Farmer Rob and Howell Farm's summer campers dug a potato out of the kitchen garden today to see if they were large enough to harvest. Potato salad was hoped for, but the potatoes are still too small and need a few more weeks of growing.
Today Farmer Rob combined the wheat field with a tractor and 1960s-era combine. Compared to horse-powered technology of 1910, 50 years of progress marks a remarkable increase in farming efficiency.
Here at Howell Farm we’re midway through a week of 90-degree temperatures. And, of course, this being a New Jersey summer, it’s humid.
Hay is drying in the field, and perhaps the pastures are slightly less vibrant green than they’ve appeared in week’s past. But it was a rainy June (New Jersey’s rainiest June ever, in fact) and Dry Run Creek, which cuts through the center of the farm, is still several feet deep in places. Usually by this time of year it lives up to its namesake.
The sheep and the geese are all huddled in the shade. The horses are in the barn, and the air conditioning is on in the visitor's center.
Today the farmers will spread manure, among other tasks, striving toward completion of the stinky, dirty job of mucking out the sheep barn.
In the kitchen garden, the garlic is ready for harvest, and so is the cabbage.
When the wind is right, Howell Farm's field of spelt resembles amber waves of grain. It's ready to be harvested -- once it finally dries out.
With 9.6 inches of rain, June 2013 was the wettest June in New Jersey history, dating back to 1895.
At Howell Farm, Dry Run Creek is still flowing strong through the center of the farm.
For farmers of yesteryear, a summer that was too dry was just as troublesome as a summer that was too wet. For modern farmers with irrigation, however, a summer that is too wet is by far the worse of the two maladies.
Late blight, the scourge of potatoes and tomatoes, has already been spotted in the state – on potatoes in Salem County and on tomatoes in Mercer County. There’s every reason to suspect that late blight will hit hard this summer.
At Howell Farm, among other delayed activities, the wet weather has prevented the cultivation of the potato field, leading to a crisis of tall weeds.
On the upside, if there is one to all this wet weather, the corn field looks green and lush.
The Furrow is the online newsletter of The Friends of Howell Living History Farm. We will be updating this site about once a week with crop reports and other insights into life on a horse-drawn living history farm.
|THE FURROW: The online newsletter of Howell Living History Farm||