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Monday, July 31, 2006

Happy Belated Birthday Dad

Last Friday was my father's 82nd birthday. I was too busy to even call him. Well, I had time after 10pm on Friday night but figured it was too late to call at that point, plus I had a 4:30 wake up call for the next morning.

My father is a an artist who taught architectural design (freshman studio) at Miami University for 30 or so years than retired to the shores of Saginaw Bay where he lives with his wife, Rebecca. I wish I were there right now but farming prevents such trips.

Happy B-Day Dad, I love You

Volunteer Tomatoes

We have a lot of volunteer tomatoes hanging out in the garden. The strawberries have 5 or 6 or them. One is a red grape, one has HUGE pale yellow tinged with orange fruits, one is a yellow taxi, one is a red tomato with big fruits (have no idea what kind of red as it comes from the compost we made this past winter) and another is an opalka with no blossom end rot. This was bad problem with opalkas at the old farm and it also seems to be the only pure opalka we have as the main planting of maters has 3 beds of opalkas and none are looking to type.

In the rhubarb there are about 15 tomato plants. Some have red fruits some are still green so we have no idea what they will turn into.

There is also a tomato hedge running along side a bed of butternut squash. None of the fruits there have ripened at all so again no idea what we have. Could be some nifty crosses or could be specimens of what we planted and composted last year.

It's all a big uncontrolled experiment.

All of these plants have been allowed to sprawl all over the place unlike the for real plantings that get supported via the Florida Weave so we do not lose maters to rot and bug damage from ground insects (we get enough damage from cut worms and hornworms, thank you very much). So far the volunteers have sustained zero damage from being allowed to sprawl and this may be because they were not started inside under lights and transplanted. Instead, these got to germinate precisely when they were ready and did not have to endure transplant shock so that makes them stronger than the coddled plants that we planted.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Learning Experiences

It's the busy season for us farmers so that is why I have not been posting very often.

Lots of produce is beginning to come in enforce- tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, cucumbers, strawberries, green beans all need to be harvested daily plus the onions are about ready to come out and that's a big job pulling them than finding a place to cure them. And now that we are buying in large amounts of sweet corn we are having a storage space problem-most of these things need to be in refrigeration, especially in the heat and humidity we are having-but the corn is taking up more than its' fair share of space meaning that some things have to be kept in coolers with ice packs or left out in the heat. Fortunately sales at the farm store are picking up steadily so each day we get rid of more and more corn leaving more and more space for other things. Of course, we order more corn and have the same crisis of space when it is delivered. Ah c'est la vie

We do have a reprieve of sorts, in that we have had so much rain the past 2 weeks (9.25 inches in less than 8 days-most of it falling in two 24 to 36 hour periods) that the first two carrot plantings have completely rotted. So at least we do not have to find cold storage for several hundred pounds of carrots. The first potatoes have also been badly hurt by the excessive ground moisture as well. At least the taters are not a total lost like the carrots, which are orange mushy spikes. The taters have some solidity and about 1/3 are quite useable but the rest...well lets just say rotting spuds are not the best smelling things in the world.

I would be very upset about these crop failures but we knew this would be a learning year for us. Each piece of land is different and it takes several seasons to know what your land is all about. So far we have learned that the north edge of our top field is too wet for root crops but would be good for corn, basil, eggplant, celery, strawberries and other water loving crops. Eugene plans on opening up about 30 new beds on the south edge of the the top field because that area is very very well drained and there should be not problems with roots getting water logged. Plus that area is much closer to the water supply so it it gets too dry we can easily irrigate the area.

We also know that our bottom field wants to be a wetlands very badly and we may develop it back into one. But it has to be a profitable wetlands environment so we have to find out what sort of food plants would work in a very wet area with what we assume to be gladed soils (though the ground just may be really rich top soil like a silt loam since it is at the bottom of a terminal moraine).

Than there is the fact that the people here in Preble County who stop by the farm store have different tastes in food than the people who come to the Oxford farmers' Markets. Eggplant and baby specialty zucchinis, for example, are not flying off the shelves here but in Oxford are strong sellers. So either we switch to different crops or we educate the public as to the wonders of these exotic varieties we grow. Probably a bit of both will happen over the years.

