Taking a Time Out at Stratford Ecological CenterSeptember 20, 2014
Stratford Volunteers Scurry to Harvest VegetablesNovember 15, 2014
Published in The Delaware Gazette: October 16, 2014
With the fall leaf color reaching its peak at Stratford Ecological Center on Liberty Road, it is a good time to take a ride down the tree-lined lane to the farm and nature center. The beauty of the arching trees makes one forget the effort and time it takes to navigate the seemingly endless road construction going on in our county.
There was a good turn out for our annual Harvest Fair on the last Saturday in September. The weather was perfect, and I watched with pleasure, and a touch of surprise, that there was breeze enough to make kite flying easy in the children’s activity area. I was amused when I noticed education intern Erica Kazi’s innocent expression as she allowed “Starvin’ Marvin,” our hand-raised kid buck, a long leash. They wandered between the straw bales as families listened to the musicians, and naturally Marvin tucked his nose under unsuspecting arms or poked at pockets. The victims quickly turned, but on meeting Marvin with his soft brown coat and big eyes, they instantly forgave him.
Our “Messages from the Earth” program for 5th graders is well underway. They spend two days with us in the fall, one in the winter and two in the spring reinforcing the lessons learned in school. They “get it” better in their outdoor classroom.
Volunteer leader Lew Fikes knew exactly what he was doing when he said to his group, “I want you to engage in a counter cultural activity.” He explained their next activity was “Magic Spot,” when they choose a special place and sit quietly by themselves. This is not something that happens much in our society and yet it is ok to be quiet. In fact Mr. Lew strongly believes that sometimes it is good for all of us to “don’t do something, just sit.” Despite their teacher’s doubts, the children sat still for twenty-five minutes, and “Magic Spot” continues to be the most popular activity of the day.
A number of people and companies were involved in the financing and installation of two educational rain gardens at Stratford on September 20. The project has been in the planning process all year, and the desire to help has steadily risen. People see a rain garden as a way to clean storm run off before it reaches our lakes, rivers and drinking water.
The smaller garden is situated below the patio fireplace. The bigger one is on the south side of the large machine shed. The roof run off is diverted into a 1,000 gallon black tank. This slows down the flow and provides a source of water for the nearby vegetable garden and our livestock, should the pump stop working. The installation of a solar panel would prevent the water from freezing in the winter. The overflow from the tank runs into a deep elongated trench. Attractive dark red stepping stones line the middle and cover a deep layer of compost, which can hold ten times its volume in water. Visitors may walk on the stones to explore the edible plantings, including black chokeberry, cut leaf elderberry, Serviceberry, strawberry and mint.
A free workshop entitled “Gardening for Clean Water” is planned for Saturday, November 15, with registration, coffee and donuts at 8 am, followed by a variety of talks and a Q & A session until noon. Many of our collaborators and sponsors will be on hand and there will be exhibit and literature tables. We are extremely grateful to these supportive folks, especially to our primary sponsor, Delco Water Supply Company. Please come to the Workshop to meet, and learn, from all these generous people.
The past month, with longer periods of drier weather than we experienced all summer, has caused me to eat my words about not filling our hay loft this year! We were able to bale good quality hay from fields 1 & 2, parts of 3 & 4 and 8 & 9 and definitely feel like “we are in clover.” In early October the south end of field 2 and half of field 7 were planted in spelt, and it is already up after only one rain. The rest of field 7 was planted last Monday morning with a cover crop of rye.
Our ram is running with the ewes, but Gunther our buck is biding his time until we allow him to join the nanny goats. It makes life so much easier if we can spread the birthing season.
We have purchased four feeder pigs. They are a cross between red Duroc and white Yorkshire, with the possibility of a spotted Poland China somewhere in the genes. They will feed out well on our windfall apples, and a combination of corn and minerals. They are still young enough to play with in the pen, and they run after tossed corn cobs as well as any dog! It is great to have such fun animals once again on the farm.
There are eight less roosters around after Tuesday’s delivery to the Ostrander processor. Two year old high stepper Fabio was among them. Enough is enough, but we still have one Wyandot Silver Lace, one Silky white and two bantam roosters, with Ralph being the nicer, in the orchard with the laying hens. We hope a visit to Stratford makes your calendar to enjoy the leaf color and our new arrivals.
Pauline Scott is a farm and nature guide at Stratford Ecological Center, 3083 Liberty Road, Delaware, Ohio, 43015, Tel. 740 363 2548. Email StratfordCenter@aol.com or visit our web site at StratfordEcologicalCenter.org