Thursday, December 24, 2009

Farming nightmare...

I had a hard time sleeping last night, so the question is what keeps a farmer up at night?

Well, it was August 8th and not only had we not started the season yet (the peas were growing to ENORMOUS SIZE.) but we had only 12 members. And I was supposed to get more members, in August!?!

I woke up so anxious until I remembered it was the night before Christmas Eve, my family was visiting, and all was right with the world...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

KitchenAid - two things in one day!

If you are a regular or occasional reader of my blog you know how unhappy I am with my KitchenAid Stove and just KitchenAid in general. Well today I get to add TWO items to my "Why I hate KitchenAid" list.

In case you had not noticed Christmas is less then two weeks away! OMG! How did that happen?!?!

Well, I woke up to that reality today, probably because yesterday my niece asked about the BEST cookies, and was I making them? Well the "best" cookies are Christmas tree (sour cream) press cookies covered in an confectionery sugar icing and sprinkles. Last year she ate dozens of the things. I accused my husband and my brother in law of eating them all, and no one noticed that it seemed that Ellie, ALWAYS had a cookie in her hand or pocket. The dog noticed way before us, and took to following her around, and she probably gave him a couple dozen! Anyway with that kind of cookie consumption I better get going!

So I started this morning. First I made a double batch of my mom's "Hungarian Christmas cookie" dough. It is simple: flour, butter, and sour cream. But this simple dough puffs so well! So that got put in the fridge to chill.

Then I made some Springelle dough, and rolled it out, cut them and set them on the wood cutting board to dry until tonight.

Finally, I made a double batch of the sour cream press cookies. The reason I have a 6 quart "Professional" KitchenAid mixer is because of Christmas. I usually make cookies pretty non-stop for 2 weeks. I used to give them as gifts, until I decided they were not appreciated, but still there are a dozen or more types on my list every year, and I make at least a double recipe of each one.

So anyway during the process of making the dough my mixer died. It stopped mixing and starting clicking. I immediately turned it off, pulled the dough off, and it went around OK. I put it back in the dough, it went around one time and stopped!

I yelled a curse word! (or three.) Farmer Hubby came in and asked what was wrong. I told him the damned thing stopped working again! (Two years ago I broke it at Christmas making Marshmallows.) My dear husband is a very handy guy and the first thing he did was break out the screwdriver and pull the case off. About 5 minutes of Internet research reveled that a plastic piece inside the thing was replaced with a metal piece. Huh? Our problem?

Turns out it was. The plastic piece flexes which causes damage to the gears. So I now have 2 gears, a bearing, and (new and improved) metal housing on it's way to us. The damage $83. Last time we had to fix the thing KitchenAid wanted us to send it to them in a special ($89) box so they could tell us what was wrong with it. That time hubby was able to just replace a fuse (3 for $2 at Radio Shack) and the thing was fixed.

This will slow down cookie production, but thankfully I have a second mixer, a 4 quart model (350 watts instead of 525) that was a gift from hubby last year, as a response to my complaints that my 6 quart mixer has a problem mixing anything less then a double recipe, of almost anything. Now I wish he had got me a SunBeam instead of the KitchenAid.

I finished mixing the dough by hand and was ready to start baking. Should be quick, press cookies, one sheet can hold 3-1/2 dozen and bakes in 10-12 minutes. Well, 10-12 minutes if your stove is being good that day and holding temp, which mine is not! So annoying! It comes up to temp at 375 and by the end of the 12 minutes it is down in the mid-low 300s (went as low as 225!) So I started reheating the oven in between every cookie batch, turning the oven off and preheating back up to 375. Added 5 minutes plus to every batch.

Sigh. I hope it behaves better, but I need to figure out some holiday meals I can do without worrying to much about the stove, to spare a repeat of Thanksgiving.

Well, back to work with me! Lots to do in the 4 days before company comes...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

My food day!

I figure I should blog, because I am watching Julie & Julia. And since I am watching a show about food blogging, sure I will blog about today's menu in our house. (Please note this is not a typical day.)

For breakfast/lunch today my loving hubby made me his best breakfast. I honestly don't know if it has an official name, but here is what he does. He takes a couple slices of good fresh bakery bread, cubes it and browns it in a pan with some butter. Then he adds some onions and diced potatoes (both ours). When they are browned as well we mix in some of our eggs (beaten) and serve like an omelet with a little ketchup and sarachi sauce. Yummy!

Yesterday we stopped at Costco and hubby tryed some of their lobster bisque which was OK, but a bit oily. They had some huge, beautiful lobster tails so we got one because I was going to try to make bisque. Well, a 1-1/2 pound Bahamian lobster tail is not what you need for that project. You need lots of shells (as it turns out when I looked up bisque recipes.) So instead I decided to make a lobster mac and cheese. I used Ina Garter;s recipe from Food Network and it came out pretty well. Actually, it was the best baked mac and cheese I have ever made, as it did not get oily which they often seem to! But the lobster, while good, was not as prominent as I would have liked with $20 of it in there! Still it was good.

Then came the words out of my hubby's mouth I hate hearing "Did you get anything for desert?" Well no, but today seems to be a cooking day so I will try something new. A Flan! I pulled out The Art of Simple Food and it looked easy enough so off I went. Well, let me say now, I should have known our stove would let me down (yet again, in the continuing saga of my stove) and it baked unevenly and had that bit of scrambled egg flavor that comes with a poorly cooked custard! That and I messed up the topping. The cookbook did not give me a temp, I thought I was at least at the soft ball phase, I guess not. So disappointing.

