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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Boulder Belt Endorses Obama

I am taking an interest in the Ohio primary coming up next Tuesday. I believe I will be voting for Barak Obama. Unless I register as a republican to vote for Ron Paul and a whole host of local officials. I can make this choice when I go to the evangelical church where I get to vote. Whatever happened to the separation of church and state? Why do they not use schools, which are government buildings for polling places in Preble County instead of churches?

I remember when I was a kid that periodically the gym would be transformed into a polling place and we kids got out of gym class (yay!!!). It was even better that the gym/polling place housed the precincts that my elder family members used so I would get to see my mother, father and step mother at school. this experience helped to turn me into a life long dedicated voter. I wonder if putting polling places into churches away from where the kids can see democracy in action is teaching them the patriotic duty of voting is simply unimportant?

Okay, So I really like Barak Obama. He is the only person running who is offering up hope. I do not care about his lack of experience (who really has such experience except a sitting president). I like the fact he is young (just 2 years older than me) that he has traveled all over the world, that he has a religious background that includes Islam, That he is well read and incredibly intelligent (what a nice change from the moron we have as leader currently), that he has chosen to be a civil servant instead of working for a corporation for decades and than getting into politics. Most of all he is lighting a real fire and getting the masses excited. The guy is a natural born leader and I believe he will lead us out of the mess that has been made over the past 7 years.

On the issues. I agree with about 75% of his platform. But in my years as a political pundit I have come to realize that most of the platforms of any national candidate is just so much rhetoric. They can say what they want but when elected they have to work with several thousand people and most of the promises are either broken outright or changed so much they are no longer recognizable. Also, the president does not have nearly the power most people think he does. Yes he gets veto power but he does not write laws. Yes he can appoint all sorts of people to all sorts of positions but generally once appointed the POTUS has very little control over what they do. The president either gets blamed or given credit for the USA's economic standing and yet has virtually zero control over our economics other than maybe appointing people to the federal reserve or something.

So it comes down to the president being a figurehead who can either choose to lead or not. Bush has chosen not to be a great leader and what leading he does he does through fear. I think Obama is a great leader and will inspire us all with a message of hope and an erosion of fear.

Oh, and I am enjoying the fear he is instilling in the evangelical right. If they fear him than, in my mind, he has got to be good for the country

Winter Inertia

It is the end of Feburary (close enuff) and therefore we are close to the end of the most boring, mind numbing time of the year for us farmers.

the seed orders are all in and most of the seeds and plants have been delivered to the farm. We still are getting seed catalogs every time we visit the PO Box. I guess these folks don't realize that if we have not order from them yet the chances of that still happening are quite small. But Since the chance is not zero they still have hope we will send them some money.

We have started some seedlings but not enough to keep us both busy for more than 45 minutes a day. So far we have onions, leeks, lettuces and broccoli started. The alliums and lettuces are germinating and the broccoli will follow suit in a few days as it was just planted yesterday. At this point we have somthing like 10 perma-nest trays full of seeds and seedlings and 12 nursery pots full of onion and leek seeds that are beginning to wake up.

It is still too icy/snowy to do much up in the garden. I suppose we could be clearing out hoop houses that have dead crops in them so we have room for the lettuces and other cold weather crops. But the inertia of mid winter seems to be preventing the two of us from doing much in the hoop houses.

Eugene is in the midsts of doing the state and federal taxes for 2007. I believe he is about 75% of the way through the taxes, maybe more. They seem to be going quite well, very little swearing this year, so far.

We have ordered 6 tons of compost from Fresh Aire Farms but don't know when that will arrive. Dan Young makes some very nice compost. We make compost too but ever since we got out of the laying hen bidniss we never seem to have enough material to make enough compost for the farm. And out compost is not nearly as clean and nice as Dan Young's so we for the second year in a row buy his to supplement what we make. And the bought compost is a tax write off of which which we are finding we need a lot more.

