Sunday, May 31, 2015

Culinary Corner: Radishes

Members of this year's CSA Farm Share with Genuine Faux Farm and/or readers of our blog will receive a treat this summer with a weekly guest blog from Elizabeth Hinds.  Elizabeth is a summer intern at the farm and, as part of the internship, will be sharing her culinary knowledge with us.  She is back in Iowa after time in Vermont at the New England Culinary Institute.  Her final component in her educational process with NECI will be completed by the end of the Summer when she completes this internship.  We are pleased to have Elizabeth 
working with us this Summer and hope everyone enjoys the ideas she is looking forward to sharing with us.




Most people love them or leave them. There are some, like me, who like them really spicy. Radishes get their spice from the same component that gives horseradish and wasabi their kick. For those who like things a bit milder, the spice of the radish can be very off-putting. But fear not! There are many ways to reduce the heat and leave the refreshing crunch the radish is well loved for.

French Breakfast radish
Heating up the radishes, like in my grilled radish recipe below, removes most of the heat and makes a great side dish for your summer grilling. If you prefer to eat them raw, you can soak the radishes for 20 minutes in cold water and that’ll take care of any spiciness.


These radishes are just heated up on the grill then slathered in butter, much like you might prepare corn on the cob. They’re the perfect side dish or snack, and a good size for little fingers!

 Grilled Radishes with Butter and Sea Salt
  • 1 bunch radishes (~15)
  • 1 tbsp butter                 
  • Flaky sea salt, to taste  

Trim the leaves off of the radishes, leaving a little nubbin of green on top. Slice any large radishes in half lengthwise so all the radishes are about the same thickness.



Place a metal roasting rack (or the cooling rack you use for baking) on the grill grates so they run perpendicular to each other, forming a checkerboard pattern. This will prevent small radishes from falling through. Grill the radishes over hot coals (or about 375⁰ on a gas grill) for about 5 minutes, or until they’ve just started to soften. The radishes will still be crunchy, but the heat from the grill removes most of the spice and gives the radishes a light smoky flavor. Toss the radishes with the butter, and serve with a sprinkle of salt.


Shaved radishes are showing up everywhere in restaurants as a garnish that adds a pretty pop of color to virtually any dish. They add a wonderful crunch to sandwiches and are the perfect addition to almost any salad. The easiest way to shave radishes is with a vegetable peeler. Just hold one end down with a fork as you shave off thin slices that are the perfect thickness for garnish and crunch.

Lastly, I love pickling radishes and using them as a sweet and tangy taco filling (my favorite is pork tacos!). Sort of like the grilling method, the spice is tempered by the hot pickling liquid. Adding hot liquid to the radishes reduces the spice, but also gives them a quick infusion of sweet and tangy flavor. Putting them in the fridge right away cools them off quickly enough that you retain a nice crunch.This is what is known as a “quick pickle” As soon as it cools, it’s ready to eat (about 30 minutes total).
  • 1 bunch radishes (~15) 
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar 
  • ¼ cup sugar 
  • ½ tsp salt 
Trim the greens off the radishes and slice any large ones in half lengthwise. Place in a quart-sized canning jar or other heat-proof container. In a small pot, bring the vinegar, sugar and salt to a boil, stirring frequently at first to keep the sugar from burning to the bottom. As soon as it reaches a boil, remove from the heat and pour over the radishes. Cool, uncovered, in the fridge. They are ready to eat as soon as they’re cool.



Now, take three guessed to figure out one of the things that will be in your shares this week!  (The first two guesses don't count, so feel free to have some fun with the guessing.)  You will find additional options for preparing your radishes on our website!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Who Made the Days So Long/So Short?

The sun gets up pretty early and goes down pretty late.  So, the days can seem pretty long around here.  At the same time, the long list of things that must be done AND the fact that nature just seems to SPEED UP in the Spring finds us wondering how time seems so short.