So my wonderful hubby made it all right. He made me some crostini with some locally cured meat from Chef's Choice in Berea (products I really need to watch, as yummy as they are I think they may exacerbate my migraines.)

So that was my day in food. With 100 other things to do I probably should have done some of those things, but it was a pretty yummy day, all in all.

Now I can finish my movie with less blog induced guilt.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Lots of time spent this week hearing people talk about spray rates for this and application timing for this. Not really our type of farming, but if you have 400 acres of onions or 800 of cucmbers you really have no room to not spray! One session showed a photo of a tomato field and the same one 10 days later. The first showed not a hint of late blight. The second was BLACK! In diversified operation there are more things to go wrong, but much less impact if they do!

The biggest suprise was how often we heard about mustard cover crops. In the conventional onion session the growers did not seem impressed, but some of them have machines which lift up the top 4 inches, steririlize it, and puts it back. For us, mustard is a godsend before root crops (or it turns out green beans!) it kills bad nemitiods and soil dieseses!

The trade show was good too, but makes us feel poor! We could spend $100,000 and mmight still lust after more!

please excuse this weeks posts, all sent from my cell

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The snow hit today, not that bad but the hotel offered us an extra night for a low price, so we took it! It is so nice to not have to worry about driving tonight since we were going to only drive halfway home tonight anway.

The best quote of the day "Organic vegetables can feed the world, but not on a diet of high fructose corn syrup and hydroginated soy bean oil."

This was from an organic grain farmer with 1400 acres in organic grains.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Wow, are we spoiled in Northeast Ohio! We just got back from Grand Rapids "best bar-b-que seven years in a row." A meal which was not cheap and just a little better then not good!

There are a couple restuaraunts around here which have good reviews but are just a little out of our price range with Entrees at $35 and way up!

The best food so far has been at the Skywalk Deli, a little lunch place with 10 small tables, but good sandwiches and soup.

We have decided that we are just spoiled with so manyy excellent chefs who make their places accessable (even to poor farmers.)

Oh, and I know they have microbrewaries around here, but asking about local microbrews is getting blank stares from waitresses.

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Scrach baking!?!

So I admit it, I am niave. I assumed that the bakery session I attended this morning on "scratch baking" would spend lots of time on, I don't know! scratch baking.

Last year at the confrence I attended a bakery session and was amazed that EVERYTHING the did was either from a mix or a dough! I thought "scratch" would mean - well - scratch! NOT SO!

There are 4 degrees of "scratch" baking according to the presentor. First degree is actual scratch baking, second is from mixes, third is from doughs, and forth is thaw and sell! And don't be emarrased to say you "bake from scratch" regardless of which of these 4 you do.

The speaker pointed out that at their orchard their "signature" apple pie is a frozen pie they add their own carmel and nuts to! They also sell apple fritters they just thaw and sell. And if the stpped selling them "their customers would tell them about it!" I wonder if their customers even know they are not buying a product with their apples? Be aware

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Hotel Lobby...

Right now I am sitting in a hotel room in Grand Rapids at the Amway Hotel and the Satalitte TV is starting to flicker. I am getting a bit worried about the weather as the snow starts to fall. We only have this room at the confrence rate until Thursday morning. This hotel is pretty expensive (at normal rates) so I hope we don't have to spring for anouther night, that one night will cost us as much as the other three, although that would be preferable to driving a couple hours in a rental car and bad weather! We are only planning on driving about 2 hours Thursday, but the confrence goes to 4:00 so in bad weather that would not be fun...

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DiVinci - Machines in Motion

This is some kind of ball bearing system which my farmer hubby had a fancy name for. It really impressed him, to me it looked like balls in a ring.

But then I would have probably been the person who saw the first wheel and asked "wouldn't it be easier to just carry it!?"

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Another catalogue...

We got a new catalog this week that is very much geared for very large growers, their descriptions actually come out and say what they are, for example:

Justice III - Zucchini - "A medium dark hybrid with powdery mildew resistance plus transgenic resistance to ZWMV, WMV, and CMV. Highly productive on vigorous bush plants."

WOW! I thought most veggies were still safe.

Remember this winter produce stickers have numbers on them. The five digit numbers that start with 9 are clearly organic. However, four digit numbers indicate conventionally grown produce. And apparently a five digit number beginning with an 8, reveals that the produce has been Genetically Modified in some way.

Possible GMO produce includes: corn, Hawaiian papaya, alfalfa sprouts, zucchini and yellow squash. In addition to the ones we know are widely GMO: field corn, soybeans, canola, and (in 2009) sugar beets.

Monday, December 7, 2009


You know before we got our Rottweiler (a rescue) six years ago, you never could have convinced me that he would like a crate. I thought they were basically cages for your dogs, and if you needed a cage for your dog you did not need a dog.

But he was a four month old handful! He had so much energy and a tendency to chew, a hole in our new box spring, a pair of good shoes, two comforters, and more!!! So finally we listened to his trainer and bought a crate for him. He took to it very fast and we kept him in it when we were out of the house, until he was about 10 months old and over the chewing phase. Since then we only occasionally close the door on his crate, but it sits in the corner of the living room and is his favorite spot. He brings his toys in there, he lays and sleeps in there, and it is so nice to be able to send him to it if he is getting underfoot (at 120 pounds there is a lot of him to get underfoot.)

I have been thinking about dogs recently. We are thinking about getting geese or ducks but we have a lot of coyotes around here. People use guardian dogs to protect livestock. Dogs who live on pasture with the livestock to protect them is an age old practice. But I am someone who thinks that dogs are family members would I send a family member out to sleep with the Geese? But these are breeds of dogs who are breed to be guardian animals (protective against other animals, but with good socializing friendly with people.) Breeds like Great Pyrenees. Would they really like it? Would it be cruel?

