We left the farm, together, a few times in the last week. Now you know this does not happen often or if so (usually) only for a few hours. We attended the PA Farm Show and worked as volunteers in the PASA booth. Then had a chance to walk around and look at only a portion of this massive show! Yes, agriculture is alive and well in PA.
Then this past weekend we attended the Future Harvest-CASA conference. I spoke to a group of people about unconventional financing..that was fun, and lovely to hear all the questions for more specifics on what individual farmers can get done.
While we were out, the hens started to lay eggs again. Finally, as we have been starving for those delicious eggs. Maybe being away helped? A watched pot never boils? A hen watched with hungry eyes does not lay? Actually, they are keepers of the light: will lay eggs as long as there is close to 10 hours a day, and we are getting there again! Soon will come the "help, we are over run with eggs" message!
We have been reading up on native pollinators, including the USDA/Pollinator Partnership Publication "Bee Basics An Introduction to Our Native Bees", written by Beatriz Moisset (who happens to be my step-mother) and Stephen Buchmann..each has a PhD and has focused energy on pollinators. So Homer has added, under our hoop house, blocks for Mason Bees. These are on the trellis supports where we will plant cucumbers later on this year. In addition, we have honey bee hives outside, more Mason bee blocks, plenty of brush piles all over the property, sources of water in many locations and will be planting native trees and shrubs for years to come.
Our property is set up with a 30' buffer zone around our perimeter. This year we will be buying, via York County, and assortment of trees and shrubs that provide homes for many native birds, bugs and butterflies. We have learned that the difference between planting a White Pine and a Norfolk Pine has a huge impact on the song bird population! Who knew?! A White Pine is native to the U.S. while a Norfolk Pine is not. As a result, native songbirds can find tons to eat in the canopy of White Pine, while they are starved in a stand of Norfolk Pine. We know what we will be planting! Want to know more? Read the book "Bringing Nature Home", written by Doug Tallamy (of the University of Delaware).
Oh my! That did not take long! While digging up the earth in preparation for spring planting, Homer came across these 2 toads hibernating. He placed them next to the pond for a photo opportunity, then back into the earth for the rest of their winters sleep. When they wake up those insects better look out. A toad can consume 1,000 insects per day. And there are at least 2 of them that we know of out there!
Homer, inspired by readings from native planting and bugs books, wants to bring more frogs and toads to Sunnyside Farm. So under the hoophouse he has been digging..110 holes for tomato plants (planted once it gets warm!) and spots for 2 frog ponds. Concerned about small children falling into them, he added boards across the opening and then covered all with rocks..pulled up from those 110 tomato holes! Thanks to the Schmidt twins for using their digging muscles here on the farm.
oops, it is 2011 already, and no posts for over a month!
We are going through catalogs and deciding what to grow this growing season. Planning the layout of the garden, and digging up holes for tomato plants. Uncovering the larva of the tomato hook worm..which looks like a creature from outer space..ridged, shaped like a sugar ice cream cone, dark in color, buried underground. The laying hens fight over them, eating them right up, and we are not sorry to see them go..
I am the lucky woman who gets to be the farmer's wife to Homer Walden, the hardworking, creative and innovative force behind Sunnyside Farm. The farm is a pasture based intensive grazed farm in Dover, PA. We grow heirloom, open pollinated vegetables, chicken, eggs from heritage breed chickens, beef, heirloom breed turkeys for Thanksgiving and pork with no commercial feed, honey, eggs, Buff ducks. And the occasional flower or 2.