Soon enough the seasons will change and spring will be here and the work can start in earnest and I won't be so bloody bored

Monday, February 25, 2008

The half Wit

My friend Amanda sends me many jokes daily (she must have a facinating job to be doing so much emailing to me...) and today she sent one that is Boulder Belt Blogworthy

The Half-Wit

A man owned a small farm in the south west of WA.
The Department of Consumer & Employment Protection heard that he was not
paying proper wages to his employees and sent an agent down to interview
"I need a list of your employees and how much you pay them,"
demanded the agent.
"Well," replied the farmer, "there's my farm hand who's been with me for
3 years. I pay him $400 a week plus free room and board. The
cook has been here for 18 months, and I pay her $450 per week plus free
room and board. Then there's the half-wit who works about 18 hours
every day and does about 90% of all the work around here. He makes
about $10 per week, pays his own room and board, and I buy him a bottle
of bourbon every Saturday night. He also sleeps with my wife
"That's the guy I want to talk to --- the half-wit," says the
"That would be me," replied the farmer.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Who Owns What

This is the best summery of who owns what in the industrial organic world

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

New Amazon Titles

I put up 4 Michael Pollan titles everyone should read. That is unless you could not care less about what you eat and the state on the industrial food stream (and if you are reading this blog you do care about food).

Buy a book and support a small diversifed local farm. That would be my farm.

Snowy Sunset

I took this shot 3 days ago. The weather profits on TV assured us it was not snowing so I got this shot of huge snowflakes trying to obscure the sun during a snow squall that passed through.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Feb. Winter Market Prep.

We have a farmers market this morning and that meant a 7 hour day harvesting and cleaning produce yesterday. I was surprised how much time it took the two of us to get things together considering all we harvested was leeks, mizuna, red mustard tat soi and spring mix.

The harvesting of greens was nice. It got sunny so the hoop houses warmed up to around 70F quickly. It got so warm I was working in a T-shirt and still pouring sweat. Kind of like working on a hot summer day (okay, a very warm spring day). We did the last major cutting of the spring mix. Eugene felt slow and puny because he is slow at greens harvesting and I am very fast. This is one of the farm, tasks where I am a lot better at it that he is and I think this bruises his ego a bit (but it strokes mine so we are all good and even.). So I ended up with two full plastic grocery bags of spring mix and he had 1/2 a bag. Together we got 15 bags of cleaned spring mix.

We also got 15 leeks from another hoop house. I believe I have mentioned how well leeks do in unheated hoop houses before. They are still doing fantastic and it was a joy to pull and clean them. They also have been very very tasty, perhaps the best leeks I have ever eaten (and I have been eating a lot the past month because we have them and they are sooo damn good). Pulling leeks is a muddy endeavour. You have to get over top of the leek in order to get a clean pull out of the ground. Otherwise, the greens want to beak off and if that happens the leek is ruined for market (but can be dug out of the ground for home use). For me to do this means having to put one foot in the bed (which is a big no no on our farm because walking in beds causes compaction, but sometimes you have to break a rule or two) so I pull straight up. Once the leek is out of the ground the dirt has to be shaken off the root ball and than the roots cut off. This means whomever is pulling leeks will get a lot of dirt on their body and I did. Normally I would not mind the dirt but I did not want to go back to the house, take off my mud covered boots and wash my hands and knife in order to go cut spring mix and not get the salad greens all muddy. But since we got such a haul from the leek hoop house (we also harvested kale, mizuna, tat soi and red mustard) we decided to take all that to the store before harvesting spring mix and that got me close enough to the house to go in and get somewhat cleaned up.

Once the greens and leeks were harvested we turned our attention to cleaning everything we had just picked plus several items that have been put up for winter such as potatoes. We store potatoes with their dirt on and clean as needed as they do not store nearly as well cleaned up. Washing the potatoes was interesting. They are stored in a couple of dead fridges in the barn and are kept naturally, almost at freezing in those fridges. So when we poured the dirty spuds into the wash water it was like pouring several pounds of ice into the water. It was stinging, numbing cold washing the spuds. Not at all fun. But soon enough the potatoes were washed and bagged and put into coolers (or should I say warmers) to keep them from freezing at market

Than there were the rutabagas we harvested a month ago into a couple of buckets and than put the 'bagas dirt, leaves in buckets into the fridge. The fridge has been smelling like rotting cabbage/rutabaga for a while so it was high time to take a good look at the rutabagas and see what's what. And what I found was a whole lot of beautiful 'bagas and few that had been damaged by cold in the field and were slowly rotting away (I believe the stinking culprits). I helped their cause by depositing them into the compost bucket so they can continue to rot and eventually help enrich the soil in which they were grown. For the rest I trimmed the roots and cleaned dirt and got them ready for today.

