Hello everyone! I know we often blog about what is happening with Tillers on the international front, but we thought you might also enjoy hearing about what goes on here at the Cooks Mill Learning Center (CMLC) in Scotts, Michigan. I will be giving you weekly updates about what we are doing here at Tillers during the 2016 growing season. I hope you will enjoy reading this and visit us too!
It is the first week of March and spring is on its way. This week, Tillers welcomed 3 of our 4 interns for the 2016 growing season (March-November). Ian is joining us from Missouri, Ivy from Vermont and Lauren is local, from Kalamazoo, Michigan. Ian and Ivy have settled into their summer residence at the Mill House here at CMLC while Lauren will be commuting from Kalamazoo. Be sure to check out our upcoming newsletter and read each of their bios. It should be a great year working on the farm in collaboration with Ian, Ivy and Lauren.
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With spring right around the corner, there is much preparation to be done on the farm. We work in all weather and this week was a good example. We had a snow storm blow in on Tuesday that dumped 9 inches of snow over the course of 48 hours and temperatures were in the low 20’s. We took advantage of the ground being frozen and moved one of our heavier chicken houses into a fenced area so we could transfer our 106 pullet (egg-layers) chicks from the house to their outdoor palace as they are finally feathered enough to be outdoors. HOORAY! We also frost seeded some Red Clover in our pastures and crop fields to act as both a cover crop and add diversity to our grazing fields.The interns had the opportunity to learn how to drive a team of oxen for the first time. They learned how to put on an ox yoke and use different implements with them. With the ground frozen, we were able to use our ox team, Castor and Pollux to do a bit of logging around the property.
Thursday afternoon, our interns were given a wonderful tour of our museum by Jim Slining, our Museum and Collections Coordinator. For any of you who have not visited the Tillers Museum, I encourage you to do so. We have a beautiful collection representing America’s agricultural history and Jim has a plethora of knowledge to offer. http://tillersinternational.org/our-work/museum/
When Friday arrived, the temperature started to rise again into the high 30’s, the day started out very foggy and frost covered the entire farm, it was quite stunning. As the sun burned off the fog, it gave way to a beautiful and sunny day. Anna Dirkse, our Farm and Internship Coordinator and Duane Westrate, one of our board members, taught the interns how to properly harness our Belgian draft horses in order to learn some ground driving. Each intern had a turn harnessing the horses and then driving them around the farm yard. Once each intern proved to be capable of ground driving, a forecart was attached to our drafting team and the interns and Anna spent a few hours cutting through the fresh snow and giving Tom and Prince some much need exercise.
This has been a fun recap of the first week of March at Cooks Mill Learning Center. We look forward to sharing with you what next week has in store. Stay tuned!