Cacophony of birdsong

As the grass reaches more than a foot tall, the nesting season gets underway for the bobolinks and red-winged black birds.
Bobolinks in particular need tall grass for nesting and it can be hard for them to find tall enough grass in modern agriculture where everything is mowed or grazed short. Because of our grazing system that recreates prairie-like conditions with lots of tall grass, we have a flourishing population of these little birds.

Walking out to move the fence for the cattle is rewarded with a cacophony of birdsong. The yellow and black male bobolinks can be seen all across the fields, perched on grass stems, declaring their dominion over the land. I’m not sure if having more of them around provides us any benefit but they sure do make wonderful music.

This week holds many firsts for Fox Hollow Farm

Dante Valvo, our summer intern, started today and hit the ground running. The farrier came to take Molly and Polly’s shoes off and trim their feet (they were not happy with the process). Today we also took the first batch of chickens to Pleasant Valley Poultry Processing. Taking birds to this business instead of butchering them ourselves will give us more options for when and where to sell them and hopefully save time.

Last, but definitely not least, today Molly and Polly pulled something other than a wagon for the first time. We got out our new Pioneer Homesteader with the cultivator attachment and practiced in preparation for weeding the potatoes. The process required learning and patience from everybody but by the end we were starting to get the hang of it. By the end of the summer we hope to be harvesting potatoes with the horses!

Spring has sprung

This week the woods exploded with green. All of the trees are leafing out now and the beautiful spring ephemeral wild flowers
are trying to get in a last dose of sunshine before the forest floor becomes dark. The wild edibles and medicinals are also out in force. Yesterday Chelsea went out gathering ramps for the Farmer’s Table on May 25th and the day before Mom scored a couple of morels! Even the oak trees have green buds on them. This tapestry of green made a great backdrop for Molly and Polly’s first horse logging experience. I started dragging logs out of the woods for this year’s mushroom inoculation. Soon with all the leaves out we will be able to walk in the shade of the woods.

Considering Red Wattle hogs

We are considering another new operation here on the farm. Last week I went to visit 1000 Hill Acres farm run by Mark and Tory Reed. They have a number of different ventures underway including a herd of Red Wattle Hogs.

Red Wattles are a breed of pig believed to be extinct until they were rediscovered in the wilds of Texas. They are calm and good at foraging for their own feed and both hardy and tasty! I hope that soon we may have our own Red Wattle hogs and try breeding them ourselves. They will be more self-sufficient than our current feeder pigs and can hopefully live happier, healthier lives as a result. One more step on the path to greater sustainability.

Our approach to permaculture design

The way we like to approach permaculture design is to do well by doing good. If we can help create as diverse and resilient and bountiful an ecosystem as possible, the more that ecosystem will provide benefits for us.

This spring, the ponds in front of our house are filled with toads and tree frogs singing their little hearts out. We built the ponds mostly to provide habitat for these amphibians, but as a result, we have very few problems with bug or mosquitoes in the homestead. We also have ducks visiting the homestead and the water source is used by song birds, bats, and pollinating insects. The ponds also help control flooding, and the frogs and toads provide food for garter snakes and black rat snakes that help control garden pests and mice that eat our stored feed.

Our ecosystem almost never lets a good deed go unrewarded.