Scattergood Farm is part of Scattergood Friends Quaker School in West Branch, Iowa. This weekend, four University of Iowa students went out to the farm with Laura to work. In exchange for our work, the farmer will give LFC credit towards CSA share purchases in the future.
~~Jonathan & Megan’s work~~
Jonathan & Megan worked on building a roof for a trailer. The farmer, Mark Quee, wants to use the trailer to carry chickens and hens out to the fields for grazing. The trailer will be hitched onto the back of a tractor. The roof is being made of a torn-down wood table from a barn and sheets of siding from an old shed.
Mark especially wants to release the chickens in the fields in which his small cow herd (ruminants) recently grazed. Organic farmers like Mark follow a pasturing method for grazing animals called “rotational grazing.”
For definitions, see: http://www.sustainabletable.org/intro/dictionary/#r and http://www.ecohealth101.org/glossary.html#R
If a farmer kept his cattle or sheep in one field all year round, allowing them to eat all the grasses planted there, the field would be destroyed. The animal’s teeth would cut the grasses so close to the ground, and their feet would trod on the grasses so heavily, that the grasses could not grow back. Additionally, as the grasses died, the soil would begin to erode.
So a farmer cordons off sections of his field. He only allows the animals to graze in one section at a time, and only for a short period. This way, the grasses have time to recover. By growing grasses that his animals can eat, Mark saves money because he doesn’t have to purchase as much grain from other farms to feed them as he would otherwise.
Farmer Mark plans on releasing chickens into a section of his field once the cow herd is finished with it. The main purpose of this activity is to allow the chickens to eat the maggots which grow in cow poop (lucky chickens!!). The maggots are good protein for the chickens. In addition, if the chickens did not eat the maggots at their young stage in life, the maggots would grow to flies that would bite and pester the cows, even potentially causing eye damage.
~~Angie & Marlena’s Work~~
A. Angie & Marlena gathered tree limbs and branches from a field and sorted them into two piles – one pile for burning as a bonfire in the fields, and one pile for use in a wood stove (located in a house lived in by one of the farm hands), a fire place (located in the school) and a kiln (located near the school and used once a year to fire the large number of pottery items made by the schools’ students).
B. Angie & Marlena harvested mache and spinach greens from the hoop house on the farm. The students and staff at the school will be enjoying these greens in their meals this week. Most of the produce grown on the farm is used in the school cafeteria.
For a definition of mache, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mache
Greenhouses & hoop houses help farmers “extend the season”by allowing farmers to grow certain crops under the protection of the structure during colder weather. The crop would not survive in the open air otherwise. Mache and spinach are two examples of crops that grow well in greenhouses during most of the cold Iowa winter months.
For a definition of season extension, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Season_extension
Season extension allows people in Iowa to eat local foods during more months of the year than would be possible if the crops were only grow outdoors.
C. Angie & Marlena repaired holes in hoses. (holy hoses?!) Water released through holes in hoses is wasted and costs the farmer money. Holes can lower the pressure of the water going through the hoses. Also, this water can pool up in undesired places causes mud puddles and soil erosion.