Friday, June 30, 2006
I was out behind the barn washing the leafy green veggies and herbs this morning watching the barn swallows swoop over the pond getting bugs and bringing them back to their babies in the barn. It was a nice sight. The swallows were a bit perturbed that I was standing kind of in front of their doorway but would make it in to feed their progeny. We did not have barn swallows at the Crubaugh Rd farm because we had no barns. Farming without a barn is not an easy task and I don't know how we got along for over 10 years. I guess we just didn't know what we were missing and made do with what we had. Namely a house stuffed full of farming paraphernalia and no good place to do the cleaning and packing chores. We also had 2 Small sheds stuffed to the rafters with tillers, crates, row covers, irrigation tape, a forge, tools, hoes, chicken feed, fire wood, mowers, seed starting flats, compost, peat moss, flower pots, chicken crates, plastic sheeting for hoophouses, hoophouse supports, wire row cover hoops and many other items. Enough items to pretty much fill up a large bank barn. I do not know how we managed to cram all that stuff into the limited space we had but we did. I am so glad we now have enough space to do what we do for a living.
I am glad we own our own land and that we have such a pretty piece of land, at that. We have one of the most beautiful views I have ever encountered. We are on a high point (the top of the 40' pitch) and see our pond, our hillside covered with wildflowers, day lilies (we brought them from the old place) and waving grass. Beyond that is undulating terrain and large trees. It is simply spectacular and it changes constantly with the seasons and time of day.
And this varied terrain brings in a wide variety of birds. We have a bluebird family, chimney swifts, a kingfisher, many humming birds, several kinds of sparrows, grackles, turkey and black vultures, robins, blue jays, crows, many kinds of hawks, peregrines, chickens (oh wait, those are not wild), tree swallows, chickadees, cardinals, nuthatches, etc.. I suspect we will get ever more birds as they figure out we do not use poisons on our land and we leave areas tall and wild so there is a food supply for the wild life
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Had an eventful weekend. Had friends visit from California and officially opened the Eco-Farm store. Oh and did a farmers' market too boot.
The week end started off early, like a 4:30am saturday morning wake-up call so's we could get everything that needed to be done before leaving for market at 6:30am (and that would be opening/feeding the chickens, packing and loading coolers and crates onto the van, consumption of coffee and breakfast, getting money ready for market, etc..). The day was beautiful, clear and cool with low humidity, which was nice after a very hot humid and rainy week (we got over 5" of rain in 3 days-tropical). Had a good market. Our first customer told us our farm store signage was terribly confusing and wondered if we had had any business and we admitted no not much. She suggested strongly we do something about this situation. She was polite but to the point and right on. It was busy and we sold out of many things though brought back a lot of cukes and snow peas. But than we have been picking a lot of cukes and snow peas the past week. It is their time, it seems. And we did sell a lot of both at market.
On our way home we checked out the Eaton Farmers' market and ran into Maggie Weidick who seems to be the market manager. It was a cute market and I met some nice people there who may sell their things through our store. We were invited to come and set up a table and perhaps we will figure out the logistics of how to do this with out investing in another vehicle (we have a cargo van and a 1987 Mitsubishi Montero which is about the smallest SUV ever made and it does not hold much. Certainly not enough to do a decent farmers' market.). It would be good local exposure for the farm stand that is for sure. I was a bit disturbed that they were allowing reselling. Reselling is not fair to the customers or other farmers who sell only what they grow. But since I am about to become a reseller perhaps I should not be so judgmental. But than again having one's own farm stand is quite a bit different than attending a farmers' market (it's the same, only different). Ended up buying some good hot salsa, a glass of lemonade and some calendula that I will eventually make into a salve for cuts (it's better than Neosporin™ for keeping cuts infection free and killing an infection).