And that is all I have time for today, the store is open and I have people setting up tents and tables for the big 127 Yard sale this coming weekend. And it is HOT.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Boulder belt Prepping for the World's Longest Yard Sale

The 127 yard sale is taking over our lives for the next couple of weeks. we are participating by renting spaces and setting up to sell produce, water and treasures ranging from a huge stainless steel tank to a hammond organ that basically works to a washer dryer stacking unit to lots of antique canning jars (sans lids) to framed photos, to arrowheads (made by Eugene) to melons to sweet corn to Goddess knows what else.

Plus we have a guy selling dulcimers. A friend selling knives, way cool walking sticks and other items. Another friend will have her hand made glass beads and beadwork. Perhaps we will have a soap maker. Who knows who will show up but you can bet they will have some interesting items.

I am hoping to do some 127 Yard Sale blogging BUT I do not have a laptop nor do I have any kind of wireless access (still in dail-up land). So running in the house to upload photos to the blog and write content may be iffy. Than again it may not we will see.

All I know it this will be a 4 day selling marathon. We are renting out spaces in a primo spot for $10 a day for a 12' x 12' space and we have rented a Port-A-John for the event.

If you are a junque afficanado drive the western Ohio 127 Corridor and see some beautiful country side and spot some great finds

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Things Get Better

The day got a lot better after I wrote that last entry. First off the fridge was an easy fix. We had a professional come out and he looked at he fan and said he could do one of two things. Either he goes into Richmond (IN) and gets us a part and installs it and charges us $100 an hour plus the part or we go and get the part and put it on ourselves. So we say we will do the leg work and he tells us where to buy the part and than we talk with him for about 15 minutes about walk-in coolers and they like and other things and than he leaves and tells us no charge. Way cool. He knows potential work when he sees it since when we do put in a walk in cooler we will need someone to put in the refrigeration for it and it will likely be him all because he treated us very very fairly.

Went and got the part and that trip also allowed us to do some household shopping (something I was wondering when we would be able to do in the next 5 days). The fan cost $5.50 plus tax and Eugene put it in in about 2 minutes and now the fridge runs great. The problem now is it is not big enough for all the produce we obviously need to have on hand to do this farm store bidniss (hence the earlier talk of putting in a walk in. I can see a 15' x 15' cooler is what we need for now).

Opened the store at noon and started what turned into our best sales day thus far. We sold a lot of corn, okay we really did not sell a lot of corn, about 18 dozen which may sound like a lot but I think soon we will be able to sell about 50 dozen on a decent day and perhaps 100 dozen on a good day. We also had a person inquire about renting space for the 127 yard sale and a guy who wants to buy one of our many broken mowers (we have two at the moment taking ups space). Our friend jules came out to buy a dozen ears of corn and check out where she will be setting up her tents for the 127 Yard Sale. She hung out with us for about an hour while we harvested things. It was the first time she had really seen the gardens even though she has been out to the farm several times and she said they looked really impressive (they do). And an added bonus was seeing my friend Marge who recently had heart surgery. She came out to buy produce with another friend of our Lisa and Ann from Seattle whom I had not met before. 3 menopausal hippie chicks-wonderful. It was terrific to see Marge I had missed her presence.

The end of the day took a bit of a down turn as I had to deal with these huge cabbages and very little fridge space. We did sell enough corn to open up enough for 5 to go in the fridge but the rest had to stay in coolers with ice packs on them. I hope that is enough to keep them from rotting. Rotting cabbage smells pretty gosh durned bad.

And now I am cooking dinner and happy to be done with a day that turned into a much better day than it started out to be.


Sometimes farming sucks. It is hot and very very humid, you have to do hard physical work, things are not selling and than your main fridge breaks with over $1000 worth of produce in it.

That's been the past couple of days.

We have this rather large commercial fridge which has been making loud noises for several months. Eugene diagnosed the noise as the fan by the compressor unit being badly out of center and though he had fixed the problem. it is true that the noise had gotten quieter. But this morning he noticed that the fridge was making weird noises so he went and shut it down and checked the compressor and found that the fan had lost a blade (i.e. it was shot). So we call Lowman's Heating and they will be out later today (at least we have found a local company that will deal with commercial equipment which is a good thing and we will likely be using these guys to install a furnace for the house sometime this summer).

