Casey O’Neill is a cannabis and food farmer in Mendocino County who has been writing newsletters about his efforts to provide sustainable produce and marijuana. We feature his column once a week.
The farm has never looked so green in the middle of July as we turn the corner from planting summer crops and begin looking down the fall stretch. The last of the winter squash will go in today along with the final sowing of beans. One row of cucumbers remains to be sown in the hoophouse for a late run of cool and tasty fall crunchiness.
With three 100’ rows of summer squash in full production I’m harvesting a hundred pounds or so of them on each of our two weekly market days. We transplanted out two more rows this past week, and I’m wondering if we may have overdone it on squash this year, but feed costs have gone up so much that I can’t afford to feed a ration of storeboughts to raise pigs. They love summer squash as much as anything, and it makes me feel good to see how happy they are with big zucchinis that no one wants to buy.
I planted more pumpkins this year than we have ever grown before with the expectation that they’ll provide winter food for pigs. Last year we had some that kept through the end of February, so my expectation is that between pumpkins and the dropped apples we gather from our trees and other local orchards we should be able to feed the pigs most of the way through the winter until the spring brassica plantings start to kick in.
Pigs love brassica leaves, and we have an abundance of cabbage plants that come out with the harvest of the heads, along with broccoli, romanesco, cauliflower and in late spring the spent brussel sprouts. I’m also thinking about growing the large sugar beets, forage turnips and maybe some rutabagas for winter feeding. There are so many possibilities to explore and I delight in the novelty and newness along with the cost savings in feed.
We have 40 rabbits contained and one escapee on farm today. We’ve been keeping rabbits for years, at first in smaller, individual cages, and now in larger enclosures that provide more freedom and interaction. We keep males and females in separate pens except for during breeding times.
After a few unsuccessful breeding attempts in which we put one male and one female together for a short period, I just put the big male into the female enclosure and left him there for a week. The bottom of the pen is lined with chicken wire, but I should have used more durable wire because the rabbits manage to dig through it to tunnel and burrow.