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WitnessTree Land & Livestock Farm

Preserving the Old Ways

My Blog

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The Growing Season Started Early

Posted on May 29, 2012 at 12:43 AM
What a strange weather pattern we are in. This has been the earliest spring most people can recall in many years. Everything bloomed out early, budded early, hatched early. We already have first-cutting hay in the barn, and it isn't even the end of May. Very unusual, but I'm not complaining, especially about being able to put up hay when we aren't yet into the extreme extended heat of summer. Now we need rain, and it appears we are going to get it in the next few minutes. This will give the meadows another round of much-needed moisture to regrow and give us our second cutting of---you guessed it---hay. We had some nice babies born this year. Three baby goats (a set of twins and a single), a beautiful heifer calf, LOTS of chicks, and two baby geese. The geese are especially watchful parents. Heaven help anything that even resembles a threat to those goslings, as the adults mean business when it comes to child care!
Got my sorghum seed in the ground a week ago, but have been waiting on the aforementioned rain to come so it can germinate and get growing. I'm hoping for a really good crop so we can cook a couple of times, once before, and once during our fall event. Growing sorghum cane is a challenge, and growing it organically is VERY labor intensive. You must first decide what date you want to harvest, so you can figure out exactly when to plant the seed. Then you hope the seed will germinate, grow, not get eaten by anything, and when it is tall enough you then hope that a high wind will not flatten it or that an early frost will not freeze it, as this can render the stalks you have waited for all season to be unusable. If all goes well and it is time to harvest, you must then walk down each row and strip off all the leaves from each stalk by hand. The seed heads must be cut off (these can be saved to collect the seed for next year, or they can be fed to the chickens). And finally, each stalk is cut as close to the ground as possible and carefully laid on the wagon with all the stalks pointing in the same direction. This makes loading them into the cane press much easier when the time comes. Once the stalks are collected, if you don't plan to run them through the press right away, you must be careful to store them where they can stay cool and out of the drying sun. Ideally they should be milled right away, but they can be stored as mentioned for up to two weeks. However, if they are exposed to too much heat the juice in the cane can sour, or the juice can dry up, and once again the stalks you have worked so hard to harvest will be unusable. Did I mention labor intensive? But once you've had biscuits and butter with sorghum syrup, it will have all been worth it!
And the rain has arrived.....

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