Normally having a broken fridge would be worrisome but not horribly stressful but yesterday we bought a whole lot of produce to sell at the store (sweet corn mainly) from a not certified organic farm near St Paris, OH so we have a fridge full of sweet corn and lots of other produce that needs to stay cold (and by full I mean we cannot put anything else in there until things get sold-it's packed tight). The upside to this is the fridge is packed with produce that did manage to get cold yesterday and as long as we don't open the doors things should stay around 55˚F until the unit gets fixed later this morning (assuming, over night, the broken fan did not cause the whole compressor unit to fail and a part needs to be ordered meaning we have no fridge for the weekend).

On the corn we ordered a lot of corn-50 dozen- and some way huge cabbages (they are the size of basketballs-I was expecting something smaller) and a few other items that all came in yesterday. Because we had a lot of corn we opened the store up (normally we are open Thursday and Sundays) and managed to sell 4 dozen ears and 1 cabbage. This caused us a great deal of stress figuring out where to put all the produce so it would stay cold and not rot on us (otherwise we get to spend several hundred dollars on compost ingredients). So around 8pm we were trying to get everything in the fridge, it was hot and humid, we were stressed and we had not eaten much all day so were literally starving (farming takes a lot of calories and when you also are dealing with your body having to cool itself as well you can get into a physical bind). By 10pm we were eating hamburgers from locally raised pastured beef and sweet corn (which is excellent corn). Than went to bed around 11:30pm so we could be up by 6am (really need to get up earlier but we need at least 6 hours of sleep to function).

I guess it is not all bad we have a beautiful farm, the garden is doing quite well, our sales at the farmers' markets are great and we are getting some help out here. But anyone who thinks that sustainable farming is all fun has not farmed for a living. Farming is hard work with long hours often under adverse conditions and the pay is crap. Even us organic farmers who seem to be charging an arm and a leg for our food are not making big bucks. What you are paying is what it costs for us to make a living wage (or something kind of close to it-we ain't getting rich).

To all you farming wannabes, you folks that have this insane romantic image of farming as being stress free and fun I suggest working full time on a farm for a full season before jumping in. You may find you do not like the grueling schedule, the stress, the sore muscles or the fact if you have livestock you cannot do things like leave for more than 18 hours or take a vacation ever (unless you can find a competent farm sitter and those are about as common as hens teeth). When you choose to farm you will end up married to the farm and all its inhabitants and they will demand all of your time.

Farmers reading this know what I am talking about.

Monday, July 17, 2006

127 Yard Sale and a Community Dinner

Lots of things to do involving Boulder Belt the first weekend of August.

First up is the 127 yard sale. We will be sellin' hard from Aug 3rd through Aug 6th, likely from dawn to dusk. we will have produce, crafts and yard sale items we have collected over the years...lots of yard sale items. Plus we have several other vendors showing up who will have things like handmade glass bead jewelry, dulcimers, knives, baked goods and who knows what else.

If you want a spot on 127 to sell your stuff give me a buzz for details.


• Thursday, August 3, 5:00- 7:30 pm

Featuring Marshall Burke, Oxford Resident, MOON member, former

executive chef at the Hotel Intercontinental Miami FL and former Food

Director at the 5-Star, 7000-acre, Casa de Campo Resort in the Dominican


• Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, 25 East Walnut St., Oxford

• $14 per adult, $6 per child under 12 yrs., free for children 3 yrs. &


• Extra parking available in the city garage one block away

• Questions? Call Amy at 523-4981 or Bernadette at 523-3990

• Carry out available

• Uptown concert that night too!

"Chef Mars" recipes for the summer dinner have been especially created

to take advantage of the seasonal produce that will be available from

local growers.

Curried Eggplant Salad

Cucumber Sunomono Salad

Grilled Chicken "Chimichurri" (an Argentinean sauce)

Vegetarian Pasta Station

Peach-Strawberry Shortcake

This is a fund raiser and membership drive to help move us toward our

goal of opening a member-owned natural foods and products cooperative

storefront. We must have more members before we can apply for a bank

loan to open the store. Please encourage the people you know to join.


