Monday, June 26, 2017

Scapes without the Goats

We have featured garlic scapes in prior posts including an excellent post authored by Elizabeth in 2014.  We strongly encourage you to visit that post if you are interested in recipes for Garlic Scape infused oil, Garlic Scape Stir Fry or Garlic Scape and Arugula Pesto.

The last could be modified to use other greens you might enjoy as well - and remember amounts in recipes are guidelines and can be changed to fit your personal preferences!

In recent a CSA distribution in Waverly, Tammy created Garlic Scape Pesto for our CSA members to try out and it has received positive reviews (Cedar Falls, you'll get your chance this week!)  The recipe Tammy followed is based off of the following that we posted on Facebook for those who use that social media platform:

photo from
Garlic Scape Pesto
" easy, fragrant pesto that can be spread on bread or crackers, put on pasta, used with fish, and as a substitute for garlic, onion, or scallions! Add to sandwiches, pasta, lamb, and fish dishes. Tastes great mixed with mayo."
See the above website for their recipe I don't weigh out the scapes, so here is the version that fits for our CSA:
- 10 garlic scapes (trim off the top (flower) and bottom that is not "bendy".
- 1/2 c. Parmesan cheese (I prefer the shredded kind, vs the ground up "shaker style"
- 1/2 c olive oil
- 1/2 T lemon juice
- pepper to taste
Put all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.
Store in the refrigerator for one week or freeze (works great if you put in ice cube trays to freeze, then pop out and store in a freezer bag or container - just don't reuse the tray for regular ice cubes!).
Variations: add kale, mustard greens or basil and slightly increase the oil.

If you want to try this recipe, we should tell you that you should LIKE garlic if you want to use this pesto.  If garlic is NOT a taste you like, then you will not want to eat this pesto.  On the other hand, if you love garlic, you'll love this pesto.  One person suggested that they would slather it on chicken or shrimp prior to putting them on the grill.  

Hey, if it can make a cheap 'saltine' type cracker taste good....

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Grand Iris Tour of 2017 - More For Your Money!

Just because we said we took our "Grand Iris Tour" of our farm one evening does NOT mean we ignored the iris on other days.  However, I apparently thought that was the case until I went to download a more recent batch of photos from the camera and found MORE iris pictures.
For the iris shown here, they would be the 'late bloomers' on our farm.  We had already taken our "Grand Iris Tour," then these popped open and said, "Time for another tour!"
Silverado is another iris that has been with us since we started growing iris.  It's liked some years and places we've lived better than others, but I'm not sure it's missed an appearance yet.  I was beginning to wonder about it this year.

Triple Whammy
We have a couple of 'space age' iris.  They are so called because the beards stand up on them.  The other we have on our farm is Thornbird, which also bloomed this year and appears in the prior post.

We had a favorite named Liaison that we think went away, but this one is similar.   We think the name is Prince George - or something like that.  Doesn't matter, it bloomed.  And we liked it.  Sometimes an iris will put up a weak attempt at a flower stalk and still manage a flower - which was the case with this one this season.  One thin stalk, two flower buds, and it was done.
It may seem like we grow our iris in isolation based on some of the pictures, but you can't really control iris that way.  They tend to move as the rhizome's grow.  The old portions die off and the new portions send up shoots the following year.  The net result, you can't expect iris to stay in the exact location from year to year, but they won't move too far in one season.  However, if it has been five (or ten) growing seasons, you could be surprised where they turn up!

We hope you enjoyed the addition to our Grand Iris Tour.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Rain Date

What happens when it rains cats and dogs on the farm?

No, really, the weather station says it was raining cats n dogs.  Honest!
Well, if you are two veggie farmers who didn't sleep much the night before, you are both annoyed and happy... at the same time. 
On the other hand, you begin to realize that Thursday is a CSA delivery day.  Uh oh.  Do we really want to harvest in that?  No.  So, add in some light hail and some lightning.  Ugh.
Happily, the solution for this time of year and the current state of the farm is to reschedule the delivery for one of our open dates later in the season.  Ok, we're back to being just fine with the situation.  But, you better believe that if this happens again, we'll be figuring something out to get it all done.  It just turned out to be nice that we built in a safety valve in our schedule to allow this to be dealt with in this fashion.

For those who are curious - as of 6:00 PM we were at a total of 2 inches of rain for the day (and another quarter inch the day before).  The hail did very little damage - and what it did do, the plants should be able to grow out of it.  No farmers were struck by lightning, though they were once again awed by how nature works.

So, what did the farmers do today?  Well, Tammy had some significant work to do for her 'real' job and Rob had a good deal of record keeping, bill paying, checkbook balancing and even a little blog writing to do.

Our "official" cancellation notice is here:
We are officially canceling today's CSA and egg distribution in Cedar Falls.  If you have questions, feel free to call.  Next thursday will be delivery 7 - so odd delivery shares will still be up next week.  We will plan on doing the garlic scape pesto in Cedar Falls next week as well.

Do not fear, we have some 'off days' scheduled on the calendar and we'll just move this delivery to one of those.  You will NOT miss a delivery, it is just getting 'relocated.'

We apologize to those of you who have already ordered eggs. If you have great need of them, I am sure something can be arranged in the next few days.  If not, we'll see you next week.

Why are we postponing today's delivery to another date?

Well, we're really, really wet all of a sudden and we have more coming.  But, the real kicker is the lightning.  We will not go out and harvest in that.  We ran hard until 10pm last night trying to get things done in the field before the possible rain and didn't have time to harvest.  There hasn't been much chance to do anything other than normal animal chores this morning.  In short, we likely won't have enough time to get things picked for you.

And, to be perfectly frank, none of the items we have to pick are in desperate need for harvest.  In many ways, the postponement works in your favor since it gives crops more time to grow and move forward.

