Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sleep Deprived

I am a light sleeper. T is generally a heavier sleeper. so, you know things are getting pretty raucous when the weather wakes BOTH of us up.

Tuesday night was the 2am storm that included a tornado touch down 2.5 miles south of us. I got to see that wall cloud and can tell you that it certainly looked dangerous. A few homesteads on highway 93 took some direct hit damage, but it seems that most of the houses survived well enough. Lots of damage to outbuildings. Our only damage was the lack of electricity, combined with water in the well 'room' that covered all of the electrical components. So, they all needed replacing, of course.

We've had two nights in a row with some significant thunder, lightning, rain and wind. And, I think you can forgive people in the area if such weather makes us a little skittish. But, they are all happening at night - makes it very difficult to get some good sleep.

And, once again, the rain gauge had 2 inches of water in it. Looks like we have until Wednesday before we can till and plant. We'd just started to be able to do that sort of work Friday. And, unfortunately, the weather is making the weed situation difficult as well.

Must be a farmer - just can't be happy with anything!

so, to end on a positive note. The baseball game was rained out. The fields were too wet. We were very tired. We took a nap. A long nap. In the middle of the day.


Friday, June 25, 2010


Well, we started to be able to work the field today. And look at the radar at this moment.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Yet Another Quick Farm Report

So you all know what is going on:

- Jeff S was kind enough to come out and help take down the flexible auger in the soon to be Fowl Palace (or whatever we decide to name it)
- Dad F is working on a room for the turkeys. They're going to love it. they'll have a huge pasture to themselves!
- A batch of Auracana chicks (they lay the green/blue eggs) just arrived at the farm
- Fields are just NOW beginning to be workable - and guess what is forecast for tonight?
- The kale looks great.
- Tomatoes look good.
- Much more progress on the clean up of the downed building. Most of the salvaged lumber is now under cover for later use (much in the Den of Fowl Inventions)
- Finally was able to go out and cut down the fallow plot in the east rotation. Just beat the thistles to flowering!
- Mudded in five rows of lettuce. for the unitiated that's 200 plants in a row. So 1000 plants are in.
- Finally was able to get the hot peppers and rest of the eggplant in. As with the lettuce, it was slow and difficult going. The amount of mud on our jeans made it difficult to walk afterwords.
- The tiller attachment on the tiller broke again - this time it is the OTHER spring that is constantly under tension. And...when it's not...the tiller no spin. Sigh.
- The walk behind tiller is still faithful - so we were able to cultivate the peppers and eggplant this PM.
- And, of course, the weeds are flourishing and we're fighting to get them "to leave town."
- We still have not been able to seed out two plots and are behind in three others. This does not make us happy.
- Most of the area for the high tunnel is now cleared for construction - we still need to move a few more plants and level the area.
- We may need to consider an industrial use washer given the amount of clothing we go through in a week (and the amount of mud and sweat on our clothing - ugh).
- The garlic scapes are being harvested and the plants generally look very good. This is the cleanest we've ever had them (in terms of weeds) and should make harvest much more pleasant - and therefore - timely.
- if your personal farmers seem a bit edgy, it's because they are not as happy with the early season crops as they wanted to be. And, it's because there is so much that was supposed to be done during the last three weeks that *could not be done*. We'll get there. Have to accept that we cannot go back in time - and even if we did, we couldn't fix it.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Absitively Posolutely

Sometimes you just have to think about good stuff to bring yourself out of a funk. And, I'll admit, the extra doses of rain and the wet fields are stressing us out a bit. So....

  • Dad F has put in some wonderful work in preparing a new place to house turkeys. And, the tractors have all gotten a much needed maintenance. Thanks Dad and Happy Father's Day!
  • We're still appreciating the fact that some scrub trees that were in the wrong spot have been removed and the wild plums were tamed (as much as wild plums can be tamed). Thanks Dad Z and Happy Father's Day!
  • D.D. & A.D. come out to the farm four days a week and put forth excellent effort to help us get things done on the farm. They do their best to help us do our best. Thanks to both of you!
  • S & J have also been out once a week and each has diligently done what they could to help! The weeding has been a good thing, well done and thank you!
  • I've had the privilege to pitch on a ball team that in each of the last two games I've thrown have done an excellent job of catching the ball and making me look good. Thanks Cards!
I'm feeling better already.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Rain Rain Go Away....

We're getting a bit annoyed with the persistent rain on the farm right now. so many things were supposed to go in the ground and have not been able to.

And the forecast calls for a chance of rain almost continuously.

