Michaela Farm, embodying the Franciscans spirit, nurtures sustainable relationships among land, plants, animals and humans, and utilizes farm resources to fulfill its goals.
FARM NEWS for November
What happens on farms when cold weather sets in? Many city folks think farming activities cease, but that is a myth. Farmers work year-round, just like other workers. Animals still need care and feeding and fencing needs repairing. And while nothing much can grow in winter months, gardeners are busy closing garden beds, planting cover crops, cleaning and repairing equipment and greenhouse material and planning for the following season. They also now have time to make sauces, jams and jellies with frozen fruits and vegetables.
In the past few years, Michaela Farm's gardeners experimented with ways to extend the growing season well into January by using low tennels. Sisters taking meals in the Convent Dining Room benefitted with fresh lettuce last December and January and soon after that the over-wintered spinach appeared at the salad bar. S. Marie Nett and Becky Miller also started onions in low tunnels last winter and harvested larger than usual sizes at least one month prior to regular August onion harvest time.
Broccoli, beets and lettuce are still available in the farm store as well as kale and Swiss Chard until it is time to plant cover crops in those beds. Meat cuts, eggs, and dried herbs can be purchased along with a variety of canned goods made in the farm's kitchen. Continue to visit the farm's website and Facebook to find current farm store items.
In case you're wondering where all the farm produce is sold, here is what Becky figured using the gross sales for the many markets that buy Michaela Farm produce.
30% - Farm Fresh CSA (MF's participation in Laughery Valley Growers Coop.)
20% - Motherhouse Food Service
14% - Farm Store produce
11% - Greensburg Farmers' Market
5% - Canned Goods and transplants
3% - Bulk-dried herbs - 4%; and retail packaged dried herbs
4% - Online sales (LVG Coop's website)
2% - Restaurant sales
1% - Batesville Food Pantry
Chris Merkel hopes to keep cattle on pasture until mid-November. When these animals graze grass closer to the ground, new spring growth is more lush. While the farm's hay production was not sufficient to hold cattle through the winter months, this year's situation is just the opposite. The barn is full of 60 bales of dried hay with another 230 round bales wrapped in plastic outside the barn that was created from the tender spring cuttings. This hay, know as silage, is a moist green hay which is a definite treat for cattle in winter months! Currently there are seventy animlas on the farm including twenty calves born in 2013 with two more expected. Chickens are housed in their winter quarters and are still laying eggs. Egg sales this year was the best ever!
Trails in the woods have been well-maintained, but five inches of rain fell on October 6th and washed out the bridge across the creek near San Damiano. The bridge is still there, but it is now parallel to the creek. Until the bridge can be repaired or replaced by another Eagle Scout project, the only accessible trail for hiking would be the one just north of the retreat cottage, unless winter precipitation lowers the creek level and permits rock-hopping across the stream!
-excerpts from Community News by Claire Whalen, osf
Other Farm News
The Council has approved an initial experiment in rainwater harvesting for Michaela Farm. A number of 55 gallon rain barrels will be used to harvest water from the Antonia House roof and garage for use on the herb gardens and in the Antonia House garden used by the residents of La Clare House. Current plans are to have the system operational in time to harvest some of the spring rains.
Merging agriculture, education and spirituality, Michaela Farm builds on and enfleshes the Franciscan value of "just relationships with all Creation." This value is core to our attitudes toward Earth and is a source of inspiration and motivation for our work. We express this value by these actions:
- Simple living
- Seeing all (creation) as "kin"
- Respectful use of resources
- Striving for sustainability
- Gratitude, hospitality and sharing
Michaela Farm is located among the rolling hills of Southeastern Indiana.