I doubt we will be able to attend this dinner but we will have food there. we are shareholders in MOON and support what they do and maybe someone at the yard sale can break away and bring back a lot of carryout. but just because we cannot attend dowes not mean You cannot attend (unless you are hundreds of miles away from Oxford, OH). Chef Mars has an impressive resume and I have met him now several times now and he seems to be a good guy. I wish I could help out doing prep work for this dinner with him. I used to cook in fine dinning restarants for a living and get a real kick out of doing restarant work every once in a while. Oh well, perhaps he will do another MOON dinner at a time I can volunteer my services

Boulder Belt Gardening Advice

This past Saturday at the farmers' market, a guy who often buys things from us came to our stand with a tomato leaf wondering what was wrong with it. This sort of thing happens regularly to us, people asking for gardening advice, and Eugene and I give it out freely.

Okay, so this guy has this tomato leaf and is wondering what is wrong with his plants. He describe horrible fungal problems and that the bottom leaves were turning yellow and falling off. The leaf looked fine on first inspection, except for some sort of white stuff that had burned the tip of the leaf . I noticed that he did have aphids on his tomato leaf and said he could get rid of his aphid problem by putting a humming bird feeder or getting some ladybugs on his plants as long as he had not already used any pesticides. At that point he said he had used Sevin to get rid of the fungus problems which made Eugene recoil in horror and quickly give back the leaf which he had been examining.

I than started explaining that Sevin is a pesticide, not an herbicide and you cannot use Sevin and than start using natural methods and expect good result. I told him that the sevin had killed off not only the pest insects but also the beneficial predator insects and that because the pests are at the bottom of the food chain they are in much much great numbers and reproduce much more quickly and would be back several weeks before the predators begin to recover and he would actually end up with a far worse problem than is he had done nothing and let nature do the work for him. This seem to go over his head but he did ask how to deal with the aphids without using Sevin and I said soap spray is pretty effective as long as he sprays both the tops and bottoms of the leaves. I also mentioned that Sevin dust is only truly effective if the tops and bottoms of the leaves are dusted with it and he asked how to do this and I said you put it in a shaker and make a cloud of dust around the plant and that will do the trick (we organic people do use natural pesticides in dust for such as Bt so I have experience here). Than I told him you cannot breath in the dust because it is very toxic to humans so if he opted to keep using the stuff he would need a Haz-Mat suit and a good breathing apparatus. This seemed to alarm him a bit and he went away.

He came back later and again asked about his garden and mentioned using Sevin again and felt he could not have a good garden without resorting to this heavy duty poison. Betty Quantz, who was at our stand at the time, looked horrified and said loudly to never use such stuff, that Sevin was an Agent Orange ingredient (I don't know if it is true since AO is an herbicide and we are talking insecticides, but it was effective to get it across to this guy he was dealing with some bad stuff). Than the guy asked "But how can I have clean vegetables without using pesticides" and Betty looked at him and said look at Eugene and Lucy's produce, it is clean and they use zero poisons (which is true on both counts) and have a huge garden. He looked thoughtful and scampered away. Perhaps some of this sunk in and he will start using organic methods, perhaps not. But he did get an earful at market.

Now my main problem with all of this is not that he was using really toxic crap that kills off any insect it touches thus spinning the environment more our of balance (this does bother me a lot, don't get me wrong here). No, my main problem is with people who use these dangerous chemicals with no clue (which seems to be most of America). He was using Sevin for a fungal problem when it is an insecticide. By Federal law it states clearly on the label what it is to be used for and also states it is unlawful to use such products in an incorrect manner (which he was doing). People do not read the labels so they pump deadly poisons into the ecosystem needlessly. Look folks, if you garden do us all a favor and gets some books and read up on plant pests and diseases. Learn what the chemicals are in your garden shed and how to use them (it's on the labels and is the law fer chrissake) or better yet learn about organic methods and get rid of those nasty chemicals (but please do not just toss them down the drain or in a landfill, get rid of them properly). There are literally thousands of books and websites about gardening make use of these. there is really no excuse for the ignorance I see over garden chemicals. I wish the feds would make a law that required ALL gardeners who use toxins to take the pesticide applicator classes and test that all conventional farmers have to take. Of course if that happened corporations such as Dow and Monsanto would not make nearly as much $$$ because there would be a lot less wasting of garden chemicals due to wrong usage. But the planet would a lot less of the toxic load it now has since most of the toxic chem use comes from home gardeners, not farmers.