People who work with these dogs swear that they enjoy doing there job. Maybe what we have to do is not to assign human feelings to our pets or working animals...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Diffrent worlds...

My farmer hubby often says we don't need alternate dimensions we live in a world full of alternate dimensions. Typically, this comes up when watching a documentary or when our travels bring us through a very poor area (either in Appalachia or Italian cities.)

Recently we had an experience a little closer to home.

A couple months ago I had my wisdom teeth removed. They were fully impacted so required a trip to an oral surgeon. This week my (poor) sister had two (one side) of her also impacted wisdom teeth extracted, but she is in Germany.

My experience went like this. I went into the office on a Friday afternoon. I went into a nice room. The surgeon came in, confirmed that I wanted to be knocked. Over in the corner was a tray of tools I never actually saw beacase they were covered. The very nice doctor tried to start an IV (I say tried because the only unpleasant part of my experience was the 7 times it took to get it to take (It was 3 in the afternoon and I ad not eaten or drunk since the previous evening so I was dehydrated).) At which point I was put to sleep. I woke up, was given heavy duty pain killers and antibiotics and sent home with strict instructions to spend the next 2 days laying down with ice on my face as much as possible... Directions I followed easily, due to my regular use of the aforementioned pain killers! In the end I felt fine by Monday morning, and had more bruises and swelling from where the IVs were tried then my face. A couple people actually asked me "I thought you were having your wisdom teeth out?"

My sister (my poor sister) had a much less pleasant (and pain free) experience. She went into the high end clinic which does (no really!) botox, laser peels, and... wisdom teeth extraction... Really!?! She goes in and they give her Novocain shots. You know that nice gel they use here before they give you shots, based on the balance of her afternoon I doubt they gave her that! They then start pulling out the tools in front of her. "Is that a hammer!?!" She asks. "Yes" says the German dentist. "Are you going to use that?" To which the answer is "Maybe a little, ha ha ha..."

You may have gathered by now that no nice IV was coming her way, not even a nitrous mask!!! When they started they put a heavy drape over her head. No headphone systems in Germany. She got to hear everything, and when it got farther into it they had to hold her head down! As they pulled her head just moved... She said the sounds were awful, and she had to make them give her more Novocaine. When she was done, they gave her post op instructions IN GERMAN! And for pain killers they gave the poor girl Ibuprofen! And with a hubby in the army and two little girls she probably won't be able to spend the weekend resting.

So I guess the moral of the story is, DON"T HAVE DENTAL SURGERY IN EUROPE!

My teeth hurt just thinking about my poor sister, recovering with no good painkillers... :(

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Suprises in our seed catalouges...

This year we are noticing an interesting trend in our seed catalogs.

In our more commercial ones we are noticing quite a few little stars next to certain veggies (particularly summer squash.) Why are those stars there? Are they really good?

They look really good, without exception these seeds have amazing descriptions, diseases resistances, tolerance to bugs, and overall amazing qualities! But wait? These stared seeds cannot be shipped to Vermont, Maine, or Canada.

Want to venture a guess why?

In 2005 Vermont passed a bill that holds seed manufacturers liable for the impacts of genetically modified genes.

If the seed manufacturers felt that GMO seeds were really harmless than what would be the problem? The problem is that we don't know what they will do in 100 years or 200 years? We don't even know what they are doing now!

I guess the point is be sure your farmer knows what varieties they are buying. It used to be that most GMOs were corn, soybean, canola, and (most recently) sugar beets. But now more and more veggie seeds are GMO.

Know your farmer so you can know your food. And remember there is no requirement to label GMO food, so if it is important you need to know your food.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Dirty Dozen...

So it is now winter, we can no longer deny it! Thanksgiving is past and nights are regularly dropping into the 20s.

With the cold weather, for us, come those (unusual in the summer) trips to the grocery store! In the summer we hardly ever go, our grains, meat, and milk all are local. We raise our own eggs and grow our veggies. Fruit we get at the farmers market, in season. Sugar and flour we tend to buy in bulk. So with the exception of a trip for Organic Ketchup for our yummy spuds, or olive oil to put on them we, mostly, stay away.

However, that is no longer possible. We still have some of our own veggies in the freezer, potatoes and onions in the pantry, and a handful of collards in the field but if I want something fresh it means I need to go to the grocery store.

So the question becomes (since I am just a poor farmer!) what to spend the money to buy organic? Well first, we ALWAYS buy domestically. If it is a veggie or fruit needs to come from the US, the closer to us, the better. But outside of that, what should we buy?

Well here is a list of pesticide content of fruits and veggies: Complete list

To summarize the Dirty Dozen (in order from most to least contaminated:)
  • Peaches - Fruit is as sweet to bugs as it is to you!
  • Apple - Don't assume if the orchard is local it is organic, but it will probably be better then grocery store conventional, which are grown to be perfect!
  • Sweet Bell Pepper - Nice thin skin which you leave on!
  • Celery - No skin at all and a LONG growth period so lots of time for bugs to find it.
  • Nectarine - More fruit.
  • Strawberries - See Apples.
  • Cherries - See Strawberries.
  • Kale - No Wonder! In our garden the Kale is a flea beetle buffet!
  • Lettuce - Consumers want perfect heads.
  • Grapes - Imported - As I said we don't buy imported fruits.
  • Carrot - They have a tendency to grow in a way which makes them "unsalable" unless you spray them. They fork, twist, or don't look perfect. Plus! Organic carrots are cheap!
  • Pear - Basically, buy organic fruit!

