Bumblebee on a pumpkin flower

Farm and Field Today: August

August is a transitional month here at the farm. The planting is done and we are starting to focus on our big fall season. The days are long and hot, but our minds are looking ahead to October, when most of our visitors come to the farm. In addition to the fall Pumpkin Patch, Corn Maze, and other fall activities, we also greet quite a few kids and teachers to our Pumpkin Farm Tours.

I am writing this in January instead of late August as I intended. Although I took the photographs, I somehow never found the time to write this up. Here is a bit of what happened on the farm in August.

Theodora & Lucy - Angora goats
Theodora & Lucy – Angora goats

We expanded our little herd with two Angora goats, Theodora and Lucy. Yes, these are goat and not sheep. And yes, these are the animals that produce the luxurious Angora wool. Theodora and Gregor, one of our Kinder goats, were highlights of our Pumpkin Tours, while Lucy joined the other goats and the alpacas, meeting the visitors to our Farmyard.

Little Bob, our new office cat.
Little Bob, our new office cat.

Little Bob also joined us in August. Here he is at about six weeks old. He is quite a bit bigger now as I write this in January, but he is still an adorable cat. Most days Little Bob travels with us from home to the office and back. While he is part of our farm life and a staff favorite, he is not seen by most visitors, since he stays indoors.

A pumpkin growing on the vine
A pumpkin growing on the vine

In August we start to get a feel for how successful our harvest will be. I poke around the fields, checking on how the pumpkins, squash, and gourds are coming along. We are still weeding the vining crops in early August, but by the end of the month the vines have spread out so far that we have to stop weeding for fear of damaging the plants. Here we see Khaki, a pumpkin we grow for the seeds. Khaki has seeds without hulls!

Final modifications to the 2014 maze.
Final modifications to the 2014 maze.

We open the Sunflower / Corn Maze in late August, the peak time for the sunflowers. I designed our Chicken Walk Maze after a photograph I took of one of our chickens. While designing the maze I move back a forth from hand drawing to editing on the computer. Here I am making notes for the final tweaking to the maze design. I see several places where I decided the paths were too close to each other. I use the little dial device to estimate the length of the path.

Preparing the sunflower corn maze
Preparing the sunflower corn maze

Here we see the big maze as it nears completion. We were very pleased at the growth of the sunflowers and corn this year. In the last couple of years the plants in the maze were rather short. This year we moved the maze to a new field and lavished the soil with compost, granite dust, humates, and fertilizer. I devoted quite a bit of crew time to hand weeding. And this year the July and August weather was much more suited to growing corn and sunflowers.

Enrique at the maze entrance
Enrique at the maze entrance

Our field crew enjoys the wide variety of tasks I ask them to accomplish. One day they may be weeding, the next grooming paths in the corn maze, harvesting herbs, or building and painting sign posts. I asked Enrique to stand in the corn maze entrance so I could show the height of the corn. Enrique chose to pose with the signpost that he had just installed.

Today is a bright and sunny January day, but the gloom and rain is forecast to return soon. In January I am mostly planning for the year and getting outside for a bit of work when I can. This time of year I enjoy looking back to those long hot August days, when you could almost see the pumpkin vines crawling across the field and the corn stalks reaching to the sky.