These heirloom tomatoes are MUCH bigger now
The most difficult part is trying to balance everything.  We still have office work to do (of course), but we really can't sit in the office when the sun is up and there are things to do.  Though, we have done that on some rainy, ugly days.  But, even the rainy/ugly days see us outside doing work.  And, of course, we have plant sales and Saturday farmers' market on our plates.  Add in Tammy's work at Wartburg and both of us getting used to having people on the farm four or so days a week and you've got a recipe for controlled chaos.

The poultry chores can get a bit annoying because, when they need doing - they need doing.  You can't tell a flock of broilers to wait for water when they need water.  Nor can you neglect moving their shelters once the grass around the shelter is pretty well packed down/eaten.  This is especially true when things are wet.  Water complicates matters further because you have to avoid any low spots that might pond water.


The nuggets shelter is a horse trailer. Why be conventional?
Like all people, we sometimes try to take a short cut to get something done.  For example, we figured we might be able to just push the horse trailer forward a little distance to a new area.  Normally, this would be possible.  But, this is apparently not true when the ground is really wet.  So, of course we ended up getting the tractor hooked up to it to move it.  But, then that led to a batch of additional related projects.  Fun how that happens.

The Snort can really be annoying sometimes.
The effort to put in a frost-free water line and prepare the site for the new high tunnel building has been delayed due to the rain and the excavator's schedule.  The net result is that we have a big 'no go there' zone on the farm.  If we want to do something like, oh, take the bedding from the hen room out to the compost pile, we had to take the Loooooong way around.  Thankfully, things dried out enough that Rosie and Rob cleared a path so we could take a more direct path.

And, we look at the calendar and realize our first CSA farm share distribution week is coming up.  REALLY?  How did that happen?  Well, it's probably a good thing, because we've got a batch of radish that are looking really good and the asparagus is really picking it up again.

this picture was from May 19.  It doesn't look like this now.
We really need to get into the habit of taking pictures almost daily this time of year.  For example, the picture above was taken ten days ago.  This area looks NOTHING like this now.  All of the pallets have trays with plants on them.  All of the cold frames are full.  No trailers are in this picture, but now there are TWO of them full of plants in the area.  The cold frame at the right and closest to the camera has potatoes that are draping leaves over the edge.  The second cold frame no longer has radish, but has newly planted Pablo lettuce and some green onions.  The far raised bed no longer has wood sides, it now has steel sides and had green onions added to the spinach already in the bed.

By next Friday, we are hopeful that the pallets will still be full, but with a completely different set of trays.  All of the trays on there now should be planted or (hopefully) sold.  Although the latter is probably wishful thinking since we have about 700 heirloom tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, basil, cucumber, onion and lettuce transplants currently available.  Send people our way if plants are still needed/wanted.

Until next time!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Break Time - Honoring the Fallen

We interrupt our normal growing season with a hobby post that was written back in January just for the purpose of publishing it on Memorial Day.

Postal historians will often explore mail during periods of conflict.  It isn't necessarily an attraction to war or destruction.  Instead, it is an attraction to studying how postal services attempt to solve the problems brought about by war.  However, one still is reminded of the realities of war, as can be seen by the item from WW II shown on the exhibit page below:


It is possible that this letter was not returned to the sender until February of 1945, nearly a full year after it was sent.  One can assume that they likely had already been informed of the addressee's death in battle since it appears to be from a relative.  I can only imagine how it must have felt to have this item arrive in the mailbox 10 months after the death of the person to whom it was written. 

While these people are not known to me in any way other than this envelope and research I undertook to learn more, it still hits home.  We honor the sacrifices of all who have fallen on any side of any conflict.  All the while, we hope that someday we will not need to continue to add to this list.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Rainy Days - a Mixed Blessing

Here it is - Memorial Day Weekend - and your farmer is actually inside and writing a blog post.  This is noteworthy because he has not seen the inside of his house or other building (unless it is the truck barn, poultry pavilion or high tunnel) much over the past week or two.  Most of the inside time has been spent viewing the inside of my eyelids!