Got home, ate lunch took a nap and than started cleaning the house because my college buddy Julie (Presar) Quinn and her family were due to arrive that evening. While I was cleaning and preparing one of our pastured chickens for dinner, Eugene was out doing something about the signage as was suggested at market. We have a sign that has the farm name, Boulder Belt Eco-Farm but also the words "Opening Soon". We also have a plastic yellow sign with removable letters that sez "Open", the days and hours we are open and "Cukes, Snow and Snap peas" on it. So You can see the confusion. One sign says we will be open sometime in the future and the other says we are open now. A bit of Mineral spirits got rid of the "opening Soon" on one sign and than we set up a small table with a bit of produce (snow peas and cukes) and within 5 minutes got our first customers! Wow. Than 5 minutes after that the Quinn's arrived and we shut down for the day and communed with our left wing liberal friends from Northern California. I do not know why Eugene and I do not move there, The people I know from that region seem so much more reasonable than Midwesterners. It was great to see Julie, Lawrence, and their kids Patrick and Georgie. They have some great kids, I must say. We showed them the garden and chickens, drank beer, ate food, had a fire and talked about all sorts of things that first evening.
Sunday came and they made plans to move on. They had to be in Cleveland by Monday and wanted to go see the Newark Earthworks and Yellow Springs, OH. So we looked at maps and than we women (Me, Julie and Georgie) went to the garden to pick peas and strawberries while the guys fished and played with tools. Around 11am the Quinn's left in a flurry of digital picture taking (their camera not mine which was out of juice) and we set up shop for our first official day of Eco-Farm Store sales.
Eugene set up a table and loaded it with veggies and crafts. I looked at what he had done and grabbed a cooler and some ice packs and a towel (to cover the ice packs) and put all the greens (chard, kale, baby lettuce and arugula) in the cooler so they would not be ruined sitting in 80 Degree heat all afternoon. Than I found our dry erase boards and cleaned them off (let me tell you blue dry erase ink sitting on one of these boards for 2+ years is NOT easy to remove. It took a lot of rubbing alcohol to dissolve the stuff) and put new messages on them about pricing, chickens and the fact we had greens in the cooler. Than I grabbed a couple of the new banners we ordered for the farm store and put those up on the porch supports (one sez "LOCALLY GROWN" and the other sez "FRESH PRODUCE") and than I waited for the crowds. Well we did not get crowds but we did get about 12 people to stop and half of those bought something. We probably would have sold more but I had to leave the store and got harvest a few items mid afternoon and while I was doing that several people stopped but drove on. I am sure they all would have bought something if one of us had been attending to the store. A lot of people were looking for sweet corn and big red slicing tomatoes. Two things that are not ready yet in Ohio.
I sold a lot of cukes, some peas and got a lot of reading done (sitting around waiting for customers to drive up can be deadly boring without some sort of reading material and I have a book I have been working on since October that I will be able to finish in a couple of days of store sittin'). I'd say we had a successful first day of business and it will only get better as we get more items people are looking to buy such as corn, beans and 'Maters.
If you live in the Greater Eaton, OH area stop by any Wed, Thurs, Sat or Sun afternoon/evening and see what we have.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Summer came in with a bang. We awoke to severe thunderstorms this morning that included a 1/2 hour power outage and 2" of rain in under 45 minutes.
When the rain left the heat and humidity set in. It is definitely summer.
I was out picking strawberries, zucchini and cucumbers and after 15 minutes I was drenched with sweat. Not fun. A lot of the garden went under water during the torrential downpour but by noon most of that water had drained out of the garden (this place has excellent drainage, not like the other farm, which would have had standing water for several days after such a storm). This left a lot of the veggies in a muddy state but happy enough.
Summer means that the onions are growing fast, they love the long days and short nights. The garlic has had its' scapes cut (and to the person who got here searching for scape prices, we sell them for $2.50 for a 1/2 pound bag) and now is growing big bulbs. I dug one up this afternoon that had its' greens knocked off (either by Eugene and the weed whacker or a deer) and it was a good size already even though it won't be ready to harvest for another 2 to 4 weeks. The first potato planting is in full flower and that means we will be harvesting them in a few weeks (we have not gotten all our potatoes planted yet, we do our last planting around July 4th) and can start stealing the new potatoes now if we want, though that cuts back on the final harvest since the potatoes taken early do not grow back.