It is quite possible to grow a beautiful and bountiful garden with zero poisons, I have been making my living doing this for over a decade. Granted there is a steep learning curve and it takes years to get a garden ecosystem back in balance but that's the thing about gardening as a hobby-you are always learning new things. And if you get rid of the poisons you will start seeing wonderful life returning to your garden ecosystem to help you out. Remember that 97% of all insects are beneficial during some point in their life cycle and that alone is ample reason to go organic but there are millions of others.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Heat Wave Harvest

The weather prophets say we are going have a heat wave-great...But I guess it is summer and I am in SW Ohio so this is to be expected.

Right now I am killing time blogging and drinking coffee waiting for the sun to come up enough to go to work so I can get things harvested before it gets too hot, which I figure will be around 9 or 10am.

Fridays are always a harvesting event with me because Saturdays are always market days. At least we do not have all that much to harvest so it should not take more the 5 or 6 hours to get things in.

Well it is definitely sunrise so I gotta go...

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Judge Rules Against Farmer in Ohio Raw Milk Case

Judge rules against farmer in raw milk case

MILLERSBURG, Ohio - A judge has ruled that a state law prohibiting the sale of raw milk does not violate an Amish dairy farmer's religious beliefs and has ordered him not to sell unlabeled milk from his farm.

Arlie Stutzman, who owns a herd of 27 cows near Mount Hope, in northeast Ohio, appeared in court June 30 to protest a law that he says violates his religious beliefs because it prohibits him from sharing milk he produces with others.

Judge Thomas D. White wrote that Stutzman may give his unpasteurized milk away to people in need, but may not accept money for it.

"Calling the compensation for milk a 'donation' is clearly a subterfuge to skirt the requirements of the law," White wrote in his decision issued Friday.

Stutzman lost his dairy license after an undercover agent from the Ohio
Department of Agriculture gave him $2 for a gallon of milk last September. He was cited for selling milk in an unlabeled container. He got a new license in April.

Sales of raw milk are illegal in Ohio and 24 other states.

"We're pleased with the decision and it makes a lot of sense," said Melanie Wilt, spokeswoman for the agriculture department. "The judge understands Ohio's dairy laws are there to protect consumers."

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Raw Milk; What can't it Do? (and a Yogurt Recipe)

As I have mentioned in the past I use raw milk and because of that I now make many dairy products that I used to buy from the store. The other day I made my own butter from the cream I poured off the top of a gallon. It is great butter, creamy and bight butter yellow, far brighter than factory farmed butter. This surprised me and I don't know why. Grass fed hens lay eggs with deep yellow/orange yolks while factory farmed hens lay an egg with an incipid, pale yellow yolk. So it stands to reason that raw milk from pastured cows would make a fabulous deep yellow butter. To make the butter I take cream and put it in the blender and run it for about 10 minutes. Than I pour the liquid and butter chunks into a sieve and squeeze out the remaining liquid from the butter et voilà! home made butter and butter milk.

I also make yogurt from the raw milk (which I will be doing later this morning) and it is very good yogurt. For yogurt the milk needs to be heated to around 160˚F than allowed to cool to 110˚F before adding a teaspoon of yogurt to the warm milk. Don't worry about getting the milk too hot it will still work even if it is heated to 230˚F- been there done that courtesy of my Husband starting a batch of yogurt and not telling me there was milk heating on the stove and discovering rapidly boiling/burning milk. The yogurt is stirred in well (I stir for about 1 minute) than I transfer the the milk and yogurt culture to as many clean quart yogurt containers as I need (I usually make 1/2 gallon at a time). I suppose I could use glass canning jars also, which would be better than using plastic containers. The last step is to put the containers of liquid yogurt somewhere warm (around 95˚F to 105˚F) to set up for 18 to 24 hours. Do not disturb the containers while this is happening. It is done when it is a semi solid.

I also make 1/2 & 1/2 by pouring off the cream and than adding milk to that. I shake it before adding to my (fair trade organic) coffee.

I have not tried my hand at cheese yet but I am seriously thinking about it. Nor have I done any sour cream, though yogurt is close enough for me not to use the cream in this manner.

At first, I though at $4.50 a gallon this stuff was pricey but we no longer buy half and half or yogurt from the store which was costing about $8 a week for industrial pasteurized/homogenized dairy (organic would have been double that, if I could have even found it at the local Kroger's and still pasteurized/homogenized). So for $9 a week I get my coffee creamer, a half pound of butter, 2 quarts of yogurt and 1.25+ gallons of milk and all of it with a lot more nutrients than what I could buy at the store.

