Hey Everyone-
Check out the Bangor Daily News feature that came out yesterday, June 12, 2012,  about North Branch Farm:
http://bangordailynews.com/slideshow/young-farmers-working-together-on-the-midcoast/?ref=maineframe

Things are going blazingly well here on the farm, with the usual setbacks to keep us humble and in check.  Deer have discovered the young apple trees in the new orchard and are making tasty snacks out of them while we race to cut cedar fence posts for an eight-foot deer fence around the whole six-acre block.  In the shuffle of farm priorities, we neglected to cover our delicate home garden crops–zucchini, summer squash, cucumbers, melons, and eggplant–with row cover, and they have been decimated by squash beetles and flea beetles in a matter of a few days.  We sprayed them and will cover them today, and hopefully they’ll be able to recover to give our apprentices and us some food this summer.  The only other bad news of note is that one of our calves was very sick–we figured out it was a selenium deficiency (our soils, like most in this area, have no selenium at all) and got him an injection of selenium, and he seems to be recovering well though he will probably be at least partially blind for life.

We got our 30 laying hen chicks and 40 meat bird chicks out into chicken tractors this week, and they are happily chomping grass, clover, and bugs along with their organic chicken grain pellets.  Ada’s not the only one who likes to eat chicken feed!

Meat chicks on pasture

People started stopping by the farm yesterday after seeing the BDN article, to tell us about it and to chat, and we thought, “Okay, now we need a sign, even a temporary one…”  This has been in the works for the last month or so, but one thing led to another and before long we had a massive, eleven foot high cedar structure (not so temporary), and a sign that will hopefully be replaced within the year with something more permanent and artful.

North Branch Farm goes public

The vegetable crops are doing great so far this year–brassicas (cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi and Brussels sprouts) are looking healthy, alliums (onions, garlic, shallots, and leeks) are sturdy, solanums (tomatoes and peppers) are loving the sunshine, and one of our new and exciting crops, sweet potatoes, is settling in nicely.  We have yet to plant the root crops, and the winter squash is seeded but not sprouted yet.  The annual crop of quackgrass is not as bad as in previous years, but we still have our fair share.

Ada and Seth killing quackgrass.
We’re in the thick of preparing the milkroom so that we can be state-licensed to sell milk.  We basically emptied the existing milkroom and started fresh: painted the walls a sunny yellow, rewired and plumbed the whole things, installed an electric hot water heater, and bought and installed new stainless steel hand-washing and milk-equipment-washing sinks.  The vacuum system is also functioning, and Tyler’s gradually training the cows, starting with the Jerseys, to be milked with a Surge belly-milker (photo from http://surgemilker.com/):
In fact, I just heard the vacuum pump turn off; morning chores must be moving along!  The cows themselves are a little ahead of schedule, and Tyler and Crew are milking six cows right now, mostly by hand.  Elsie has taken on the noble, labor-intensive work of milk processing.  She has put up many pounds of fresh, yellow, I-can’t-believe-I-can’t-stop-eating-it butter, hand-churned in her vintage Dazey churn.  She also bought a wine cooler to function as a mini cheese cave, and has already begun to fill it with wheels of cheese: Parmesan, cheddar, Caerphilly, and more.
It’s raining today, but it will be busy nonetheless.  The list of rainy day options is endless.  We could repair a tractor, spread beneficial nematodes to control wireworms, kill and butcher a sheep whose time has come, work on the milkroom, clean, clean, clean, and more…
Thank you all for your continued support, near and far, and we hope we get to see you or hear from you soon.
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