Read the whole list for more, but avoiding these 12 things unless organic, will cut your pesticide exposure by almost 80%!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The day before you drop dead, hire someone!

What a great discussion. What do farmers need to do to create a "Credible Local Food System?" We need to realize that our farms are businesses...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Learning a lot by bouncing around.

The conference next week can feel so strange. There are some things which we are eager to hear about and others which are outside of our type of farming. Take the Tuesday morning session on Pickling Cucumber (yes two full hours on growing pickles!)

-Using Technology to Track and Avoid Losses from Downy Mildew
-Tank Mixes, Higher Rates, and Crop Rotation to Improve Weed Control in Continuous Pickle Production
-Enhancing Pollination Through Use of Wild, Feral, and Domesticated Bumblebees, Honey Bees, and Other Insects
-Efficiency and Economic Returns with Current Pickle Harvesters You can probably guess which of these four we may slip into... - Hint: it doesn't involve expensive single crop technology or mix rates for chemical applications.

Most of the conference is like this, with us bouncing from session to session between the two of us we may sit in on 4 different session in any given time slot. Or we may pop in and then leave and come back. Take the Grape session for instance:

-YES - Development of a Sustainable Protocol for Grape Growers in Southwest Ontario

-no - Mechanization Strategies for Profitable Production of Concord Grapes

- maybe - Grape Decline Diseases in Michigan

- no - Controlling Grape Berry Moth Using a Phenology Model and New Insecticides

-YES - Evaluation of Strategies to Achieve Sustainable Production of Concord grapes in Michigan

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Great Lakes Expo...

This time next week I will be at the Great Lakes Fruit and Vegetable Expo. We went to this show and learnt a lot, first among them being that once there we were not in Kansas anymore. Welcome to the big bad world of commercial vegetables where we are not even small fish in a small pond, more like a goldfish in a bowl where we can see the small pond out the window!

There are half day sessions on lots of different things. A half day on carrots, a half day on onions, a full day on blueberries, a full day on apples, and on and on. Most of the focus is on conventional, but the sessions are broken into a series of half hour long pieces and we can float in and out and hear those sessions which we can use.

And Organics? Not so much. It is actually pretty funny, the expo hall closes at 12:00 on Thrusday at 1:00-3:00 that day they have the organic sessions. That being siad the organic sessions last year were very good. This year they look excellent: The Cornell Soil Health Assessment Protocol and the Connection Between Soil Health and Root Health, Biofumigation and Soil Health with Mustard Cover Crops, Soil Management in Organic Tomato and Pumpkin Production, Sweet Potatoes: The Next Big Crop for up North?, & Organic Weed and Soil Management: Insights from a NY Vegetable and Grain Farmer.

I can honestly say I learnt a ton more at this conventional confrence then at any of the

Monday, November 30, 2009

Are you a Meeple People?

Do you know what a Meeple is?
Ticket to ride, Carcassone, Agricola, Power Grid, and more...
(I am a Meeple People.)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

New cookbook but...

This is the time of year when I love to cook. Stews, soups, and hearty meals and now a great new cookbook - Micheal Symon's Live to Cook.

We made his Blue cheese tomato soup which was very good, spicy and complex flavor, but a snap to make. But so many of the recipes call for things that are hard to get... beef cheeks, chicken feet, pig head, sheep milk ricotta, a quart of duck fat... Really?

How often do you see a cookbook with an entire section on pork belly? Even less often would I think "Wow, I have to get some pork belly!" (I especially love the part where he started calling it Fresh bacon, at which point he was able to sell the pork belly dishes that did not before.)

Today I made a test run of ravioli, using Alice Walter's recipe from the Art of Simple Food to practice the technique in advance of hunting down the milk sheep ricotta the recipe calls for. And as long as I am going to that trouble, I will want to use a high quality butter to. I am glad I did not use Symon's recipe because my dough was tough (overworked?) and the raviolis not well filled (my machine.) Looks like more ravioli is in my future!

What new recipes are you playing with, this year?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Something to think about.

Your waiter made more money off an egg for bringing it to you then the farmer did for growing it!

If a farmer earns 69 cents a dozen for eggs (a 2008 average) that is less then 6 cents an egg. If he is lucky he might net 2 cents.

If your restaurant charges 50 cents an egg and you tip 15% your waiter made 7.5 cents off it.

I am not saying that waiters are over paid. But he does not have to buy buildings, equipment, new chickens, feed, and coolers. Neither does he have to actually raise the chickens, and care for them. All he has to do is carry it a few feet.

Maybe the farmer is UNDERPAID for that egg. Just Maybe...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Some thoughts...

Maybe, the solution to helping Ohio family farms is not Issue 2 but rather for the consumer to realize that our food costs are some of the lowest in the world, and lower then really makes sense. In 1929 the average American spent 23.4% of their income on food. Today it is around 10% with nearly half of that being from eating out! Maybe, the solution is to realize that an egg should cost more than 15 cents each! And maybe price increases should go to the farmer.
Out of that 15 cents the farmer sees maybe 6 cents. And that has to feed, house, and care for that chicken for a day (1 egg a day on average is very good production.) That 6 cents also has to pay for buildings, new chickens, insurance, and pay the farmer's salery.

The reason a dozen organic eggs is $3.50 or $4.00 is because that is how much it costs to raise chickens in conditions which most people would consider “reasonable.” The reason true Pastured eggs cost even more is because that is how much it costs to raise chickens in more “optimal” conditions.

Most people would be shocked to realize that in most egg farms chickens are kept in battery cages. On average, each caged laying hen is afforded only 67 square inches of cage space—less space than a single sheet of letter-sized paper on which to live her entire life.

