Saturday, April 28, 2018

Pest Issues

We came down to our kitchen last week and we were just a wee bit shocked by what we saw.  Apparently, some sort of rodent or SOMETHING had been gnawing away at the cabinets and ceiling area.  Perfect!  And, the growing season is really getting going now that Mother Nature has decided she might like to see some green growing stuff instead of the white snowing stuff.  How are we supposed to deal with giant rodents eating our kitchen when we need to be planting things?!?
Our upper cabinets!  They're GONE!
We weren't entirely sure what sort of critter would do this kind of damage to our farm, so we really didn't know what sort of trap to use.  We decided to put a motion sensitive camera out to see if we could catch the varmint in the act.  After all, how much more damage could be done?  Surely it wouldn't be all that much more, would it?

How wrong we were.
We're guessing the appalling reddish orange color scared it away.
Oh look.  Lots of colors.
We now have no LOWER cabinets and no plumbing in the room that WAS our kitchen.  Alas. 

On the plus side, there appears to be a nice new subfloor that doesn't have rotted holes riddled through it.  We will accept that as an improvement.  But, in that case, we know Travis Duncan was responsible for that work.  So, Travis is a positive.  And, the removal of the lower cabinets made it possible.  But, we STILL weren't sure what was rendering our kitchen useless..... and red-orange.  Ugh.

Evidence spotted in the room included a couple of wrecking bars, a reciprocating saw and a hammer.  Great.  We're dealing with pests that can also use tools.  We also noticed that the kitchen isn't being 'consumed' since there is all sorts of material just outside the backdoor of the house now.  That makes us wonder if someone tried to STEAL our kitchen but realized they would have to take it apart in order to get it out the door. 

Clearly, once outside with better light, they realized our kitchen wasn't worth the effort, so they left the remnants in a pile.... for us to clean up.  That's not very thoughtful.

So, we took some time today to download some of the photos from our camera and we can finally show the guilty party.
Um.

Ok.  You got me.  But, Tammy made me do it.

Friday, April 27, 2018

There's no Snow?

We have been blessed now with a week or so of beautiful weather and we have done what we can to make the most of it at the Genuine Faux Farm.  Tammy got her grading done quick enough that she could partake in the farming fun for most of what is termed "Tour Week" at Wartburg College.  Her tour?  Well, you'll see some of it below.


Sometimes I take a picture and I am not entirely sure why I take it.  In this case, it was simply the view from the vantage point I had as I was finishing some maintenance on Barty (see prior post).  There is now a hint of green to the grassy areas, though it is usually a good bit greener than that most years on April 26.  Still, there is nary a hint of the white stuff on the ground, so I am fine with it.

The great migration of plants from the house and other warmer spots to more 'outdoorsy' locations has begun.  We take most of our house plants (like the palm in the picture) outside for most of the Summer.  It's far easier for us to keep them watered out there than it is inside.  And, the cart is full of cute little pepper plants that are anxiously awaiting being 'potted up' from their cells into three and a half inch pots. 

They are going to go reside in Valhalla for a couple of weeks to protect them from temperatures that are likely to still get close to freezing.  In fact, the forecast has lows around 36, 32 and 33 listed for the next three nights.  So, we need to stay alert. 

The palm gets to sit in the garage and it comes out to play each day once it is warm enough.  The pepper, eggplant and tomato plants are protected in other ways.

The north side of Valhalla has been designated a plant refuge and resort.  The building gets quite a bit warmer during the day, especially when it is sunny.  We close it up in early evening to hold some of the latent heat and we put a couple of layers of remay covering over the plants.  There are hoops placed over the plant trays to make sure the covering is above them and not on them.

We tuck the little plants in each evening and let them out to play once the temperature in the building reaches levels they might enjoy.  It does the heart good to see six inch tall tomatoes and three inch tall pepper plants running around having a good time.

Ok.  They really just sit there.  Sometimes, we put them in a cart and pull them around just so they can see some different things.  They are young and they should see the world before they put down roots.

What?

We want them to be happy.
 
