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Friday, August 31, 2007

Lunar Eclipse

A shot of the full moon at totality setting

Thursday, August 30, 2007

We Will Be on TV-WHIO 7

We got interviewed by Channel 7 (WHIO) this afternoon about local foods. There is yet another spinach recall and Kimberly Thomson came out with a camera woman (I don't remember her name but enjoyed her presence almost as much as the dogs did) and interviewed us about why local food is safer and if the industrial food system can even be made safe. They took a lot of footage of the garden, us talking to Kimberly and other stuff. It was interesting and fun.

First time we have been on TeeVee. Been in several magazines this year and have had a lot of newspaper interviews in the past and now we have television under our belt.

You can catch us tonight Aug 30 2007 between 5pm and 6pm. They said most likely we will be on during the 5:30 broadcast. You should be able to find webcast at sometime tonight.

The process was pretty simple. They drove up in the big van with the antenna on it and the editing room inside. The camera woman put a mic on Eugene and than she started shooting video of the front of our store. She had us walk in the store and turn around and than shot some inside shots of the produce. Than we walked out to the garden where we were met by the dogs, Nate, Arlo and Danny. They thought the idea of two strangers coming to visit was GREAT and could barely contain themselves.

In the garden Kimberly interveiewed us on camera about our thoughts on local foods. If we thought they are safer than industrial food (yes). If local foods are getting more popular (a big yes). If people are nervous about industrial foods (I'd say so). Than many shots were taken of the produce and compost piles. Eugene walked around helping with that while I talked abit more with Kimberly about problems with our food system.

After that we left the garden and they set up the opening shot for the piece in front of the store by our signage and the flowers out front.

I am looking forward to seeing this this evening.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A New Computer

I got my new iMac today and it not a moment too soon as my old iMac died Monday Morning. This means I have lost pretty much all of my email addresses so if you are reading this and were on any of my email lists or for some other reason got email from (you might be friend or relative) please send me an email to (chnage the AT to an @) so I can capture your email address and reclaim the 500 or so addresses I had as of this past Monday.

I also have lost a lot of marketing stuff that I intended to back up on CeeDee. I have the basic stuff on CD so I should be up and running with brouchures, labels and the like in a couple of weeks. Maybe by than I will have a working printer as well. I have a lot of tech issues the past 6 weeks or so and soon they will all be fixed with upgrades/new equipment.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

It is So Wet

Wow, within 24 hours of writing the "It's So Dry..." post we got over 2 inches of rain (2.2" to be percise). This will help things out immensely. The last time we got over 2 inches of rain was back in April

Starting around 3pm we got hours and hours of heavy (but not too heavy), steady rain. This gave us time to harvest all the tomatoes that were either ripe or showing some color. Had we left them on the vines we would have had around 20 bushels of garbage and none to sell. You see, rain, especially after a long dry period, will cause full sized maters to crack badly. Thus making them unsellable. So Eugene and I spent hours harvesting maters as well as strawberries, okra and melons (which will do the same thing as tomatoes when exposed to copious amounts of rain).

The rain has stopped for now but is supposed to return this afternoon. If it does we may not go to the Tuesday Market which will be a bummer because we have a lot of stuff that needs to be sold. I guess I can always open up the store and sell a few hings there.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

It Is So Dry...

As I have written before, we are in a severe drought.

It is so dry the grass is crunchy under foot and Eugene has not mowed the grass in 6+ weeks.

It is so dry that some trees appear to be dead and other trees are already turning color and dropping their leaves.

It is so dry that we lost half of our sweet corn because the hickory and oak trees that line the northern boarder of our property robbed the corn plants of water, despite there being drip irrigation on them. The same thing is beginning to happen to the day neutral strawberries. So far the raspberries, tomatoes, peppers and basil that are in beds that abut the tree line are not showing water stress but it would not surprise me to find them all in dire straits in a week or so.

It is so dry no one has had to hoe in about 3 weeks, very few weeds to hoe. The few that are there are so stressed that they pull easily.