Wot a Deal!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

RIP Sid Barrett

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

LONDON - Syd Barrett, the troubled Pink Floyd co-founder who spent his last years in reclusive anonymity, has died, the band said Tuesday. He was 60.

A spokeswoman for the band said Barrett died several days ago, but she did not disclose the cause of death. Barrett had suffered from diabetes for years.

The surviving members of Pink Floyd - David Gilmour, Nick Mason, Roger Waters and Richard Wright - said they were "very upset and sad to learn of Syd Barrett's death."

"Syd was the guiding light of the early band lineup and leaves a legacy which continues to inspire," they said in a statement.

Barrett co-founded Pink Floyd in 1965 with Waters, Mason and Wright, and wrote many of the band's early songs. The group's jazz-infused rock and drug-laced, multimedia "happenings" made them darlings of the London psychedelic scene. The 1967 album "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" - largely written by Barrett, who also played guitar - was a commercial and critical hit.

But Barrett suffered from mental instability, exacerbated by his use of LSD. His behavior grew increasingly erratic, and he left the group in 1968 - five years before the release of Pink Floyd's most popular album, "Dark Side of the Moon" - to be replaced by Gilmour.

Barrett released two solo albums - "The Madcap Laughs" and "Barrett" - but soon withdrew from the music business altogether. An album of previously unreleased material, "Opel," was issued in 1988.

He reverted to his real name, Roger Barrett, and spent much of the rest of his life living quietly in his hometown of Cambridge, England. Moving into his mother's suburban house, he passed the time painting and tending the garden. His former bandmates made sure Barrett continued to receive royalties from his work with Pink Floyd.

He was a familiar figure to neighbors, often seen cycling or walking to the corner store, but rarely spoke to the fans and journalists who sought him out over the years.

Despite his brief career, Barrett's fragile, wistful songs influenced many musicians, from David Bowie - who covered the Barrett track "See Emily Play" - to the other members of Pink Floyd, who recorded the album "Wish You Were Here" as a tribute to their troubled bandmate.

It contained the song "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" - "Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun." The band also dwelt on themes of mental illness on the albums "Dark Side of the Moon" and "The Wall."

The band spokeswoman said a small, private funeral would be held.

The Silicone Pan

I bought one of those silicone pans a couple of weeks ago and really like it. It replaces a pan that was rusting out and would transfer that rust to anything that was baked in it making the brownie, biscuit, cake, etc. Taste really weird and look even stranger on the bottom.

I got an 8" x 8" brownie pan because I bake a lot of brownies (Eugene is quite partial to chocolate things and especially brownies) and I did not have an 8" x 8" brownie pan and the rusting pan I was replacing (an 8" x 13") was more often than not used for brownies. Plus I wanted to see if I even liked this kind of pan so I bought the cheapest (smallest) one they had at K-Mart for under $9.00.

On the good side the pan is the correct size and cannot rust. It is really a non stick pan and it is a nice blue color. And it turns out some killer brownies.

On the bad side it is very very floppy so it must be supported by a cookie sheet so when you remove the full pan from the oven you do not crack the baked item. I will put up with this not to have a nonstick coating that is Teflon™ based or a rusty pan.

I can see these silicone pans as being great for camping because they are light and can be rolled up and put in a pack.

I just hope they do not find that these are carcinogenic. So many modern wonders turn out to be deadly.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Another AdSense Post

I was given some good advise about filtering my Adsense Ads . Now there will not be any more Miracle Gro™ ads displayed on this Eco-Farm blog.

Today I noticed a Murray Mc Murray ad we used to get our chickens from there but decided to get ours more locally at Mt Healthy Hatcheries. That said, Murray McMurray has one of the best catalogues on the planet, I don't care what the product is. It is the best poultry catalogue around, hands down.

Nice to have some semblance of control over this ad thing so this blog can generate some guilt free revenues to keep the farm going. You can support this small sustainable farm by clicking on our sponsors if you cannot actually come to the farm to buy our wonderful food.

Busy Sunday

Had a busy Sunday.

