Tales from a Rookie Farmer: Part One
Hello from Root Down Farm! I'm Lucinda, one of Farmer Dede's crew for this farming season. I am going to be posting regular updates about what is going on at the farm up until the end of November. Let me know if there is anything you'd love to know about and I can share my thoughts.
Now, I should let you know that a couple of months ago I was not a farmer. I came to Pescadero on holiday to visit a friend and managed to find myself a new life on the farm. It is a little bit different to my old one in London. So I'm very new to farming and learning a lot every day.
Now, with just a little bit of farming under my belt I am slowly getting into the swing of things. A general day starts with a pre-6am alarm call. With these long days and light mornings all the animals are well and truly ready to get up and amongst it long before the rest of us. Right now we have ducklings (it's a first for Root Down Farm) who never seem to stop eating or growing and two sets of chicks who get to eat first. A quick sprinkling of shavings keeps things fresh in their brooders and heat lamps keep the little ones warm while they get used to the reality of life on the farm. Next it is the turn of our turkeys. They have been in an outdoor coop for a few weeks and last week we let them out for the first time, doubling up the electric fence so that the little ones can't push through. It took them a little while to get up the courage to explore outside the coop and now seem to be enjoying life outdoors in the sunshine.
Next up come the pigs. We have four sets, of varying heritage breeds and various ages. All of them really like feeding time. The secret to feeding without getting overwhelmed by the overexcited pigs is bending your knees so if you get one between the legs you are less likely to end up on your back! The pigs get a dietary supplement of organic fruits and vegetables from Pescadero locals Blue House Farm. They particularly like the sweetness of the strawberries.
At Root Down Farm the animals come first so once everyone is fed I get to make my own breakfast and take a minute to sit down with a cup of tea.
The afternoons are made up of project work, which might be cleaning a coop if chickens have gone for processing, or setting up a brooder for new chicks arriving, or picking up vegetables and brewers grain for the pigs or more shavings to line the coops. There is rarely a time when we have nothing to do, the animals's areas are constantly moving to have less of an impact on the soil so that always keeps us busy, or something needs fixing or organizing. And we have to keep an eye on the animals, making sure that everyone has food and water and hosing down the pigs, which they love, particularly if it is a hot day.
Around 5pm the pigs get another feed and then finally the bulk of the work is done for the day. It is time to relax, take a shower, go for a run and make dinner, and enjoy the beautiful setting the farm is in.
Now comes the really challenging part - staying up until it gets dark! I often have a quick nap or lie down at least, setting my alarm so that I can put the laying hens and turkeys in for the night. Then it is straight to bed for me too, and we'll start again tomorrow!
So that gives you an idea of the daily tasks. In my next installment I look forward to letting you know about more elements of life at Root Down. See you then!