Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A new toy...

This was this week's big purchase. And no, not the one from Yoder's Produce. This we bought at TSC. They were normally $1300. They had it marked down to $900 because one of the tubes had cracked. Farmer hubby looked at it and determined that somehow it had filled with water, which had frozen and expanded. So it needed some repairs. Talking with the manager, a couple phone calls on the store manager's part to higherups and hubby saying he would walk away resulted in a final price of $600.
Really, what were the store's options? How many Disc Harrows do they sell in Macedonia? And those few people looking for a 6-1/2 foot implement needing a 40+ HP tractor to pull it who may be shopping the Macedonia TSC, of those people how many are willing to buy something needing repairs before it could be used! It was sell it to us or sell it for scrap.
An hour or so of welding and grinding and it is good as new! We drilled a couple holes in the tubes to allow them to drain, wow, a lot of water spilled out! The steel seems good and thick, but if worse comes to worse and we have to buy a new frame it is $400, so we will still be ahead. We are pretty sure we won't have any problems with this purchase.
Eventually we need a bigger one, and when we get a bigger tractor we will purchase a nicer, larger unit which will last the farm for 50 years or more, this one will hold us over for a couple more years.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Are you crazy or right?

When I started talking about BPA more than 5 years ago people looked at me like I was a total nut! It was a legal product which meant it could not be nearly as bad as I said it was.

Over the last couple years awareness of BPA has risen and now parents everywhere (not just the freaks who wrap their children in (BPA free) bubble wrap) carefully avoid it.
Finally after years the product is getting the attention it deserves. Fast Company - FDA. New York Times - EPA.
So next time you find something you are concerned about ask yourself are you crazy or right? Don't be afraid to be cautious when navigating your way through the sea of chemicals we swim in daily.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Taking care in all he does...

We picked up this great little book this weekend when we were at Yoder's Produce Supply called "Growing Produce - 2" written by Raymond Yoder. It is a great little book with lots of little gems of wisdom sprinkled throughout.

There is one half page article about growing pumpkins where he talks (amoung other things) about the neccessity of spraying pumpkins for mildews. He has two sketches of pumpkin feilds and at first glance they both look nice. But the first one has pumpkin of many sizes, some without handles, a weedy feild, and in the background a broken windmill. The second one, "without Mildew" has all the pumpkins with nice handels and of similar size, the rows, raised and weed free with a barn in the background. The caption informs the reader that the well kept barn in the background shows that the farmer takes care in all that he does.

How right that is. It is amazing when you drive to Amish areas you can always tell Amish farms by how nice they are kept compared with many of their neighboor's property. The same goes for all farms, although we realize how difficult it is to keep your farm looking nice in the middle of crazy season, it is so important...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

$1000 in supplies...

This is what $1000 in produce supplies look like!

Lots of row cover (5000 feet) make up the bulk of the order but we have four more bags of starting mix, sandbags, and 300 wire hoops. The big roll is floor for our hoop house and the box is greenhouse cover for our little cold frames.

The brown bags in the back are potatoes, but we were just picking those up, they were paid for a month ago so are not included in the $1000.

In case you are wondering about the greenhouse (which is what I need to call it because hoophouses are MUCH simpler) we have all the track on it and just need to cover it. Pray for calm!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Snow again...

See, I told you spring was not here yet! Not quite!

We do live in Ohio and although we have had an amazing mid March we do normally average (in Akron 8.9 inches of snow in March AND 2.5 inches in April.

We AVERAGE 0.1 inches in May and a trace in June!

Remember our last average frost day is still 7 weeks away! We still have plenty of time for ugly weather.

That being said, if you are feeling the gardening urge, maybe signing up for our Seed starting class April 10th would satisfy that urge!

Starting your own Seeds
April 10th 2:00 – 4:00

In this two hour class you will start your own seeds.
We will learn the basics of starting your own seeds, growing your own transplants, caring for the seedlings, and giving them a good start in the garden.
You will leave the class with a flat of 72 tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, basil, lettuce, cabbage, and more... The class includes all materials including tray, seeds, and humidity dome. A wide variety of seed, many heirloom, will be available for you to choose from. You are free to mix and match in any combination you desire. So if you do not like eggplants or hot peppers you will be free to make other choices.
$60 ($20.00 class & $40.00 Material fee)
$10 for second person when registering together and sharing all materials (including tray).

Thursday, March 25, 2010


I saw this today. All I can saw is I think the lady is pretty calm. Remeber if you see bees in a swarm like this they are as non-agressive as they ever are, and bees are usally pretty mellow. People wear bee suits of swarming bees with not a sting. Call a bee keeper and wait.

And here is one brave bee-keeper!

And one brave four year old - although I wonder if they are really bees, they do not usally swarm around food...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Supply order...

