a little back story over the next couple days, as i visited some sites formative to the adventure we are on.
a trip to the eastern shore is incomplete without a trip to see my mentor and friend jay. i spent a couple of seasons working for him, first at his greenhouse operation and market garden, then helping to take down and move his greenhouses, and start up a csa. i can’t say enough good things about jay, he is one of the most innovative farmers i know, has a huge caring heart, really has a gift with words (as his wife kathy once said, he didn’t kiss the blarney stone, he ate it), and is well read and research on all aspects of sustainable agriculture. i feel lucky to have been able to spend the time i did with him, learning so much about myself and farming. even though i’ve never had any formal education in agriculture i feel as though i’m about as well educated as those that have been to formal programs. i can count one hand the people who truly changed me as a person, and jay is certainly among them.
jay is not without his difficulties and few have made it though a full season working with him, he can be irritable, impatient, stubborn, and downright mean at times. but he is fully aware of these things, and i genuinely think he works to reduce these traits in himself, many would just accept themselves and move on.
aside from the need to check in and chat, a trip to his farm is always worth it to see what new innovations jay has been adding to his repertoire.
this guy is a mobile chicken pen which jay claims costs about 200 dollars and takes under a day to build. it can support up to 50 meat birds, not seen in this picture is the tarping that goes over half of the structure to give the chickens shade and shelter from the rain, the waterer and the feeders. it could be moved by one or two people or with a tractor, as jay does. it seemed to me that if you just threw some plastic overtop of these they could become a pretty simple greenhouse, and if you had doors on either end, you could link them all together. the chickens that jay had been using for forage go under several names, but the most common was the red ranger, pretty good foragers and come to weight relatively well. this last year he has grown and processed 700 birds, and plans to continue expanding that, planting pasture out in the fields for him to forage. he can’t keep up with demand for them, it seems it will be some time before the market is saturated with free range meats.
jay had also constructed this yurt.
i didn’t think i’d be posting so soon again about a yurt. this guy is much bigger than the one we stayed in, 24 feet across, and at least 12 feet high, and was manufactured by blue ridge yurts. jay’s brother in law bob was staying in this along with his dogs. it was being wired for electric, internet, shower, and a composting toilet. this yurt also housed a secret.
around the back dug out of the side of the hill is a root cellar.
the root cellar is full of sweet potatoes right now. the eastern shore summers are pretty much miserable, hot, extremely humid and full of all kinds of biting insects. with this knowledge and experience he is focusing on trying to farm more on the winter harvest and less on the summer. between high tunnels, quick hoops, greenhouse, and the root cellar he can focus on the time that is more comfortable to farm, and the time when the market has less competition. to learn more about the csa jay is a part of check out this website. here is one last view of the farm showing the high tunnel, the propagation greenhouse, and chickens. the market gardens are planted to the right of the high tunnel and the main acreage is over the ridge to the left of the propagation greenhouse.