Despite the unexpected snow storm that blew through Maine in late October, it has been an incredibly warm and mild fall for us. We have just completed construction of two new movable high tunnels, so our growing area will be increased for next season. This will give us the ability to rotate our fields more effectively, and, of course, to grow more vegetables and flowers. We continue to harvest spinach, carrots, kale, chard, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, lettuces, fennel and beets and operate our Saturday morning farm stand. Although our hoop houses are unheated, we will have carrots, kale, and spinach growing to supply Nebo Lodge with a modest supply of fresh vegetables during the winter months.
The dairy goats are being bred now, and we will see their milk production stop soon as they move into the winter season. This year we are breeding three does who were born on the property last year, our first, as well as the original five does who came to Turner Farm in 2010. This fall, as part of our high tunnel construction projects, we were able to make some improvements to our existing “hoop coop” - a high tunnel converted to use as livestock housing – and are planning to winter the goats inside it. High tunnels are great winter housing; warm, dry, and well-protected from the wind. This high tunnel housed our belted Galloway cattle last winter, and should make a perfect winter home for the small herd of goats this year. It has the added benefit of allowing us to use the protected barn space for kidding stalls. We are also increasing the numbers in our flock of laying hens, and now have two new groups of birds for next year’s egg supply – one flock that will begin laying this winter, and another that will come into production next spring. They are out on pasture still, since the weather has been so mild, but like the goats will move into more protected areas soon for the winter.
Twelve of our fifteen pigs have now been transported across to the mainland and taken to the abattoir, to return to us in a few weeks as bacon, hams, sausage, and chops. We have had some lively, frustrating days corralling spunky young pigs, and are as always sad to see them go. We will be offering our pasture-raised, organically fed pork this fall in a series of meat sales – dates to be announced.
As field cleanup is finishing up and the demands of livestock lessen, we are turning our attention to the winter work of clearing new areas of the property for pasture and crop fields. The farm is primarily forested in aging spruce, and uncovering the network of old stone walls as we clear is a reminder of the farming that was occurring here only a few generations ago.
(Words: Brenna Chase)