The peas are going nuts. We did 3 plantings and the first two snow peas beds are in full roar with the third flowering heavily but not yet producing peas. The sugar snap peas are bit slower. The first planting is going great guns and the second has skinny peas but the third planting has not yet begun to flower. Picking peas is back bending work and can get old after a few weeks of daily harvesting.
It's summer and the garden is bountiful.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
So I did here are my results (page 1)
Lucy needs gossip
Lucy needs to be bonked
Lucy needs implants (No, I do not!)
Lucy needs a home in Bealeton Virginia (maybe I do?)
Lucy needs help (all I can get)
Lucy needs her birth certificate in order to get her passport (already have one)
Lucy needs some luvin (always)
Lucy needs to make her life as dramatic as possible
Lucy needs to assess what things she likes doing most
Monday, June 19, 2006
Now that the place is clean (I still need to vacuum but that won't take long) I now need products to put in the store. I have honey ordered and will be getting some nice candles from a friend at the farmers' market. I will be asking another friend if she wants to offer her soaps at our store (if she has enough). I an thinking about getting some cookbooks and books about organic/sustainable living in the next few weeks and eventually I would like to offer organic inputs for the local gardeners and farmers. But I think that will be at least a year down the road.
You may be thinking, Lucy, you have a produce farm why not sell what you have? We are selling produce and lots of it at the Oxford farmers' market but have few takers for the on farm sales right now. This is because the things that will pull people in off the road are the trinity of corn, beans and tomatoes, things we do not have yet. The beans are flowering and even have tiny beans on them. Perhaps in a week to 10 days we will have some beans. The early tomatoes are just sitting there all green and getting big but still a couple of weeks from getting anywhere near ripe (why does it take the first tomatoes 4 to 5 years to ripen up and than after they are ripe it takes just hours for the rest to go that way?). And our organic sweet corn is apparently a failure according to the farmer growing it. The other person who said they would sell me sweet corn reports his first planting is tasseling, though I do not know if I will be able to buy any of that planting from him. So sweet corn won't be here for another 3 to 4 weeks. We do have a lot of snow peas, sugar snap peas, cucumbers, herbs and specialty zucchini and It is probably time to put them on display in front of the storefront. And we do have signage now.
And to add to all of this I am nervous about this store. I have never had a store of my own and this is different than setting up at the farmers' market (not a lot different but different enough to make me nervous). So I feel as if I have no idea what I am doing. Of course I do have a good idea about what has to be done and it is getting done. Things are really slow business wise out here (but biz is booming at the FM's). And we opened up the store front really before it was ready to be opened (thankfully we have had no one notice). So I think just giving this a bit of time to get going is the best and only course of action. We will be here for many years so we have time to grow this new business properly.
Oh, and the store has some clean shiny windows
Friday, June 16, 2006
The day before market starts early, I start harvesting leafy greens and herbs a bit after sunrise. Actually today because Eugene didn't get up until after 6:30 I opened the chickens, fed them and moved their tractors off of their nightly manure area (chickens poop while they sleep). I was about the get them water when he appeared carrying their waterer. After chicken duty I started in oh the harvesting. Normally I do all the harvesting for the Saturday farmers' market on Friday but this week Friday fell on a bad day for harvesting (or doing much of anything with plants other than killing weeds) according to the biodynamic calendar "The Stella Natura". So yesterday evening I did a lot of the harvest chores. I picked all the remaining garlic scapes off of the garlic plants. Got in a lot of red turnips and picked the first of the sugar snap peas. Since I was picking things towards the end of the day I did not want to cut herbs or greens because they do not do well with late in the day harvesting. Because of this I decided to do greens and herbs this morning despite having the knowledge that things will likely not be at their best.
