Farmer Jake's Take: June
June 25, 2018
The farm painted a wonderful scene on an early June evening this month, reminiscent of herds of bison that this land might have known well in centuries past.
June flew by, which explains why it's already July before I got this month's review done. Whoops. (I'm also way behind on emails...) It's no surprise that it did, though, given how busy we've been on the farm and in life lately. Recently, a friend, Aaron, shadowed me on the farm to learn more about regenerative and pasture-based farming. He is interested in farming his grandparent's land and potentially raising elk and bison and planting many fruit and nut trees, eventually. He is very curious and full of inquisitive questions, and didn't seem to mind when I often answered "it depends", which gives me the impression that he has lots of promise as a farmer. He was curious about the lifestyle of farming, and my work schedule and commitment came up. I told him with a smile "I don't know the last time I had a day off. Probably two months ago? Today (Sunday) is my "day off", and that usually means just 8 hours of work today, so I can play basketball tonight." To be fair, I have gotten a few days "off" in the past month where all I've done is the morning and afternoon chores, which isn't too demanding. Recently, the farm has actually calmed down a tad bit, and isn't quite so frenetic, largely in part due to the animals getting used to being moved to their new paddocks, and catching the rhythm of grazing as well. I've also shook the winter rust off which helps everything from filling buckets to collecting eggs to mowing lines go quicker. Less thinking and more predictable outcomes.
Having said all of that, I'm looking forward to the week ahead of me, which will be a well-earned break. Fourth of July falling on Wednesday this year means no farmers market for me this week, and this coming weekend is Monticello Homecoming, my hometown's summer festival celebrating the return of WWII soldiers, which is my favorite time of the year.
It's three days of tasty food, the best fried cheese curds in Wisconsin (seriously), live music and beer tents with friends, and sports (I play in 3v3 basketball and mud volleyball tournaments with my brothers)! I'm looking forward to a little "stay-cation"! I don't get any rest or much relaxation, but it's a great time and recharge.
Most of the busy-ness of June came early on and from the weather, farmers markets and my personal life. My girlfriend, Carly, moved in with me at the farm on June 10th, her birthday. We're still getting organized and unpacked, and that's proving to be a slow process- moving into an already inhabited space. It's been great to have her at the farm, because now I don't have to try (and often fail because of things happening unexpectedly on the farm) to visit her at her place in Madison. It seems like I have a bit more free time in the evenings to relax and do things now that she lives here as well. We even planted a somewhat late garden and put in a kitchen garden too, both of which are looking great and have loved the weather.
Just before Carly moved in, we had ridiculously early and hot weather which is really stressful for our animals. If they are given time to gradually warm up and get used to the heat after winter and spring they are typically fine, but when it changes 40 or more degrees in just a few days it really leaves the animals susceptible to stress which gives an upper hand to pests and diseases. Our laying hens dropped in egg production, and are still slowly bouncing back weeks later. Our cows don't eat as much in the heat, and like to mill around the water tanks (and often cause mud puddles). Our pigs (unable to sweat) root around and create mud wallows to cool down too. Heat gave way to lots of rain, which causes plenty of it's own challenges as well! Such is life and farming. It always keeps you on your toes and your mind thinking.
Farmers markets twice a week is helping our farm be sustainable and profitable, but is still a ton of work. Despite, we're chugging along! My family went on vacation to Arkansas for a week, so I was alone at the market often in June, but I managed to handle it. I'm still looking forward to the markets every time, and I've found a few podcasts to listen to on the long drives, which makes them not at all dreadful! My brother Logan joins me when he can, and it's fun to talk about sports, basketball, and life. Carly tries to join me at my Saturday markets, and I'm thankful that she wants to spend one of her two days off with me "at work". You might have met or will meet some other faces that join me, as I have lots of friends that want to experience the amazing farmers market atmosphere in the "big city"! To top it off, we've been giving lots of farm tours lately to prospective farmers and interested families and customers. I really enjoy showing people the farm and the animals. Most visitors agree with me "the pictures and videos are great, but it doesn't do it justice like in person does". If you want to come out to the farm, send me a message, and we'll get ya scheduled! Sundays work best for me, but we are pretty flexible (except for market days).
Interesting Links and Articles that I've found the past month that you might be interested in:
*this section is very short this month. I haven't been doing much leisurely reading this past month and am generally out of the loop on everything**