This weekend we are going down to pick up our potatoes at Yoder's Produce Supply.

The potatoes are pre-paid, but we also will be picking up other supplies for the spring including:
  • Nine 500 foot rows of row cover (probably not enough)
  • 300 small sand bags (fto hold down the row cover)
  • 150 wire hoops (again probably not enough)
  • 20 plastic greenhouse bench tops and lots of clips
  • 100 foot of clear plastic greenhouse cover
  • 100 feet of greenhouse floor
  • A earthway broadcast spreader
  • 200 - 4" plastic pots
  • And some other small stuff (my list is down stairs)

Any guesses on what the damage will be? I am cringing already!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Because it makes all this possible.

Published by New Holland (a tractor company) in 1975. I just ran across this while surfing Esty, and like it a lot.

The Farmer's Creed:

I believe in freedom, freedom to work the soil and care for the land, and freedom to worship as I please, but do not believe that freedom is free.

I believe a man's greatest possession is his dignity, and that no calling bestows this more abundantly than farming.

I believe hard work and honest sweat are the building blocks of a person's character.

I believe that farming, despite its hardships and disappointments, is the most honest and honorable way a man can spend his days on this earth.

I believe my children are learning values that will last a lifetime and can be learned no other way.

I believe farming provides education for life and that no other occupation teaches so much about birth, growth and maturity in such a variety of ways.

I believe many of the best things in life are indeed free; the splendor of a sunrise, the rapture of wide open spaces, the exhilarating sight of your land greening each spring.

I believe true happiness comes from watching your crops ripen in the field, your children growing tall in the sun, your whole family feeling the pride that springs from their shared experience.

I believe that by my toil I am giving more to the world then I am taking from it, an honor that does not come to all men.

I believe my life will be measured ultimately by what I have done for my fellow men, and by this standard I fear no judgment.

I believe when a man grows old and sums up his days, he should be able to stand tall and feel pride in the life he has lived.

I believe in farming, because it makes all this possible.

Monday, March 22, 2010

So you want to be a farmer?

So, you want to be a farmer? Know these things:

-You are going to be hot.
-You are going to cold.
-Your feet will hurt.
-Your back will hurt more.
-You will be wet.
-You will be muddy.
-You will be dirty.
-You will be thirsty.
-You will be frustrated.
-You will be angry.
-You may even cry.
-You will work by tractor headlights at night.
-You will wake before sunrise to work.
-You will work with a sandwich in your hand.
-You will be challenged by nature.
-You will be challenged by people.
-You will work harder then you should.
-You will spend more then you ought.
-You will earn less then is fair.

Are you still reading? Wow, you are brave! If you are still reading also know this:

If you love what you are doing it will all be worth it.

You will be none of these things all the time (except maybe the last!) and most of them seldom, but they will happen and then only your love of farming will be enough to keep going.

Then you know you are a farmer.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

More hoophouse!

It is finally coming together and we are nearing the home stretch! None to soon, because there are dozens of trays to start the next couple weeks! They can live a little while in the basement but then they need a better home... We will finally be able to give it to them!
We started the day with the frame done. We started hanging the polycarb sides. When they were up they had to be trimmed to follow the line of the hoophouse.
The van acutally came in very handy! We were able to lay the 6X10 foot sheets inside it so they did not fly away in the wind.
Putting the door on was a little bit of a pain, as doors so often are. It just did not want to be plumb and open nicely!
So the polycarb sides are up, but they still need to be trimed with aluminum U channel. Then the channel to hold the plastic can go up.

Once all of that is done we can stretch the plastic and install the roll up sides. I think it will be nice when it is done! The kit was expensive but I think it was worth it, it is a nice unit.

First Day of Spring on the farm...

Chickens love spring. Bugs and fresh greens to eat.

Early spring days...

Now that early spirng is officially here it is time to really start thinking about your garden, you know we have!

While it may still be to wet to actually play in the dirt, and it is still to early plant veggies outside you can be starting inside. We are not soing our peppers and tomatoes for another couple weeks, but now is the time for lettuce, broccloi, and cabbage. I love jiffy trays for starting

The first seeds for outside are the peas on about April 12th. Remember, we still can have snow!

(PS. If anyone wants to start seeds with little fuss or bother or mostly unsed seed packets there is still lots of room in my classes April 10th and 17th. You will fill a tray of 72 with tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, lettuce, broccoli, cabbage and more...)

Friday, March 19, 2010

More hoop house

There is more time goes into one of these then you might think!

They say they are a "kit" but you have to drill every hole, cut every piece, and assemble a stack of metal and fittings into a building. You definatly neeed tools, a metal chop saw and a hammer drill at the minimum!

Tomorrow we will frame in the openings for the rear door, vents, heater, etc.