So, it is rainy outside and there are no workers scheduled to be at the farm.  As a result, I am able to try to catch up on paperwork and get an informational blog post out there for everyone to enjoy.  Frankly, I think we needed this break, so the rain is welcome.  And, we have several things in the ground that would like the rain.  But, it is May, and we have so much to plant, weed and do outside that rain always makes us nervous.  I guess we'll just deal with it.

Iris Fest Postponement
The Iris Fest scheduled for tomorrow afternoon is being postponed.  The likelihood of more rain along with the mud from the pictures you will see below makes the timing less than optimal.  We're pretty certain most attendees do not want to stand around in an outbuilding looking at rain. We're also pretty certain that parents aren't all that keen about their children getting really muddy and then climbing into vehicles to go home. 

Stay tuned for rescheduling details.

Biiiiiig Gopher!
Once again, we have a pretty big mess on the farm this Spring.  This year, it is more by choice than some of our previous episodes.  We decided to put in frost free hydrants for the new high tunnel.  But, that has to happen before the building is up.  And, it required a great deal more digging than we originally anticipated.
 
Don't let the picture fool you...
 Speaking of the high tunnel.  It looks like our tentative build dates are around June 4-7.  We still need confirmation from the builders of the high tunnel kit and our foreman for the job.  So, we'll post as soon as we know.

It doesn't do it justice - but you get an idea of how deep the trench is.

The trench was our very own 'Grand Canyon' for a while there.  The rain on Wednesday delayed completion of filling it back in - much to our chagrin.  Now it may be a week or so before that can be completed.  The people putting in the line had to use a ladder to climb into the trench.  Ugh.

Raised Beds - Again!
We harvested a nice batch of radish from one of our raised beds for farmers' market this past week.  These raised beds have been a great addition to the farm since we put them into a service a couple of years ago.  But, some of the wood is starting to give way.  Tammy's parents came up with an alternative to using more wood.  We'll try to take a picture of it later and share it with everyone.

French Breakfast radish in captivity.  Hope you're ok with radish that isn't free range.
Trying to Make Planting More Efficient
We are trying out a Holland transplanter this year.  Hopefully, we can reduce the time for some of our planting.  And, perhaps, even more important, it would be nice to reduce the number of hours we crawl around on our hands and knees putting plants in the ground.  We just got help from Jeff Sage picking up a tool bar so we can put this thing on the tractor (Rosie), so once things dry out, we'll be trying the transplanter out.

Here's hoping this works out.
It isn't so terrible to be down on the ground doing work.  Some days, it is pretty pleasant.  But, I can attest to how sore my shins are today after some extensive contact with the soil.

Seedling Tray Dance
Every year, we move trays all over the place as we start, harden off, then transplant vegetables.  It's actually close to a full time job in itself.

Trays on heat mats and under grow lights.
I have to admit that I'm having a hard time right now trying to remember which day we did certain things this week.  So, I'll just mention things that happened and you'll just have to accept that I recorded them in our books and I don't want to look them up just now.

Earlier this week (I think it was this week), we had a major seeding session.  You see 8 trays in the picture above.  We planted somewhere between 80 and 100 of these in one day.  At an estimate, we emptied about 25-30 other trays as we transplanted into the ground this week.  Another batch of trays were emptied as the plants were transferred into pots. 

Busy Week
Ok, by the tone of this post, you might recognize that we aren't sure the time period I am writing about was exactly a week.  Consider this - if Rob, Tammy, Elizabeth and Anden all look at each other and ask - "Did we do that THIS morning or was the yesterday?" Then, it is likely we've just been pretty darned busy. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Good-bye Winter Spinach

One of the crops I think many people have enjoyed is the Winter crop of spinach we try to grow every year.  Obviously, the idea that we have something green and fresh during the months of November, December, March, April and early May is very appealing.  But, that's really only part of the story.