Between 7 and 8:30am I was cutting swiss chard, Italian parsley, cilantro, baby zukes, cucumbers, oregano, tarragon and chives. By 8:35 everything I harvested was in the big 3-door fridge to cool down. I noticed the cilantro/parsley bed was inundated with weeds but that was okay because today was a great weeding day and I later got out to wheel hoe that bed and several others.
After getting my harvest chores finished I ate some breakfast and had a second cup of coffee and got started on an email to alert my customers and other interested parties about tomorrow's Farmers' market and the fact it is Alumni weekend at Miami University and also that Betty Quantz is going to be doing a cooking Demo (she does great cooking demos and passes out lots of samples) using food from us local farmers. That took a couple of hours. I also made a lot of labels and some new signs for the market stand. After that I went up to the garden to weed out some beds that needed it. Got 3 done and decided it was too hot for such work and also it was lunch time so went back in with Eugene and had lunch and cooled off.
After lunch I got to work labeling bags and bagging up a lot of dried herbs and garlic powder and made a batch of cookies. When that was done I went to the barn and started in on the fresh herbs and other things like bunching red turnips, bagging chard and garlic scapes. All the while listening to Air America Radio (I love listening to Randi Rhodes rant about the neocons. She's so right on). When that task was done I realized I still had to get a CSA newsletter together for our lone CSA member (which I still have not done) and also to get out tally sheet done for tomorrow and a few more table signs. I did get the sheet and the signs done and than decided to blog about it.
This takes us up to now (7:45pm) and I have to still do the newsletter and get something ready for dinner and call it a night (gotta be up at 4:30am tomorrow!)
Thursday, June 15, 2006
Today I noticed one of the ads is for potting soil that contains Miracle Gro. I hate Miracle Gro and even though each click to that site will likely generate a lot of revenue for this blog to me it will be dirty money (oh Gawd, a bad pun and not intended). I cannot endorse Miracle Gro or any other Scott's/Monsanto product.
MG is not organic in anyway shape or form. It does not build healthy soil, it does bad things to the soil's microherd when applied because it contains salts that burn delicate life and buying and using it supports what I consider a bad corporation for a variety of reasons such as GMO's, creating a lot of bad ag chemicals, having a monopoly on our seeds (they now own something like 75% of the world's commercial seed stock).
So I deal with irony of a MG ad on a blog about a person who practises deep organics and would never ever use the stuff (we even have a box of MG rose restorer that came with this farm, as did a gallon of RoundUp, another Monsanto product, which we will never use).
And now that I think of it this post will likely flood this blog with even more Monsanto product ads. Oy Vay!
We are getting a major weather change this week. We are going from cool spring conditions to hot, humid dry summer weather in the next 24 hours and that means the plastic has to come off of the hoophouses. If we leave the plastic on it will be a bit too hot for the plants and way too hot for us humans. There is nothing like doing physical labor in a 115 degree environment. It is a truly miserable experience and one I try to avoid. If you have ever worked in a commercial kitchen (without AC) in the summer than you know what it is like to do hard work in very hot conditions (I remember when I cooked at DiPaolo's back in the late 1980's Rich DiPaolo had put a thermometer under the exhaust hood and it was reading about 150 degrees F and on the other side of the kitchen it was a cool 117 degrees F. Ah good times...).
This weather change will also pretty much mean the end of most of the spring crops. We have one more bed of lettuce that may or may not harvestable. Lettuce tends to want to bolt to seed in hot weather and if this happens with this bed we will simply save seed instead of trying to harvest bitter plants that desperately want to make seed.
Think of us out in the torrid weather growing food. It seems summer is here.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Now I am not into pro football (American style) in any big way but I have been following the career of Ben Roethlisberger (aka Big Ben to all Miami University Football fans and Alumni) because the both of us went to the same college-Miami University (in Ohio dammit and about 100 years older than the U of Miami in Florida).
