Thursday, August 14, 2014

Unity Farm Journal - Third Week of August 2014

As a doctor for over 20 years, I’ve learned how to treat critical healthcare issues.   As a father, son, and husband I’ve learned how to support my own family through injury, sickness, and death.

As a farmer responsible for over 100 animals, life and death are part of the daily experience.

Sunny, our baby alpaca, is now doing extremely well.   She did not successfully receive the immunoglobulin transfer that happens between mother and baby with consumption of colostrum, the first mother’s milk.   Her tests revealed she had an incomplete immune system and was unlikely to survive an infection.   She was not gaining weight and was at high risk for infant mortality.   A peritoneal infusion of alpaca plasma and daily bottle feedings have brought her back on track.   Her immune system is now fully complete and her weight is normal.   Today’s she’s running around the paddock and warming up in the sun on a cool Fall-like morning.   We’re still awaiting the arrival of our newest alpaca baby - should be any day now.

It’s natural to expect a fair amount of mortality in bird populations.   Chickens, ducks, and guineas lay so many eggs because few are expected to make it to adulthood.   A few of our guineas have died in the past few weeks.   The four guineas raised by ducks had a hard time socializing with the rest of the guinea flock - they tended to prefer the quiet of the forest (with the coyotes, fisher cats, foxes, raccoons, and hawks) to the bustle of the barnyard.   One of the “teens” (they are 10 weeks old) ran away from all other creatures deep into what we call “the forest of death”, the densest predator load on our property.  The guinea refused to come back to the safety of the coop.   It lasted 4 days and this week we found a large collection of feathers - an ex guinea.    Another teen would not flock with the group for protection and wandered around the barnyard in solitude.   On Sunday afternoon, a large hawk spotted the unprotected guinea and grabbed it, carrying it to the orchard behind our property, proudly announcing its new meal with a shrill scream tseeeeeeaarr.   The two remaining teens (below) have socialized with the group and spend part of their day in the coop for protection.   The still have a preference for the ducks however (below).   With all the eggs from nests in the forest hatching, we're up to 75 guineas today.

It’s time for Fall planting in the hoop house.  Every night I harvest a bushel or two of vegetables and as the beds empty from our Spring planting, Fall planting follows.   Below is a map of the 15 raised beds in the hoop house and the crop rotation schedule from Spring to Fall.  I have a large selection of seeds from the Kitazawa Seed Company that will give us a continuous supply of Japanese vegetables through the Fall and early Winter.

1 Tomatoes -> Winter density lettuce  (Agaricus mushrooms in compost)
2 Parsley -> Green spray mibuna/Garland chrysanthemum greens
3 Long Beans/Peppers ->  Green towers lettuce
4 Kale -> Tokinashi daikon/Hakurei turnip
5 Cucumbers -> Brussels sprouts/Beets
6 Cucumbers -> Broccoli
7 Tomatoes -> Vit mache

1  Chard-> Solar yellow/New kuroda carrot
2  Carrots -> Kintsai celery/Upland cress/Mitsuba parsley
3  Chard-> Kyoto red/Cosmic purple carrot
4  Zucchini -> Dwarf pak choi/Purple choi  (Agaricus mushrooms in compost)
5  Kabocha ->  Bloomsdale spinach
6  Peppers ->  Rainbow chard
7  Eggplant/Tomatillo/Poha ->  Rouge D’Hiver lettuce
8  Cauliflower/Leeks -> Wasabini mustard/Early mibuna

We’ve prepped the bees for Fall by treating for Varroa mites with formic acid strips.   We'll treat for Nosema in September with Fumagillin B.    Reducing the mite count, preventing nosema infection and ensuring ample honey stores are our best protection for the winter when the bees have to cluster inside the hive for 4-6 months.

Finally, we continue to prepare the trails and forest for the upcoming stormy weather of Fall and Winter.   Recently two trees fell (an oak and a maple) during a thunderstorm and I immediately bucked them up into 4 foot logs perfectly for mushroom cultivation.   This weekend we'll be inoculating the oak with Shitake spawn and chipping the maple for Wine Cap cultivation.    The weekend ahead is filled with Fall planting, mulch hauling, and animal care.    And we'll hope the new alpaca is born!

1 comment:

Allison said...

I am curious as to why you over winter your bees outside. The apiarists I know in Winnipeg bring theirs inside.
Also curious about how long the baby guineas spent with the ducks. Did they imprint on the ducks?
Your farm posts are greatl