Got up kinda late at 7am. We went to a party at our friend Pekar's house in Lakengren. Had a good time at the party, ate lots of food, drank beer had good conversation got to stare at a bonfire. But we stayed up too late (a perk of not having chickens that need closing at sunset). Got home after midnight, watched some really bad animation on SNL and went to bed shortly before 1am. Hence getting up kinda late.

The plan was to get the onions weeded, the yard mowed and the store open for business and all of that happened plus some serious japanese beetle killing on the grapes and eggplant. The removal and storage of row covers and the hoops that hold up the row covers from the winter squash beds also happened. A TV bonus.

The onions look good. They are a surprising plant as they tend to look really weak and spindly for the longest time than suddenly they start making big robust onion bulbs. And this is exactly what is happening. Looks like we will have a good onion crop which means we will have a lot of onions because we planted a lot of onions.

Sales at the store were slow but the best day we have had so far. I believe we made $30 on the day and had 3 people stop, all of whom bought several items and one was a repeat customer. I expect we will have fairly slow sales for another month than they will pick up when we have sweet corn and red tomatoes. But I think it will take 2 years to really get things going out here.

But I believe we have the luxury of time as our farmers' market sales are way up over last year and we also will be participating in the 127 Yard Sale-"The World's Longest Yard sale" Aug. 3rd thru 6th (Thursday Thru Sunday) both as a vendor and a market manager/owner. We plant to rent 12' x12' spaces for $10 a day. No water or electric just space on the yard sale route. Already have 5 spaces called for. I have long wanted to participate in the event and the year we move onto US 127 the event comes to Ohio. Talk about Karma. But I digress. It will take time to build up a customer base but it will happen (it is happening!) and in a couple of years we will be doing killer business out of the store.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Chicken Killing Time

The rock cornish hens out on pasture hunting bugs, eating greens and organic grain.

Tomorrow we get our chickens killed and processed and when they come back to us they will will be vacuumed packed and delicious. We take our birds to a farm in EC Darke county, King and Sons, that has a growing state inspected certified organic poultry and rabbit abbitioir. We have been using them for at least 10 years and they do a great job of processing the birds. Because it is a family business and local the money we spend getting the chickens processed stays in the area. And it is quite a bit of money-around $3.50 a bird. But when we get our birds back they look professionaly done and they have an ODA inspection seal on them which means we can sell them about anywhere in Ohio.

I find it is money well spent as we do not like butchering and cleaning the birds, especially without the correct equipment. We have done it before but it was not easy and it took us about an hour per bird to get the job done and the birds looked awful (we "butchered" them so to speak). The Kings get a bird completely processed in about 5 minutes so 50 birds at the Kings is done in about 2 hours vs 50 birds at Boulder Belt being done in about 3 days. We could buy the equipment to kill our own but that would be around a $2,000 to $5,000 investment and than we would lose the inspection so the birds could only be sold directly off the farm. And since we only do 100 to 200 birds a year it would take us about 10+ years to recoup the investment over using others to kill our birds for us.

That, and we at Boulder Belt find the whole killing process Icky. So we get others to do the dirty work for us and it is still hard for us to do, though it gets a bit easier every time we take a batch of birds up to be killed. The first time we took chickens up to be killed we cried like babies and were depressed for several days and really questioned doing this sort of farming. But the chickens were so tasty and healthful and since we are omnivores we decided we needed to get over our sensitivity or go vegan. Eating factory farmed chickens is NOT an option, they are bad meat as far as my palate is concerned. Now we no longer cry over the birds but we do feel a bit down for a while after the deed is done.

The upside is we suddenly have one less chore to do. We no longer have to devote several hours each day starting at sunrise to the care and feeding of 50 birds and that, my friends, will be a big relief. We are so tied to being home in order to feed and water them. Especially making sure they are put in their moveable coops at sunset so no predators get to them. This puts such a damper on our social life as we cannot stay out past dusk.

As you can see, killing day is a bittersweet time for us. It is hard to take the life of another living being but as people who eat meat we do appreciate the wonderful meals these birds will provide as well as needed income for the farm. And it is nice not to be chained to the chickens and be able to have some freedom to leave and return to the farm when we want.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

New Mower

Happy Independence day!

I say this even as we Americans lose more and more of our independence. But I still love my country even if I do not particularly like or trust my government.

