I sometimes joke with my daughter that I finished 25th grade, doing 2 bachelor’s degrees, 2 masters degrees, an MD, and a fellowship. As a Harvard Professor, you’d think I would be done with sitting on the student side of the room.
Last year Kathy and I completed Bee-school (not Harvard, Wharton or Sloan B-school) at the Norfolk Agricultural School
For the next year, we’re enrolled in the 15 credit UMass Sustainable Food and Farming Certificate Program, an online/evening curriculum. The core course is Organic Vegetable Production (3 units). We’ll also be taking Backyard Homesteading (3 units), Introduction to Permaculture (3 units), Farm planning, marketing, and management (3 units) and Post Harvest Handling (3 units).
Life is about continuous learning and with each passing year we are polishing our life skills.
We can now make near perfect hard cider, mead, and honey lager.
We can raise numerous mushroom species from spore to farmer’s market.
We can keep 100 animals happy and healthy, protected from predators while free ranging over 15 acres.
However, we still have much to learn about packaging, preserving, and marketing farm goods. I look forward to the year of classwork ahead. We'll fill the time previously allocated to House of Cards and Game of Thrones.
The Summer continues to be a busy time on the farm with planting, harvesting, and maintenance activities still continuing at full tilt.
We’ve planted more peppers, eggplant and tomatoes. We’re harvesting peas, carrots, strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries this week. We’ll plant daikon radish, standard radish, chard, lettuce, and spinach this weekend for early Fall harvesting.
We kegged our honey lager this week and racked our mead. Honey production is ramping up and we extracted 25 pounds of honey over the weekend. If we’re lucky, we could bottle 500 pounds of honey this year. Each 10 gallon batch of mead takes 35 pounds. We age our mead for a year, so watch for it on the Unity Farm Store website next year. Next week we’ll brew a summer wheat beer.
We dried 100 pounds of fresh Shitakes (which became 20 pounds of dried mushrooms). Not only does drying preserve the mushrooms for several years, it concentrates the flavor. A rehydrated dried mushroom makes better mushroom soup than a fresh one.
Our new baby alpaca continues to thrive. Mom is very protective and hums whenever he leaves the barn to play with the other alpaca.
This week, we’ll set the geese free to range in the forest. They are now fully feathered, nearly full grown, and have acclimated to the idea that the duck pen is home.
We’ve decided, based on the advice of experts, to free range the pheasants in the Fall, once they are older and stronger.
We continue to harvest guinea eggs from all over the property, hopefully reducing the fecundity of our growing guinea population.
I’ve trimmed and re-cut all our trails. The burst of summer growth, especially vines, has narrowed all our paths. They’re now back to their original 6 foot wide design.
And yes, on July 4 we’ve committed to sitting under the pergola, sipping a honey lager, and watching the clouds roll by. As Kathy says, if there is a time when we sit down, we’ll be sure to memorialize it with a picture!