If we are lucky we may be sheeting it this weekend, but we will need VERY CALM weather days for that. The top of our hill is windy. The ladder blew over a couple times, and it was not that windy today, well not anywhere but on our farm!

Here's hoping it does not blow away!

Thursday, March 18, 2010


More cities are realizing that allowing small scale agriculture in the backyards of their cities is OK. And this is a good thing. So keep bees on your roof, have a flock of chickens in your backyard, raise an alpaca in your garage!

Well, maybe not an alpaca in your garage...

But chickens and bees are a great addition to any backyard. Well, almost any backyard, do check with your city first and understanding neighbors are always a plus!

Even New York City recently re-legalized beekeeping in the city of New York.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

How cool is this?

I know I am a geek, but I find this so cool. They have discovered a population of frogs not seen since 1980 and thought to be extinct!

From the AP (photo credit to):
"Fisheries conservation officer Luke Pearce was surveying for endangered fish in a stream when he noticed the distinctly marked frog, recognized by its green, warty back and large golden spots.

After returning last month with an amphibian expert, the pair discovered a large population living in the area.

The location of the frog colony will remain a secret in order to give the species, which is also known as the Yellow-spotted Tree Frog and as the Tablelands Bell Frog, the best chance of survival, Sartor told the Australian Associated Press. "

Here is the article.

Biodiversity is the greatest gift we can give future generations! Whether in open pollinated veggies, heritage livestock, or in nature - it is our greatest blessing and one of our biggest challenges.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Cost of food?

So the question as to why a salad costs more then a Big Mac is a good one. This article addresses it.

Basically, your salad and it's ingredents are not subsidized by the government, while every part of your Big Mac is.

The real cost of your food is not what you are paying, it is what we are all paying, including subsidies supporting agriculture. Or at least commodity agriculture, veggies and fruit are largely ignored, especially that from small producers. The prices you will pay at the farmers market this summer or to your CSA more closely represents the true cost of what we eat then the 99 cent cheeseburger...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Where's Wilber?

Not the highest quality image, because I took it from my phone but here is the first of what may become a series, given the behaivior of this furry little friend. So... do you know where Wilber is?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Early Spring...

With our basement threathing to overflow with starts in the very near future the wonderdul weather of this week was a great oppurtunity to work on the first big project of this big year.

Our heated hoophouse! The frame is up. Hopefully we will be able to add the baseboards and get the endwalls built so we will be able to get it heated, because we all know that the weather will turn cold again.

You do know that right? March is a bit early to expect the mid 60s as our everyday temps...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Is a CSA right for your family?

For many families a CSA membership is a significant financial investment, so it is important to decide if it is right for your family before you commit the time and money to a farm. If you are not happy it will not be good for either you or the farmer. Ask yourself these questions.
  1. Are you joining a CSA to save money? If this is your primary goal you may be disappointed. While a CSA membership typically offers a good value when compared with high quality organic produce it is not going to be cheaper then buying the produce on sale at your local grocery store.
  2. Are you prepared to cook? Much of the produce you receive in your shares will need to be cooked. If you usually make only salads and occasionally steam a some green beans, you may be disillusioned with the amount of work it takes to turn your pile of veggies into meals.
  3. Will your kids (or husband) try new things? Beets, turnips, eggplant, parsnips, Swiss chard, collards, winter squash of every shape and more will come with your share. In most CSAs (and almost all "real" farm-centered CSAs) you will regularly see items that may not normally make it to your table. When Mom ends up in weekly battles produce can go to waste and people can get unhappy.
  4. Are you willing to experiment? CSAs plan and plant for a "normal" year, but no year is "normal" they all are unique in their own way, so every year certain items thrive, and when they do you will see more of it in your CSA basket then you probably know what to do with! CSAs usually give recipes to help with creative ways to use Swiss Chard for the fourth week in a row, or beets yet again, but typically the best bet is to be willing to step outside your comfort zone and try new combinations. Who knows, you may find new favorites!
  5. Are you ready for the commitment? While many CSAs require little from members besides payment and pickup some ask for regular work commitments as well. Even if they do not the scheduled pickup times can get hard to cram in between work, errands, and children's activities.
  6. Do you eat out a lot? We have found that people who eat out 3 or more nights a week can have trouble getting through their veggies. If you use less produce, either because you are single, a couple, enjoy restaurants, or other lifestyle items consider joining a CSA with an option for a biweekly or half share.
  7. Are you ready for great food and a great experience? Most of the time CSA memberships work out great for the member and the farmer! Know your farmer, your farm, ask questions before you join, and realize there is a commitment required to work through a pile of vegetables every week and then just enjoy the bounty that a CSA membership can bring to your family!

If you are thinking a CSA is right for your family, now is the time to find open spaces! We still have a handful of spaces if you are interested in our farm, or explore others in your area.