Summer Check In

 

The goats are out keeping the grasses down and working the edges as fruit trees put on their lush fruit in a cascade of bounty. Trailing blackberries Rubus ursinus are ripe on edge-land, and red huckleberries Vaccinium parvifolium are on in the forests around Leafhopper Farm. The apple trees are showing good fruit development, while cherries skipped this year all together (I really don’t think the cultivated strains will do well here long term), but the Asian pear tree will be a bumper crop. The three plumb tree cultivars are at three different stages- totally dead, partially alive; and fruit production on one branch from the liveliest of the bunch. Counting the flowers and unripe green fruit our tenacious Rubus armeniacus, we’ll see another bumper crop this year, unless the cold rains return in August.

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Wildflowers at Leafhopper are brighter and more abundant than ever. Pollinator specie numbers are up too, and this year, Calypte anna and Selasphorus rufus are actively defending territories in the gardens! It’s a frenzy of flight and fluttering and good pollination ecology on the farm. Bees are only part of the pollinator system, on the yarrow Achilles millefolium below, Polistes dominula is eating pollen and perhaps, opportunistic in who might also land for a feast and end up the main course. However, I have not witnessed predation while on the yarrow flower.

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Honey and bumble bee share neighboring plants as they dip into the summer nectar. Though Leafhopper Farm does not steward hives right now, we have been feeding all kinds of pollinators on the landscape and will continue to develop more pollination terrain here on the farm. It is great to see such response in only a few years of pollination station development around our tended spaces. The color and diversity are endless, and the sights and sounds grow ever richer.

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This summer, a lot of our pasture has grown into mature grassland, something great for birds and insects, voles and mice, but ultimately not ideal for a working farm. Because we chose not to get sheep this year, the pastures are overgrown a bit, as goats are not really grazers, but browsers. We are pushing them through the overgrown fields to help glean some of the under story growth, but the dry grass seed stalks will not be their main interest. They will however, knock down much of the hay and help get the pasture back on track for chickens to comb through later this month.

 

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Bran is working hard, and putting on great summer weight. Because of our travels this summer, we’ll be culling all our weathers before August. The two male kids were culled today, and they will make great tender goat steaks and succulent rib roasts over the 4th of July. Our herd also lost Brockstaro, the breeding buck of the farm, earlier this summer to injuries sustained in a butting match with Bran. This is a hard lesson in putting two goats of vastly different sizes together in a stall with one feeding station. The behavior happened over night, and Brock was not recovering. He was put down to end any suffering, and it was a great loss for the farm. We hope to acquire another breeding buck next year, or pay for stud services in the upcoming fall season.

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For now, the gardens are in the height of summer growth, and we’ll have a lot of great seed for planting next year’s garden, as well as a feast of different veggies as the harvest continues here at Leafhopper Farm.

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