A spinach plant deciding March is an ok time to grow.
A Winter crop of spinach at the Genuine Faux Farm is planted in the Fall, typically late August to early September in the field just outside our movable high tunnel.  Once we get to the end of October, the high tunnel is moved over the plot where the spinach was planted.  This protects the spinach from some of the harsh weather and allows us to get a little bit of extra Fall growth so we can harvest it into December.  For the most part, spinach won't grow much once we get into mid-November.  So, it might be easiest to consider it a way to 'store' our spinach until we are ready to pick it.

Our Fall/early Winter harvests are quite tasty and very much appreciated.  But, there are often other crops available at that time, so it competes a bit for attention.

Spinach outside the high tunnel looking in
On the other hand, when the spinach starts to grow again in late February and into March, we (and many other people) are very much in the mood for fresh veg of most any type.  And, the cold weather growth helps the spinach to set more sugars.  This makes it some of the sweetest and tastiest spinach you're going to eat!

Spinach in the high tunnel and happy for some shelter
Usually, the spinach starts to bolt once we enter the month of May, but we're often willing to pull another pick or two off of the plants.  Essentially, the rule of thumb is for us to determine how efficient harvest is.  If it takes too much time to harvest because it takes too long to identify and pull good leaves, then it is time to take the crop out.  That day was today in the high tunnel.  That row of spinach is no more.  Alas for all of us!

So, wait a minute?  How many times do you pick your spinach?!
Hey!  We're glad you got the courage to jump in and ask a question.  Well done!
(Ok ok.  So someone asked us this at farmers' market a couple of weeks ago.  It's a good question, so we thought we'd pretend the blog was more interactive.)

Ignore the weeds, you should see two sets of 2 rows if you look carefully
In order to answer the question, let me first say that we use the 6 row seeder to put the spinach in the ground.  We only use 2 rows of the six, but we run two parallel beds when we plant in the high tunnel.  So, in effect, there are 4 "rows" of spinach.  Typically, we pick two of the rows at a time because that's about all one person will feel like picking in cold weather.  So, each recorded harvest is about half of the entire planted crop.

We typically are able to run 2 complete harvests in the Fall and five or six in the Spring.  Our Fall harvest came to 41 pounds of spinach and the Spring harvest reached 82 pounds of spinach.  We feel that 123 pounds of spinach from one planting is exceptional.

How do you harvest your spinach?
Now, for the truth in advertising.  We harvest our spinach by hand.  We do NOT cut the plants down with a tool.  Instead, we hand pick each leaf.  I am positive that some people who run farming operations such as ours are cringing and I can understand why that is.  However, this is a pay now versus pay later proposition.  First, if I clear cut the row, then I have to spend time in the cleaning and packing phase removing any leaves that don't pass inspection and any weeds that might have come along for the ride.  I've harvested and cleaned both ways on our farm and I find this to be most efficient and the least annoying to me. And, since I'm the primary spinach harvester, that's really what counts.

Leaves are harvested into tubs.  Once a tub is full, we can pretty much guess that we've harvested five pounds of spinach.  The spinach is soaked in cold water for about five minutes for cleaning and cooling - unless it is cold outside, then it is only for cleaning.  We then fill the big 'salad spinner' to spin the leaves dry and we bag them in produce bags at about 1/3 pound per bag.  This process can be extremely fast and, I feel, makes up for slower harvest time.  

Clearly, we couldn't increase the scale of production too much unless we found a way to speed up the harvest process.  And, if we did increase the scale and implement more efficient harvest processes, we wouldn't see nearly as many harvests and we wouldn't likely get the yield we get now.  Further, one of the reasons people like our spinach so much is the fact that we tend to focus on providing spinach with larger leaves that have more substance and taste. 

What about field planted spinach?
Over the years, we have had limited success with field planted spinach. Some of this has to do with our farm.  It is extremely difficult for us to plant an early crop of spinach in the field.  Usually, we can't plant until it is a bit late to get much more than one harvest before plants start to bolt (go to seed).  And, we often don't have time to hit the perfect August planting window for a good field crop in the Fall.

