Changing seasons, changing pace

Autumn seems to creep up on us here at Merck Forest. The first “smell” of it usually comes in the late summer, and we’ve already had several nights that dip down to the freezing point. Appearance-wise, it looks like fall is just about to take off.

 

The apples are still ripe and hanging onto the trees. They started to come out in mid-August, and now the trees are heavy with the fruit.
The apples are still ripe and hanging onto the trees. They started to come out in mid-August, and now the trees are heavy with the fruit.

The leaves are really starting to change their guises. On the radio this morning, the host announced that the upper elevations might see peak foliage later this week into next.

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With the colder air becoming more of the daily norm, grasses are not growing as quickly. The farm staff worked last Thursday and Friday to prepare and hay several of the pastures, which never had their second cut. The summer’s rainy weather, and MFFC events, held back some of the haying season, but now it must be done before the vegetation withers.

Emilie, apprentice, and Sarah, Education Director, took turns tossing bales of hay to the back of the flatbed.
Emilie, apprentice, and Sarah, Education Director, took turns tossing bales of hay to the back of the flatbed.

Haying is a necessity for a farm that strives to be as self-sufficient as possible. The hay that was cut earlier in the season, and again now, will feed the sheep and horses through the 6 months of winter. Once the first real frosts come, the animals will not be able to graze on pasture, and the farm staff will have to carry hay to the flock.

While we welcome the changing aesthetics of the forest, the shifting seasons make for a change in operations at the farm as well.