The Farm Cycle – Finding the Groove


As we build up our farm here in New Hampshire, one thing we’re working on is putting together an annual farm cycle – a rotating calendar of events so that we not only get everything done, but also spread the work evenly as possible across the year.  Here’s an example of how this might have looked on an early colonial farm (put together as part of a National Heritage Museum curriculum).

Farm Work Cycle from the National Heritage Museum

 

It’s neat to see that though we don’t have to worry about combing flax or buying salt (and with the advent of the automobile we don’t need to confine neighbor visits to January), things really haven’t changed a whole lot in 250 years.  I’ve got to put on snow tires instead of building wooden wheels, lube and change oil in the tractor and truck vice repairing carts, and brewing beer?  We’ll maybe have to take that up some December in the future.

At the Flying T, we don’t/can’t control the timing of some things – when the ducks and chickens will raise broods, for instance, but we are realizing that we need to do some advance planning now to make sure we can get work done next year.

As we’ve worked to develop how this wheel will look at the Flying T, one thing we’ve decided is that we can’t add anything else to mid-August through mid-September!  The late start to our garden and mid-summer assault upon it by a woodchuck (RIP) meant a lot of our produce is just coming available.  Our amazing abundance of peaches began ripening in late August, and we were in high gear harvest as many as possible before they all got thrown to the ground by Irene.  Couple that with start of the kids’ school and the academic year at UNH where I teach, some needed repairs on the farm and house, and we were in high gear.

This is not where we need to be dealing with kidding goats (or new kids for that matter), which leads to timing when we want to make them available to breed, which also affects when the kids will be ready for market…

Nor is it when we want to be putting up hay, which we blessedly did the month prior, and hopefully will top off next month.  That’s tricky timing also – when I was preparing us for move-in, I found out how difficult it is to find good hay in early Spring.

Hopefully we can get the garden in earlier next year (and get the nitrogen balanced a bit better as well), which will help also.

Irene helped us add to the firewood stash.  We were already in pretty good shape and I wasn’t going to cut any more, but now we’ll have another ~cord to split and stack that should be dry by the end of the winter.

This is all a superb education opportunity for the adults and kids (human, not goat).  Thank God for great mentors, a superb library and librarian, the Internet, and the NH extension program!

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Matt on September 7, 2011 at 9:59 am

    I think the January “visit neighbors” task is a reminder to make sure that others are alive and doing well in the midst of winter and not a directive to restrict camaraderie to one month a year.

    Reply

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