With new work at Cornell and other side efforts, like entering a home brewing contest, it seems like not that much has happened on the farm in the past several weeks since we moved here full-time.
Although we are impatiently awaiting our first round of baking bread or milking cows, there is a lot of infrastructure that needs to be in place before we can order flour and bring in livestock on the pasture.
With SO much to do this Summer, it’s been hard trying to define our next steps on the farm, but luckily with help from our neighbors, we are making progress at Triple Green Jade Farm.
Future farm store
The cement floor of the garage (our future farm store) has seen better days.
Years of water infiltrating from the front and seeping underneath turning to ice and heaving sections of the cement floor and rock wall foundation has done some damage.
To start to remedy this, we’ve put in a french drain at the front where the ground slopes toward it.
My neighbor, with his bucket loader and backhoe, has come to the rescue several times already, but this time it really came in handy.
New gutters are next on the agenda but trying to source galvanized aluminum or steel to replace what we had has been difficult.
Most of the hardware stores around town only sell plastic which is not something I want to deal with.
After gutters are up, I will be tackling the floor and foundation with copious amounts of mortar mix and a cement mixer borrowed from another dairy farmer.
To create areas for hummingbirds, butterflies and beneficial insects, I’ve ordered a bunch of seed mixes to try and establish a wildflower garden on the farm.
We love the idea of the “farm as a living system” mainly for ecological and economical reasons.
This is a practice where a farm can be harmonious with nature while also using less inputs of resources and capital over time.
Beneficial insects, like bees and butterflies aid in the overall well-being of the system and a healthier farm means less expensive fixes.
Just as important as fixing up the barn and putting up fencing, we want to build a healthy foundation for the farm in all aspects.
Since infrastructure is about creating a farm that future generations can enjoy and benefit from – having a wildflower garden really makes sense.
We decided to place this one near the farm store but also visible from the road to make sure that it’s something for future customers and friends to enjoy.
Getting into the soil was tough because of the quack grass, weeds and roots that have built up over the years in a thick, dense mat.
You also never know what you might find in the soil!
Here is a heavy gauge electric wire that was buried in the field. I found out it goes all the way to the barn.
The better alternative to start with was using a backhoe where my neighbor was able to skim off that layer and leave nothing but soil, mostly clay loam, exposed for me to rototill.
Rototilling after that actually made a fluffy and friable topsoil in order to plant into.
I broadcasted wildflower seeds according to Johnny’s and also planted sunflower seeds from High Mowing Organics in the three 40 foot rows.
So far, lots of small buds have been emerging here and there. Here’s one planting of sunflowers bursting through the soil.
And for better soil, we wanted to share our compost bin. This was an easy DIY project that I will explain in more detail on my blog.
With massive amounts of hay and dried manure in the barn, mixing it in with our kitchen scraps and other greens will make some excellent compost starter.
We plan on placing some of it directly into raised beds and will tackle that in the Autumn.
I love rough-cut lumber, especially when a 2 x 6 is actually a full 2 inches thick!
In addition to dimensional rough-cut lumber, we got a large amount of free slab wood from the Wood Grain Sawmill in Keeseville.
I built this bin with three sections:
The middle section will have hay and other materials that can be added to the compost piles.
On each side will be one active pile and one that was filled the previous year that is now “resting” to fully decompose and turn into black gold.
Paying it forward
While we figured it was a long shot that volunteers would show up for our farm renovation projects, what we hadn’t planned on was our neighbors offering as much help as they have!
We have nothing but gratitude for the amount of help and ideas we have been getting from new friends and the farming community.
There will be a lot of free bread and beer to go around to compensate for all the goodwill we’ve received when we actually start producing these treats on the farm!
Building a rhythm
Not a huge amount of progress in this update, but living here full-time on the farm since May in our popup camper is allowing us to learn new things about the land every day.
The upshot is that we’ve actually begun to start renovating this old farm to bring it back to life!
And we’re really glad that you’re following along.
Like any large project, planning takes the most time and effort and we’re starting to build a rhythm to fit in these projects into our daily routine.
We’d love to hear your suggestions, comments and future ideas anytime.
Feel free to comment below or contact us anytime.
Thanks again for being part of the Triple Green Jade Farm-ily!
Dan & Kimmy