We don’t like to think that the amount of money we choose to spend on our food has a direct relation to how the animals are raised. The extra $2 a dozen for cage free eggs does not buy the farmer European vacations and expensive cars, it buys them the ability to treat their animals the way most farmers want to, in the most humane way possible.

U.S. consumers spend roughly 10 percent of their income on food compared with 22 percent in the United Kingdom, 26 percent in Japan, 28 percent in South Africa and 51 percent in India. The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas reports that in 1919 the average American had to work 158 minutes to buy a three-pound chicken; nowadays, 15 minutes gets you the bird. Americans spend less than 6% of their after-tax income on groceries, a figure so low they can afford to spend another 4% eating out.

Add to that fact that today a much smaller percentage of the food dollar goes to the farmer then used to. Look at how even the price to farmers is compared with the price to marketers over the past 40 years.

From Envirovore: On average, farmers and ranchers only receive 20 cents of every dollar that consumers spend on food.
Lays Classic potato chips: $3.79 = .08
One head of iceburg lettuce: $1.99 = .37
One pound top sirloin steak: $7.99 = .92
Pound of bacon: $3.29 = .55
Loaf of sliced bread (one pound): $2.99 = .17
One gallon skim milk: $3.99 = 1.55
Five pounds of flour: $2.89 = .86
Add to this the fact that farmers costs from seed and fuel to fertilizer and land are steadily rising every year. It is really no wonder why large operations are so scared of additional regulation which will require them to give their animals ore space. They simply do not have the profit margin to do so. Many have little or no profit at all, even after long days and high risks.

Large farmers in Ohio are in a catch 22. If legislation passes in Ohio which limits confinement livestock operations what will happen? Probably most consumers will not even register the blip, grocery stores will just buy their product from states that do not have those regulations and hundreds or thousands of Ohio farms will go quietly out of business. And the funny thing is, many of the same voters who will vote AGAINST cruel confinement animal operations will be shocked that now their normal eggs have doubled in price, and will happily change to the cheaper out of state product.

Still, I feel the solution is not Issue 2, but rather for all of us to realize the true cost of the food we eat, and the way it is raised/grown, and vote with our dollars. Maybe eat out a couple fewer times a month or buy less processed food and use the diffrence to support farmers and farming techniques we agree with.

(I know, probably to much to hope for...)

Issue 2 will pass unless YOU vote

This morning I, a small farmer, voted "NO" to an issue which said it would "encourage locally grown and raised food, and protect Ohio farms and families." Why would I do that and why do I think you should to?

From the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund:
  • By, now you've heard about Ohio Constitution Issue 2. You've gotten the robo calls, received the glossy postcard, and heard the radio ads, all telling you that Issue 2 is about "safe, local food." On the surface, Issue 2 sounds great-creating a Livestock Care Standards Board that will oversee and livestock care in Ohio and protect local foods. However, Issue 2 will have the opposite effect. Here are the real facts:
    - Issue 2 AMENDS the state constitution to create a Livestock Care Standards Board, stacked with Big Ag and factory farm supporters, which would have sweeping authority to make decisions related to farms and food in Ohio that would have the force of law. The Board would have largely unchecked power to override any act by the Ohio Department of Agriculture and the Ohio Assembly.
    - While Issue 2 requires the membership of several "family farmers" on the Board, this is not a safeguard to prevent the panel from being overtaken by corporate agribusiness and factory farming interests. While there is no legal definition for a family farmer in the U.S., the USDA has stated that 98% of all factory farms are operated through what would beconsidered "family farms."
    - Issue 2 serves the economic interests of factory farms, opening the door for the proliferation of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) in Ohio.
    - Issue 2 emphasizes the need of the livestock industry to provide "affordable food," yet ignores its hidden costs, including environmental contamination, human health impacts, and the loss of rural communities.

    This is an abuse of Ohio's constitution and our liberty. The issue is backed by major agri-business interests seeking protection from national animal welfare groups working to phase out problematic animal production practices like battery cages for chickens. The newly proposed board would give 13 political appointees absolute power to decide rules on animal welfare, potentially reshaping regulations on how animals are raised, tracked and traced. Currently, animal agriculture is regulated by the Ohio Dept of Agriculture, which makes rules through a formal process that requires public input.

    This new board would make decisions independent of public input, with no review, no forum for public comment, and no avenue for appeal. The board's decision is final!! They will be the ones to determine proper and "humane" animal care - we do not want a board that supports CAFOs being able to dictate their version of animal care (confinement, hormones, antibiotics, genetically modified feed, expensive animal ID systems) to the local farmers we know and trust.

    We fear that passage of Issue 2 would eventually put small local farmers out of business due to expensive regulations imposed on them by the Livestock Care board.

    The argument most commonly used in support of Issue 2 is California's 2007 passage of Proposition 2, Standards for Confining Farm Animals, which requires by January 2015 that certain farm animals be confined only in ways that allow them to lie down, stand up, fully extend their limbs, and turn around freely. Florida, Arizona, Oregon and Colorado have passed similar legislation.

    Issue 2 supporters are using this as a scare tactic, claiming that if Ohio doesn't pass Issue 2, the Humane Society of the United States will "come in and attempt to outlaw meat production and make everyone vegans." The people of Ohio would not tolerate that. Ohio already has an alarming number of factory farms-and that number will increase if this Board eases regulations on animal production.
    According to the Ohio EPA, the state has close to 200 factory farms, including four beef operations with more than 3000 animals, 29 dairy operations with more than 1000 animals, and a staggering 98 poultry and egg-laying operations with more than 100,000 birds each, including 9 with more than a million birds. Consumers are discovering the real costs of cheap food (Time Magazine Aug 31, 2009) and it is dangerous to use government to silence "WE THE PEOPLE." A vote for issue to is a vote to silence the people!

