After many years of hard duty, the wooden floor of the ox barn is ready to be replaced. Farmer Rob and Intern Virginia have been measuring and cutting, using lumber harvested and cut on the farm.
The first snowstorm of the winter left Howell Farm with a blanket of white.
After the holidays, the next farm event to look forward to is the ice harvest on January 25. Farmer Pete, after an unsuccessful prognostication last year, says he's no longer in the business of predicting how thick the ice will be come harvest time, but I think it's going to be a cold winter.
The farmers continue to express astonishment at the quality of the corn crop this year -- the field is filled with big healthy ears, like bars of gold wrapped in husky paper. Farmer Pete says he believes this is the best corn harvest in the history of Howell Farm. All told, between all the fields of feed corn, popcorn and sweet corn, he figures that nearly 100,000 ears of corn were handpicked by Howell Farm's staff and many many volunteers.
At long last, the harvest is almost complete. Today a group of volunteers helped handpick most of the remaining stragglers.
Today, in the Howell Farm Visitors Center, Santa's sleigh is getting a fresh coat of linseed oil and volunteers are adorning the Christmas tree with ornaments. Though Christmas is still some weeks away, Christmas on the farm with be celebrated Saturday December 7.
The Howell Farm Gift Shop (70 Woodens Lane, Lambertville) will be open Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 am to 4 pm December 10 to December 20th. We have Howell Farm honey, maple syrup, corn flour, whole wheat flour, popcorn and handmade Pleasant Valley Stitchers items for sale.
A friend told me something interesting recently about osage orange, the tree that makes a good hedgerow, the highest BTU firewood in the land (it's so hard it can dull chainsaw blades) and drops softball-sized, brain-like seed pods that aren't eaten by anything and seem to have a dispersal range limited to how far they can roll. And judging by the piles of osage oranges sitting under any given tree, they don't roll very far.
Native to certain parts of North American, osage orange has been dispersed to the rest of the country by farmers who brought the seeds with them. Pre-farming, however, biologists don't know of any living creature that would have helped disperse these seeds. The leading theory is that osage oranges were eaten and then excreted by a long-extinct pre-historic beast. Which for some reason I think is very interesting to ponder.
For a monthly history lesson on farm life in the Pleasant Valley circa 1900 (courtesy of Howell Farm's resident historian, Larry Kidder) we invite you to visit howellfarm.org:
Wednesday morning at Howell Farm is the timeslot for the weekly farmers’ meeting, at which plans for the coming week are made and the previous week is discussed. Around the table, Farmer Ian gave an update on the successful shoeing of Jack and Jesse, and the general health of our six draft horses. (All are in working order.) Farmer Rob led a discussion on quantities of hog feed. (More corn needs to be ground.) Speaking of corn, another corn picking day is scheduled for next Wednesday, weather permitting. (Volunteers are encouraged.) Farmer Pete expressed satisfaction for the job done fortifying the corncrib against mice and squirrels. And then the meeting moved on to winter repairs, including some work needed on a wagon and the grain drill. In the farm equipment portion of the meeting, a discussion was held about the desire for a new tank in which to collect sap for maple sugaring.
This historic photo of a corn harvest looks remarkably similar to the corn harvest happening this week and next at Howell Farm.
After Chester the draft horse threw a shoe this morning, farmers Ian and Larry embarked on the delicate task of putting on a new one. Around the barn, Chester is known as the most difficult horse to shoe -- he doesn't like people touching his feet. Chester has come a long way since he first arrived at Howell Farm, however, and today the shoeing was relatively uneventful, which is always a good result.
|THE FURROW: The online newsletter of Howell Living History Farm||