Unfortunately, in terms of crops for the season - this is getting more than just annoying. Remember, it takes several hours for the soil to dry out enough to be workable - so a sunny day is nice, but that doesn't mean we can till - or plant.

Don't know what else to say - just what's on my mind right now.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

More Rain... and first CSA Distribution Week

It is official - we're getting tired of the rain on the farm. We don't want to say that too often or too loud as we really don't want MN (Mother Nature) to decide we shouldn't get rain until September at this point either. However, it has been very difficult to get anything done on the farm that has to do with our crops.

Case 1: Lettuce
We have trays and trays of lettuce that has been started. They need to go in the ground so they can form full heads and become tasty treats for everyone in the CSA, etc. If the soil is too wet, we can't make the transplant 'bed' - and it is very difficult to plant them when it is this damp.

Case 2: Eggplant
This is a microcosm of something else. We pushed and got all of the sweet peppers and many of the eggplant in prior to this batch of rainy days. We had a short window where we could actually till and then plant and we took advantage - putting in about 600 plants in short order (just T & R). But, there are still hot peppers and some eggplant to go in. This AM, we went and 'mudded' in 55 more eggplant as the rain started again. It wasn't pleasant - but it got done. It shows how quickly we can get things done - but we need just a bit of a break in the weather to do it.

Case 3: Weeds
The weather is perfect for weeds right now - and not perfect for weed removal. We really do need a few dry days to have a chance here!


CSA Week #1 begins with the farm pickup group on Monday June 14. Then the Waverly Farmers' Market group Tuesday and the Roots Market group on Thursday. The Spring dry and then wet weather has conspired to cause some issues with the early season produce - but we'll give it a go - it always seems to work out.

Remember - we are distributing each week on your given date, time and location unless we send out a note stating otherwise. If it is raining - we're still there with YOUR food.

Friday, June 11, 2010

June Farm Report/News

A newsletter is on its way - but in lieu of that - here is a newsy GFF farm post.

  • Current rain patterns are welcome for crops but difficult for workers to get things done. We needed just 12 more hours of workable soil times one of the last four periods between rains and we'd be fine. But, since we haven't gotten that. And, no, we have not considered getting miner's helmets and wearing those to work through the least not too seriously.
  • The first CSA deliveries will begin next week (June 14,15,17). Expect just a few things early on for each delivery - but it builds up dramatically as the season goes forward.
  • Crop report: Potatoes all in, winter squash all in except 2 rows (trying to find where the seed was placed), onions in with a few late rows planned, brassica plantings 1&2 in, 3 is ready to go in soon. Lettuce plantings 1 & 2 are weak and did not enjoy the dry, windy weather. #3 is waiting for soil to be ready to transplant. Sweet peppers all in, tomatoes all in, eggplant 75% in, summer squash & zucchini plantings 1 & 2 in. Garlic sending up scapes for harvest. cucumber planting 1 in, 2 is on hold until weather allows. Pea planting 1 in and replanting of 1 is 50% done. Pea planting 1 suffered from the weather and germinated poorly, we have tilled in most rows and are replanting. They'll do fine now, but will be later than we wanted. Green bean planting 1 is in, 2 is due to go in. Dry beans 75% in. Lima beans in. Beet planting 1 failed. Turnip 1 is good. radish 1 is weak, but ok. Radish 2 is still waiting to go in (do you get the feeling radish are not high priority for us?) I'm sure there is more to report, but can't think of it right now.
  • Plant sales report. Plant sales were reasonably good this year, with a few sales to local retail businesses and the rest to those who are growing the plants out. Remaining plants have been donated to the Food Bank and to a community garden in Cedar Falls that will grow the plants to donate the fruit to the Food Bank.
  • Building reports. Work on wood salvage has resulted in piles of useful lumber - most of which is now moved to another building to dry out/stay dry. There is still much clean up to do yet, but most will simply be burned at this point. Work has begun to create new rooms for the poultry in the old hog confinement. And, the high tunnel field day is coming in early July.
  • Meat chickens are growing well. New hen chicks are healthy and the turkey chicks are growing and needing a place other than their starter boxes to be. (see above endeavor).
  • We're considering another Tom Sawyer Day VERY SOON to help us get things done prior to the field day. There are numerous things around that farm that would be nice to have completed that could use extra hands. Anyone have suggestions for when?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A New Look

We try to remind people who visit us on the farm that temperatures and winds can be very different in the country than they are in town. The picture below illustrates the point fairly well - though you might want to click on it to enlarge it so you can appreciate this.