Monday, November 2, 2009

The CSA season is over...

Nov. 1 the last day of our 2009 season...

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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Under cover...

Difference for being covered with floating row cover for three weeks! Just 3 weeks... Plants are the same variety and planted at same spacing in same field on the same day...

Not under cover...


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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Because Issue 2 passed in 2009...

Watch this hilarious but scary video about Issue 2 from our friends at George Jones Memorial Farm,

Here are farmers at the Shaker Square farmers market.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Issue 2 - anouther farmer's point of view

I received an email this weekend from a group I am involved with which shared an email from a local livestock farmer.

Hi Everyone,
We've been asked by quite a few people about our opinion on Issue 2. I sat here trying to write an email that tells you why we do NOT think Issue 2 is a good idea, and was looking around for sources to cite. I found does a much better job of accurately informing you about this issue than I felt I could.

How can this issue effect small family farms? For instance: if the appointed board rules that pastured poultry poses a health risk to confined chicken in large houses because of birds landing on our farm and flying to a factory farm, they will be eliminating pastured poultry. When the avian flu hit Virginia a few years ago, this really was an issue for pastured poultry farmers. Had they had Issue 2 in Virginia at that time, the state could've eliminated the pastured poultry operations without further protest. The modern conventional thought is already leaning in favor of the factory raised animal rather than the sustainable small farm model, so we're thinking their rules will be biased away from the sustainable farming practices that we employ. There is nothing to stop them from ruling against organic, sustainable farming practices!
Please take a few minutes to acquaint yourself with the information below
(in the link above). The Vote Yes people have definitely used very appealing wording in their ad campaigns, but we think Issue 2 has a potentially damaging effect on truly small, local family farms.

We agree. A vote for issue 2 in not a vote for the small family farm. Instead it is a vote to put big agribusiness interests in our state constitution. And put their decisions above those of our elected legislator or state department of agriculture.

Tell your friends for sure, or we will see Issue 2 win easily. Afterall, who is against small family farms and taking care of livestock?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

CSA schedule.

Just a reminder to all our members. We are in the last two weeks of pickup.

If you are a every other week member, your last pickup will be the next pickup (except for Wendsday people who came yesterday, then that was your last pickup.)

If you are a weekly member your last day will either be the 28th or November first.


A long day of work for hubby, over 1000 feet of garlic and 150 feet of french shallots in the ground. We were a little late (about a week) but hopefully the weather behaves. This weekend we will mulch them...

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Fall hills...


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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Three years...

Today is our third year anniversary.

Three years ago tonight we were running around like crazy people getting ready for Saturday's big event in our barn. We were cooking and cleaning and being generally insane. There was no Spa day for this bride. Instead my sister had to come and literally pull me out of the barn 90 minutes before the ceremony. "YOU HAVE TO GO GET READY!" But wait! I am still thickening the stew and we have to light the candles! "NO! NOW!"

Hubby was even worse. Guests were arriving when his sister pulled him off the mower. "YOU HAVE TO GO GET READY!" But... "NO! NOW!"

We had a lucky beautiful day. It stormed and was cold on the day before and the day after, for us though it was beautiful.

Kind of a metaphor for our lives the past three years together. So many things have happened, so much sadness has come into our lives. The death of both my parents, loss of a pregnancy, medical emergencies and hospitalizations. Through it all he has been my rock, and without him I fear I would have crumbled.

It has not been all sadness, far from it, I have found my soul mate, and though I want to whack him sometimes (OK, often!) he is the best thing that has ever happened to me, and together we are building a new life. One which is better then either of us could have done on our own.

Today is our anniversary and I am sitting in the sorting shed waiting for the last couple members. One of my friends said she thought it was sad we would not do something tonight. But, honestly, we are doing something, as we do with every CSA pickup day, we are taking steps to making our life together better. To growing our farm, where we will soon (not a hint not that soon people!) grow our family. Where we can be in the good times and the bad. If we have to wait a day or two to eat an expensive meal, it does not matter.

Here is hoping for better years to come, together.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Strange Organic Post of the day...

Did you know that only 5-10% of organic veggies in this country are grown with organic seed. Did you even know there was such a thing? Obviously, organic seed comes from plants which were grown organically and are not treated (with non-organic) seed treatments.

So I wonder, how important is it to most organic eaters that their food be grown with organic seed. Not being certified organic, for us it is not a huge deal and about 10-15% of our seed each year is organic. For farms who are certified they have to get organic seed where it is commercially available (and not a huge premium, it is something like 25% more.)

As we are starting to think about next year, stuff like this is coming to our minds more and more. And this morning I was reading an article in a Veggie Farmer magazine that made us talk about it. I think most consumers don't really worry about organic seed, or even think about it. We think about it, for a couple reasons.

First, although we don't always buy organic seed we want to be pretty careful about seed treatments. We don't want our seeds soaked in chemicals. There are organic seed treatments and those are life savers, helping mainly with seeds germinating and growing healthy in cold damp spring soil.

Then there is, in my mind, the main benefit of organic seed. The seed's parents were grown under organic conditions, so hopefully the plant that results will be better tolerant of an organic life. Better able to handle stress, fight off bugs, and resist disease. And while this is a nice benefit of organic seed, it is usually not enough to make us buy a variety we would not otherwise get. There are so many variables to factor in to selections, organic seeds is just one little piece, at least for us.

