Some Farm Projects

 

  • Sheep Dairy.  We built a sheep dairy!  We’ll soon be milking our flock of 45 East Friesian, Awassi, and Forest Clun  ewes, and making farmstead, raw milk cheeses.  Look for our Pecorino de Greensboro, Wild Mountain Tomme,  and VerManchego at the Montpelier farmers market this May.
  • Whey as orchard spray.   Spraying whey in the orchard  (left over from our cheesemaking) as a fungicide.  Studies done in New Zealand and France have shown that whey can inhibit the formation of the apple scab fungus.
  • Apple pomace as sheep feed.   Drying apple pomace (left after pressing cider) and feeding it to our sheep as a milking parlor treat.
  • Creating a diverse understory in the orchard.  Planting mint, comfrey, chives, horseradish, mallow, chicory, lupine, Queen Anne’s lace, tansy, daffodils, yarrow, sweet cicely, bee balm, and garlic, throughout our orchard. These different vertical layers of plants between the grass and the trees contributes to the overall health of the whole orchard system in many ways.
  •  Pigs instead of rototillers.  Using pigs to dig up pasture areas for reseeding,  and new beds for plantings of fruit and nut trees.
  • Chickens in the orchard.  Last fall (2015) after the harvest we ran 150 chickens through the orchard to disturb apple pest habitat and speed up the breakdown of leaves harboring the apple scab fungus.
  • Hardwood chip mulch.  Using  hardwood chips around the apple trees and berries to help create a fungally dominated ecosystem – preferred by most trees and perennials.
  • Willows as sheep fodder and medicine. Planting willow trees in swampy areas; in three or four years, these can be browsed by the sheep. Willow is a high protein forage, and has been shown to be an effective dewormer.
  • Wool as mulch.   Using poor quality wool as mulch around young berries.
  • Sing and Farm Retreat.  Since 2012, we’ve held several programs of this type, where a small group of  people passionate about both singing and farming stay on our farm  for several  weeks.   Participants join us in all aspects of farm work, and in between farm chores we sing together– shape note hymns, British shepherding songs, and Baltic, Ukrainian, and Georgian folk songs.   Another Sing and Farm Retreat is being planned for 2016– details to come.
  • Hot water system using renewable energy.  Cheesemaking will demand lots of very hot water for cleaning; we are planning a hybrid system consisting of a wood fired boiler and solar hot water panels. This will allow us to meet most of our hot water needs with renewable energy.
  • Silvopasture. Animals thrive in mixed woods/pasture setting, benefitting from the shade and diverse forage.  We’re turning part of Cate Hill (the hill behind our house) into a silvopasture through low-impact logging and pig power.

 

 

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