And now Ben, after an incredible college career and a great start to his pro career with the Steelers, has gone and half kilt himself by riding his motorcycle into a large car while wearing no helmet.
I guess ben was still under the impression that he was immortal. Something a lot of boys and young men seem to believe about themselves until they learn the hard way that they can indeed be broken or killed. I have a feeling if mr Roethlisberger ever rides a motorcycle again he will be wearing a helmet and a good set of leathers.
I hope he heals quickly and has not done anything to himself to wreak his football career.
Wal-Mart will be stunned to learn it can't market non-chem veggies like
Like kids in a candy store, Wal-Mart executives may have eyes bigger than
their stomachs. Do they really think they can manage a major expansion of
organic food sales while driving organic prices down to within 10 per cent
of conventional foods?
The strategy now being attempted in U.S. stores and bound to appear soon
north of the border may have unintended consequences. By throwing its
weight around on the organic block, Wal-Mart may just provoke the
politicization of North America's organic food business.
This sector has so far remained aloof from politics and managed to keep the
tensions of a decade's exponential expansion both quiet and internal.
Everyday low prices for quality organics would certainly boost sales by
organic farmers. But it's not clear that the company can actually
accomplish this. Inside-the-box-store thinking may be leading Wal-Mart
officials to think they can duplicate successes in other areas without
taking into account the unique character of organic food production.
It's all food for Wal-Mart executive afterthought: organic food really is a
Wal-Mart's classic methods are less likely to succeed in forcing down the
prices of organic food than they were in depressing the prices of
manufactured goods, including organic milk, which the company already leads
the world in selling.
Wal-Mart method 1. Special deep discounts exacted in return for high-volume
purchases work for widgets made in factories, where the per unit price goes
down with mass production.
But the per unit costs of goods grown on organic farms don't follow a
typical factory graph. More of the same organic crop on one farm field
doesn't lower per unit labour costs, but usually means more pest problems,
since monoculture, the precondition for mass production methods, is a
magnet for pets and parasites.
Wal-Mart method 2. Just-in-time logistics slash the costs and risks of
storing blue jeans, plastic toys and hard candies. But ripening crops and
unpredictable weather aren't always as amenable to a mega-corporation's
squeaky-tight schedule as factory owners are, and organic methods are even
more vulnerable to nature's whimsical timing than non-organic. Wal-Mart
could find itself holding the bag after a cold spell.
Wal-Mart method 3. Cheap retail labour and buildings don't do much harm to
dry goods or conventional foods whose additives help them perform like dry
goods. But unskilled labour and poorly equipped stores can wreak havoc on
goods that follow natural cycles and go bad on retail shelves.
Welcome to the factors that explain why food was one of the last of the
economic sectors to be industrialized, although it was one of the first to
be commercialized. Industrialized food may be the best thing since sliced
bread, but sliced bread wasn't perfected until the late 1920s.
Apart from cookies, jams, white bread and similar sweet nothings, food
production and processing weren't mechanized until the 1950s and 60s,
centuries after light industries such as clothing, and a half-century after
heavy industries like steel and auto.
Organic bookkeeping adds another slew of problems and introduces another
set of perpetual conflicts for industrial-scale retailers.
It's true, some of the high cost of organics relates to the sheer economics
of big demand and small supply. The lure of mass sales to Wal-Mart and
other retailers will certainly encourage large-scale farmers to switch over
That new production may well swamp the market, as has happened occasionally
with milk and a few crops, such as garlic and onions. A few of these
over-produced organics are already being sold into pools of conventional
food, at regular prices.
But the main reasons for higher organic prices are structural and will
stick around for the long term or foment a huge ruckus when Wal-Mart
insists on diluting organic methods.
This is a sticking point for customers, especially the kind of customers
trained in Wal-Mart-style consumerism.