Then there is the coming wave of organic seeds, grown specifically for organic growers. These have promise. The article I mentioned talked about carrot varieties being grown specifically for early growth of the carrot tops. Wow, would that be nice! Carrots are a bit of challenge to grow sustainably because their tops grow SO SLOW. Every weed in the world is established before the carrot looks like more then a tiny fern, and since their leaves are so small, any weed competition is a problem... If the tops grew faster we would spend fewer hours weeding the carrots! Things like this would push us to buy more organic seed.

For now, we will keep using the organic/ conventional label on our seed as just one of many factors we consider when deciding what to grow, a huge challenge every year.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ready for Frosts

Two and a half weeks left in the season and a handful of frosts in the forcast. Hopefully the row cover does it's job.

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Sounds like a simple enough task.

This week we need to mow the back field.

Well, the back field is about four tenths of a mile long, and a couple hundred feet wide at the narrowest spot, and we have a 5 foot brush hog.

As I type this, sitting at my desk, my farmer hubby is on the tractor driving in BIG circles, again.

Yesterday he got about 5 acres (?) mowed in 5 hours. We are guessing all in all it is about 25 hours of work, some of that is our fault because we waited until it got a bit tall to mow, the cost of diesel and the time. Eventually we will be planting in this field, but for now we just have to keep it from falling into succession (the forest around it starting to take it over.) We are thinking our first year of putting a little stuff back here will be next year, but we have this water problem. There is none in this field, so it will have to be hauled in, no nice huge cistern to look towards. Water back here will be the big issue, and we are thinking about ways to tackle it. Our first plans are for hoop houses, so those beds will not require as much water.

The second issue is fencing this 20 acre monster. It might have been possible to make the outline of the field more irregular, but I don't know how! We will probably fence it in pieces for specific things. Time will tell....

Monday, October 12, 2009

I love fall...

Such a beautiful fall day! Farming in the fall is the best. Field work feels so nice, when the cool winds blow and the smell of fall is in the air. The urgency of spring is absent and the hope for a new year is starting.

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I love fall...

Such a beautiful fall day! Farming in the fall is the best. Field work feels so nice, when the cool winds blow and the smell of fall is in the air. The urgency of spring is absent and the hope for a new year is starting.

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Update on local family...

Many of you may remember a year ago I talked about the surprising (shocking) case of a local family, running an organic food co-op being raided by a SWAT team and held for 6 hours in their home while computers, food, and other personal items were taken.

Their case goes to trail this week. But it is not them who is on trail, it is the state and local officials who are on trial. World Net Daily Reports "The state and county are accused of 119 counts, including unlawful search and seizure, illegal use of state police power, taking of private property without compensation, failure to provide due process and equal protection and a multitude of constitutional rights violations, including the right to grow and eat one's own food and offer it to others."

Read about it here...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Got your attention? But according to some you are putting your life at risk with every salad (or veggie) until the government steps in.

I was reading an article from the Chicago Tribune today, and came across this great quote in reference to leafy greens (lettuce, spinach, ect):

  • "These items are grown outdoors in fields with dirt. It's probably impossible to grow them without contact with a food-borne pathogen," said Craig Hedberg, a professor at the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health."
Mr. Craig Hedberg may not realize this since he is in the School of Public Health and not the Agriculture College but the following items in addition to greens also are grown with contact with the ground: potatoes, garlic, radishes, turnips, beets, cucumbers, summer squash, winter squash, melons, many tomatoes, and lots more!

FARMERS GROW IN THE DIRT. Dirt, by it's very nature is not clean, it is dirty. It is dirt.

The article goes on to say "Greens are especially vulnerable for several reasons, including that they are grown so close to the ground -- unlike, say, fruit from trees ."

So I suggest we stop eating all veggies and switch to fruit. But the question is can we still eat berries, they are kind of in the middle.

Bad growing and handling practices are a problem. But regulation which imposes the same rules on me, who grows 1000' of lettuce a year, cuts fresh heads, washes them with clean fresh water, and gets it to my end user in less then 24 hours as someone who grows a 100+ acres of lettuce, processes in factory like conditions and sends it for distribution to wholesalers where we hope it will be sold within a week-ish is silly. I mean STUPID! MORONIC!

(deep breath)

Let's take the same train of thought into your kitchen. We know restaurant fires used to be a bad thing, that is why we now have code imposed hood systems, with major ventilation and fire suppression built in. These are expensive units, expensive to buy, install, and maintain. But these units save lots of lives (and buildings) each year. They are such a good idea I think that we should mandate every home to have one over their stove (and microwave.) After all, you do the same thing, you cook food. Also you need to install NSF surfaces, 3 bowl sinks, grease traps, and let the health department inspect you every few months. It is for your own safety!

That is pretty ridiculous, you probably agree (or else you would not be reading my blog.) And imposing the same rules on small farmers as on large agri-businesses is equally as ridiculous.

Info from Cornucopia Institute here.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Issue 2

I know, I know. You want me to blog about the farm and not silly legislation! But here is one you get to actually vote for, YOURSELF. Here is one you get to tell your friends and neighbors about, to educate those around you. And we can make a real difference.

On the ballot this November 3rd you will see Issue 2. It will say:
And you will think to yourself. "Why, yeah! I support the care and health of livestock animals!" And you will reach for the "Yes" ____ (button, lever, chad, scantron bubble (however, we are voting this time!))

A yes vote is a mistake, in my opinion. You are voting to create a board, primarily of industry insiders (the ones who run CAFOs and Battery Chicken houses now) who will set standards that every farmer will have to follow. Rules that are probably not even applicable to people like me with 24 chickens...