When it is windy enough and there is some moisture in the grass/clover/dandelions that we cut, everything on the discharge side of the tractor can get covered in a hurry. This is only a mild case of 'grass barnacles' on the tractor. It's been much much worse.

Consider this - if the side of the tractor looks like this - and the side of the seat is also covered - what did the driver of the tractor look like?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Real Dirt

Some real dirt about the Genuine Faux Farm - right HERE!

Above you will see one of our plots half tilled. On the left is an area that has had the tiller run through once. On the right, you will see light green strips of annual ryegrass being used as a cover crop. The foreground had no such cover - so most of the green is Canadian thistle - one of our arch enemies on the farm. Interesting to note that there is a much lower thistle count where the ryegrass resides. Also of note, the soil seems much healthier in the soil that had cover crop. Got to like it when efforts to improve soil health appear to be working.

And, here is what happens if you till and plant - then get a downpour overnight. The ground crusts over and some of the finer seeds end up losing a battle to weeds. This field is due for some compost and a cover crop this fall. I suspect it will handle this better after that. Some of these crops are slated for tilling and restarting.

Just how it goes sometimes.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


It's been a while since I've done something for this topic.

You know - I've been thinking.....
(everyone together now) - A dangerous pastime!

I know.

One of the things that is very elusive for us on the farm is consistency. Or maybe it isn't. See, I can't even decide if it is an issue or not - therefore it must be.

The weather is consistent in that it is inconsistent. Sort of. In any event, no two seasons are the same, which means someone growing food, as we do, can not count on things going the same way from year to year. So, in a way, we can only be consistent in our willingness to work with/around the weather.

One thing is certainly consistent - and that is the number of projects and tasks to do around the farm. In fact, the laws of expanding lists apply here in all of their glory. On the other hand, the priority level of items on these lists can change daily - or even on a moment by moment basis.

Example: R needs to till the plot that will hold the tomatoes. It MUST get done today. He gets on the tiller, begins tilling. After a while, he smells something burning. It is coming from the tiller jack shaft. Uh oh. New priority, fix the tiller (note, this happened a few weeks ago - not currently an issue).

Example 2: Got to plant the broccoli and cauliflower transplants. Ups, those tomatoes look VERY wilty - better see what's up. Need water? Ok, better water them. Ups, hose doesn't reach. Better go get another length. Ups, the extra length of hose is in the building over there. The one where I stacked some boards to be put away. Guess I have to put those away before I can get to the hose. Ups, can't put the boards away until... ya, you get the idea.

At least we're consistent in our inconsistency.

Note: the tomatoes DID get their water.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Making Lemonade

A few years ago, a 90 mph microburst took out a building on our property. It also did a number on our pickup. And, this is a picture not too long after that event. Some salvage had already occurred, but not much.

After a few years, we began to realize that we just weren't going to find the time to remove the good lumber we knew was still in this building. So, we finally broke down and hired someone to do a little bit of the cleanup. And, here is a picture from a couple of weeks ago (it has progressed since then).

The lumber is going to be a valuable part of a new place for the turkeys. We'll try to take a few pictures and share them as time and our progress allows.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Some May Crop Pictures (but we don't)

The nice thing about a blog is the relative ease with which we can give everyone some idea of how things are going on the farm.

Below is a picture from May 20:

The garlic in this picture has grown a good bit in just a couple of weeks. And, of course, the weeds have as well. The good news here, however, is that the garlic survived the winter well and are growing on schedule for the season. We should be able to begin harvesting scapes in mid to late June. And, the garlic harvest typically begins around July 21. And, thanks to our most excellent work crew - we were able to clean four of the six 70 foot rows of weeds today!)

You may find it helpful to click on the image below and open the picture in a separate tab or window. You'll might be able to see it a bit better:

this is a picture of some of our early cabbage, onion and broccoli planting on May 20. They don't look like much - but Tuesday night's rain really helped these things take off. Guess we'd better find the battery charger so we can take new pictures!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Cold Frames

A while back we recounted how the winds took out a couple of our coldframes and beat on a number of our plants. The picture below shows the plastic covered cold frames that we have relied on the past couple of years to begin the process of hardening off plants for production or sale. And, if you look carefully - you'll see our NEW cold frames made out of salvaged storm windows and wood.

Don't get us wrong - the original structures have done fine for us. But, the covers only last through a season or two (at best). And a wind tends to bend up the light metal tubing. We have enough tubing for six of these at least - but only enough *unbent* tubing for four.

Our thanks to Dad for these structures that are already working out wonderfully. The windows are hinged in the back so they can be lifted up and attached to the wall behind it.