We apologize for any convenience this may have caused you.

Your damp farmers,

Rob & Tammy Faux

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Before and After

Emma told me today that she likes before and after pictures.  Therefore - we have before and after pictures.

For those of you who wonder what your farmers do on one of the longest days of the year (today) - here it is.

Yesterday evening, this field looked like this:

Nothin' here but some weeds.
 This evening, the field looks like this:
There be Winter Squash, captain!
And this field.... was embarrassing:

We suspect there is something in here - but what?
 But, this evening - it looked like this:
Taters! Precioussssssss.
Full disclosure - we didn't get to the Southern third of that field.  Hey, whaddaya want?  Perfection?

Oh.  Well.

Proof that farmers do work is below:
Oh, and Emma works too!

And so does Caleb.
 And.. so does Tammy.  Except when she is taking pictures to prove that everyone else works.

 Now it is time to wind down the day.   zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Grand Iris Tour of 2017

Tammy and I have always loved our flowers.  In particular, Tammy likes her daylilies and Rob is particularly fond of bearded iris.  Actually, Tammy very much likes the iris and Rob very much likes the daylilies as well.  So, really it's not a problem.

A few people might remember our farm when we first moved there.  We brought a significant number of perennials (including iris and daylilies) from our previous location(s) and we had one fantastic garden area in the southwest portion of the farm. 
A picture from 2005 or 2006 of our iris in the southwest garden area.
It's pretty amazing the number of different iris in that picture and the sheer number of blooms going on there is almost ridiculous.  We would take 'grand tours' every morning and evening to enjoy them.  But, as we increased our vegetable and poultry farming operations, the time we could spend on our flowers declined. 

The same area in 2017 (facing the opposite direction)
We've allowed the old perennial garden to go more 'natural' over the years - mostly in response to our inability to keep it cleaned up.  We moved as many of the iris and daylilies out and put them in other locations, but as you can see, some iris still persist.  And, if anything, these appear to be getting a bit stronger.  And, we really do not mind.

Very few of our iris seem to bloom every year, with many showing up every other year and some others gracing us only every so often.  Some beds do better in one year and poorer the next.  I'm sure it has something to do with different weather conditions and the micro climate we can attribute to each bed.  Ok, that and... how much time we've had to do a little weeding and flower bed work.

The upshot of this is that we haven't quite had the same "Grand Iris Tours" we used to have.  Part of it is the reduced number of blooms, of course.  Another factor is the vague sense of disappointment that we haven't been able to maintain the flower gardens.  And, perhaps it's just because we get so caught up in farm work that we don't always take the time we should to go out and view the iris (our special take on "smelling the roses" - we "view the iris").

Finally, Tammy and I purposely went out (towards the end of the bloom season) and took some pictures and enjoyed some flowers.  We have shared them before.  Like these pictures in 2014.

I'm not always sure if I remember the names correctly.  At one point in time, I knew all of their names and all of their locations.  But, now, I just greet them all when I see them and ask their forgiveness if I've forgotten what I should call them. 
For the most part, the iris don't really seem to mind if I don't know their names.  They seem secure in their own identities. 
Red at Night
I suppose you could look at this a couple of ways.  These big, beautiful blooms either indicate supreme confidence and self-awareness OR you could wonder if they are trying to make up for something by being so bold and showy.
I prefer to think that they just like sharing a little beauty with us for the short period of time that is iris bloom season. 
I also suspect they take great pleasure in getting the farmers to do a double take as they zip around trying to get their work done.  Maybe they are a little bit vain, laughing quietly to themselves as they notice us nearly trip as we try to get from here to there quickly while still wanting to get a second glance at what they are doing now.
St Helen's Wake
And, every once in a while, an old friend reappears after all hope of seeing them again is lost.  St Helen's Wake is one of our 'oldest' friends.  She was in our first batch of iris we ordered many years ago when we lived elsewhere.  I was just lamenting her absence this Spring.  A few days later, there she was - looking fabulous.

Other iris are reliable every season and we are no less glad to see them as we are those prodigals who return after a year (or years) of absence.  Perhaps they are more sensitive to our remembering their names and they are aware that we tend to forget unless they make their yearly appearance?
Taco Supreme
And, every year we see them, we promise them that we will 'do better' for them.  They know us.  They are pretty certain we mean it.  They also know we are unlikely to be able to do it.  So, they just go about their business. 
Rare Treat
Sometimes, an iris even seems to pose for us.  "Go get your camera," they say.  I've put on my best clothes for you and the light is just perfect for me. 

And sometimes, we still take a picture, even if the light isn't right and the clothing is a little tattered after a strong wind and hot days.  Some of them seem a bit embarrassed by this.  Others, just appreciated that we still enjoy seeing them.

We hope you enjoyed our 2017 Grand Iris Tour.  Here's to another year of flowers sharing with the farmers (and hence... with you).

Sunday, June 11, 2017

It Won't Go Away Until We Make It

Sometimes it is strange how things come back around to you.  I have now had three different people ask me (recently) how things regarding our 2012 spray misapplication incident went.  The weather we've been having during the month of June is reminiscent of 2012 as well.  I am watching the pastures and lawn areas get browner - usually something reserved for Augusts in Iowa.  And then, Practical Farmers of Iowa released a series of YouTube videos that feature my good friend and respected farmer, Andy Dunham, and some other guy with a red hat.  THEN Liz at PFI suggested we submit our own op-ed in response to the excellent one by Zachary Michael Jack in the June 8, 2017 Des Moines Register.  I guess that means I should do something about the topic.