We will certainly experiment with it a bit more this year.  But, really - the reason the Winter spinach crop is so special is because it grows at a time when there is little else to harvest and enjoy.  We can give it the time and attention because there aren't other crops competing with it.  So, we'll play with spinach during other seasons a bit, but the Winter crop is where we'll invest the most effort.

Here's looking to a great growing season - right up until the last harvest in December of our next Winter spinach crop.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Farm News - May 17

The farmer is taking some time out of running around the fields, moving chickens, seeding trays and other interesting things to write a farm report for your perusal.  We hope you enjoy it.

2015 Farm Share CSA
We hate to keep harping on this.  But, our CSA's capacity is 120 shares.  (about 100 standard size and 20 large).  At present, we are sitting just below 100 shares sold.

We certainly understand that everyone's life goes through changes and that CSA farm shares don't always fit into that life.  But, if you have been procrastinating joining this year - the time to act is now.

Help with Using Your Shares in 2015
Here's a motivator for all of you!  Our intern for 2015 has just come from culinary school and she wants to help ALL of us to use our veggies.  CSA share holders, you are in for a treat this year.  And, for those of you who were on the fence prior to this - you should jump off that fence and join, this has the makings to be something special.

Plant Sales
Our next Cedar Falls plant sale is at Hansen's Outlet from 4pm to 6pm on Friday, May 22.  Come visit us.  We follow that up with the Waverly Farmer's Market on Saturday, May 23 from 8:30-11:30am.

This year, we are featuring Black Cherry and Wapsipinicon Peach for smaller tomatoes.  We still have plenty of Silvery Fir Tree tomatoes for pots and lovers of the big tomatoes (German Pink, Gold Medal, Hungarian Heart, Italian Heirloom) can still come and pick them up.  You want sauce tomatoes? We've got alot of Amish Paste, Opalka, Speckled Roman and Powers Heirloom plants available.

We hope to have pepper and eggplant next week.  There should be some lettuce, some onions and some other plants as well - all depending on the time we have to prep them.

Iris Fest
Our first festival is Memorial Day!  Mark it on your calendar.  A blog post is upcoming that will feature this event, so we won't put too many details here.  But, plan on attending, it should be fun.



High Tunnel
So, why is the 25th Edition of the CRC Standard Mathematical Tables above this title?  It is there because of this:



I needed to determine how big the plastic needed to be for the old high tunnel since we will need to replace it this year.  I still remember my formulae for the perimeter of things like circles... But, the top is not exactly a circle.  So, I went to the trusty CRC to remind myself of the formula required to determine the distance of the arc given the distances I could easily measure. 

Parents!  Tell your kids that you know a farmer who used math in a practical application!  Kids!  Tell your parents you want your own copy of the CRC!

Crop Report
The potatoes are in.  All of them.  We've never accomplished this by mid-May since we scaled up (about 2008).  Part of that is a function of the weather and soil conditions.  There are several years (such as 2012) that nothing we could have done would have changed it.  But, this year, we've had decent weather AND we have better tools to help us accomplish these tasks more efficiently.

The peas, carrots, turnips, radish, spinach and mustard greens have all germinated for us.  The production tomatoes are all selected and potted.  The peppers are potted.  The first succession of brassica are in trays and ready to plant into the field once it dries.  This is also true for cucumbers, summer squash, zucchini and melons.

Oh, and we have 3 beds of onions in.  Each bed is about 200 feet long and each bed has three rows of onions.  So, we estimate that we've put in about 4500 plants.

Communicating with GFF
If you wish to communicate with us, you should use our email address (gff@genuinefauxfarm.com).  If you are interested in getting onto our egg email list, you should use this email address (eggs@genuinefauxfarm.com).  Please note that we try to respond quickly, but usually we aren't reading the day's email until after 10pm at night this time of year.  The energy level isn't always there to respond to complex queries.  We still intend to reply and will do our best to do so.  But, if you have inquired and not received a response, please be patient AND send us a reminder.  We're not ignoring you, we're just trying to pack too much into our days right now.