For the 4th of July we are taking the day off. It is Tuesday and normally this time of year that means we do an afternoon farmers' market in Oxford. But since we are having a national holiday we have opted to miss the market. The major threat of thunderstorms all afternoon down in oxford has also helped us to make the decision to no go to market today. Instead we will go to a 4th of July party just north of Oxford, weather permitting.

it's been a hot miserable 4th of July weekend. We spend Saturday at the farmers' market which was surprisingly good for us than afterwards we went to our friends the McKinstry's for lunch and some hanging out time since we do not see these guys nearly enough (I have been friends with them for over 20 years). We had so much fun that we did not get back home until around 5pm saturday.

Sunday we went to Yellow Springs, OH and hung out with Eugene's family and ate red meat and sweated. I think it got up to 95˚F-yuck. But it was nice to see everyone. While we were there I found the classified ads and looked at the mower possibilities (about a week ago I wrote about our mower dying and we did take the part to a mower fix-it guy and he called last week and said it would cost $315 to fix the part or we could pay $340 for a new part or we could find a working mower). I showed the mower ads to Eugene who called a guy near Miamisburg who had a John Deer for $675 and set up an appointment to go look at the thing for monday.

Monday came and we did some light farm work picking green beans, French filet beans, strawberries and sugar snap peas in the morning before the heat and humidity became unbearable. Came in and took showers (this is something we rarely do-take a cool shower mid day but we were hot and sweaty and it felt soooo good) and than ran some errands in New Paris and Richmond such as finally closing out our old checking account. Than we came back home and made arrangements to go look at the mower in Miamisburg and at 4pm got in the van and drove to look at the thing and by 6pm we were the new owners of a 1993 JD riding mower. Now we will no longer have to worry about our grass getting too long and our neighbors will know we have high moral standards because our lawn will look good.

Funny that, we Americans gauge the morality of our neighbors based on how their lawns look not really on their actions. I mean a person could be brutal to his wife and kids but if his lawn is manicured no one will suspect anything for a long time. But if that lawn is unkempt (I am not talking about the classic Redneck yard complete with cars up on blocks and a burned out trailer) than the person is suspected of being a very immoral person, possibly a drug dealer or at the very least a drunk when in fact they could just be too poor to afford a mower and gas or (as in our case) the mower broke and we took our time dealing with all our options. And I am glad we did weigh all our options and found a good quality mower for not a great deal of money.

Have a happy 4th my fellow 'Murkins

Sunday, July 02, 2006

CSA Blogs

I was just cruising Technocrati and decided to see what was listed under CSA. There are a lot of french blogs using the acronym as well as a lot of blogs devoted to Confederate state of America but what I was looking for are the Community Supported agriculture blogs and there are quite a few out there and below are links to several I found surfing this morning.

Adjective Noun
Anna & David Love the Dog
Alice Q. Foodie Love the name
Peak Oil Blues
The Holistic Kitchen
CSA Cycle Tour This is a blog done by a group in Michigan touring Michigan CSA's this summer. Facinating. Really shows the individuality of each CSA farm.
Buy Local...

If you got here because I linked to your site please put up a link on your blog to this site (than we all get more traffic and more people get to learn about the wonders of local food and CSA's).

If you want to join a CSA after reading so many good things about them click on the local harvest link on the side bar and you will get listings of CSA's near you.

If you thought this was about civil war stuff, sorry...

Healing Foods Reference

My Brother sent me this URL and it is a way cool site for those of us who are into learning more about the effects from the foods we eat.

Go check out Healing Foods Reference

The site also sez that mammograms may be a cause of breast cancer. Would not surpirse me. A self exam seems to catch as many incidences as a mammogram. The only problem with Breast self exams is so many women do not do them on a regular basis (or at all!). Women, do not be squeamish about touching your own body, it could just save your life.

Where's George?

Had a surprisingly good market yesterday. Usually the markets on 4th of July weekend suck but not this year. And to top it off I got not 1, but 2 "Where's George" dollars in change.

Where's is a money tracking web site where people enter bills and track where they go. I have been doing this for about 6 years. I am not a terribly committed "Where's George" user. I generally only enter bills upon which I find with a stamp or hand written "Where's" message. Though sometimes I will deface a $1 or a $5 with "Where's". So far I have entered 204 bills, mostly $1 bills, worth $616. Some members have defaced and/or entered 50,000+ bills. I would call those people power users (aka get a life folks)