Relatively high prices for conventional pop, cookies, pastries, frozen
french fries, potato chips, ice cream, microwave meals, and similar
pseudo-foods are accepted without complaint because that's the price of
what's deemed a special treat.
But there's no excuse other than yuppie snobbery for charging extra for
plain organic potatoes, carrots, spinach and breads, many non-organic
Having long suffered from this double standard on food prices, those who
know and respect what organic food is about are pretty defensive about its
high prices. In contrast with the artificially low price of synthetic or
industrialized food, the relatively high price of organics captures
something like the full cost and value of growing and marketing real food
that meets environmental and human health needs.
Organic prices "internalize" these costs. By contrast, the low sticker
prices seen at Wal-Mart and other superstores come from "externalizing" the
full cost of cheap fertilizers and pesticides by dumping them in the
environment and on unsuspecting animals, including people.
Wal-Mart, an icon for such externalization practices, is increasingly
reviled for the everyday expensive pollution and exploitation linked to its
everyday low prices.
But organic producers can't externalize costs without losing their way.
They can't dump manure from factory barns into rivers and then buy chemical
fertilizers; they have to compost manure and return it to the soil, which
is more expensive. They can't grow miles of one crop and spray with
chemicals; to discourage pests, they have to grow a wide range of crops,
which is more labour-intensive and expensive.
They can't jam produce into a truck, then spray it with fungicides that
keep it from spoiling and gases that keep it from looking haggard;
post-harvest handling has to be quick, skilled and careful, which costs
The only way to mess with organic prices is to mess with organic rules,
already under constant pressure in the U.S., where the Department of
Agriculture controls the organic label and has allowed standards to erode
to the point where factory-style cow and livestock barns are setting the
The same pressures will be applied to a Canadian government label, expected
sometime in the next year.
The impact of a cost-cutter like Wal-Mart on government-managed organic
standards will cause the organic manure to hit the fan. Wal-Mart execs may
be getting more than they bargained for when they try to mesh organic
processes with hyper-industrialized retail.
Sunday, June 11, 2006
It has not been easy getting things in the ground because it has been raining a lot this past week. We avoid working in the soil when it is wet because working wet soil does bad things to the soil structure leading to compaction and hard pan which leads to poor drainage. But when the seedling have to go in, they have to go in and sometimes you have to work in wetter than you'd like soil. And wet soil pretty much cancels out direct seeding because one cannot rake a wet seed bed smooth and the seeder does not work well at all when it gets clogged with mud.
Wet soil does make it easy to pull big weeds out roots and all and you can always put down compost on beds as long as it is not raining (like it is right now).
Other than planting we have begun to get into the swing of summer daily harvesting. Right now zucchinis, cucumbers and snow peas are in need of picking every day (though rain makes this difficult for things not in hoophouses such as the snow peas. picking wet plants is a great way to spread disease all over your snow pea plants). Soon there will be tomatoes, peppers, green beans and eggplant to be picked daily.
As the daily harvesting moves in we have less and less to do with the harvesting of greens like lettuce, spinach and spring mix which do not need to be done daily but take a lot more time cleaning and packing when they are harvested.
So that's what we have been up to as of late-picking, planting and weeding. Oh yeah and marketing.
C'est la Vie
It's been an eventful week. I lost one of my baby teeth and a big mouthful of infection. Until this week I still had 8 deciduous teeth in my head. Now I have 7.
on Wednesday I had a dentist appointment with Dave Eifert, my dentist for the past 25 or so years. I had been having problems with what I thought was a crowned tooth. I have had quite a bit of pain and infection around the crowned tooth for months. But because the pain was rarely too bad I decided to wait on getting it looked at until my biannual appointment came around.
So I get to my appointment a bit late and get ushered into see Judy, the hygienist. She asks me if I have had any problems since my last visit. This is a question they have to ask but with me it takes on a deeper importance.