Can you find the Genuine Faux Farm?
The potential for misapplication of farm chemicals (and lawn chemicals) can have negative effects for each and every one of us, whether we farm vegetables or not.  And, if it isn't enough for you to be worried about your own health, consider this report that is the beginning of research that shows children are more susceptible to health issues because of the misuse of pesticides.  We shouldn't be surprised by these results.  In fact, I suspect most people who have ever given any thought to the topic EXPECTS there to be health issues that are related to these chemicals.

We have a problem.

And it will not go away unless we work to do something about it.

As I write this, I find myself thinking negatively about any number of things.  The problem seems unsolvable - even when I feel like it shouldn't be a problem at all.  Every year I get doses of the attitude that says "You live in Iowa, so deal with it.

But, I read the last lines I wrote in that post.

"We are better than this.  We are capable and innovative.   Now we just have to be willing to admit there is a problem and address it."

Chemical overuse and misapplication is a huge problem, which means we can't fix it immediately.  It will take more than one season of awareness and effort.  This is what I refer to as a "long-haul problem."  We've got to dedicate ourselves to doing the right thing and sticking with it year after year.  And, then, when we think we've got it figured out, we need to re-apply ourselves to keep it that way.

This fight is worth fighting because we aren't just standing up for ourselves - we're standing up for others who can't (or won't) stand up for themselves.  It's just beginning.

In my opinion, education and communication are ALWAYS key parts to solving any problem and Practical Farmers of Iowa has been working to build resources with respect to drift issues for the past several years.

Here is a short video that outlines these resources.  It is worth a few minutes to take a look and see what is out there.

And, our farm (Genuine Faux Farm) is not taking a vacation from the subject either.  For example, we volunteered to be 'drift catchers' for a season and we worked to get information about what others can do to try to make a difference (2015).

And, then, that crazy farmer with the red hat shows up in a series of videos available to the general public like this one:

I fully understand that the world is full of problems and that it is difficult to find the energy to care about it all.  If you are like me, it causes physical and mental pain to consider them.  Is it easier to give up because it is just too much?  If we allow ourselves to care, how can we manage to be happy and live a good life?  I get the feeling that many people get overwhelmed and take this approach ("There are just too many bad things, so I will ignore them and I'll feel better.")

Well, I challenge that premise.  Why?  Because the premise of "I can't deal with it so I'll ignore it" does nothing to help you be happy nor does it mean you will be allowed to live your "good life."

A better answer is to start learning about the problem NOW so you can be ready to act when the situation arises where YOU are placed in a position to do something.  But, what might some of those situations be that YOU could find yourself in?  Don't think it will ever happen?  Think again.

If you are in your vehicle on a road and it gets hit by droplets from a spray plane, you have just witnessed a chemical misapplication.  Watch the video with Liz and find out where you can go to report this incident.

If you have an opportunity to speak to a legislator, ask them about what their stance is regarding chemical misapplication.  By simply asking the question, you raise the topic to a level where they too might be ready to act when the right ideas come along.  If you have taken some time to learn some of the details, you can effectively advocate for change.

When you go to the doctor, you should ask them about what is known regarding agricultural and lawn chemicals and their impact on our health.  Perhaps you could encourage the medical community to begin sharing that information more readily?

If a friend, neighbor, acquaintance or family member tells you about a time when they were harmed by a misapplication incident, you should encourage them to follow through with the reporting process.  Take them to the proper linked resources.  Every rural Iowan has at least three incidents that they did nothing about because they either didn't know what to do OR they were afraid to rock the boat.

In the end, the reality is that farmers who use herbicides, pesticides and fungicides typically are not evil, "twirl the mustache and laugh a villain's laugh" people.  They want to do a job and they don't really want to hurt others.  But, somehow, we've gotten to a point where the use of chemicals is so prevalent we aren't thinking it is worth enough of our attention to make a difference.  Let's change that.

Friday, June 2, 2017

June Newsletter

Here we are, in the month of June.  And, we wonder how we got here.  But, since it is a new month, we need a new newsletter.  I am not sure who made that rule up, but we're going to try and follow it anyway.

May Calendar of Events

  • June 1: Delivery 4 Cedar Falls (Trad, WE, AltEven, Trav)
    June 6: Delivery 5 Waverly (Trad, WE, AltOdd, Trav)
    June 7: Delivery 5 Tripoli (Trad, WE, AltOdd, Trav)
    June 8: Delivery 5 Cedar Falls (Trad, WE, AltOdd, Trav)
    June 12: Turklets Arrive at the Farm
    June 13: Delivery 6 Waverly (Trad, WE, AltEven, Trav)
    June 14: Delivery 6 Tripoli (Trad, WE, AltEven, Trav)
    June 15: Broiler Chicks (Flock 2) Arrive
    June 15: Delivery 6 Cedar Falls (Trad, WE, AltEven, Trav)
    June 18: Gang of Four+ at Scattergood Friends School
    Delivery 7 ***Traveler 20 Break Begins***
    June 20: Delivery 7 Waverly (Trad, WE, AltOdd)
    June 21: Delivery 7 Tripoli (Trad, WE, AltOdd)
    June 22: Delivery 7 Cedar Falls (Trad, WE, AltOdd)
    June 27: Delivery 8 Waverly (Trad, WE, AltEven)
    June 28: Delivery 8 Tripoli (Trad, WE, AltEven)
    June 29: Delivery 8 Cedar Falls (Trad, WE, AltEven)
    June 30: Broiler Flock 1 to "the Park"

Festival News:
First Order of Business - No Faux Fun Spring Festival this year.
Why?  Well, we weren't getting too much interest and frankly, we weren't pushing it too hard either.  The May weather set us back and we're working hard to catch up.  We thought we might try to turn the event into a moving the high tunnel day WITH the festival, but the wind predictions don't look favorable (though the forecast keeps changing).

