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Posted 12/26/2017 3:28pm by Kerry Gawalt.

CMF FALL 2017 NEWSLETTER

Broke Yoke

By Stephen

Sometimes it takes things going all wrong to bring our attention to what is going right in our world. Back in August I had a team of work horses out on a mowing machine to clip down a ¼ acre of cover crop in the market garden. A cover crop is planted to feed and protect the soil in between cash crops. The mowing machine I was using has the standard set-up for hitching a team which includes a piece called the yoke. The yoke is a bar that attaches by strap and clip to the bottom of each horse’s collar. It has a ring suspended from its center through which the cap of the pole inserts. The pole runs between the two horses and is attached to whatever implement they are pulling. The horses are also attached to the implement by their trace chains hitched to the evener.

            The particular yoke I had on the mowing machine was made of wood. It was about eight years old. Earlier in the season I had noticed the yoke was looking weathered. I made a mental note to order a new one for next season. Turned out it was in worse shape than I realized. We were just about finished with the job when all of a sudden the horse on the right surged forward. I said “Whoa” and the team stopped immediately. A quick check and I realized that the yoke had snapped in half. One horse was still linked to the pole but the mare who had surged forward was no longer attached. The broken half of the yoke dangling from the clip on her collar.

            What I had on my hands at this point is potentially a very dangerous situation. The mare on the right was no longer properly constrained. If she got worried and decided to move I would not have been able to control her. The whole thing could have ended in a catastrophic wreck.

            Instead what happened was both horses stopped and stood. Stood patiently. While I disengaged the sickle bar on the mower. Climbed off. Wrapped the end of the team driving lines snug round the master lift on the mower. Got off and unhooked their trace chains from the evener. Walked round calm as I might to stand in front of the team. Spoke a few reassuring words and unclipped the one horse from the yoke and pole and the other from the broken shard of the yoke. Back round to unwrap the lines and have them in hand. Breathe easy because now both horses were safely unhitched from the disabled mower.

            I drove them back to the barn. In the afternoon I replaced the broken yoke with a metal one. Hitched up the team and finished the job.

            When the yoke broke the horses stood and disaster was averted. This is what a teamster expects a well-trained well-used team to do. But even so there is no guarantee that when the chips are down that is what will happen. I could be proud and boastful and claim that all my training and perseverance had paid off. But that would be plain foolish.

            I was humbled. I was grateful. It is my job to make sure all the equipment is in good working order. In the instant that yoke broke (my fault) those horses made a choice. I asked them to stop and they did. These animals weigh about half a ton each and are as strong as ten strong men. They didn’t have to stop. Why did they? They are smart. They are experienced (nineteen and fifteen). And they trusted me. Something went wrong and they stopped and stood so that I could make it right. The credit goes to them.

I am thankful for good horses.

Season Round-up

From Stephen & Kerry

Late November. Early December. Day length rocketing down to the shortest point of the ellipse. The dark seems more intense this time of year. As if the inky black of interstellar space has seeped into earth’s atmosphere. So complete our best attempts to drive it back with artificial light seems enfeebled. Reminding us that our illuminated victory over night is temporary. The darkness is ancient. Vast. Human harnessing of electricity a tiny blip on the screen of geologic time.

            Yet we hold steady in the hope the light of the sun will soon return. The winter solstice will come. And after the holidays the seed catalogs will start showing up in the mail.

            October proved to be a mild month. We were able to keep harvesting a number of crops that often are killed by freezing temperatures. Lettuce held out in the field. We even had greenhouse tomatoes going to the restaurants. The cows were able to stay out grazing a couple of weeks longer than expected.

            Overall we had a very productive growing season. May was an especially wet month---with nearly 9 inches of rain. This made getting the garden planted a bit of a challenge. After that we had regular rainfall throughout the summer. The crops grew well as did the grass in the hayfields and pastures. The main challenge was making hay in-between the rain drops (broken baler at the height of the season didn’t help---thanks to our neighbor John Usher for bringing his equipment in to finish the job!).

            In September the rain dried up. Perfect ripening and harvesting weather ensued.

            After ten years we finally finished with all the projects of our NRCS Equip grants. These have been a series of infrastructure improvements to help ensure protection of soil and water resources on the farm. The final phases included installing an improved irrigation system in the market garden and additional water lines for the grazing paddocks. The irrigation system will pull water from the pond we dug last year. This will give us added resilience in times of drought.

            The Hartland 4-H Cattle Club had a great showing at the Tunbridge World’s Fair---with the kids bringing home many blue ribbons and shared memories of good times together. It takes tremendous effort and coordination to get 20 cows and 15 young people to the fair grounds for five days and safely back again. Thanks to all the parents and friends who make this great learning experience possible.