There have been serious problems with my mouth over the past 35 years starting with a lot of hardware in my pre-teens to pull teeth out of places they ought not be. If any of you are Simpson's fans and remember the episode where Bart and Lisa are at the orthodontist and he does this computerized imagery of what Lisa's mouth will look like without orthodontia-it shows teeth coming out the top if her skull, etc.. That is my mouth. It's a genetic mess starting with misaligned teeth, missing permanent teeth and in my mid 30's a seriously bad bought with periodontal disease which involved two incredibly painful surgeries and a lifetime of fastidious oral care on my part.
And my answer, this time, is yes, I have had pain around my gold crown and she looks at it and agrees that there is something very amiss but it does not involve the crowned tooth. That is a relief since I carry no health insurance and that crowned tooth will be expensive to fix. It is the premolar next to the crowned tooth that is the problem and she says Dr. Dave will have to look at it after she has cleaned my teeth (which other than the rotten tooth my teeth and gums were in excellent shape). Dave comes in and takes a look and says it should come out now if I have the time. I did have the time so he put me in the room where they do extractions and other minor surgery, take an x-ray, wait 10 minutes for the x-ray to develop. We look at the x-ray and it shows all sorts of bad things happening. I get a needle full of novocain in my jaw and wait 15 minutes for my mouth to numb out and than finally they come in and pull the offending tooth out of my jaw along with a cyst. And scape off a bit of decaying matter on the crowned tooth. The event was not particularly painful and the socket has been healing beautifully.
Since the extraction I have had a lot more energy and a lot of inflammation in my body has gone away. So I guess this tooth infection was getting systemic and affecting a lot more than my jaw. I know that I have had a couple of nasty ear infections in my left ear (this tooth was on the left side of my mouth) in the past 12 months and I believe they were very connected to this growing infection in my mouth. Perhaps my sciatica bouts (also on the left side) are also related. It feels as if this extraction has allowed my chi to flow a lot more freely on the left side of my body.
Now I have to decide if I get a new tooth implanted, a bridge or do nothing. Since I did lose a chewing tooth and it is hard to chew with the left side of my mouth so I don't think the do nothing ploy is realistic. And all other options will bring me some degree of intense and lingering pain as well as being pricey.
All I know is I have lost a part of my dental child (this was a baby tooth that was extracted) and I feel better for it.
Monday, June 05, 2006
A few pictures of the Rock Cornish Hens at 3 weeks old. They are half way through their short lives at this point and looking exactly as they should. So far we believe we have lost 2 birds due to our youngest dog, Nate, attacking them and killing one outright and injuring another that we nursed along for another 7 days before it succumbed to its injuries this past weekend.
Of course we may have lost a few more as trying to count a pen of chicks is pretty much like herding cats-almost impossible to do. I have counted between 39 and 45, Eugene has gotten a count as high as 47. We may also lose a few to predators such as hawks, raccoons and snakes. I figure when we take them in to be processed we will know what we have.
It can be dangerous for a chicken to live on pasture but when I see how active and happy they are and taste the incredible meat they produce I feel it is more than worth it to take the risk of pasturing them vs either keeping them in chicken tractors or caging them
Sunday, June 04, 2006
We planted the following tomatoes-Big Beef, a big red hybrid, Opalka, a red sauce heirloom shaped like an Italian pepper, GL-18 (aka Glick's pride) a red heirloom, Dr Wyche's Yellow, a huge yellow heirloom, yellow Taxi, a yellow heirloom that is extremely early, Yellow Pear, a small pear shaped yellow heirloom, Red pear, like yellow pear but red, Sungold, a divine orange cherry tomato green grape, a small green heirloom Pink Brandywine and maybe Mortgage Lifter, Both ML & PB are big pink heirlooms.
We still have to get another 150 or so pepper seedlings in the ground and after that the melons and than we are done with our big planting duties for a few months. We will still be direct seeding crops such as beets, carrots, cilantro, etc.