I won't post our phone number on the blog.  But, if you are CSA members, customers, etc, you likely have the number or can get it from us.  Remember to leave a message if you call.  During most of the daylight hours, Rob is not in a position to easily answer the phone.  Yes, he does have a cell phone. Yes, it does have decent reception on the farm.  But, he's not able to hear it if he's running the tiller, or the tractor.  He won't answer it if he's carrying buckets of water and he likely won't answer it if his hands are too muddy to handle the phone in the first place!  Give me an idea of what is needed in your message so we can efficiently get back to you.  And, of course, if you don't hear back, give us another call.  I've been known to fat finger and delete, rather than save, a message.  There is grumbling to be heard at the farm when that happens - so accept apologies in advance and help us out. Thanks!


Poultry
We just moved the nuggets (meat chickens) to the pasture area and we let them out of the horse trailer every day so they can run around.  The young hens (henlets) have been placed in a flair box and are out on pasture as well.  they are checking out pasture for the first time this weekend.  The turklets and ducklings arrive in June.  The adult ducks have been enjoying the rain, but stopped laying eggs several weeks back.  The Appleyard ducks like to stand in a line in front of Rob and tell him what he's doing wrong.  The hens appear to be doing well and loving the nice weather.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Get My Drift?

It probably is not news to many of you that the Genuine Faux Farm is involved in various things related to research involving the things we do on our farm.  Sometimes, these things show up in various media that we have not created.  So, we thought we'd point you to a few things that feature GFF in some fashion or another.  By doing this, you may get more views regarding what we do and how we do it - and maybe some plans for this year!

You might have already noticed we have done this regarding the Duck Breed Trial we performed in 2014.  Consider this the next installment on that train of thought!



Drift Catching

We agreed to be drift catchers for the Pesticide Action Network this year.  Simply put, we will set up an apparatus that will take air samples during prime pesticide spraying time.  The idea is to begin collecting real data that will confirm or deny the assertion that drift is prevalent and a real problem.  At this point, it is often a matter conjecture and opinion rather than established and measured fact.  Hopefully continued expansion of this project will collect sufficient data to illustrate the truth of the matter to help provide impetus for change.

Clearly, my opinion is that there are plenty of chemicals in the air throughout the state during spray season.  But, I am acutely aware that I have no scientific-based research to support my statement.  And, I am also aware that these drift catchers may find nothing as well.  But, this is why you participate in research.  We want to begin the process of finding out what sort of a problem we have.

A blog post by Lex Horan of PAN features GFF during recent drift catcher training.


Photo courtesy of PAN
To give you a better idea as to how PAN is approaching this research, I would like to direct you to their stories from the field page.  It's an accessible presentation that makes it clear that they are doing what they can to provide a scientifically sound method to provide evidence of a problem that is in need of addressing.  If anything, it seems to me that this approach is more likely to record false negatives rather than false positives.  But, in this situation, that is probably the best approach.

Things that this study will do and not do:
- it will not be tracking herbicide or other chemical drift that we are pretty sure happen as well
- it can not continuously monitor air quality - nor can it test for all impurities
    Essentially, there are tubes with resins that are used for collection.  Every so often, these get replaced and sent to a lab for testing.  Various resins/tests are needed for all sorts of air impurities.  So, you can't expect to test for everything at once - nor can you expect to take samples continuously.  It just isn't feasible with this technology and situation.
- it will not be used in any way to point fingers at any of the surrounding farms or chemical applicators
   The testing equipment is non-directional.  Further, this is only intended to begin collecting data that can be used to determine the seriousness of what we believe is a pervasive problem.  With good data, we can work to find good solutions - or so it is hoped - that will serve all of us.


If you have questions about what we are doing and why, feel free to comment or send us a note.

Friday, May 8, 2015

DUCK!