It is so dry that if we do not either hand water or have irrigation tape on our plants they are dead

It is so dry that it is getting scary

Of Melons and Business

Because it is Sunday we had the farm store open from 11am til 5pm. The past several Sundays (127 yard sale excluded) we have had next to no business. Maybe one car would stop but often the people would not buy anything. This has gotten us rather depressed about things (well, that and the damn drought which gets worse and worse each day). This has made us start questioning the wisdom of doing this farming thing for a living (okay we have been doing this full time for over ten years and our sales at the farmers markets are doing very well).

Last week we had a lot of cantaloupes for sale and sold not a one at the store. I was very hot and we had little fridge space for the 'loupes. This meant that by the time the Tuesday farmers market rolled around we had a lot of over ripe "eat 'em right now" melons to sell. So we did a half price on the over ripe cantaloupes and unloaded all of them.

Fortunately today several people stopped at the store and bought melons, among other things and the store made some money.

What I must remember is it takes time to cultivate this kind of business. It took us many years to make $300 in sales at farmers markets (something you really have to do if you do this full time and it is your sole source of income). I takes a while to build up a customer base and of course when we started we had no idea what we were doing. If we did we probably would not have stayed in farming. We had a very steep learning curve as far as growing organically on a small commercial scale went. That and all the wrong equipment. But over time we learned what he hell we were doing and accrued the proper stuff, eventually buying he most important piece of all-a farm of our own.

So now we have this farm and it is on a busy highway (albeit at the top of a hill that has a nasty blind curve on it) and it has a barn and good land and the Farm Store. And because the farm store is not wildly successful from the git go we worry about it. We forget that we have several repeat customers, that we have spend zero funds for advertising (with the exception of $4.95 a month to keep adds off of the Boulder belt Farm web site and buying the domain for that site) and than Preble County is not exactly the center of the local and organic food world (but I am working on that) and that it just takes time to get something meaningful going.

So I end the day in better spirits than I began simply because we had a few people stop and they all bought cantaloupes and watermelons. It would be even better if the threatening clouds would produce some actual rain

Tomato Picks and Pans

I grew 27 different kinds of maters this year, most of them heirloom. Here is a synopsis of many of them so far this summer

Crnkovich Yugoslavian-huge pink fruits with great taste. Medium to heavy fruit set, earliest tomato this year. Very similar to German Johnson, better than pink Brandywine. Will save seed

Nayagous-beautiful black tomato. Top notch taste, very little cracking, no catfacing, good set of fruit. Better than Black from Crim by a country mile. Will save seed

Amish Paste-great set of fruit but very slow to ripen. Did have some BER problems early on but not as bad as I did with Opalka which this is replacing. I have not used these much but did make a killer pasta sauce last Thursday so they do have good taste.

German Striped-big misshapened fruits that look just like a striped fruit I have that came from a pink brandywine x opalka cross, though not as good tasting. Will not save seed

Costoluto Florintine-this is supposed to be a huge red, round mater with the best flavor on earth. Not. These are horribly misshapened, medium red tomatoes with so so flavor. I grow average red hybrids with better flavor. Lots of cat facing and cracking with these babies. Will not save seed

German Johnson-these are really nice, heavy set of fruit, nice shape, good pink color, earlier than Pink Brandywine, better flavor than BW. will save seed

Red pear-poor flavor and these have a real cracking problem. I have been growing these for 4 years and trying to breed out the cracking with only some success. They are pretty and contrast well with yellow pear.

Egg-I got these in a trade so I do not know what they are supposed to do. I have red saladettes on plants that have succumbed early to blight (or something). Will not grow these again.

Glick's Pride-this is a mater I have been growing out for over 11 years. I go the seeds from a friend who's grandfather-in-law had bred in the 1940's. She found 10K seeds and got 3 or 4 to germinate and gave me some and I have been saving and growing them ever since (as are some folks at SSE growers network). Nice round red fruit with good taste-very rare.

Dr Wyche's Yellow-huge orange fruits, great taste. An improvement over Russian persimmon (which we also grow).