 Our potting and seeding area is about to be moved to another location as we prep to plant in the ground.  Initially, some of the things you see in the reddish tubs were supposed to get planted into the ground.  But, it was easier to keep them warmer in the tubs, so we kept them in the tubs during the unseasonably cool temps.  That way, we had the option to go get them and bring them in if we thought they would die.  As it was, they just sat there and didn't grow.  But, they lived.  Now, after a few days of sun and warm, they are putting on some growth.  So, time to prep the beds in Valhalla and plant them. 
 Meanwhile, we have to give more seeds a chance to grow and show us what they can do.  So, we threw seeds into 30 some trays.  I wonder what will happen next?
Meanwhile, we await the swelling of buds on trees and the greening of the pasture areas.  The soil in the field just south of Valhalla is still pretty damp, but the breeze should start to dry it out.  Lots of sunshine is raising the soil temperatures rapidly.

It is quite possible that Spring has actually sprung.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Mekanikle Ineptitude

Neither of us has ever said, "Boy howdy!  I'd really like to do some routine maintenance on our small engines.  And, while I am at it, I would really ENJOY making a few repairs as well!"  Of course, that's because neither of us is prone to saying "Boy howdy!"  Otherwise, we have been known to make a statement that we would LIKE to have routine maintenance done on the small engines and we would always prefer to get the repairs done as well.  It's just that neither of us is likely to pick these tasks over other tasks.
Would you like to replace some tines on the tiller?
Are we incapable of changing the oil, cleaning the filters and adjusting the throttle cable on a small engine?  No.  We can do that.  Of the two of us, Rob is more comfortable with this stuff than Tammy, but we can both figure it out.  It is safe to say that neither of us is brimming full of confidence and we both know these things take us much longer than it would other persons with more experience with this sort of work.  Hence the tendency to pass the task on to others who seem more inclined to enjoy it when they come around.  This is especially true during the growing season when there is so much to do.
Half of the tines are on (lower half) - almost there!
Sometimes, there just isn't a person who you can pass the work to.  And, sometimes, you realize you really should just get over yourself and improve your own skills (and your attitude while you are at it).  After all, it's not like I haven't done anything like this before.  

Well, ok, I haven't actually replaced the tines on a tiller before.  So, this is a new one for me.
Old tines at left and right.  New in the middle.
 So, why were we replacing the tines on Barty (our walk behind tractor)?  The picture above doesn't do it justice because you can't really see the curved part of the blade on the new tine in the center.  Let's just say the tine on the right is missing half of what it is supposed to have and leave it at that. 

Barty was also treated to the full "spa treatment" with new oil, filter, lube, etc etc.  He's one happy walk-behind tractor now.  We even adjusted the throttle.  Hurray for us.
Ha!  I put it back together with NO extra parts AND it appears to work!
The lawn tractor had better watch out, because it's next.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Paths to Produce?

The weather and farming.  Farming and the weather.  Every year there is something about the weather that provides a challenge to the farmers and this year the weather issue of choice is the Winter that would NOT let Spring move into the apartment.
March 27
We had actually seen/heard some robins and kildeer on the farm just prior to the bigger snow on March 24/25.  We, of course, apologized to them but figured "hey, it's March.  This sort of thing happens in March."  
April 3

The April 3 snow wasn't a huge surprise.  There are supposed to be three snows on the robin's tail anyway.  The bigger issue was the temperatures.  What follows below is the April 2018 weather for Waterloo, Iowa.  In Tripoli, we were cooler than these numbers and had a bit more snow as well.  For example, you may note the "rainfall" amount on April 18.  Then, view one of the later pictures.


In combination with the much lower than normal temperatures in early April, we didn't have much for sunshine.  The daily summaries shown above don't make it look like it, but we did not have many really sunny days to heat up our high tunnels.  The net result?  Nothing really grew.  The plants lived.  But, that's about it.

April 8

Sun puddles are one cure for Winter.
Temperatures actually did get warm enough to melt the April 3 snow.  That, and, it really wasn't all that deep.  There was still some snow on the north side of buildings, bush lines and the like, but nothing much.  So, Mother Nature gave us another blanket on the 8th of April.  We had also had a light dusting between the 3rd and 8th, but it wasn't picture worthy. By the time we got another snow on the 15th, we just said, "Bleah," and didn't reach for the camera at all.  After all, that one wasn't much of a snow anyway.

Tammy had a great deal to do during the end of the semester at Wartburg and there was a good deal to do on the farm that didn't have to do with working outdoors.  So, we both stayed busy to avoid letting the weather get us upset. 

Sure, the weather was starting to impact our growing season.  Things in the high tunnels were falling further and further behind.  We had trays of plants stacked up in locations that they shouldn't be because we had to keep them warm enough.  Other trays were not getting seeded because there wasn't a place to put them.  Blah blah blah.  Stuff stuff stuff. 