The Humane Society of the United States says "It’s designed to favor large factory farms, not family farmers, Issue 2 is opposed by the Ohio Farmers Union, the Ohio Environmental Stewardship Alliance, League of Women Voters of Ohio, the Ohio League of Humane Voters, and the Ohio Sierra Club. The editorial boards of Ohio’s major newspapers—including the Columbus Dispatch, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Akron Beacon Journal, and Dayton Daily News—all oppose this effort to enshrine the agribusiness lobby’s favored oversight system in the state’s constitution."

Other groups which oppose Issue 2 are the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (the certifying organization for Organic in Ohio), Northeast Ohio's chapter of Slow Food, and the Innovative Farmers of Ohio (an organization for small, sustainable growers).

The Journal of Whole Food and Nutritional Health says "Factory Farmers are promoting this constitutional amendment as a way to protect them from criticism by the Humane Society and PETA and other people who may question their treatment of animals.... Do not be fooled by the misleading language of this proposal. It protects large, industrial farms that confine hundreds and even thousands of animals for rapid growth using antibiotics, hormones, and unnatural habitats. Vote NO on Issue 2"

We have about a month to make sure everyone we know knows about this issue, so I will try to talk about it about once a week until then, interspersed with lots of farm photos and news.

Until then, think about this. Many of us are doing what we can to limit how much meat we eat from CAFOs or Battery Chicken Houses. So why would we support a bill which puts that very industry in charge of animal care regulations in our state, in our state constitution?


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Today on the farm...

I both love and hate the fall. The weather this time of year, when it is not raining or frosting, is my favorite. Cool breezes, fresh air, chilly enough to dress warm but not so cold that you feel cold if you dress right.

Today we slept in, ate a wonderful breakfast, and started picking around noon. Everything went pretty fast, as things tend to when you have enough of it in the ground and are not hunting for more radishes which are ready! Everything, that is, except the leeks. Leeks are a bit of a pain in the butt.

For one thing, it has been raining, so they are muddy and require a lot of washing. Also, the roots have to trimed, the tops cut, and (often) the outer layer or two has to be stripped so they look nice. All of that takes time. Today it took over an hour. And when it is even a little chilly that time means something, because your hands get wet and cold...

But, soon enough they were done. We lifted the celery cover for the first time since Wednesday's frost and they looked perfect, so we picked from under the cover, and made sure the cover was back on. We were set up for pickup by 2:30. I think that is a new record, but picking and set up tends to go quicker in the fall when a lot of the time was spent a month ago, picking onions or potatoes, or a week ago picking squash. Storage items make pickup days a lot easier.

I sent CSA-farmer-hubby to the field to hunt for a handful of carrots which might be ready, while I went inside to start supper... Braised Beef shanks... Yummy, and a reason to use my brand new enameled cast iron dishes. I love the fall and fall food!

So in a couple minutes I get to go inside and eat wonderful food, with our own garlic, carrots, celery, onions, and potatoes & drink a nice glass of wine. We may even start a fire to really cement the "it's fall" feeling. For desert we will have local apple pie...

((contented sigh))

Oct. 4 Share

Today's share... 5 apples (from a local orchard), 7 hot peppers, 1 acorn squash, a bunch of leeks, 5 small white onions, a bunch of radishes, 4 largeish slicing tomatoes,. 2 sweet peppers, a head of young celery, a head of garlic, a small head off cabbage.

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Light frost...

Yesterday evening, when I was sitting in the sorting shed shivering, Farmer Hubby started a fire in the fireplace! The first fire of the year, and, to be honest and forthright in my telling of this, it is probably always a good idea that I am not in the house for the first fire of the year.
For some reason last year we had wasps in the chimney and when we went to light the fire they decided to dive bomb the living room. For some reason they were not happy. Oh, and did I mention I am allergic to many stinging insects (nice for a farmer, no?)

So, I guess, it was OK. We had three people no-show last night, which is always a little disappointing especially as we had beautiful celery to give them. Oh well, more celery for me!

It was so nice to come in after pickup and enjoy the fire with a glass of Ohio Concord wine. (I know, I know! But it is just so sweet and yummy and I have one heck of a sweet tooth!) I love this time of year, the fires, the food, the trees, just everything. Well, almost everything!

When I went to my car this morning there was frost on the roof, so I guess fall is officially here! My thermometer read 36, so hopefully the frost stayed really light. The next seven days lows are supposed to be in the 40s, so we are fine until then. After that a handful of nights in the mid-30s, and then back up into the 40s. A light frost we can handle, hopefully harder ones hold off a bit longer.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Frost warning for tonight prompted the first frost protection of the year. We covered our celery because it is the most frost sensitive thing we have in the ground that we could reasonably cover. The tomatoes are staked and not really cover-able, and the peppers can actually live through a couple light frosts, which is all we are expecting if we get any frost at all. The celery, however, starts having trouble at 36 degrees.

This year we bought Agribon row cover as opposed to reusing some generic row cover we have used before. Let me tell you, the diffrence is amazing. The stuff went on easily and was not to flimsy. I have confidence that my celery will be with us anouther couple weeks!

A box of garlic...


This, my friends, is what a 25 pound box of garlic looks like. And we have two of them sitting in the house. I, personally, was expecting smaller heads of garlic, but these things are ENORMOUS! So we probably have less rows then we were expecting, which is probably OK.

But here is the nice thing, from big nice healthy cloves of garlic you are more likely to get big beautiful heads next year! If we can keep the heads the same size we will see somewhere north of 300 pounds of garlic, which is a lot of garlic!

We decided to just grow one type of garlic next year, so this is Music, which is really, one of the best garlic we know about.

(And that is farmer hubby's hand, so think about how large that garlic head is!)