The tomatoes we put in today are not the first tomatoes we have planted this season. We have a 100' x 24' hoophouse full of maters and those tomatoes are beginning to put on fruit! the means that we should have ripe sungold tomatoes in about 12 to 15 days and the Yellow Taxi's should be ready in about 20 to 24 days. We never know if the early tomatoes in the hoophouse will work out but it looks like this year we will have early maters-yay!
Friday, June 02, 2006
The old man is snoring
He bumped his head and went to bed
And didn't get up 'til the morning.
a rhyme my father used to tell me on rainy days
It started raining about 4pm yesterday and so far we have gotten just over 2". It's showing no signs of stopping anytime soon. We have had minor flooding and the pond is as high as I have ever seen it (but than I have been here under a year). My rubber boots are no longer water proof which will make today's harvesting a wet footed affair.
At the Tuesday farmers' market we pretty much sold out of everything (The Tuesday market has been getting much better the past couple of weeks and has been getting good press-I was well interviewed and photographed this past Tuesday for the Hamilton Journal News. Someone(s) has gotten on the ball with the OFMU, and I thank you). This means I need to do a big harvest today for tomorrow's Saturday Market and the weather is not cooperating at the moment. Fortunately most of the things I need to harvest are in the leafy greens category and they do not mind being wet when harvested. If we were harvesting things like green beans or tomatoes I would be leery as such crops do not like being touched when wet and diseases tend to spread pretty rapidly when you do work with them when wet.
One problem I will have is finding a place to set up my wash stand. The place I normally do this is under 4" of muddy, unclean water. I will have to move to higher ground, probably the shed behind the barn where the grackles were nesting and pooping on the fly. Now that the baby grackles have left the nest the flying poop problem is vastly diminished.
At the old farm this kind of day was a disaster since we had no indoor facilities to clean and pack up the produce. What we used as a packing shed was an awning over a table. If it was raining and no wind things were okay but any wind would blow rain in on you and often blow things off the table. In those condition I would have to retreat to the kitchen. But now we have sheds and barns to work in so weather is not the factor it once was...
But I still wash the veggies outside as we do not have any place inside with both good drainage and close enough to the current water supply (water is something we are going to have to change big time on this farm. Most the outside taps are not hooked up to the water system which leaves us with using hoses hooked up to the tap outside the kitchen door).
Washing the veggies is a wet job. First I have to fill up a plastic tub with water mixed with vinegar and salt (the vinegar and salt hydrate the veggies, kill off pathogens such as e-coli, not that I think we have such pathogens on our food since we do not use raw manure to fertilize our crops. This also kills any slugs hanging onto the leaves, and no one likes a slug in their salad). The next step is to immerse the produce in the cold salt and vinegar water. If it is heads of lettuce than I cut off any bad leaves and a bit of the stem and plunge into the water. If it is arugula, kale or spring mix I dump the greens straight into the water and gently swish them around to get the field heat and dirt off of them. After the bath the produce is than transferred to the big orange salad spinner. The lettuce has to be carefully placed head by head into the spinner basket so the leaves are not bruised or ripped. Loose greens like arugula I scoop up with my hands and place in the spinner basket. Once the basket is full it is put into the spinner, the lid goes on and I start turning the crank which causes the basket to spin at a high rate of speed thus removing the water from the produce. After the greens are dried I put them into towel lined crates and than put the full crates into the fridge for a couple of hours so they an chill. The next step is to weight out and pack the greens into labeled bags and put them back into the fridge, ready to sell.
The process from washing to packing takes about 3 to 4 hours for say 10 to 15 bushels of food. It takes another 2 to 3 hours to harvest everything this time of year. Later on when we have things like tomatoes, peppers, squash, etc. I will spend a lot less time washing and packing but a lot more time harvesting.
Basically for every hour we sell at a farmers' market we have put in about 8 hours of work planting, weeding, harvesting and post harvest handling.