Duck Breed Trial

Last season, we raised two types of ducks, Muscoveys and Silver Appleyards.  Practical Farmers of Iowa sponsored the research and we helped produce the report highlighted on this PFI blog post.  If you wish to see the full report, you can take the link here.   In the end, as much as we enjoyed the Silver Appleyards, we may not focus on raising them as much as the Muscovey's after we ran the numbers.  But, we also admit that a single trial is not sufficient because one must learn the differences of each breed so you can maximize their strengths and minimize the weaknesses.    At present, we have three Muscovey and four Appleyard ducks on the farm.

It's a quick quack blog post!
 The white birds in the picture are our Muscoveys.  These birds tend to be, on average, a bit bigger than the Appleyards.  In fact, the male Muscovey (who is named Diggle) is quite a bit bigger than all of the other ducks.  It is common for the drake Muscoveys to be significantly larger than the females.  Another interesting fact - Muscovey's are 'quackless' ducks.  They do make hissing noises, but they will not quack.

On the other hand, Appleyard ducks enjoy discussing everything and anything.  Recently, they've taken to standing in a line in front of Rob and telling him how he could improve his caretaking techniques.  Unlike the Muscoveys, the drake (in this case he is named Dippet) is not much bigger than the females.

Both were laying eggs until recently.  But, since we weren't separating them, we aren't completely sure which eggs belong to which birds. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A Picture This and That Post

Sometimes we have so many things we'd like to share with everyone that there is no good way to have a theme for the blog post.  So, prepare yourself - I'm not sure where this one is going to go!

Early Season Crops
We backed off the early season crops this year so we could focus on getting a good start on the main season AND so we could put up a new high tunnel.  But, we have had spinach and the asparagus is getting started this week!  The spinach, per the norm for our overwintered spinach, has fabulous taste.  But, we've gotten a better harvest than usual out of it.  This bed in the high tunnel was harvested late fall and again this Spring.  It's about done now, but we've been pleased with it.

Bloomsdale spinach in early March
Ibuprofen Season
April and May is when Tammy and I get reminded by muscles we forgot we had that they still exist.  You call it Spring.  We call it ibuprofen season.  You can try to work out in the off-season, but it's never the same as doing the work.

The yellow cart loaded with the tools for planting.
Spring Has Sprung
Signs of Spring include robins, crocus flowers, pasque flowers, thunderstorms AND the sound of Barty (the BCS walk behind tractor) at the Genuine Faux Farm.  We are pleased to report that we managed to get all of the peas and carrots in prior to the rain.  We also got an outdoor succession of spinach, mustard greens, arugula, radish and turnips into the ground.  The real winner, however, is the fact that we have 75% of our potatoes in!  We have never gotten potatoes in this early at the farm.  And, it may never happen again.  But, we'll be happy about it and let other events unfold as they may.

The cherry tree also announced that it was Spring
Doors That Work
We introduced an old horse trailer to the farm last year as a home for the boyus (our meat chickens).  But, the doors were rusting out and we were pretty sure they would not last more than a week or two this year unless they were fixed.  Neither of us works much with metal.  But, the Band Saw Man himself (Jeff Sage) is a wizard with it.  Look at the wonderful doors he put on the "nuggets" home!  Now, we just need to do a bit more sealing up of some of the holes on this thing and it will be in great shape.

Band Saw Man - one of our favorite people!
New Equipment
We continue to refine our operation and acquire new equipment when the opportunity appears to be right.  This year we picked up another running gear.  This one, once we put a deck on it, should be the right size to do a number of things on the farm, including moving water.

 And, since we like to collect flair boxes (this is our third), we picked this green one up.  We just have to make decisions regarding the roles of each of the three flair boxes on the farm.  That might seem silly, but we might explain it in a later post so you see what there is some logic to this.


The Year of the Tater?
We are annoyed by the difficulties we've had with potatoes the last few years.  Granted, some of it has to do with the early weather in combination with our soils.  We certainly did what we could each of those seasons, but we refuse to believe that we can't make adjustments so we can succeed regardless of those situations.  So, one thing we are trying is putting some experimental potatoes in a raised bed at the farm.  We got these planted on Easter weekend.

