Four little piglets came home to Howell Farm on Wednesday, August 25, 2010. Farmer Jim McDonough, who specializes in pig care at Howell Farm, picked up the piglets Wednesday morning and arrived at Howell Farm at 10:00 a.m. The pigs are friendly and curious but very shy. Already this morning they have been viewed by many visitors and are quickly adjusting to the lime light.
The piglets are a cross between a landracer and a duroc. As weaned piglets they are not nursing from their mother and will be fed by Howell Farm’s farmers with bread and milk until they can handle corn feed and vegetable/fruit scraps.
Howell Farm took advantage of the low pond waters to dredge its spring fed pond. Several inches of muck and scum were scraped from the bottom in order to create healthier and deeper water. This will allow pond life a friendlier habitat and hopefully improve the ice formation during the winter so that Howell Farm can harvest the ice.
Great Blue Herons are among the many wildlife that make Howell Farm’s pond their home. Fish, frogs, ducks, turtles, and of course Howell Farm’s Toulouse geese also enjoy the pond.
Howell Farm has fared relatively well during this summer drought. Where as some nearby farmer’s corn has shriveled and turned pale green, Howell Farm’s sweet corn, popcorn, dent corn, and Indian corn has only slightly wilted. The leaves remain green and ears of corn are slowly maturing. This is attested to the fact that it was planted in the bottom land and fine soil of Hunter’s field and the Market Garden.
Pumpkins have also done very well compared to previous years at Howell Farm. Farm manager Gary Houghton says that the dryness has kept mildew away that ruined last year’s pumpkin crop.
However, the drought has taken its toll in the South Crop Fields (see crop map) where the soil contains more shale. Crops like Timothy hay that is expected to regrow after the first hay cutting withered out, “but some of the deeply-rooted weeds like Canada thistle have [not]” says farmer Rob Flory. A turn-of-the-century solution: on Saturday, August 7 farmer Ian Ferry drove horses Jack & Chester as they pulled a 1918 McCormick #6 sickle bar mower and cut the thistles. Thistles and weeds are not easily stopped and will require much of the farmers’ time to keep them from taking over the crop fields.
On Saturday, July 31 Howell Farm hosted its 3rd annual 4-H Fair. The day was full of festivities and family fun, however farming must go on and the spelt needed to be threshed.
The newly restored threshing floor housed a large antique thresher, proudly proclaiming its manufacturing origin of Trenton, NJ. Spelt and other summer grains were bountiful due to the dry conditions; there is no great loss without some small ‘grain’.
Intern Christie Naylor and Farmer Rob Flory (on wagon) pitch spelt sheavesThreshing removes the seeds from the stalk and usually separates the husk and chaff as well, however in the case of spelt the husk is left on since it is difficult to remove and as it offers valuable fiber for the animals consuming it. Farmer Rob Flory, interns Christie Naylor and Daniel Bailey operated the thresher run by a Galloway gas engine (c. 1910) to thresh out the bumper spelt crop.
Spelt is used primarily for Howell Farm’s horses as it is a gluten free substitute for wheat. Though massive and strong, horses have delicate stomachs that cannot handle much glutenous substance. Spelt also produces particularly fine straw that is long and golden, which makes it easy to bind into sheaves while in the field. The straw is being stored loosely in Howell Farm’s hay mow in the Horse Barn.
The remainder of Howell Farm’s spelt will be threshed during Howell Farm’s Fall Festival event October 2 & 3.
Howell Farm has long awaited the arrival of its milk cow. Daisy, a three year old Jersey cow who spent her first two years at Howell Farm, finally arrived Wednesday, July 28, 2010.
Also with Daisy are two adorable bull calves. These calves are not Daisy’s but are Holsteins being fostered by her. The bulls will only be at Howell Farm for a short time, once Daisy has weaned them they will return to the dairy farm where they were born.
Daisy is a milking cow and has already given birth to two calves of her own. However, at this time Howell Farm will not be milking her for human use; Daisy’s milk will be solely used for nursing calves. “We are working on our milking technique,” farmer Rob Flory states, “and hope to one day have public milking demonstrations.”
To see video of the new arrivals, click here: “Daisy The Cow & Calves”
Eric Houghton,Tim Ferry and Jayme Ferry survey maze points.Howell Farm’s annual corn maze has been cut into shape. This year’s design reflects the farm’s soon to be most recent addition, a milk cow! The maze was cleverly patterned by artist Mary Watson and then transcribed into a maze map complete with sattelite data points by maze technician Matt Miller.
The maze cut was scheduled for July, 24. Typically the maze cut happens to fall on the hottest and most humid day of the year. This year was no exception, with a heat index of 104 degrees and 60% humidity, volunteers and staff in the sunny maze field showed their dedication for the longest running corn maze in New Jersey.
How do they make the cut?
Surveyors’ flags and baling twine mark pathways.The cutting of the maze began a few days before when surveyors Tim Ferry and Eric Houghton sighted 200 of the 767 points that mark each bend and turn of the maze.
Volunteer Colleen Ferry uproots corn.The remaining points were mapped on Saturday, beginning at 6:00a.m. as volunteers, staff, and several of Howell Farm’s trustees removed corn from the marked paths by hoes and hand pulling.
Howell Farm staff Matt Schofield and volunteer Lisa Schofield read map.Surveyors’ flags and twine were laid down by mapholders to clearly define pathways.
Howell Farm offers free hayrides this Saturday, July 24 evening 5:00pm-8:00pm! Under sweltering heat, even the rugged farmers seek for the relief of the cooler evenings to do their work. The hayrides leave the barnyard about every twenty-five minutes and give passengers a round trip around the farm by the pond, crop fields, streams, bridges, and barns of Howell Farm. Plus, you can enjoy a marshmellow roast while viewing the peaceful scenery.