Some shots of the fully restored and beautifully decorated Henry Phillips farmhouse.
It was on October 1 that Farmer Jeremy filled the grain drill with wheat seed and planted it in one of the fields along Wooden’s Lane. Now, two weeks later, the results are evident. The wheat is two to three inches tall and a vibrant green. Germination appears to be very good. Judging from the rows, it also looks like Farmer Jeremy drove the horses in relatively straight lines.
Now the wheat will grow over the fall and winter (slowing down a great deal in the winter) before shooting up again in the spring, until it is finally ready to be harvested next summer.
After a night of drenching rain (and a very dry September) Howell Farm woke up feeling lush and well-watered this morning. Add in 70-degree temperatures, a light breeze, blue skies, fiery fall foliage and big puffy clouds, and everyone seems to agree that it has been a very beautiful day on the farm.
After a complete restoration several years in the making, the historic, 18th-century Henry Phillips Farmhouse was dedicated this past Saturday. Interior photos coming soon.
Farmer Ian was out in the field today behind four draft horses pulling a disc harrow and plank. Once harrowed, the field will be planted with spelt and some wheat. With rain in the forecast, planting might happen as soon as tomorrow.
Farmer Pete explained the benefit of pulling a wooden plank behind the harrow, which does more than break up the soil further. A holdover technique from Farmer Halsey, the plank also creates a smooth and uniform surface on top of the soil. During planting, this makes it a lot easier for the farmer to see what row he just planted and where to line up the seed drill for the next pass.
September 2014 was warm and dry in the north half of New Jersey.
According to the latest report of the New Jersey state climatologist, September was the 29th warmest on record. In terms of precipitation, the southern part of the state received slightly less than average precipitation while the northern half was very dry--the seventh driest September on record for the region.
Read the entire report here:
Fortunately, some early October rain has helped soften the soil for fall plowing, harrowing and planting.
The wheat is being planted right at this moment.
A short time ago, I watched as Farmer Jeremy emptied a bag of wheat seed into the seed box of the grain drill. Howell Farm plants a variety of wheat known as “Pronghorn,” known for being a little taller than some other varieties of modern wheat. This tall variety works well on a historical farm such as Howell Farm for several reasons. It closer resembles the taller wheat that would have been growing at Howell Farm in the year 1900, and it works better with our historical harvesting equipment, which is suited for the taller varieties. It also provides more straw, which can be put to good use on the farm.
Following Farmer Jeremy's planting, Farmer Ian is following behind with a horse-drawn roller to pack the seed.
In other news, the field corn is still not ready for picking, though our corn picking program is scheduled for this coming weekend. (Such are the challenges of needing to schedule a public harvest program a year in advance.) Looking at the still green stalks of corn, Farmer Ian thinks it might be a full 3 or 4 weeks before the corn is ready for harvest.
Fall has definitely begun to arrive on the fall. Strikes of yellow, red and orange leaves are now visible among the remaining green.
Earlier this week, our farmers (with notable help from our draft horses) finished plowing a field in preparation for Saturday’s public wheat planting program. This wheat will grow over the winter and be ready for harvest—looking like amber waves of grain—next summer.
Before the planting can take place, some harrowing remains to prepare the field.
Howell Farm is receiving some much needed rain today, in a part of the state now classified as “abnormally dry” by the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Jack and Chester the draft horses are enjoying the rainy day out in some fresh pasture usually reserved for the sheep.
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