Monday, June 23, 2008

Middle Earth Solstice Party at the Farm!

Ah, the summer! The Summer Solstice begins the official season of summer, the time of the year when, though the days are often warm and sunny and nights are far from freezing, here in north America the days begin to recede, and we have a little less light each evening as we progress toward the dark sleep of winter. Though it feels like summer just started here in New England, and we have many more weeks of lengthy daylight (as we certainnly need for the farming season!), this is the time of year during which we begin the journey toward a winter 's rest.

This year, in celebration of the Summer Solstice, the farm was host to a one-of-a-kind Middle Earth Party! Our neighborhood band, Big Love Monster out of Plymouth, provided the evening entertainment for a lively bunch of wizards, hobbits, elves, ents, and the like...

The festivities began in the afternoon, with construction of the ceremonial bonfire that would celebrate the longest day of the year and honor the beginning of summer while conveniently representing the depths of Mordor as well.

Here, JT and hostel guest/volunteer extraordinaire Chris, complete the recently welded out of scrap metal Eye of Sauron, filling its center with newspaper and waste veggie oil for maximum burnability.

As the evening progressed, JoEl the astrological wizard, DJ Vachon the psychedellic dwarf, and R.E.L. speedwagon, also a dwarf, certainly got into character quite well.

The ladies of the farm were ready for battle, or perhaps dancing, in Middle Earth: Ariel, Eve, myself (Lauren), Annie, and Fay, all current residents of D Acres, are joined by special guest star Lea in this shot (absent from this pic are farm ladies Erin "Mad Dog" Matson and Sarah Hall).

Joe Vachon...Sean Jean...Psychedellic Dwarf. Good times. What more can I say.

Attending the party as The Lady of the Wood, an elven queen, it was only appropriate that I was joined by the amazing tree people here! Tyler (in largely hemlock attire), Chris, and Eve (both in birch) made for spectacular Ents.

Later in the evening...
I think Bill said it best, "Ya'll are a bunch of yahoos yahoodling!" Here, I'm joined by none other than Skintz Jimmy (Louie was on vacation this weekend), Lea, and "that guy," the mysterious Middle Earth tiki god...

And finally, a shot of JT running, or more likely dancing, out of the explosive depths of Mordor...I mean, come on, who else has a party in Mordor? Did I say one of a kind, or what?

A huge thank you and lots of love to all who attended and made this event a great success...great costumes, stellar music, lots of dancing, and a good time was had by all.

until the Circus Sideshow...


Monday, June 16, 2008

Planting Time

Last weekend Lauren and I taught a day-long "homescale organic gardening" workshop. We focused on how to grow food in this climate utilizing whatever space is available. Participants had gardens ranging from a few potted tomatoes on a back deck to several acres under stewardship. The D Acres gardens provide examples of these varying degrees of scale that are applicable to home gardeners and market growers alike. We discussed composting, planted hops and elderberry, and created this garden bed..

Last year, this was a compost pile on the edge of our orchard. We have since used the compost and were left with a nice base of organic material, under which the grass had decomposed. We just gave it a quick forking and laid cardboard covered with woodchips around the perimeter to prevent any weeds from creeping in. The wooden box is a simple cold frame.

We then made some compost mounds and planted winter squash, surrounded by lettuces and direct seeded radishes. The radishes should be ready to harvest by the timethe winter squash is big enough to occupy that area, and the lettuce will probably be going to seed by then. Extra winter squash seeds were planted with the squash transplants to ensure that if our plants did not acclimate well, there would be another crop behind it. With such a short season and limited growing space, we need to maximize our garden beds and think at the square-foot level. Notice the damage on the squash plant caused by striped cucumber beetles. Good thing we planted extra seeds!

This is the plant that was covered by the cold frame, which provides shelter from intense sun, fierce winds, heavy rain drops, and most importantly, the voracious appetite of striped cucumber beetles. These insects are particularly abundant this year due to our mild winter, which was not cold enough to significantly reduce their overwintering populations. This season has been great so far though. The rains have come when we needed them, the sun has been shining, and the temperatures above average. All in all, the plants (and weeds) are growing strong and we have been working hard to take care of them.

There is an abundance of fresh vegetables, flowers, and herbs that we can all grow in our yards with some effort and intention, creating biodiverse ecosystems that are not only healthy for humans, but also for bees, hummingbirds, worms, and native wildlife. Hopefully some of these age old practices will take root in people's yards and communities, inspiring neighbors and friends to grow food instead of lawn on their piece of Earth.



Summertime is here and we got alot to do this season. Not much time for words from me, so come on out to see all that is going on. LD

Monday, June 2, 2008

When the $#!% hits the fan.

Cool huh? These are pictures of the manure spreader a number of us got back up and running. Who knows how long it's been since it was last used. Josh bought it a year or two ago from someone who had it sitting on their property long enough for all of the nuts and bolts to seize beyond what a few wrenches can fix, and for the wood to mostly rot away. On the bed of the machine is where you pile up the manure compost, which is pushed back to a series of spinning teeth and fanning blades by a conveir-like contraption. All this is powered by the oxen who pull the cart, which spins the wheels that turn a bunch of gears. It's been working great for fertalizing the upper pasture with oxen manure so far. Gotta love technology that an average Joe can understand with his own eyes and hands.
Speaking of Joes, I got the 2-car garage set up pretty well as a "smithy" (a.k.a. blacksmith shop). I can't express how great it was to light up my coal fire in there for the first time... I'm filled with passion when thinking of my role here as a blacksmith, general farm worker, and contributer to a community as beautiful as this. After about 6 months of adjusting to this life-style I can confidently say I love it. One of the things that tickels me about it is that when I go to bed at night, I don't feel like my day was incomplete. I feel ready to sleep and satified with my efforts and what my energy is contributing to. Even when nothing went as planned, or I screwed up a dozen things. I'm learning, adapting and growing at a rate I haven't felt in a long time. It's exciting. I like it.
This week we gained a new intern named Areil (aka REL to Louie and I) who seems to be adjusting and integrating herself nicely. Beth, the small vegan girl with awesome writing skills and work ethic recently took off, but will be back in the fall for some time to make sure we're up to snuff ;-) Also, Morgan who headed our veggie oil operations and some of the garden stuff moved out to a neighboring "farm in the works" to lend a hand and to utilize as a stepping stone to possibly start his own organic farm and homestead in the future. All of us wish him the best in his branching out and look forward to the future possibilities of our new relationship.
Gotta get some sleep.
Much love,
joe v.