Yellow Taxi-very early lemon yellow fruits with a pink blush on the inside. Nice refreshing clean flavor, prolific for a determinant.

I got several seed varieties in a trade that were supposed to be white, black, big, small but all seem to be either sungold cherry tomatoes or a bright red saladette tomato.

A friend of mine gave me 7 or 8 heirlooms-black from Krim, a white, a yellow banana and few others. These were deeply shocked when we got them and have not been producing well but after 6 weeks in the ground are putting on new growth and we may get a good September harvest.

I also have several homebred "heirlooms" that I am breeding out. One is a beautiful striped mater. I am in year four and I believe '09 seeds will be a stable OP. This year 95 percent came back true to type. This is called Boulder Belt Striped

I also have a pink brandywine x sungold cross that I am developing as a pink cherry tomato. Right now I get either a pink saladette or pink cherry and I believe it will be another 3 to years before I get stable cherry seed seed stock. I am in year 2 of this project. I call this one Cherrywine.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Lucy Gets a New Mac

I bought a new iMac today, actually I ordered it today and it should be here next late week.

It will be a big improvement over the failing iMac I currently own. Among other things, it will have a keyboard that will have working "T" and #5 keys. It will also have a lot more memory, be faster and an up to date OS (for a few months anyway).

I'm psyched

This will be Mac #4 for me.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

How to Shop at a Farmers Market

Here is an article from Plenty Magazine with some good FM/Farmsand shopping tips

Cornering the Market

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Dinner From the Garden

Tonight's supper is a work in progress. So far I have in a big saute pan 3 kinds of heirloom tomatoes (Crnkovic Yugoslavian-dark pink with almost black seed cavities, nice acidity, sweet taste, Boulder Belt striped-red with yellow stripes, inside yellow with a Bright red heart-low acid, very sweet and Dr Wyche's Yellow-huge orange fruit, low acid sweet), 2 heads of shivlisi garlic (aka chesnok red), a head of cauliflower, 2 yellow onions, a green patty pan squash that is coming up in the delicata beds (from seed we saved) Oregon giant snow peas and a Chinese giant pepper (or maybe it's a Marconi). I think I will add a can or black beans and some cumin, chili powder and cheddar cheese and let it simmer a while. Than eat it with tortilla chips. The salad is a skinned and sliced telegraph cuke, a couple of Siskyou sweet onions, sliced, chunks of charentais melon, halved strawberries, several kinds of tomatoes (mainly yellow and orange), chopped coarsely, olive oil, kosher salt and balsamic vinegar. Fresh Italian parsley is good in this too.

Should be good, few things more satisfying in oh, so many ways than eating from your garden.

It's Hot

I thought it was hot for the 127 Yard Sale (and it was) but this week is even hotter. Yesterday took a half day off and went to Richmond, IN for a late lunch and a movie (saw The Simpson's-an okay movie, not as good as many TeeVee episodes but the A/C was cold and kept us comfortable for 95 minutes or so) and it was 103F (41C) at 4pm.

This kind of heat makes farm work difficult. I work early before the heat sets in and try to get everything done before 11am. Today, for example, I have to harvest strawberries, haricot verts and tomatoes at the very least. I will also try and get some leeks in as a woman mentioned Tuesday she wanted to buy some leeks from us either today or tomorrow. Eugene is very bothered by the all weeds (mostly Queen Anne's lace, which is quite pretty) in the tomato/pepper area so he will likely get out the weed eater and whack weed this morning after the done with watering chores. By noon we will be done with work as it will likely be right around 100F and the humidity will be high (it already is at 6am) making it hard to move or think

So we will retire to the house for the afternoon (except for forays out to the store whenever a customer comes by). In heat like this we shut the house up during the day and close all the curtains. This keeps the hot air out and the house will stay below 84F even when it gets above 100F. With ceiling fans running it is pretty comfortable, even with 2 humans, 3 dogs and a cat generating heat. At night we open all the windows and put fans in a few (some are exhausting air others are bringing cool air in) to circulate cool air into the house. What I find ironic, is we do exactly the same thing when it is cold in winter-close all curtains/windows (only to keep heat IN, not out) only we do not open the house up at night in winter.

