Summer in the north country always goes by quickly. Before we know it the nights get chilly and leaves begin changing. By mid September, fall is very much in the air. As the season comes to an end we're thinking back to what was a very pleasant summer, sprinkled with visits from family and friends.
There was a heat wave in late July but otherwise the weather here in Central Maine was seasonal: warm days with plenty of sunshine and timely rains. No damaging storms or flooding.
When dividing up the summer pasture for rotational grazing we always do so keeping shade availability in mind. Certainly during the hottest days the cattle are a bit more lazy than usual and for a large portion of the day, seek the shade to lay down and relax in. I can relate...after chores I like to lay in the hammock under the canopy of the sugar maples in the back yard and just take it easy.
We got our second batch of free range meat chickens in early July and they are a very outgoing group. We get them started free ranging as soon as possible, usually by 3-4 weeks old. It is always so interesting to witness how instinctual it is for them to identify food sources: certain grasses, bugs (some more tasty than others evidently), garden scraps in compost. They have been very impressive with the distance they travel in the pasture, forest edge, yard and wetland to find a meal. They are instrumental in helping us with natural pest control as are prior batches of chickens we've raised, but this group in particular.
The garden has done well this year, especially hot peppers, sweetcorn and tomatoes. The Colorado Potato Beetle was an issue and the pesky hornworms made life difficult for a few weeks. Mechanical removal is an organic practice that works well for both pests. Meaning...picking them off with our hands!
Creating more grazing ground for our herd is a high priority in summer months. Little by little we are moving into 'where forest meets pasture'. We cut, stack and burn alder and sun-choking brush in what was non-managed forest in the recent past. We leave good standing timber, some dead standing, and use the rest for firewood and brush fire for ash. Our soils are acidic and spreading the ash in the newly cleared areas helps balance soil ph. We then spread seed appropiate for our soil and climate and then....wait patiently.
No doubt the summer is a busy time for everyone and especially those of us in colder climates, preparing for winter and getting all the growing and work in that we can within a short time period. Every season brings something special and the land and animals bring purpose, joy and even entertainment to what we do!