Agricultural opportunities abound in Essex County, New York.
Many farms are thriving and working hard in the heart and heat of the summer.
From sleepy cows in the fields to horse drawn hay makers to building projects, farmers are busy this time of year to green up their banks and grass up their haylofts.
At Triple Green Jade Farm, we too have been busy in and among the fields, in the garden and in the garage and soon-to-be “breadery.”
Hitting the Hay
In early July we got the first cut of hay in.
67 round bales from the main fields and more areas got brushed hogged in preparation for 2nd cutting later in August.
A lack of rainfall hasn’t seemed to affect the pasture that much.
The fields are slowly growing tall and greening up nicely now.
I suppose this is a benefit in having clay soils in a season plagued by dry conditions.
Digging the Dirt
I was pleasantly surprised by the results of our recent soil test and the amount of organic matter and elements.
Here is a sample:
Our organic matter was highest in the Kingsbury silty clay loam soils out of the 3 tested.
This is also the soil type most predominant in our fields.
The Claverack field was the only one given recommendations for adding lime in order to increase the soil PH.
The recommendations to improve yield and plant quality all pointed to adding more Nitrogen (N) and Phosphorous (P) in subsequent years.
Organic animal manures, which are both high in N & P, would be appropriate here and are the added benefit of grazing livestock.
Having cows, chickens and possibly sheep in our plans for next year in a rotational grazing set-up will greatly benefit our soil fertility and health.
I’ve used a little bit of it in my raised bed gardens, but the compost we now have after cleaning out our barn and having my neighbor till and turn the pile with his backhoe, would also be nice to spread on the pastures as well.
Bread Oven Rising
Up from the layers of mortar and fire brick, a wood-fired bread oven is rising on the farm.
After many days dripping with sweat in the heat and humidity, we are only a few weeks away from hearth-baked loaves.
Since I started this project in May the majority of the work has been on prepping the breadery space AKA the garage.
Running electric, fixing portions of the cement flooring, installing a new ceiling, etc…
I admit that I’m not the sharpest person when it comes to determining realistic deadlines or judging how long a certain task will take to accomplish.
Now that the bread oven base is built and I’m just waiting on the hearth slab to cure, it feels like the end goal of baking bread is finally within reach.
And it will be just in time to try to salvage the tail end of the farmer’s market season.
Sit back and watch it rise!
No shortage of work
A long-time family friend stopped by the farm with my father in-law recently and he was amazed at the progress since the last time he had been by.
He said we certainly have a “no shortage of work here at the farm.”
I joked with him that I like to think about it “as the greatest job security in the world but the pay ain’t so great!”
All kidding aside, we agreed it was a labor of love and that there is a lot of virtue in bringing an old farm back to life.
It is sometimes overwhelming to think of all the work that lies ahead of us.
There are thoughts we have at night that cause us concern, like in any business, usually around money.
“What if we can’t make enough money selling bread to get our other farming operations up and running or even pay our bills?”
I try to reassure myself that “Jah will provide.”
That as long as we have each other, we will get by should the unthinkable happen.
Then there are those intangibles around us that bring us clarity.
They remind us to be positive and confident despite our little insecurities.
Being outdoors in nature.
Watching the sunflowers grow from tiny seedlings to giant wild pollinators and later a source of winter bird feed.
Feeling my sore muscles the next day after moving 8000 lbs of fire bricks into the garage and not having to join a Crossfit gym.
Understanding and learning more everyday about my home, this land and the stars above me.
And finding comfort in the thought that it’s just another Essex County Summer.