But, the "C" in CSA stands for "Community," so we are interested in doing things that continue to support that concept.  So, here are some of the things we are looking at:

Summer Festival and Tom Sawyer Work Day  August 26

Mark your calendars and save that date.  The 26th is a Saturday.  The Tom Sawyer portion runs from 1pm-4pm and includes set up and preparation for the festival.  If you are willing to come early and help set up some tables, cut heirloom tomatoes for tomato tasting or other sorts of preparation, please let us know.
Over the last couple of years, this festival has featured live music, artistic endeavors (painting and chalk drawing), a farm scavenger hunt, farm tours, turkey feeding, lawn games and the ever popular 'push the green carts around the farm.'  We have also provided a GFF turkey for sandwiches in the past.
If you would like to help us do more with this festival, we'd like to hear from you.  Do you do face painting?  Would you like to help lead some sort of artistic project?  Anyone want to set up a game area?  We have no need to make it terribly complicated, but we do want you all to enjoy the event.  Share ideas and suggest what you might want to do and we'll see where it takes us.
As far as the live music goes, we could see if the Buskers would like to play again this year, or we could consider someone else.  Are there suggestions?  Let us know.

Monthly Events at CSA Distributions
We see you, often briefly, at our CSA distributions most weeks and we're wondering if you might like to do a bit more at some of these distributions?  Our move to St Andrew's Church in Waverly frees us up to do more things there and we have support from Hansen's Outlet in Cedar Falls.  Here are some ideas to start with and we'd love to hear your ideas:
- Farmer Rob could challenge people to a timed game of chess or Farmer Tammy could set up a cribbage board.  And, if you want, we can arrange to have more than one chess board for others to enjoy a little time outdoors and play.  Other games could be arranged, but there is always the issue of possible wind or rain.  Tammy likes cribbage and Rob likes Ticket to Ride.
- When the heirloom tomatoes and peppers come in, Tammy would be willing to work with others to make a nice big pot of pico de gallo and if we can get some people to bring different kinds of chips we can all snack ourselves silly.  Perhaps we can do some other things along these lines?  Maybe we should make some basil lemonade? 

Tom Sawyer Work Days and Work For Food Events
We have already held two WFF (Work For Food) events and admit readily that they are geared towards college students who are willing to do a few things on the farm if there is a Tammy cooked meal as a reward.  We hope to do this again in the Fall. 

The Tom Sawyer Events were, at one time, fairly popular, but we found much less interest in the last few years.  Last year we had a pop-up TSD when we needed help putting plastic on one of our buildings (again, our thanks to all who participated).

We would be pleased to entertain the idea of a TSD event with a potluck at the end.  The key here is that the farmers need enough help that they have to spend so much time in set up and clean up that the benefit of the work is moot.  Does something along these lines interest you?  If it does, we need to hear WHO is interested and WHEN you might like to do these things.  For that matter, if you tell us WHAT sort of things you might like to help with at the farm, we'll see where we can go.

CSA Signup 2017
We will continue to add people to our CSA as people request and we will prorate the amount necessary for the shares.

Song of the Month
Alright by Aaron Sprinkle.  It's a good song when you get a little grumpy about raccoons in the chickens, woodchucks in the melons, rabbits in the chard, soil that is too wet, soil that is too dry, lost emails, sore hands and tired feet.  It'll be Alright.

Recipe of the Month

Spring Veggie Frittata
Easy vegetable dish for breakfast or dinner. Experiment with additional vegetables, spices or meats. This is REALLY GOOD!
1 c chopped asparagus
½ c sliced mushrooms
2 green onions, chopped
spinach (as much or as little as you like)
1-2 T butter or olive oil
4 lrg eggs
1/3 c shredded cheese
Sautee vegetables in skillet with oil until tender (use 2-3 T water to help steam veggies). Add chopped spinach and stir. Don’t over cook vegetables. Make sure some oil remains in skillet so eggs won’t stick.
Whip eggs until fluffy. Add shredded cheese. Pour into skillet, cover and cook approximately 5 minutes over medium heat or until eggs fluffy and cooked through.

Field Report
We thought we might finally be dry enough to play in the dirt and found out that we aren't entirely correct.  Some of the fields are dry for the first inch and then gummy underneath.  It's just part of what we deal with on our farm.  However, we have managed to put in some tomatoes, more radish, kale, napa cabbage, pok choi, lettuce, broccoli and onions.  There is so much more to put in the ground!  We'll keep you informed as things go in.

Our first cucumber succession is official done.  The heavy storms we had a week plus ago took them out, it just took them a while to realize they were finished.  We're looking at some losses in the winter squash and watermelon as well.  It's early enough that we should be able to replant - it just means we have to find the time to do that.

On the other hand, the carrots in the high tunnel AND the field look decent this year.  The peas are marginal, but they should produce something.  The potatoes are germinating (finally) and we have some lettuce that is starting to look really good.

Picture of the Month

Farm News Shorts

  • Rob is finally getting a bit more help at the farm.  Tammy is able to spend more time at the farm now that Wartburg graduation is complete.  Of course, she still has things to do for her job, but she can spend more time here than she can while school is in session.  Jocelyn joined us for four days this week and we hope she decides to come back after yesterday's 'bug fest' with no breeze at the farm.  Emma and Caleb start next week, which brings us to a full compliment for the summer months.
  • How do we forget this every year?  Our hands.  They hurt.  And they're dry and rough.  We always make it through, but there is a two to three week period where we wonder a bit about it!
  • Stormy weather.  The month of May included a three day period where we had several severe storms pass through the area.  We had wind gusts that topped out at 70 mph, 50mph, 49 mph and 48 mph during that period and we also had small hail and downpours.  But, the real kicker was the dust cloud that accompanied the 70 mph gust.
Essentially this is what Rob saw coming at the farm.  Picture from KGAN CBS 2
I did not have time to go get a camera - I was too busy running around.  What you see in the picture is a wall of dust that has been picked up off all of the freshly tilled and planted fields in the state.  I was trying to get buildings closed up, animals secured and everything under cover.  I did not quite get it all done and found myself outside when the dust hit.  Now I know what sandblasting feels like.  I could smell soil, ash and herbicides in the mix to make it even more surreal.  I think I might still be pulling dirt out of my nose and ears from this event.