The final step last night was going through all the onions, garlic and winter squash and tossing out the bad ones. We lost a lot of butternut squash (we will cut them open, remove the seeds for roasting and cook up all good squash parts and freeze the puree for spring summer use) but the delicata squash seemed in excellent shape. The red onions are in sprouting mode. We are saving most to use as onions sets and for seed production (we grow several heirloom onion vareties). But we still have quite a few left. the yellow onions will be in major sprouting mode in 2 to 3 weeks it looks like. the garlic is still doing fine.

After going through everything we than started in on the second to last step before we will be ready to go. putting everything in coolers so they will not freeze at market this morning. In summer we use coolers to keep things cold and in winter we use them to keep things warm. Without them we would lose a lot of produce. So yesterday evening we filled coolers with winter squashes, onions, garlic and potatoes. this morning the carrots, radishes, turnips, chicken and greens will go into coolers. Than everything will be loaded onto the van and we will be off to market by 8:30am this morning so we can be all set up by 9:30am.

Hopefully the locavores will be out enforce and we will sell out.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Gentlepeople Start Your Gardens

Yesterday we started our 2008 growing season by planting onions and leeks in 6" to 10" pots.

We planted 2 kinds of leeks-Lincoln and King Sieg. Lincoln we have been growing for years. It is a very nice slender leek that comes in early (for a leek). King Sieg we grew for the first time last year and really liked it. This is a huge fat leek with great flavor. We still have most of a bed left from the 2007 season in a hoop house that is doing terrif.

We also started a ton of onions (okay, not a ton yet but if all goes well all those seeds should become 2000 pounds of allium goodness). We are doing several heirloom onions including Boulder Belt Sweet (from Walla Walla seeds), Ailsa Craig (another sweet onion), Red Weathersfield (not a good storage onion as almost all from last year have sprouted. But we had seed and lots of it so they are being sowed again this year. they are a popular seller, I believe because they are a weird shape and an heirloom) and some red onion seed Eugene saved in 2006. And we are doing many hybrid onions including Copra, my favorite yellow cooking onion. Great storage onion with fantastic flavor. This will be the 10th season we have grown these. Last year I was going to drop this variety because it was a Semenis variety and Semenis was bought out by Monsanto but Johnny's Selected Seeds found a non Monsanto breeder of Copra onions and is getting the seed from that source so all is good with me and my Copra onions (I really did not want to drop this variety but I also did not want to give any money knowingly to Monsatan so it was a major issue with me last year). Other hybrids include Varsity, a yellow onion we trialed last year and than forgot exactly where they were planted so I am trying them again this year. I believe they are the huge yellow onions that are storing better than the copra and taste almost as good. This year I will do a far better job of writing down the location of the Varsity onions. We also will be growing Mercury red onion (a very nice red onion that replaced another Monsatan/Semenis var we were using called Mars. We grew Mercury for the first time last year and liked it. And like the Red Weathersfield we had a lot of seed from last year.).

We should have started the leeks and onions earlier but we did not for two reasons. One, we did not have all our seeds until early this month and two we use a biodynamic planting calendar called the Stella Natura and it indicated that Feb 14th would be the best day to plant roots of the entire month and we have learned from using this calendar that if you can wait to hit a most auspicious moment it will pay off greatly. Thus we waited for the great root time to plant root seeds. We will likely have better germination and less damping off and other fungal diseases than if we had planted a week earlier.

Next we will start lettuce and brassicas (broccoli, kale, cabbages).

Here's too a great 2008 growing season everyone. Cheers!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

We Got the Fridges!

Wyatt and Eugene moving the second fridge off the second truck. The job is almost done.

Yesterday, after 5 weeks of waiting, we finally picked up our two glass front fridges from Roger Billings in Shelbyville, IN.

Originally we were going to rent a 17' U-haul box truck to get the fridges but that was going to cost something like $275 plus another $150 or so for gasoline. So we nixed that idea and decided we would rent an open trailer for $39.95 from U-haul and use Wyatt's truck to haul the trailer (since he just bought a truck with a nice hitch). We were fine with than plan for several weeks.

