Frith Farm

Monday, January 16, 2012

Soil Toil

Sir Albert Howard said, "the health of soil, plant, animal and man is one and indivisible." I would argue that this concept of interconnectedness can extend to the health of communities, regions, or even of the planet itself. For me it all starts with the soil, and that's why I have gone to great effort in this first year to feed the land which I now rely on to produce both sustenance and income.

There are many ways to measure the health of soil. Some trust their senses, rubbing dirt between their fingers, inhaling its aroma, tasting its richness. Perhaps a more dependable metric is the health of the plants the soil grows (without the crouches of pesticides or highly soluble fertilizers), or the health of the people eating those plants. But for us science-loving Westerners, there's something appealing about a soil test. I can't say I rely on them, or even entirely believe them, but seeing those quantitative results, accurate to the nearest hundredth of a part per million, somehow excites my inner engineer and has been known to trigger a whole slew of excel spreadsheets.

However abstract or overly precise, these soil test results at least give a sense of the progress that has been made in building the farm's soil over the last year. The first result is from soil sampled as I purchased the property in November, 2010. The second is from that same soil sampled 12 months later.

I find little more exciting than the thought of continuing to build this soil's health, to maximize its fertility and the nutrition of the food it produces. I look forward to ever improving it, and take pleasure and pride in each added bucket of compost, wheelbarrow of leaves, and stand of cover crop.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Big Girls & Little Ladies

Much of the preparation for winter has revolved around our noble egg layers, both present and pending. The mature layers have recently moved several climate zones south, to a newly constructed hoophouse behind the barn. They seem quite happy in their warm sunny quarters, free to roam into the wintery outdoors but often preferring to roost in the protected sunshine of the hoophouse.

A new round of 80 laying chicks arrived a few weeks ago. After spending a week in the farmhouse kitchen (and providing 24-hour entertainment for Saffron and Charlie) they moved to the greenhouse for more space and access to soil and sun. They are Golden Comets, a breed known for their friendliness, ability to forage, and excellent production. They should begin laying in May, allowing us to double our available egg shares this coming season.