Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The fine art of understanding the agriculture/nature interface

So there is no need to tell anyone that this has been a tough year for farmers. One of the tough to get a handle on "elements" has been critters. . . We have had our share of them!! On the weekends we split our share of the work on the weekends so that we can all try to have a little time off. This last weekend was no different. . . except Sunday. Around 8 am while puttering the house (actually I was trying to weed my garden at home) I received a phone call from Sierra:
"Hey Myke, remember those traps that we put out for the groundhogs?" Sierra asked.
"Yes. . . ." answered Myke.
"Well. . . there is a huge porcupine in one and a baby skunk in the other." Sierra said.
"(Dramatic pause)," said Myke.

And that was the beginning of a long day for me. The whole day involved a skunk, a porcupine, some baby turkeys, two "baby" ducks, a fox and the deer that seemed to be oblivious to the fact that the speed limit on Route 35 is 50 mph. But that is another story.

In the meantime here are some pointers for those of you who might one day trap a skunk:

1) Cover the trap with a blanket, towel or similar. The idea is to keep the critter calm.

2) Very slowly and gingerly open the trap. I recommend doing this when the skunk is sleeping.

3) Run like you have never run before!! In our case, the skunk was trapped in the middle of the educational field that is surrounded by a 7 foot fence. . . so it was more like a cage match.

4) Hope that it runs directly into the woods and doesn't come back (also not applicable here. . . it is in the trap AGAIN today).

In other fun on the farm we have started tinkering with permaculture - the idea that you can create a closed system on the farm where everything has a job to help everything else. In our case we turned the compost windrow (which now has 150 buckets of food waste in it) and found a healthy number of maggots. So we let out a couple of the turkeys on the pile.

They did fabulously removing those evil little creepy crawlies. Soon the chickens will be helping out with that.

In the meantime we have finished what a friend calls "triage" on the farm and have planted our autumn crops. The hoop houses are awaiting final approval for placement prior to construction, and we are collecting wood for the wood stove and hay/animal bedding for the compost pile.

Come visit we would love to see you!

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