Thursday, February 07, 2008

Cultivating community

This season we have made an effort to invite members of the community to come down to the farm and help us produce food and build infrastructure. We have been amazed and inspired by the incredible response that we have had to our invitation. As Joel Salatin says, people seem to be looking for a relationship with their food and their farmers lately, and we as farmers are definitely looking to reciprocate.

So last Saturday was our second farm work day of the season. On the first day a week before we were so busy that I forgot to get the camera out, but this week I managed to get some photos. We had 8 adults and 4 children here working in addition to the four of us so it was an incredibly productive afternoon. Our main goal for the day was to install an earthen floor in Chris' shop. We were hindered by the fact that our floor material (left over from the house project) was frozen solid at the beginning of the day. This meant that a lot of muscle went into breaking it up so it could be mixed. We also worked on fencing and dealt with a shipment of bare root apricot rootstock for grafting as well as some bare root apple and cherry trees.

The kids were incredible! They were not expected or required to help us, but they really wanted to. Here they are working on breaking up the frozen floor material. These are all homeschooled kids, by the way.

And here they are helping to trowel on the earthen floor and deliver plaster to the trowelers. You can see that the earth plaster that we applied to the walls during the previous week's work day is still drying.

While some of us worked on the floor, others dug out an old bed in the garden and "hilled in" our apricot rootstock. This will keep it alive until we are ready to graft and pot/plant them.

The apples and cherries were already potted by the time I got the camera out, and work on fencing had begun. Here they are taking down last year's fencing, which works for cattle and sheep but not chickens. This will be replaced with a chicken-proof fence to keep our free-range layers out of the new gardens that we will be digging this year.

A crew then took the old fencing and loaded it onto the trailer so it could be distributed around the pasture to create more paddocks for rotational grazing. We decided this year that we don't want to rely on electric fencing any more, mainly becuase we just don't have time to walk 10 acres every day to maintain it. With Chris' full time job and having small kids at home it just isn't practical. So cattle panels cut in half will be the majority of our fencing.

All of the kids joined in on this project. I'm sure the trailer ride around the farm was a big part of the appeal.

Meanwhile, back in the shop the girls and I were cranking out the floor. After doing this a lot I have observed that men tend to have a more difficult time with this job because they get pretty uncomfortable down there on the floor for so long. I'm guessing it has to do with flexibility in the hips. Anyhow, we got everything that we could mix that day onto the floor, which amounted to over half the shop.

It was a great day, and we really want to thank everyone who came out to help. There is nothing like the feeling of working towards a common goal with like-minded folks. We feel truly blessed to have you as part of the farm!


Sylvia said...

Thanks for the great pictures -- Andy does look happy next to that wheelbarrow!

Danielle said...

What fun! Sounds like you guys are getting a lot done—I'm totally jealous!

Katy said...

Your farm looks amazing. I responded to your tag here.

karl said...

looks like fun. when we cob our barn we might put out the invitation to the local food coop email list. a few weekends of open invite might make a big difference.

what fence will be replacing those panels? we have an on going battle with our free range chickens. my current solution is kinda ugly.

Mik & Mac said...

My comment has absolutely nothing to do with your post...other than that looks like fun and wish we could have been there to help. Ok so on to the non-related...Did you get the message Andre left for you?
Also, I've been meaning to tell you for a couple months now...something I thought you might appreciate and when I read it, I immiediately thought of you! I received a letter from my health insurance company one day. It was detailing some changes they had made to their policies like what they will cover or not, etc. The very first thing listed was this: Medica will no longer cover circumcisions unless medically necessary. I thought that was pretty cool and rather bold for an insurance company to do and I thought I'd share it with you!

P said...

This is an awesome idea. Those unschooled kids are learning so much! I often think about home or unschooling. But my kids adore our small country school (One small class per grade) If I had it to do all over again, I might have kept them home-- I'd much prefer an experiential education than all this paper, paper, paper.


Twinville said...

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Jane said...

Wow, this is just wonderful. I'm going to have to see if there is something similar happening near me. Thanks!