How's the Farm? Drought, Frosts, Cider Houses, Herds not Flocks
Looking back at our last newsletter- May- I find myself wondering "what's news, farm-wise?". It has been a heck of a year to be a farmer in the Northeast. We've recorded the hottest months for several months on end. This heat began with unusually high and sustained winter temperatures, little snow fall and continues to be aligned with drought every step of the way. We said goodbye to our peach crop during a 50 degree temperature flux in February, and goodbye to much of the apple crop and part of the asparagus during the late frosts of May. After all that loss, we found that turkeys were not in our budget this year and we buckled down on what we could offer and found that the beef, ginger, fruit and cider remain.
We continue to find ourselves in a state of identity crisis between the Cider House and the farm. As Garrett and I analzyse our enterprises, we are increasingly reminded that our major crop systems are really for the 2nd or 3rd generation of farmers to work this farm. Growing a beef herd with excellent genetics and an orchard of drought-reslient, deep rooted semi-dwarf trees- these things take up to 20 years to yield fully. It is hard to find a farm like ours without a secondary or matching source of off-farm income. In 2015, the Cider House became that for us, and we've continued to pile our eggs in this vertically integrated basket. We are asked, regularly, whether this is "working".
What IS working?
On one hand, I can see that after 7 years of continuous cover, our soil seems to have the ability to bounce back a pasture, even in drought years. We are not yet feeding hay to the cows, but still rotating on a rapid basis and seeing regrowth in our wake. This, and the ability to grow trees, are the reasons I farm in the Northeast.
While waiting for it to rain, praying for it to rain... we accept the losses of this year, and do have some Good Life to share with you all!
Things we have to offer this year
TURKEY UPDATE: No Good Life Turkeys This Year
Why, one might ask? Each year I tout the glory of an integrated animal and plant polyculture, wherein the turks do all the fertility work for the following year's fruit and asparagus crop. While this is still true, organic grain prices continue to outpace the price we can sustainably charge (and pay up front for grain delivery) for a finished turkey. We decided, after seeing the other 2016 farm losses coming down the pipe, to take a year off from turkeys to regroup, rebuild our financial stability. In the weeks to come, we will have a set of recommendations for where you might find this year's Thanksgiving bird, so please feel free to ask! And please do consider us in the future- turkeys have been an important part of Good Life Farm, and we hope to bring back this enterprise.