But, we're used to slower starts on the farm than we usually want simply because of our location and the types of soils we have.  We rarely come out of the gate on this farm quickly.  But, we're usually quick enough.  This year, we're just like everyone else in our region - quite a ways behind where we normally are.

Then this happened April 18
Once again.  The snow was pretty.  But, now we were getting just a tad bit miffed.
 Probably the real highlight of this snow was how wonderfully packable it was.  Normally, I would have been spoiling for a good snowball fight.  But, with no one to throw snowballs at (Tammy knows exactly how to avoid becoming a target), Rob was left to figure out how to dig the snow away from the sides of the high tunnels.

All of that wet stuff that landed on the high tunnels ends up sliding down the arched roof.  Now we had 3 to 3 1/2 feed of heavy snow leaning against the roll up sides of these buildings AND out came the sun and the warmer weather!  If you don't want your crops to bolt inside the building, you've got to get them open!  The shovel was running too much risk of tearing the plastic sides and the bucket on the tractor was certainly not an option. 

Anyone for digging out with your hands?  No?  Oh, that's why I did it myself.
I think we're ready for Spring now.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Stuck on the Farm Music

There used to be an exercise that people who very much enjoy music would indulge themselves in that used the old 'if you were stranded on a desert island' theme.  Given current technology and the tendency of many to 'stream' music and not play entire albums of music at a time, this thought exercise doesn't seem to get used all that often any more.  The basic idea is that you will be stranded on a desert island and you can select only 10 albums worth of music to be available to you from that point on.  You can't pick and choose single songs, you have to take all or nothing from each album you select.

So, why would I actually spend time on this sort of a post, you ask?

Well, Tammy and I both like our music and...  sometimes when you aren't feeling well and can't sleep, you find something to do with yourself.  Like a think about what music albums you would bring with you to a desert island.

(ed note: this was written in late January and was scheduled for a later release IF Rob could find time to proof it a bit)

To make this fit the farm blog better - here are the ten albums Rob would choose if he were stuck on the farm and could access ONLY ten albums for his music.  They are listed here in no particular order.  After all, they made it on a list for a guy who has about 10,000 songs to choose from on his Ipod Classic.  Ya, ya.  I know.  But, do you expect me to carry that much vinyl around with me?

To increase the suspense... we're going to split this into a few posts.  (ed note: yes, suspense!  For all three readers out there who might want to know!)

Apocalyptica - Reflections
We're not talking the original release, you've got to include the extended release material because there are some really good songs there.  It has cellos.  We like cellos.  It has cellos playing music that might not have been initially intended for cellos.  But, that's wrong, because all music should be played on a cello.  So there.

The Choir - Circle Slide
It's relaxing when you play it quietly.  It can rock when you turn up the volume.  It's artsy.  It's thought-provoking.  It's layered and textured and...  Well, I like it.  I listen to these songs that I know so well and I still pick up new things.  And, while they don't show up on this album, the Choir has been known to use a cello in its music now and again.

Future of Forestry - Pages
We listen to this compilation of songs and both Tammy and I say things like, "I like this song."  Or, "this one is my favorite on the album."  This is quickly followed by, "but I said that about the last song too."  We can't decide and we don't want to decide.  We just want to listen to the album.  And, there are cellos in this music sometimes.  I begin to detect a theme... How about you?


Two more posts are in the pipeline!  I wonder when I scheduled them to go?  Who knows?

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Poultry in Winter

"The Ladies," also know as our laying hen flock, are the only poultry that currently over-Winter on our farm.  We did over-Winter ducks a couple of times, but we have taken duck off of our poultry menu for a while. 

The ladies suggested that we have not written a blog post about them lately.
A couple of our recent posts have alluded to the weather and how that impacts our chickens, so I guess it makes sense that we should follow through with a 'flock report' of some sort. 

If you check out the photo below, you'll see what happens to the hen yard when we do NOT get early snow cover.  The area closest to the building gets pretty beat up.  We like to let the hens out every day we are able, but if there is no snow cover during the cold months, the birds go out and scratch everything up
This area is just LOVELY during mud season.
If you have not dealt with chickens before, it is important for you to understand that chickens like to forage.  Part of the foraging is to scratch up the ground.  They are so good at this that we've actually used them as a poultry clean-up crew.

I recall returning to a place Tammy and I used to live and cringing as I watched chickens pulling away all the mulch in perennial plantings the two of us had put down prior to moving away.  I realize that not everyone values perennial flower plantings the same way we do/did and I get the appeal of having hens wandering around a country farmyard.  But, it was still alarming how quickly they destroyed what was once a well-manicured planting.