And look what popped up this weekend!
Tammy Would Rather Look at the Sunset
We were picking and cleaning/packing spinach for last week's Waverly Farmers' Market on Friday evening.  Tammy left the high tunnel to grab a couple of coolers, leaving Rob behind to work on the spinach.  She did not come back for some time.  It turns out she wanted to take some pictures.  I suspect it might have been more fun than what I was doing. 

It all worked out in the end.  We had lots of great spinach at market AND Tammy managed to capture this photo.



Friday, May 1, 2015

Welcome to May

Welcome to May and to our first farm report of the growing season.  This is going to focus on information, so it may be a bit terse.  (HA! You all know I can't do that - but I'll try anyway.)

Crop Report
There isn't too much to report because there is not much in the ground yet.  We put in the Spring peas (all 800 feet of them) yesterday.  We also put the first succession of cucumber seed into trays the day before.  So, we can officially say the season of minding your peas and cukes has begun!

We are beginning to transplant tomatoes into pots and have many other trays of seedlings going at this time. 

Asparagus is starting to pop up, so keep an eye on announcements, we should have some for you at the farmers' market starting the 2nd week of Saturday markets.

The spinach in the high tunnel is starting to bolt, but we've gotten a good crop out of it.  We'll pick LOTS of it for sale for this week's farmers market.

Farmers' Market
The Waverly Farmers' Market opens starting this Saturday, May 2.  8:30 to 11:30 AM. 
We will have spinach, eggs and some Silvery Fir Tree tomato plants.  These work great in pots.  The rest of our transplants need to grow up a bit more before we sell them.  Usually the 3rd and 4th weeks of May are our peak.

Transplants for Sale
Yes, we will have transplants for sale again this season.  Our range of heirloom tomatoes, peppers and eggplants will be available yet again.  We also will have basil and we expect to have a few broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber and other plants as the season goes on.

We will sell these primarily at the Waverly Farmers' Market and during two Fridays at Hansen's Outlet in Cedar Falls (the 15th and 22nd).  We may add a 3rd Friday event in Cedar Falls and a Tripoli sales date.  Stay tuned.

CSA
The CSA is not full yet.  Keep sending people our way.  The deadlines on our brochures are not accurate since we are not full.
You may also notice, if you listen to Iowa Public Radio, that our annual radio spot is going to start running on May 4th this year. 
Billing is being sent out and on its way.  Patience!  We're getting there.  The nice weather has forced our hand to get outside since we see rain in the forecast for next week.

Bird Flu?
Are we concerned about bird flu?  Well, let's just say we're always concerned about the health of the birds in our flocks.  That's why we raise them the way we do, providing them with the best environment for them to be and remain healthy.  Does that mean our birds cannot get the flu?  Of course not.  All creatures are subject to illness at some point or another.  We just have to do what we've been doing to keep them strong.  This includes, sadly, removing a weak bird every once in a while that might be susceptible to a disease that could spread.  In short, we'll do what we feel is necessary to keep things going well at the farm.

At this point, our biggest concern is the blanket approach we fear might be applied to all operations in areas that discover bird flu. 

Festival Schedule
Tammy and I finally had a moment to sit down and hammer out the rest of the festival schedule for 2015.  We've had a number of things hanging over us waiting for some conclusion - hence the delay.
IRIS FEST - May 25
GFF Whole Farm Revenue Protection Field Day - June 28
SUMMER FEST and HEIRLOOM TOMATO TASTING - August 30
GF7 - October 3
and somewhere in May will be the High Tunnel Build!

High Tunnel
 We've just been informed that the high tunnel will be ready to ship out in the next couple of weeks.  We're now trying to hammer out some other schedule things so we can get this thing up and running as soon as we can.  We were hoping this could be done sooner than this because May is already jam packed with things to do.  Ah well, such is life.  We'll make it work!