            At the end of September Cedar Mountain Farm hosted a day long workshop on cultivating the garden with draft horses. This was part of a weekend event held at the Cornish Fairgrounds by the Northeast Draft Animal Power Network (DAPnet). We had over thirty participants attending the workshop. Our teamster friend Phil Warren brought over his enormous team of Belgians to help out. The next day we brought a pair of our Fjords over to Cornish. All in all it was a great weekend of sharing our love of working horses with the public (while having opportunities to catch up with other horse farmers and make new friends).

            With an early blanket of snow on the ground we are settled into winter chore routines. Still spreading compost on the fields, but otherwise focused on the daily tasks of keeping the dairy herd well fed and comfortable for the long winter in the barns.

            Even in winter we still have plenty of great farm products available. You can sign up for a Winter CSA share to receive a weekly basket of storage vegetables, or stop by our farm stand anytime. There you can find: Cobb Hill cheese, Frozen Yogurt, Beef, Lamb, Maple Syrup, Vegetables, locally produced yogurt and ricotta (made with CMF milk at the Norwich Creamery), local honey and more…..

            Thanks to everybody who helps to support our efforts to run a small diversified farm here in Hartland. Without our customers, farm employees, and wonderful supportive community of Cobb Hill Co-Housing we wouldn’t be able to carry on this vital mission of creating a new kind of agriculture for a sustainable culture and healthy planet.

Blessings in this season of light,

Stephen and Kerry

Posted 10/20/2017 4:08pm by Kerry Gawalt.

Dear CSA members,

We have a fall CSA session starting next week for 10 weeks. Pick-ups are the farm on Wednesdays. Sign-up online or email the farm and bring a check.

Kerry

Posted 10/11/2017 12:17pm by Kerry Gawalt.

Dear farm friends,

We will be having a farm open house on Sunday October 29th from 12 to 2PM. Taco's Taco from Lebanon will be here selling delicious local food. We will have farm tours and 4-H open barn. Please RSVP so we can plan accordingly.

Kerry for the farm crew

 

Posted 9/13/2017 2:43am by Kerry Gawalt.

Dear CSA members,

We are glad everyone is safe. You can pick-up your share today at the farm 12 to 9PM or come by the Lebanon Farmers market tomorrow between 4 and 7PM. If you come by the farm we will have your bagged share in our farmstand. If you cannot make it this week you can get extra vegetables next week. I am headed to the Tunbridge Fair with the 4-H club and 18 cows so email response will be spotty.

Kerry

Posted 6/28/2017 6:18pm by Kerry Gawalt.

Dear CSA members,

We will be on site on Monday afternoon for the CSA pick-up next week. If you don't want to pick-up on Monday let me know.

Thanks,

Kerry

Posted 6/7/2017 3:13am by Kerry Gawalt.

Dear CSA members,

You can pick-up your CSA share at the farm any time after 12 noon. If you are picking up at the Upper Valley Coop your share will be there by 3PM. If you are going away please let us know ahead of time.

Kerry

Posted 6/6/2017 8:31am by Kerry Gawalt.

Dear CSA members,

We will be on site today from 3-5:30. Our tent is now on the grass right near the last parking spot in the Norris parking lot. Alexandra will be there rain or shine. If you are away or cannot pick-up please let us know and you can come by the farm or the Lebanon Market on Thursdays.

Kerry

Posted 5/24/2017 3:07am by Kerry Gawalt.

Dear CSA members,

Our full season session is underway and our summer season starts the week of June 5th. DHMC pick-ups are on Tuesdays from 3 to 5:30PM and Hartland on Wednesday from noon to 9PM, UVFC 3PM to 8PM. If you are away let us know and we can arrange another pick-up day for your share. Please let me know that you got this email as a few members have reported not getting these emails. In the field we have 6" high pea plants, rows of onions, leeks, broccoli, lettuce, kale, chard, celeriac, parsley, cauliflower and cabbage. We have seeded beets, carrots, spinach, turnips, rutabaga, some of which are up. We planted a row of sunflowers and zinnias for PYO. When they are ready we will let you know. You may take a few flowers each week for your home.

Kerry

Posted 5/12/2017 12:55pm by Kerry Gawalt.

Dear CSA members and farm friends,

Our farm has been chosen as the favorite conserved farm in Vermont and the US. See story below.

http://nrcs.maps.arcgis.com/apps/Cascade/index.html?appid=5ac6d2e3785b449ea3d4ef094cf680c7

Posted 5/2/2017 3:46pm by Kerry Gawalt.

Dear CSA members,

Your CSA season starts tomorrow. We will have the vegetables out from noon to 9PM. If you cannot make it just let me know. You can pick-up the following day. We have lots of storage vegetables for this week and next. We have lettuce, radishes, bok choy, turnips, spinach, chard, beet greens and mesclun in our high tunnel. They will be in your basket in a few weeks. If your have a fruit share your basket is on top of the refridge in the farm stand. We have unlabled baskets for your share. Please take one and return it for use the following week.

Kerry