Breakneck Hill Farm will continue to have at least a few cows. Here are the last couple belties with Peter displaying his impressive rack.
Here is Henry and Bristol hanging out in the cows paddock.
In New England there is no shortage of rocks. There is a shortage of soil though. One solution is to build raised beds. Using wooden forms presents the problem of what type of wood to use. If you use untreated wood, the boards will only last a few years. If you use pressure treated there is a certain toxicity that must be accepted. By using stone to build the beds we solve two problems. We’ve removed the stones from one place they were unwanted and we create a raised bed that is rot resistant and very flexible. This space was some of the worse soil on the property. By raising the soil by 6-8 inches we’ve now added about 200 square feet of growing space. In addition to the cow and chicken manure that has been added to this new bed, I planted black locust trees behind it. Black locust is a member of the pea family meaning it is a nitrogen fixer. Not only during the short growing season a pea might have but for most of the year. Black locust is also one of the most under-utilized woods. It is very strong and one of the most rot resistant woods that grow in this climate. At some point the trees will be harvested and used for other projects. Permaculture is about utilizing local and multifunction resources.
The raspberry patch has given us many gallons of raspberries over the last 9 years but it was finally time to renovate the space. So it was mowed and manure from both the cows and chicken coops was spread over the grass and weeds. Now we have begun the process of sheet mulching with cardboard and then covering it in wood chips. The cardboard is free from recycling and the wood chips were dropped off from a tree service in my next door neighbors yard. The goal is to utilize local resources as much as possible. All three components, manure, cardboard and wood chips are considered waste and would need energy exerted to deal with them. By changing the paradigm and looking at how can these be used as resources we are now able to suppress grass and weeds and build soil. This area will eventually be planted with food crops. This is how permaculture works. Changing the problem into the solution.
Last year it was impossible to do any more than maintain the animals. This years mild weather has allowed me to keep the barn and barnyard clean and fertilize the garden at the same time. Here manure has been brought to the garden in small piles. It will be be incorporated into the soil before planting.
The newest manure will be put into these simple compost bins and utilized during the season to add fertility.