1, 2004: September already—the unofficial end
of summer and the beginning of fall. While the calendar says
it’s still summer, buyers say it’s fall. We began
picking apples earlier in August, and the pumpkins have turned
a beautiful shade of gold. This is the time of year to get these
crops to market. Between now and the middle of October we’ll
have pick-your-own apples and self-help pumpkin harvesting.
Both these “family events” bring folks to our farm
for a few hours of fall glory. I know lots of farms that sell
corn shocks, straw bales and fall flowers all for decoration.
I never cease to be amazed by the great lengths consumers
will take, and the dollars they’ll spend, to decorate
their homes for fall with farm products that have nothing
to do with food or food production. I guess, deep down, they
all wish they could enjoy the beauty of the farm in fall—a
beauty we all take for granted on a daily basis, right outside
our back door.
We’ll also be wholesaling apples and pumpkins soon
to local CSA’s, processors, and produce auctions. This
year was a tough year for our organic apples. Both insect
and disease pressures were high and our fruit is about a 50%
pack out. Not at all what we had hoped for; we usually look
for about 75% perfect apples. That being said, the yield is
good and the prices are still high for organic fruit, even
processing fruit. The pumpkins look fine and I’m sure
we’ll fill many, many trucks with them.
Another item on our agenda this fall is
Being a research station, and not just a farm, we fall under
the supervision of all the state and federal safety regulations.
You may wonder why I’m bringing this up. Well, for some
time now the Institute has been working on reestablishing
our safety committee, holding staff training sessions on everything
from equipment hazards and chemical handling to fire prevention
and lifting instructions, and redoing our safety and hazard
Where I’m heading with this discussion is that safety
on this farm, or your farm, is of the highest priority. If
you or I get injured, or one of our employees or family members
gets hurt, the whole operation suffers. It may even come to
a screeching halt.
Harvest season is the time of year when most farm accidents
happen. The amazing thing is, most can be prevented. During
harvest we’re all trying to beat the weather, working
long hours. This is hard on the equipment … and hard
on us. We often tend to take short cuts, put off repairs,
and just plain old don’t think about being as safe as
we should. Take this time to discuss farm safety with your
family or employees. We all value the labor and enthusiasm
they bring to our farms, and a safe harvest season leads to
a joyous holiday season months down the road.
Even though your farm doesn’t fall under OSHA guidelines,
it still makes sense to look around your farm with an eye
towards safety. Farms are loaded with safety concerns. Quirky
equipment that is easy for you to handle may be a danger to
someone less experienced. We all have broken or loose ladders,
frayed electric cords, sharp metal edges … the list
goes on and on. Maybe you can tell – I’m not only
the farm manager but also the safety coordinator for The Institute.
I don’t know how the weather was in your area this
summer but I got some great emails from some of you that make
me feel like I’m not alone in saying “it wasn’t
the best.” Some of the emails really made me laugh.
I guess when it gets too bad that’s about all we can
do. Here we had about 10 inches of rain in July and about
5 inches in August. My farm at home, only 12 miles away, got
14 inches in July and 8 in August. The corn is over 10 feet
tall, but it sure was hard trying to make decent hay. We had
to make our first cutting in wrapped round bales. Second cutting
was made well and went into small square bales, and third
cutting is cut and still laying in the field as I write this.
Several of you wrote for more information on the
compost turner discussed in a New Farm article several
weeks. I’m glad to see there is interest in both composting
and in shop-built turners. The one we put together in the
neighbors shop has been serving us well for the past 10 years.
If you take a look at the article and need more information,
and I’ll try and answer any of your questions. If you
built your own I’d like to hear from you. Check out
what readers have already said by clicking
Hey! The sun finally came out and that means the hay must
be fitting up. I’d better get out to the field and move
it around. So, till next time – “happy farming”.
From one farm to another,