted and tilled in before the rains came. They lent us their 12 hp BCS walk-behind tiller allowing us to do a bit of tilling every day without having to pay huge rental fees. An acre doesn't seem like much but when you don't own a tractor working up the soil can be a large time investment.
The cover crop is starting to come up. It looks fairly even and so far doesn't seem effected by the frost. Because of my indecision on the matter we ended up going with a five seed mix from Naomi's Farm Supply. The mix contains vetch, bell beans, crimson clover, austrian field peas and triticale. I've never worked with triticale or crimson clover as over-wintering cover crops and hope to do more research on the matter this winter so I'm not so flustered by the myriad of options when cover crop planting time sneaks up again next year. I planted crimson clover this summer but wasn't very happy with how slow it grew. We have too many weed seeds in our soil at present to work with such a slow growing cover crop. It was interesting to see the difference between the beds that received a buckwheat cover and the crimson clover beds. The buckwheat beds were almost weed free whereas the clover beds were rife with amaranth. I also put the goats out on the cover crop right as the buckwheat was beginning to set seed and they munched it down to stubble!
I am also excited to announce that we are starting to sign up members for our 2014 CSA program. There are many delicious extras you can add on to your basic produce share with delivery available in SE and NE Portland or pickup on our farm. Follow this link to see what we're offering in 2014.