Wednesday, January 9:
The temperature was above freezing today and the sun came out, so the men split three truckloads of wood this afternoon and replenished the woodshed. The lane is a sheet of rotten ice over ruts of yellow mud running with snowmelt. Although the thaw means fencing the cows off the pasture – again – it does at least reduce the size of the snow drifts piled up against the sides of the tunnels, high and low, making it easier to remove two or three sandbags, pull up the plastic covers and get a sieve full of carrots, or to squeeze through the keyhole doorway into the high tunnel where the spinach is and get enough leaves for a salad.
Forecast says the temperature will get up into the sixties on Saturday, but I hope not. Let the ground freeze and stay frozen until the beginning of April, say I, so that the cows can be fed in the sliding manger out on the pasture without damage to the sod, not in the barn where nutrients will pile up and leach away where they can do no good. In the big pasture at the monastery there is no such problem; low stock density and plenty of room mean we can give the steers enough space to graze without excessive wear and tear on the forage. And the steers love it; although they accepted the two bales we threw out to them for a Christmas treat, they have no trouble pawing down through a foot of snow to the good, nutritious standing forage stockpiled in that pasture.
Would we had another hundred such acres.
We are gearing up for the beginning of our spring semester of Practical Farm Science by pulling out all our seed catalogues and laying out plans for the gardens in 2013. More feed for the pigs is a high priority; we will see how much of the big gardens we can plant in late summer to mangels, beans, and turnips, and we want to order all of our seed at once to save on shipping.
Our spring workshops on fermented whole grain bread baking, seed starting, and maple sugaring promise to keep our weekends full over the next couple of months – see our Classes page for dates and details.