Tammy was on her way home and had to ride this out in the car just a mile or two away.  Corn stubble pelted the car and was plastered to one side once she got home. 

In one of the 50 mph gusts, nearby Tripoli was hit by higher windspeeds and numerous large trees were downed with some real damage to buildings.  We are hoping that we've had our weather adventures for the year.

Time to Have Pun
Asparagus - the weather was cool, then it warmed up and the asparagus said - OK!  It is now the age of asparagus.  Just don't get me to tell you about the awning of the cage of asparagus... it needs some repair, I think.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

VAP Revisited

In July of last season, I wrote a post about our VAPs (Very Ambitious Plans) that several people found either amusing or alarming, depending on how one was feeling at the time.  By way of a short introduction, Rob has always been a list-maker, but the realities of our farm requires that we take list-making to a higher level.  Each day needs some sort of a plan to maximize results.  While Tammy is NOT a list-maker, she also agrees that we always have a more productive day when there is a clear VAP to guide us.

Example of an item that changes the VAPArrgRat
Discovered VAP Items
 In the previous post, I spent time creating some 'fictional' statistics for our VAPs.  And, no, before you start thinking I am more crazy than I really am, I have not actually run any of these statistics - nor do I intend to.  One of the categories was the Discovered VAP items.  Things that didn't go onto the plan before the day started are said to be 'discovered.'  For example, if critters (aka varmints) are getting into the peppers we have to add "put the electric fence around the peppers" ahead of most everything else.  I guess lists and the plans they represent are meant to be broken.

May we help with your VAP?
Chores, BOLS, and MEWs
I am sure there are many people out there who think I must do nothing other than think up useless acronyms or words and then share them with the hapless blog readers out there.  I assure you that this is not true.  Ok, when I'm doing a repetitive task on the farm, like picking spinach, my mind does tend to wander to such things.  After all, it is much better to be creative than to dwell on the things that aren't going right or to worry about the things you are NOT doing at the time.  Although, I will admit that many of my thoughts focus on things that are coming up and farming decisions I must make.  So, I guess I don't know where this silliness comes from.
Move those trays to the cold frames please
Every VAP has a set of chores that are common to nearly every day of the farm.  They don't usually need to be written out much more than something that looks like this:
T, H, H, N - W F
Translation: Turks, Hens, Henlets, Nuggest - Water, Food

Why even bother writing anything?  Well, if you have to ask, you aren't a list maker.  It's all about the joy of crossing things off a list.  Well, that, and it's a simple way to put yourself into a planning mode for the coming day.  Start with the routine and simple to get the brain engaged in the process.  That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

There are always a bunch of smaller, somewhat unrelated things that need to get done each day that do not qualify as chores.  We call this our BOLS-sublist (Bunch O' Little Stuff).  We're considering putting this on our chalk board for all the workers to see.  That way, if anyone has a few minutes in between a job, they can pick one of these to complete.  A prime example is something like moving the carts with plants in them to another location.

On the other hand, there are the multi-part or larger tasks that we now call MEWs (Major-Event Work).  Hey, we have cats on the farm.  Everything they do is major (according to them), so this makes some sense.  The process of  harvesting, cleaning, packing, loading and delivering a CSA is a MEW - though we might be tempted to call it a 'chore' since it occurs on a regular basis. 

On the WICGID list
Then there are "WICGID" (Wish I Could Get It Done) items.  Things like loading the software and setting up the download from our weather station to our computer.  Is it a really big deal?  Apparently not, since it has appeared every so often at the bottom of our VAP on and off for over a year.  Alas - another item that keeps the Carry Over Ratio on our farm high.

Oh, don't remember what a Carry Over Ratio is?  Guess you'll have to go read the original VAP story!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Waddle Waddle Waddle

The Genuine Faux Farm (yep, that's us!) was recently featured in Iowa Ingredient in their episode featuring duck eggs and duck meat.  If you don't know Iowa Ingredient (an Iowa Public Television production) then you should go view the episode at this link.  All pictures in this blog post were shared by Iowa Ingredient on Facebook.

 It's amazing to think exactly how much footage was taken in an effort to have the quality snippets that were needed to make the show work.  Theresa Knight and the videographer (sorry, we have since forgotten his name) had to work very hard to get these shots with the inclement weather that made the whole thing much more difficult than it should have been for all of us.  In fact, we had to schedule and reschedule multiple times to get a second date where there would be some sun.  To make matters worse, the rain was not in the forecast for that day and it was a strange system where it came out of the Northeast.  Not only were we forced to adjust with the IPTV crew, but we had to do a great deal of adjusting with our own work crew by re-making our work plans on the fly. 

These things happen every season - just not normally on the same day that you have a 'special event' going on.  Ok, maybe they always happen when you have something different at the farm - Murphy's Law you know.

Why are these eggs so wet?
 It's always interesting to see a finished filmed project and see the snippets that are used.  We have the context that surrounds the clips that viewers do not.  The IPTV crew were taking shelter in our garage while the rain came down, so we went and got some eggs out of the fridge so they could show the difference between duck and chicken eggs.  The eggs are sitting on top of our grill and they got a bit damp due to a combination of raindrops and condensation.

ok, this one is our picture.
It's amazing how perspective can make something look like more or less than it is.