Than we could not get a hold of Roger. So we did what anyone who has spent $500 on an eBay auction and than cannot find the seller in order to make arrangements to pick up the items. We freaked out and put a hold on the credit card that was used for the transaction. Than I tried contacting him via eBay (since using his regular email was getting me no where nor were the phone numbers I had) and Voila! That worked. He had not disappeared, he gave me a working phone number and he was expecting us to come by and get the things ASAP. Great. We quickly cancelled the hold on the credit card.

As I mentioned we were planning using Wyatt and his truck to get these things. Wyatt thought he had a line on a free trailer we could use but that fell through so we were back to renting a U-Haul trailer and deciding on a time to do the deed.

Than came an invite to go have dinner at our friend's Jules and rosie (for Rosie's B-day). So over to their house we went and while there started talking about the fridge adventure. Immediatly Rosie wanted to go to Shelbyville. I'm talking about that night.

We did not go to Shelbyville on Sunday night but we did decide we could use Jule's truck and get both fridges in her bed. Got home, looked up the dimensions on the fridges and found they were a bit bigger on the long side than we thought so using Jule's truck was not going to get the job done. We would need to also use Wyatt's truck. So I sent Wyatt an email explaining that we had changed the plans and would be using 2 trucks and no trailer.

Monday morning dawned frigid and cloudy and shortly after 9am Wyatt was at our house ready to go. We were almost ready to go, we were in the middle of feeding the dogs and having a morning smoke. Got done with that and collected up rope, blankets and other things we thought we would need. Wyatt was doubtful that this would work, that there was no place to tie down the fridges, that it would be too hard to get them in and out, etc. basically he regaled us with a bunch of negativety which Eugene chose to ignore while he collected the things we would need for the job.

We drove down to Jules' house. We spent about 20 minutes getting her truck ready to go-it needed oil, air in a tire and gas. Than we were ready to go and started west towards Shelbyville. We had put bad gas in the tank which made the truck run very rough so we stopped in Liberty to fill the tank up and to put some dry gas in the tank. That made the truck run much, much better and we went on our way west on St Rt 44. I had an uneventful trip and some nice conversation with Jules (who is one of my favorite people on the planet). Wyatt and Eugene were behind us.

Got to Shelbyville and found the place with little trouble and after wandering around the place found Roger and soon he was on his fork lift putting fridges on the trucks. By this point Wyatt was pretty convinced that the fridges would not go on the trucks correctly and after they were on he said there was no way to tie them down on his truck so Roger quietly got some new tie downs and tied the fridges down onto Wyatt's truck. So all was ready to go for the trip home.

But Roger was not through with us. He is a concrete person who is in his mid 50's and wants to get out of the business. He makes pavers and statuary and is retiring and selling his building at the end of this month. So this meant he needed to get rid of as much stuff as possible so he gave us a digital scale, several wooden bushel baskets (which we don't really need) some plastic crates that stack and have lids (something we do need), several boxes of tacky objets d'art that Rosie will sell at the 127 yard sale and two rolls of plastic wrap that I have no idea what we will do with. But hey, it was all free. Gotta love free stuff.

With two trucks loaded with fridges and free stuff we set off towards home. We stopped at a Pizza Hut for lunch than headed east.

The trip home was uneventful (thankfully). We drove in the drive way backed Jules' truck up to the store and got busy unloading. Again Wyatt was negative and told us how this would not work. Within 10 minutes we had the first fridge off the truck and in the store. The second fridge on Wyatt's truck was even easier (despite him being even more negative and even more convinced we would not get the fridge off of his truck in one piece) to get off the truck but did get stuck in the doorway for a minute before we finagled it so it would go in the store.

So 30 minutes after we arrived we were done with fridge moving, other than getting them out of the doorway in the store and along the walls where they can be plugged in and used.

Today it is snowing and I am glad we got this done yesterday.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Before You Vote for Hillary Read This.

Check out this open letter to Ms Hillary Clinton and her relationship with industrial ag, Monsanto, biotech. Scary stuff. I was not intending on voting for her in either the Ohio Primary or the national election (if she is nominated) but this does it for me.