I am so glad we do not have chickens right now. This kind of heat is literally murder on the rock cornish cross birds. Once the temps get above 95F these birds get really miserable and if the temps are above 100F they will start dying in droves unless hey are kept cool. Since we have no AC out here in the sticks I guess we would run cold water on their portable coops to bring down the temps in those and make life bearable for them. The only thing is, we are in a drought, our well has to be getting low with all the irrigation we do and I don't believe would have the water to cool chickens, irrigate the garden and have water for the house. So it is just as well we don't have chickens at this time-fewer things to worry about.

I see the dawn is breaking so it is time to get motivated

Saturday, August 04, 2007

2007 127 Yard Sale

Today will be day 3 of the 2007 edition of the 127 Yard Sale, "The World's Longest Yard Sale". It's been hot and humid so far which may be keeping the numbers down a bit. Today should be cooler and far less humid. Sunday they are calling for rain all day. We need the rain badly but...

This year we have 2 vendors besides ourselves-Jule's Knives and Dan The T-Shirt man with his beautiful tied dyed shirts and tapestries.

So far business has been steady but no more than last year. Thursday was very busy with a mix of locals and hard core 127 yard salers attempting to do the whole 1000 or so miles. It was busy pretty much the whole day. Friday was dead in the morning, maybe 100 people showed up between 8am and 11:30am. than things started hopping until around 6 pm.

This year we rented 2 Port O' Johns because I thought we would need them but now I think it was overkill and next year I believe I will go back to one Port O' John. To offset a bit of the cost I am asking for donations to use to crappers (this was suggested by 3 different people on Thursday so I decided what the hay). Port O' Johns are not cheap-$112 each for the weekend.

Unlike last year when Eugene put all our yard sale items between the barns and out of sight we put the sales items front and center and are selling a lot of them. I'd say as of yesterday about 40% has been sold. As I explained to Eugene when he wanted to put the stuff where it was last year, people do not want to walk any further than necessary and will ignore your items if they are not terribly convenient. This happened in spades last year. We did not sell many yard sale items and spent a lot of hours putting stuff away. This year I made sure to make the items terribly convenient and it seems to be working. Lots of things are leaving the farm. Jules says she is sellinhg a lot more knives than she expected as well as a lot of her junque. Dan, after a slow friday morning did what appeared to be brisk sales in the afternoon. I bought two nice shirts for myself and Eugene.

This year I am selling water and pop. Last year we did not sell many drinks as all I had was water. So I added pop and flavopred water to the choices and we have about sold out of bottled water (plain and flavored) but have not sold many sodas. I do not know what I will do with any extra soda-I got all Coke products and I cannot drink Coke or Diet Coke (both make me ill) and I do not tend to drink much pop anyway, maybe 2 or 3 times a year. I am also selling hot dogs, most of which are being eaten by us vendors. There seems to be a lot of resistance to dawgs. Several times a husband/Male SO would see the HD's and suggest to his Wife/Female SO that they get a couple for lunch. The woman almost always nixes the idea. Might not do dogs again or maybe do dawgs and burgers and some sort of fruit

Anything that does not sell will be put in a pile by the road and I will put a posting on the local FreeCycle lists and hopefully someone will come and get it all. If not, it goes to the Preble County landfill.

Unlike last year, we did not buy corn to resell so we are not selling much in the way of produce. We have our own corn but it is pitiful-the ears are about 5" long and not well filled out. Mainly due to the drought conditions. Corn needs a lot of water to get big. But at least we did not buy the corn so we do not have to make our money back on it. We would sell a lot of tomatoes if he big red ones would get ripe. All we have right now are cherry maters and Big yellow Heirlooms that are drop dead delicious but a bad seller because they are not red and round with little taste. Perhaps I should be pushing samples.

Well, by the clock on the menu bar it is time to go set up for Yard Sale action.