Silver Appleyards with one Muscovey in foreground
 We're glad we were able to help Iowa Ingredient with this program and it's always nice to be associated with a quality product/program.  We will happily host them again in the future if they should desire it.

And now for the difficult part.  We no longer have ducks on the farm.  We actually liked raising them and would not mind trying it again.  But, the reality is that we couldn't find enough of a market for the duck eggs and duck meat.  We realize that the cost is higher (especially for the meat), but that is a function of the higher cost of ducklings and for processing.  In fact, we just recently cooked what I think is our last duck that was in the freezer this past weekend.  (yes, yes...our duck was cooked).  We love the taste and might consider raising a few for ourselves if nothing else.

So, the question is this: do you want us to continue raising ducks? 

If you want us to, we need to hear it and we will need some commitment from you to make it work. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

It Has Been Too Long

Our blog has not been as active as it has been previous years for a whole host of reasons.  Rather than spend time listing all of them, I'll point one of them out to you.

Sometimes I manage to write a post that is a 'higher quality post.'  For example, there was a very good post titled a Choice of Litany last Fall that was well-received for a serious/philosophical offering.  In fact, I took a moment to re-read that post just to work on changing the way I am feeling about things right now.  I'll let you know if it works.  Then, there are posts like the one on VAPs that tap the more humorous side of creativity.  For those who remember the post (or those who go read it now), we do still create VAPs for most days.

So, what, exactly is the problem with good posts?  Well, I put pressure on myself to try to provide quality each time I post.  But, I am not always feeling all that creative.  The net result is that I have a bunch of started posts that have yet to see the light of day (so to speak).  So, what to do?

Create a brand new post and just report on some things going on at the farm.  Why not?  It has worked before!

Just Dandy
Sadly, the dandelion peak is over at the farm.  For those who still think of the dandelion as a noxious weed, I want you to consider exactly how nice that bright yellow is in the midst of the green.  And, when you find out about weeds that cause us more issues on the farm like Canadian thistle, crabgrass, bindweed, etc etc  - the dandelion isn't an issue at all.  In fact, we are very happy to have clover and dandelions in our lawn and pasture areas - thank you very much.

The Solar Fence Explosion

As we start to do more with poultry in pastures and plant starts in the fields, our solar powered fences start providing their service to us instead of sitting neatly rolled up on a hayrack.

We have our first batch of broiler chickens on pasture now.  Of course, once we did that, we got cooler and wetter weather almost right away.  Why not?  Let's just make things a bit more complicated.  At least we remembered to get the solar charger up on a cement block so it wouldn't be sitting in the mini-pond that has formed in that area.  And, no, the nuggets (as we call the younger broilers) are not fond of the pond either.

You're Welcome
We're still trying to fill up our CSA program - so we're still taking applications if you are interested.  Thank you to all who have signed up.  We look forward to serving you.

A couple of years ago, we periodically provided produce to Lincoln Elementary for a special 'healthy snack' program.  We were happy to do this and I ran across the nice artwork provided to us as a way of saying thank you.  Little things like this help the farmers when they are looking at very very wet fields with very few options to do the work that needs doing.

Every Year is a Struggle
We try not to complain or be a broken record about it.  But, the weather can just drive us crazy sometimes.  Yoyo temperatures have forced us to be patient with planting.  We dodged some bullets by deciding not to plant certain crops, though we were tempted.  But, now those plants are in trays and really need to get into the ground.  The problem, of course, is how wet everything is.  There isn't really much we can do about it right now.  And, as I type this, I see more rain coming.  It helps to know (sort of) that other growers in Iowa are fighting some of the same issues because that means we're just not bad at what we do.  On the other hand, I don't really want them to struggle either!

Needless to say, we make the best decisions we can and then we live with them.  The good news about all of this is that we have more experience and more tools, so we are much more able to recover from some of this than we could in years past. 

I'm ready for a huge planting session.  Here's hoping Mother Nature gives us a shot at it.

Monday, May 1, 2017

May Newsletter

The month of April reminded us that a freeze is not all that unlikely during the its 30 day tenure.  It also illustrated that even if you have warmer temperatures, plants will not thrive if Mr. Sun stays hidden for most of the daylight hours.  If I'd thought to keep better notes on this, there seemed to be a disproportionate number of mornings that started with some sun (after clear overnight hours) until about 8:00-8:30am, when it clouded up for the day.  Don't get me wrong, there were a few beautiful days during April at our farm as well.  But, there had to be some reason why the spinach we planted didn't fill out on the schedule it normally follows.

Kohlrabi and other brassica seedlings
May Calendar of Events
CSA dates subject to move a bit in the early going depending on crops.

  • May 2: Delivery 1 CSA in Waverly at St Andrew's 
  • May 3: Delivery 1 CSA Tripoli
  • May 6: Saturday Waverly Farmers' Market 8:30-11:30 
  • May 11: Delivery 1 CSA Cedar Falls 
  • May 13: Waverly Farmers' Market
  • May 15: Work for Your Food Event (RSVP)
  • May 16: Delivery 2 CSA Waverly
  • May 17: Delivery 2 CSA Tripoli
  • May 18: Delivery 2 CSA Cedar Falls
  • May 20: Waverly Farmers' Market 
  • May 23: Delivery 3 Waverly
  • May 24: Delivery 3 Tripoli
  • May 25: Delivery 3 Cedar Falls
  • May 27: Waverly Farmers' Market
  • May 28: Gang of Four+ at Grinnell Heritage Farm 
  • Delivery 4 ***Traditional 20 Shares Begin*** 
  • May 30: Delivery 4 Waverly 
  • May 31: Delivery 4 Tripoli
CSA Program Status:
We are currently sitting at about 50 member shares sold or reserved.  Last year we had 97 shares, so we have lots of space to fill.  We realize some of this is because we just haven't gotten a final decision from many people and we realize some is because we had many people move away last year.  The upshot is this - we have spots open and we're still trying to promote the CSA.  That means that all of our record keeping is still in flux - so things like our email list continues to require attention.

