We were thankful to have over three inches of rain by breakfast time on Wednesday, July 6, at Stratford Ecological Center on Liberty Road. Of course, we were more than happy to have brought in 1,800 hay bales during the previous two weeks. This was a record due to the earlier tropical weather, resulting in a thick biomass with good nutritional value.
Two thirds of the hay came from fields planted in a mixture of grasses, as well as clover and alfalfa. The remainder was from spelt. We no longer have a combine so the spelt was cut green, when the nutrients are still contained in the stalk. As the stalks lay on the ground, they very quickly turned a bright yellow, surprising everyone with their stunning color.
The farm campers are enjoying themselves and learning a lot, according to emails received from their parents. The children eagerly share their day and talk about the farm animals and the food web, and they spend their evening singing camp songs. A member of the Book Talk group enjoyed herself as she sat under the patio watching campers scurry around preparing for the Friday farm market; but they become diverted and joined in a spontaneous game on the lawn and gave into the desire to climb a tree.
As I took a moment to stand still and look around at the burgeoning vegetables, fruits and flowers in the Children’s Garden, I remembered a quote from a 10-year-old student sitting in her magic spot: “You can see amazing things when you take the time to look.” I saw that the tall king grass inside the gate had not been dug out as I had thought in early spring, only heavily pruned. The first sweet raspberries were hiding in the leaves, and I sampled one! I recognized it was going to be a good season for blackberries. The small circular flower bed that we try so hard to keep weeded, was full of bright perennials, including the orange butterfly milkweed, beebalm, Queen Ann’s lace, culver’s root, and golden rod.
A bull calf was born to a Red Devon crossed with a Jersey on June 28. She had a calf last year on July 29. She certainly conceived more quickly than expected while nursing a calf! Farmer Jeff continues to constrain the number of our goats. Four male and one female kid plus two cross-bred nannies were recently delivered to United Producers in Fredericktown for auction. The nannies offspring were not as sturdy as we would like them to be, and a decision was made not to breed from them again.
A group of Boy Scouts heard about our stocked pond and really wanted to come out to fish. Farmer Jeff agreed on the condition they pick up the loose hay after the recent baling and throw it on the wagon. A win, win situation, and the boys enjoyed a real hayride sitting on top of their efforts! The farmhands forked the hay into the baler, and we have nine extra bales for the winter.
Last September our 10th Enchanted Evening dinner/gala fundraiser was held at the Columbus Zoo. The evening included a live auction when “activities” rather than “material items” were popular. One was a family “Farm Fantasy Day” at Stratford. The winner waited to bring his family out this year and came on July 10. Their day started with farm chores, followed by a hayride to the pond and instruction on fishing. They had grilled hamburgers and fixings for lunch and spent the afternoon meeting our bees in hives scattered around the farm.
Tickets are now available online for this year’s Enchanted Evening fundraiser “Celebrating Stratford’s Past, Present and Future,” on Thursday, Aug. 25 from 4:30-9:30 p.m., once again at the Columbus Zoo Africa Event Center. We appreciate the sponsorships from Waller Financial Planning Group, Richwood Bank, and Grief. It is always exciting to share the evening with our many supporters, and we hope you can join us.
Pauline Scott is a farm and nature guide at Stratford Ecological Center, 3083 Liberty Road, Delaware. She can be reached at 740-363-2548 or by email at [email protected] Website: StratfordEcologicalCenter.org.