Farmer Jim reports that the hay was very high quality, and earlier than usual.
The job was completed with a combination of tractor power and animal power. The oxen pulled a hay rake through the field, and then a gasoline-powered baler was used to collect it into rectangle-shaped blocks tied up with twine. The baler requires human power as well. The Howell Farm interns took their first turns on the back of a hay wagon, hooking the bales off the arm of the baler and then stacking them high on the wagon. Intern Emese Salopek learned that the hay bales must be stacked in a particular order, almost like a game of Tetris, in order to keep them from toppling over. “There’s a method to the madness,” she says.
In total, 160 hay bales were made on the farm last week.
-There’s an old farmer’s proverb that goes:
“A swarm in May is worth a load of hay; a swarm in June is worth a silver spoon; but a swarm in July is not worth a fly.”
That’s because swarms found in May have plenty of time to make honey and prosper, but swarms found in July will likely die during the winter from a lack of stored honey.
Last week, beekeeper Bob Hughes was visiting Howell Farm when a swarm of bees from one of our healthy hives decided their home was getting a little cramped. The bees swarmed and settled in a nearby tree, as their scouts went out in search of a new home. Fortunately, Hughes was visiting at just the right time and was able to return the swarm to one of our hives, adding on some “supers” to provide the bees with more space to store honey.
FYI: People are sometimes freighted when they come across a swarm of bees, but swarming bees are usually extremely docile. Scientists believe this is because the bees don’t have any brood to defend, and because they’re most interested in finding a new home for their queen. Swarming bees are usually able to find a new hive location in one or two days.
-Last week, Farmer Jeremy hitched Tom and Jeb to a grain drill and planted oats. One week later, the first green shoots are visible in the field. We’ll keep you updated on their progress.
-Off the farm, Howell Farm participated in the 2011 Spirit of the Jerseys State History Fair on May 7. Approximately 120 visitors, ages 3 to 83, helped steer a walking plow behind two of our draft horses. This year’s fair was held at Allaire State Park in Farmingdale.