As you see above, the weather has been mildly uncooperative.  The result is that those who were expecting a CSA delivery in April per the original calendar will not be receiving one.  Normally, we have things we are anxious to give that week of the year.  Never fear, we'll reorganize the schedule slightly and all deliveries will occur.  For those with the Traditional 20 week CSA, you have no worries either since your first delivery doesn't arrive until the end of May/beginning of June!

We are composing our annual CSA fact sheet email that will be sent out early next week.  WE are hoping to solidify our membership list so we can clarify who is in which weeks for the Alternerating Delivery program among other things.  thank you for your patience and please ask questions if you have them.

Farmers Trying to Consolidate Efforts:
Every year we re-assess our lives and how the role our farm in our lives.  We have both been feeling overwhelmed on and off the past couple of years and we're working to make things more manageable so we can be better at the things we do.  The change in garden plant production was just one such move we made in an effort to make things better.

As a result, we can tell you that we managed to get field carrots, peas, turnips, beets, arugula, mustard greens, radish and spinach planted in the outside fields ALREADY this year.  In prior years, that might have been impossible given the number of plants we had to keep watered and the number of plants we would normally be feverishly potting this time of year.  So, we feel that was a good decision.

Another decision was for Rob to get out of a leadership role in the Waverly Farmers' Market.  It wasn't a position he sought out last year, but someone had to pick up the reins.  Happily, Amanda Mitchell was willing to be assistant last year and is now willing to be the manager.  The down side?  Well, there's all of the transition stuff that we're trying to get through - it's getting in the way of our own farm's workings.  But, we anticipate an end point to this fairly soon!

Plant Status:
For those that ordered plants, we anticipate they will be ready for pickup starting May 10 (approximately).  We will provide those who ordered plants with more details.  There will be additional plants beyond those that were ordered - we're guessing about 50?  We'll know better once they are all potted.

CSA Signup 2017
We still need people in the CSA as we are only about 50% full.  If you need convincing - please consider the value you get with our programs.

Contact us if you have interest and we'll get you started.

Song of the Month
A long time favorite of ours that helps keep us moving in the field.

Recipe of the Month

Spinach Frittata
Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large heavy skillet.
Saute 1 clove minced garlic and a few chopped scallions/green onions.
Add 1 pound washed spinach and cook until wilted.
Remove veggies from pan; lightly beat 6 eggs and add to pan along with spinach mixture,
3/4 c parmesan or feta cheese, and some parsley.
Stir all together and cook over low heat until frittata is set.
Allow to cool slightly and cut into wedges to serve.

Field Report
As we mentioned earlier in the newsletter, we have managed to get field carrots into the ground (St Valery's and Dragon), but we might not have mentioned that we got St Valery's carrots into Eden (one of our high tunnels) even earlier.  Here's hoping!  The peas went in to the field last week.  A 200 foot row each of four varieties (Mammoth Melting, Oregon Sugar Pod II, Blizzard and Golden Sweet) also went into the Eastfarthing (field 2).  With the cold weather that followed we expect them to be slow to germinate.  The Southwest had rows of turnips, beets, spinach, arugula, mustard greens and radishes put in before the cold and rain as well.  Sadly, we couldn't quite get to the potatoes, but we're confident we'll get them in next week once the fields dry out a little.  

Our high tunnels are named Eden and Valhalla.  Valahalla is currently home to tatsoi and komatsuna that are ready for some harvest.  The spinach in Valhalla should allow us to harvest some next week, but the kale is a little slower.  Eden has rows of green beans, onions, melons, cucumbers, carrots and beets seeded.  We anticipate putting in tomato and pepper plants next week!

Asparagus started trickling in mid-April and has, of course, stopped when things got cooler.  The rhubarb was already trying to send up flower stalks - which we really don't want.  The fruit trees were largely in full bloom when we got the freeze a couple of nights ago, so we'll see what happens with fruit set this year.

Picture of the Month

The season has begun!
Farm News Shorts

  • The Iowa Ingredient Episode featuring the Genuine Faux Farm (yes, that's us) will be airing this month on Iowa Public Television.  The first showing will be May 18 at 6:30pm (Thursday) and the second is on Saturday, May 20 at 11:30 am.  You can keep an eye on all things duck on IPTV's Facebook page starting May 15.
  • Mrs. Borglum's Waverly-Shell Rock high school science class has been looking at various aspects of sustainability this semester and they will be coming out to the Genuine Faux Farm to see some of the ways we try to use sustainable methods to raise food.  We are looking forward to seeing them on the farm May 3!
  • Some of you who have been CSA members for several years and/or those who have read the blog for some time might recall seeing pictures or references to Denis Drolet (you can see him being an expert mulcher in this blog post from 2014).  Denis worked on the farm for several summers and he can probably tell you stories about our farm from a completely different perspective from the one we provide here!  He might mention Tammy the Warrior Queen or Rob the Plant Philosopher or... he might just sneeze in memory of the dusty straw mulch we used that first year he helped on the farm.  Denis has been honored with the presence of a wonderful person (Julie) in his life and we are most pleased for the two of them.  We wish them the best as they pursue new adventures together.
Time to Have Pun
Rather than a long, silly pun today - how about some shorter things that might make someone laugh.  If it's not you, then maybe it's me.  If it's neither of us, then it's that guy in the back of the room that tries to make his laughter sound like a sneeze, but fails...