Damn I am disappointed that Kucinich is out of the race. At least he was not sullied by such corporate ties. The best we have now is Ron Paul

An Open Letter to Hillary Clinton from Another Wellesley College Alumna

Dear Hillary,

By polling logic, I should be your supporter - Democrat, older woman, white, liberal. I was even in a dorm with you in college. I have pulled for you for years. But something this past summer fundamentally changed my responsibility to my children and grandchildren. In the time I have left in my life to protect them and others, I need to speak out.

I saw a News Hour piece on Maharastra, India, about farmers committing suicide. Monsanto, a US agricultural giant, hired Bollywood actors for ads telling illiterate farmers they could get rich (by their standards) from big yields with Monsanto's Bt (genetically engineered) cotton seeds. The expensive seeds needed expensive fertilizer and pesticides (Monsanto, again) and irrigation. There is no irrigation there. Crops failed. Farmers had larger debt than they'd ever experienced

And farmers couldn't collect seeds from their own fields to try again (true since time immemorial). Monsanto "patents" their DNA-altered seeds as "intellectual property." They have a $10 million budget and a staff of 75 devoted solely to prosecuting farmers. Since the late 1990s (about when industrial agriculture took hold in India),166,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide and 8 million have left the land.

Farmers in Europe, Asia, Africa, Indonesia,South America, Central America and here, have protested Monsanto and genetic engineering for years.

What does this have to do with you?

You have connections to Monsanto through the Rose Law Firm where you worked and through Bill who hired Monsanto people for central food-related roles. Your Orwellian-named "Rural Americans for Hillary" was planned withTroutman Sanders, Monsanto's lobbyists.

Genetic engineering and industrialized food and animal production all come together at the Rose Law Firm, which represents the world's largest GE corporation (Monsanto), GE's most controversial project (DP&L's - now Monsanto's - terminator genes), the world's largest meat producer (Tyson), the world's largest retailer and a dominant food retailer (Walmart).

The inbred-ness of Rose's legal representation of corporations which own controlling interests in other corporations there and of corporate boards sharing members who are also shareholders of each other's corporations there, is so thorough that it is hard to capture. Jon Jacoby, senior executive of the Stephens Group - one of the largest institutional shareholders of Tyson Foods, Walmart, DP&L - is also Chairman of the Board of DP&L and arranged the Wal-Mart deal. Jackson Stephens' Stephens Group staked Sam Walton and financed Tyson Foods. Monsanto bought DP&L. All represented at Rose.

You didn't just work there, you made friends. That shows in the flow of favors then and since. You were invited onto Walmart's board, you were helped by a Tyson executive to make commodity trades (3 days before Bill became governor), netting you $100,000, Jackson Stephens strongly backed Bill for Governor, and then for President (donating $100,000).

read the rest

More SSE Drama

There is a new letter from SSE Founder Kent Whealy and here is the link to the pdf

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

New Titles From Amazon

I have posted 4 new titles and a DVD. The theme this time is cooking. I have listed 3 cookbooks. 2 of them, Moosewood and Silver Palate I own and use a lot and one, Simple Foods I would like to own and use a lot. These are good cook books to have if you are cooking a lot of whole and local foods.

Fast Food Nation is a must read for anyone who cares about what they put in their bodies. It is scary and it is full of fun facts and history about industrial food. I have read this twice and it is probably time I pick it up again. This book was a heavy influence on me as far as becoming a locavore.

The Real Dirt on Farmer John is a DVD about the guy who started and runs Angelic Organics near Chicago, one of the largest CSA's in the USA. This was shown on some PBS stations but none that I can get. I have been told by many people I respect that this is a great flick.

So click on the Amazon links and buy a book or DVD and educate yourself about food and farming all while supporting a small Ohio farm

Warm Feb Morning

It is not even dawn and it is 60˙F and storming. It has been getting steadily warmer ever since we returned from my Father's funeral in northern (Arenac county) Michigan.

Nate is going nuts with his thunder and lightning phobia. Pacing around and periodically barking. How Eugene sleeps through all this I do not know.

This whole climate change is giving me the willies. it is not supposed to be 60 damn degrees at 5am Feb 4th. It should be cold. Yes, we do get winter thaws but we have already had two in January. This just ain't normal. Last Tuesday we had a very severe thunderstorm that knocked down a power pole nearby and deprived us of power for 10 hours. Today the storms are predicted to be worse as it is warmer today than last week by about 5 degrees