Spring flew swiftly by, and summer came; and if the village had been beautiful at first, it was now in the full glow and luxuriance of its richness. The great trees, which had looked shrunken and bare in the earlier months, had now burst into strong life and health; and stretching forth their green arms over the thirsty ground, converted open and naked spots into choice nooks, where was a deep and pleasant shade from which to look upon the wide prospect, steeped in sunshine, which lay stretched out beyond. The earth had donned her mantle of brightest green; and shed her richest perfumes abroad. It was the prime and vigour of the year; all things were glad and flourishing."
Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist
Summer is the time of beautiful sunrises and sunsets
In our last newsletter in April we talked about the first signs of spring growth that were hinting at the promises of summer. The summer Solstice has just passed, and we are now well into this hot and wet summer and new life and growth abound! We have 17 new lambs, 5 calves, 13 piglets, and 50+ chicks. Our cows and sheep are loving the lush pasture grass, the sows, boar and piglets are happily foraging, and the chicks are moved out of the barn and feeding in the abundant green growth. All of the trees that were planted at the two April tree plantings have had a great start with the plentiful sun and rain. And the vegetable garden looks great with no need to worry about watering!
We were very grateful for all of those who helped to plant hawthorn trees to form a living hedge and riparian buffer trees to create more habitat and erosion control in our pasture and on the bank of the Little Chiques Creek. We continue to enjoy the increasing wildlife, and our latest new species sighting was a woodcock on the pasture in late June. In addition to our own farm events like the tree plantings, we were happy to host a two-day Tractor Safety and Maintenance for women, sponsored by PA-WAGN (Pennsylvania Women in Agriculture Network) and taught by Shane LaBrake, tractor guru extraordinaire!
Interns Erica and Rachel have settled in to the farm routines, and have been a welcome addition to the life of the farm community. With more hands we are accomplishing more than ever, yet still have many more ideas than we can put into practice! We hope that your lives are also full of good work, good play, and more ideas than you have time to explore! - Kay
We are expanding our farm store to make it more easy to stop by and purchase meats, mushrooms and eggs. We have added a new freezer so we can stock all of our normal cuts as well as odd cuts of lamb/mutton, beef, and pork. Stop by 8am-7pm on Monday-Saturday, Sunday is appointment only. Thanks!
We continue to have a bounty of Shiitake mushrooms so please contact us if you would like to buy these wonderful forest-grown delights. $7 for a 1/2 lb of the best mushrooms you've ever tasted!
You can just saute them in oil and butter too :)
Our goal as farmers utilizing permaculture techniques is always to create ecologically sound and resilient agricultural/natural systems that have multiple yields. We don't want a fruit tree to only produce fruit, but to also provide wildlife habitat, build topsoil, form beneficial relationships with herbs and fungi and wildflowers, and be beautiful too. So with each system on the farm we are looking to diversify the roles and components because the more relationships, connections, and yields in a natural system, the more likely it can withstand extremes of weather (seems pretty common these days) and other stresses.
Our sheep have grazed with our cows to help add fertility to the silvopasture, eat the weeds and forages cows don't prefer, and produce lamb as a byproduct of their diligent digestion and rumination of plants. We have seen their love of "weeds" firsthand and were wondering what other functions they could play on the farm. So, we have been experimenting with sheep in our small tree orchard, across the road in the chestnut and hazel patch (hog heaven pastures), and soon they will venture into the woods in the areas we planted riparian trees this spring to restore the woodland ecology by grazing invasive multi-flora rose. Its been a joy to see how they have mowed, pruned and weeded these systems so far and how much they are enjoying it. You can feel the calmer energy in the flock as they happily munch together with their heads down and their tails wagging (yes sheep wag their tails sometimes). And, by grazing these new areas we have effectively added 6 free acres of suitable sheep pasture, fertilized and weeded these tree plantings (the trees are protected by tree tubes), added diversity to the sheep's diet which helps growth and protects against disease, and broken the parasite cycle that can plague sheep by doubling the amount of time before they graze the same area! It is another wonderful example of how the health of sheep, the land, and people are tied together as what is right for one of them in a natural system will be right for all three. - Harrison
Sheep busy in the orchard weeds
FOOD AND JUSTICE
It is estimated that at least 6 out of 10 of our country’s farm workers are undocumented (Southern Poverty Law Center). So in this edition we would like to highlight Shut Down Berks Coalition, a group of organizations and individuals whos mission is to close the Berks County Family Detention Center, one of 3 ICE immigrant detention centers in PA.
Quoted from theirwebsite: "In 2019 the Berks County Detention Center (BCRC) will be entering its fifth year in operation as a immigrant family prison. That is five years of human rights abuses, due process violations, disregard of Pennsylvania and Federal law and the immoral and unjust treatment of immigrant families. The Shut Down Berks Coalition will continue to fight until this inhumane prison is shut down and family detention is put to an end in Pennsylvania. Governor Tom Wolf, Lt. Governor John Fetterman and the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services have the power to issue an Emergency Removal Order (ERO) on the Berks County Detention Center, an action that would ensure the facility can no longer be used as a prison. It is not only their moral obligation to keep families out of this prison but their legal responsibility."
Shut Down Berks Coalition has been very busy since their beginning utilizing a wide variety of tactics including organizing vigils, call-in days, rallies, and non-violent direct actions. They are currently on tour screening a short film documentary, "Las Madres de Berks". The film shares the testimonials of four mothers who have spent 2 years detained at BCRC with their children. The next two viewings are at the Lancaster public library,July 20th, and Susquehanna Art Museum in Harrisburg, July 21st. Both will be followed with a talk back on how to get involved. To see their full list of events check out their website or facebook page.
We acknowledge that we live in a Nation of immigrants, refugees, and people brought here against their will, who have settled on colonized, stolen land among the traumatized survivors. To deny sanctuary to anyone fleeing from violence is morally wrong. Denying immigration to anyone not of Anglo/European descent is racist. No one is illegal. - Jono
August 10 - Open Farm Day - 9:30am - 4pm
Visit us for a day of sharing about the farm. There will be a farm tour at 10am and also at 2pm with lots of time in between to ask questions and learn more about our little regenerative farm. Its also just a great time to relax on the farm. Farm products will be for sale as well. Hope to see you there!
September TBA - Biochar Workshop with Gary Gilmore
Gary has spent years as a forester making and exploring the various uses of charcoal and biochar for farms, cooking fuel, water filtration, and restoration. Come learn with Gary in a hands-on workshop of how to make charcoal using various low-tech methods and then turn it into biochar (charcoal mixed with nutrients) to be used for soil fertility, carbon sequestration, livestock health, water filtration, cooking fuel, mitigating odors, or a humanure composting system. Details and a date will be announced soon. Here is a video of one of Gary's setups in action. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiFHXg9o2wo