I am happy to report, folks, that we had a very serious hootenanny last night.  About sixty people came out to the farm for this MOFGA-sponsored event and it was a roiling success.  Half of the group went with Edith Gawler and Bennett Konesni and Elsie Gawler for some worksonging and beet thinning  while Tyler regaled the other half with North Branch Farm history and details about using and looking for horse equipment.  People who were interested in trying their hand(s) as a teamster got up on the forecart, took the reins,  and took a short loop with Seth.  The two groups swapped halfway so that everybody could see everything.

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Loose hayloader hooked to haywagon

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Song crew #1 on their way to the beet rows

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Song crew #2 storming up the field

We are so very grateful to everyone who helped us thin our beets–that would have been a pretty serious chunk of time for our crew, but with 50-some-odd pairs of hands at work it flew right by.  Moreover, we’re so pleased and honored to have had the chance to meet and work with and talk to and eat with so many wonderful food growers and musicians.  It is the kind of thing that helps me remember we at North Branch Farm are part of a large movement of people making these crucial things–our communities, our earth, sensible food production–into priorities.  Thank you MOFGA, thank you guests.

Orchard update: the Moody Block of the orchard just got seeded with clover before the last rain and then rolled with our big horse-drawn roller to ensure good germination.

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A four-foot diameter circle of cardboard and wood chip mulch goes around the base of each tree

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In the East Block of the orchard, which had a mix of clovers seeded in about a month ago, a good cover is developing

We’ve been on a constant, low-grade sugar high from the steady consumption of high bush blueberries that we’ve been able to maintain for the last two weeks or so.  The blue wave is moving across the field. DSC_0187

This week we harvested our garlic for the year.  We found some suspiciously unhealthy looking bulbs earlier this summer and had them tested through the cooperative extension at a University of Maine lab.  As a result of that, we discovered that we have garlic bloat nematode, which is a nasty but seemingly over-come-able pest that has recently turned up and been spreading through Maine.

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Not bad for infected garlic

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Sarah and Miriam pulling garlic

On Mark’s birthday three weeks ago, (Happy Birthday, Mark!) our friend and neighbor Lao came and gave us a scythe workshop.  Lao knows his stuff and I came away with two main lessons: firstly, skills like scything are relatively easy to do passably well but take an incredible amount of practice and dedication to become an expert at.  Secondly, I get the Grim Reaper now.  I don’t know much about him, but I think he came out of the Middle Ages’ battles, famine and plagues–when it must have looked like people were dying in swaths like the grasses before a haycutter’s scythe.  It was really fun to do this just days after having read Transylvania Hay in the July 2013 National Geographic

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Peening the blade after mowing

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Tyler and Miriam scything my lawn

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Lao and Mark

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