It is hard to imagine, but our time at the farm is winding down; a great season, a good amount of hard work, along with a fair amount of fun. The learning never seemed to stop, and trying to put a tangible proportion to what has been learned would be difficult; very little, if anything, can replace experience. We are very grateful to our gracious hosts, the Reilly’s and the Werner’s, for their hospitality and generosity for the term of this internship. And I would humbly submit, that the customers of Four Corners Farm are equally as blessed to have this local, pasture based, Earth-friendly, animal-likeness honoring, family-friendly farming enterprise from which to procure the highest of quality and clean food.
Last week saw the end of broiler production for the 2015 season. Weekly, beginning in May, anywhere from 60-80 chickens were processed, offering the option of fresh chicken; not many farms do that. And it is A LOT of work. Those birds take a lot of “input”, care of the utmost attention, from arrival and time in the brooder, to time out on the pasture and daily moves to fresh grass, to precise and humane processing, to the final bagging after processing. There are no off days, no “I just don’t want to get out of bed” days, rain or shine, the birds need cared for. It can be tiresome, day in and day out, week after week, but the end goal is worth it: happy, healthy birds, and satisfied customers.
At the risk of sounding discontented with the chickens, the pigs are quite enjoyable. It was fun setting up the “pig pie”, if you remember a recent blog post, and equally amusing watching pig antics. They love to root in the woods, and browse the pasture, even frolic and play as dogs would. Perhaps the picture that will stick in my mind the most is this scene: one night, all of the current 15 pigs were neatly ordered and aligned, as if one orchestrated the whole affair, in their shelter, snoring away in the fresh air. Happy pigs are nice.
We can’t forget the laying hens either. They’ve done a considerable amount of work following the cows through pasture, eating fly larva and pasture forage, producing those wonderful eggs we’ve all come so much to enjoy. The cows too, they’ve been hard at work building soil mass and structure through mob and rotational grazing and with the addition of Tanaka, the bull, hopefully the beef enterprise will start to gain some momentum. The turkeys also come to mind, a later addition to the flock, in order to provide a great meal come thanksgiving. They are aggressive foragers and hardy birds, and I always seem to find myself amazed at how eagerly they await their twice daily fresh salad bar of pasture; they even prefer it to the free choice feed always available.
Four Corners Farm sure is a well-rounded farm, but always striving to improve and produce great quality, clean food for the local area. Four Corners will be missed, but we look forward to carrying the vision forward in the future.