A few "sort of proverbs" for everyone:
- After all is said and done, usually more is said.
- Consider what *might* be fertilizing the greener grass on the other side of the fence.
- Experience is what you get when you were expecting something else.
and finally
- Gather 'round like cattle and ye shall be herd!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Words to Live By

I admit to being a bit of an introvert.  Ok, I am very much an introvert.  Someone sent me a series of sayings that many introverts could relate to and I found one in particular that stood out with me:
"When you are an introvert and try to say anything in a group of extroverts - 'Please be quiet, I'm really very interesting.'"

I find that one a bit humorous and a bit sad at the same time.  But, another thing that rang true was a recurring theme that many persons who exhibit introversion tendencies will contemplate things that were said far longer than many who are extroverted in nature.  Maybe it is a function of the nature of many introverts to say less and listen more, all I know is that I have a number of things running through my head that have become 'words to live by.'

A "Happy Little Tree"
I know I am not the only person who still thinks fondly of Bob Ross and his Joy of Painting episodes that appeared (and still appear) frequently on Iowa Public Television.

Bob would talk about 'happy little trees,' 'happy little clouds' and he would encourage people to be creative ('this is your world').  The most important part for me was the tone of these shows.  I always started to relax, no matter what was going on, as soon as Mr. Ross loaded up his brush and started painting.  I am not sure I ever fully realized how much the serenity this man exhibited in his shows affected me until recently.  A pretty nasty cold/flu bug was making it impossible for me to sleep, so I flipped through some of our limited TV channels and found Joy of Painting on IPTV.  I fell asleep for the first time in a couple of days almost as soon as the words 'happy little tree' left his lips.
Our new-ish horse chestnut in the front yard appears to be happy
Why did I finally fall asleep?  It isn't that I think his painting is boring.  In fact, I usually can't help but be riveted by the process.  But, I needed some serenity.  Some sense that things could and would be ok.  And, how can you be without hope when the trees are happy?

You Meant Well
Sometimes a little backstory is necessary - so I will give a bit of one here.  I was very frightened of talking in front of people (introvert - remember?) and was absolutely appalled by the choice I would have to make for 9th grade... Speech or Debate.  There was no getting around it, you had to take one or the other.  So, I opted for Debate.  Why?  Because I knew it wasn't very popular and there would be fewer people in the class.  Then, a strange thing happened.  I showed an aptitude for public speaking - and took Debate all four years of high school.... as an elective!

For three of those years, Mr. Kruse was our debate coach and one of his pet sayings was "you meant well."  Initially, I don't think those of us in his class fully understood all of the nuances this phrase could hold and I suspect most of us thought he used the phrase to console us when things didn't go as planned.  But, as we gained some experience, we started to understand that the context of the conversation and the situation had as much or more to do with the meaning of "you meant well."
Helicopter spraying a field a half mile west of our farm - I'm sure they meant well.
Of course, Mr. Kruse was not the sort of teacher who would spell everything out in the simplest terms.  He took joy in challenging us to consider meaning and variations in meaning.  "You meant well" could imply that you did your best with the resources you had and there wasn't much more that could have been done in your situation.  It could also imply that someone else did not "mean well" by exclusion from the comment.  And, of course, it could imply that you were operating on false assumptions and the harm that had occurred as a result wasn't what you were working towards.

In the end, the biggest lesson I took from Mr. Kruse and this saying was that good intentions do NOT always carry the day.  You may have "meant well," but your failure to do your work properly or your unwillingness to think through your actions and consider the fallout can result in a bad situation regardless of the results you envisioned.   

Do or Die!
That's a "do or die" weeding job if I ever saw one!
I learned a year ago that Coach Rowry had passed away and it reminded me of the single year he served as baseball coach on the JV Newton High School baseball team.  Playing on that particular team with that particular person as coach was one of my more positive experiences in baseball.  I may not have appreciated all of the 'pole to pole' running he made us do at the time, but I always appreciated his fair and balanced approach to handling the diverse personalities and talents on the team.

Baseball practice often consisted of 'situational drills' where the players trained to respond to given scenarios.  One of Coach Rowry's favorite was the "Do or Die!" drill, which was focused primarily on the outfielders (yes, I was one of them).  With the bases loaded and less than 2 out, the outfielders were trained to charge a ground ball that gets through the infield as hard as they could.  They must pick up the ball cleanly and get the ball to home plate as quickly and accurately as possible.

If you could get there quickly, pick it up, throw it accurately (and low enough so it could be 'cut off'), you were able to "Do" and if you didn't... well... you get the point.  I guess I was particularly good at this drill since he would say "watch Faux do or die!" during practice and then make me do three in a row.

But, the moment I remember most is when the scenario actually occurred in a game.  I charged the ball, picked it up and...
Threw a strike to the catcher standing on home plate.  We very nearly caught the guy coming home from third.  Coach Rowry jumped out of the dugout and yelled "THAT's the way to DO or DIE!!!"

While I don't walk around telling myself or others to "do or die" this memory reminds me that preparation to succeed is part of success itself.  And, I learned from Coach Rowry that sometimes success isn't flashy like a home run, a diving catch or a pitcher striking out the side.  Success is doing the right things in the right way and doing it even when the situation is difficult and maybe even in situations where it didn't seem to make a difference at the time.

I Like You Just the Way You Are
This last one may also ring true with a number of people who read this blog.  Are you feeling a little beat-up?  Maybe a little depressed by things that are going on?  Maybe you feel like you've messed up or you aren't what you're supposed to be?

Listen to Mr. Rogers for a second or two:

A simple show teaching important concepts - among them is self-acceptance and acceptance of others.  I watched this video and instantly felt better about myself and the world I live in.  And, I was reminded that if a person I've never met and only seen on Iowa Public Television (or Youtube) can make me feel this way by saying "I like you just the way you are," just imagine how much power this statement might have if you tell someone you know the very same thing.

A picture of two Dr's in one GFF field - cool!
And, I like them both - just the way they are.