So, now we raise chickens.  And they beat up pastures like this.  What do we do?  Well, we've worked to create a more mobile summer home (see Oh Give me a Home) that will allow us to move the birds around a bit this Spring and Summer.  Our hope is that this will allow us some time to rehab this pasture area a bit AND get some needed maintenance done in the hen room.  The presence of a bunch of birds around your feet does not lend itself to many productive moments in carpentry.  How do I know?  Well, let's just say we've given it a try or two.



Another example of poultry 'destruction' explains one reason why we don't keep our hens right next door to most of our vegetable production.  It also shows you how we supplement our poultry's diet with produce that isn't going to find a home via sales (or in our own kitchen). 

Some pumpkins just don't meet the cut.  Others don't find a home early, so we hold on to them until they start to get softer.  Then, we let the hens have them.  You might think that you have to split the pumpkin up for the birds so they can eat it.  Not so.  Just look at the pictures above and below.

For a point of reference, we were able to store these pumpkins into January.  The benefit is that we can have some quality supplementary food for our hens from the farm in the middle of Winter by simply storing some of the lower quality squash and feeding it to them over time.  This past season, we were able to give them some squash as late as the end of January.  In fact, we were able to give them some bolted greens from the high tunnel just this week.  Happy birds!


If you are interested in getting some of our farm fresh eggs, we suggest you contact us to get on our email list.  We send out a note prior to each egg sale (usually every other week in Winter and every week the rest of the year).  Our customers regularly make positive comments about the high quality of our ladies' work and you will too once you start using them.  Eggs cost $3.50 a dozen and the ladies - despite the cool weather - are doing just fine and giving us 5-7 dozen eggs a day.


And, of course, there is the next generation of hens on the farm now.  We got the chicks JUST prior to Easter and right on time for the cold snap.  It happens every year when we get chicks.  Get the little birds - weather gets cold.  This year has just been a bit more persistent about it than some.  Nonetheless, the little ladies seem to be healthy and are looking forward to being let out of their tub so they can explore more of the world.  We just need temps to stay a little bit warmer at night.

If you would like to read more about how we work with our poultry, you can check out this post: Poultry Slam

Monday, April 9, 2018

Winter Wonderland


I've noticed that there are a number of people who are letting themselves get a bit on the grumpy side with the cold weather and the snow.  I wonder if they've taken a look at how nice everything looks out there right now?

First step outside of our door.
I realize that everyone is anxious for Spring.  I also fully understand that there are many (ourselves included) that are finding our work to be a bit more difficult with this weather.  But, I am finding myself getting amused with how 'up in arms' everyone is about this "LATE" snow on April 9th of this year.

Out of curiosity, I randomly chose to go to the weather history for April 9th of a different year (2009) and I noticed that there was mention of snowfall in April.  A quick look found this.   4.3" of the white stuff on April 5, 2009.  Or, dare I remind you of May 2013 again?
Besides, did I mention that it was kinda pretty?
 To put you in the mood, how about a little Bing Crosby:


I'll grant you that snow makes farm chores a bit more difficult.  The cold weather has really put a crimp on our getting an early start on any of our veggie crops.  They really are just holding on in the high tunnels right now - not much incentive to grow.  But, we didn't get much snow during the period that we would normally associate with snow.  So, forgive me if I actually take a moment to enjoy the short-lived beauty.

Hey, that looks kinda.. um... pretty.
Underneath all of that snow is brown grass and black mud.  We will see that soon enough as the temperatures jump past the "averages" and beyond over the next week.  Oh, don't worry, we'll come back down.  April in Iowa is always a roller coaster.  We can at least agree that temperature swings would be normal.

Besides, I still think... oh, you got the point?  Never mind.
And, seriously, it isn't going to be long before we see signs of Spring other than robins huddled around the crab apple trees in town - desperately pecking away at the dried fruit.

Here is a picture from the farm from April 16 last year.  See!  Green grass! 





And April 9 two years ago.  See!  Gree....  um.  No.  Skip that one.

Here - April 27 from two years ago. 

Spring is on the way - hand in there!

Friday, April 6, 2018

The Robin's Tail

There is an old saying that there are always "three snows on the robin's tail."  Well, we're pretty certain that the number used in that saying must be a statistical average rather than a law of nature.  I'm watching snow number four (or is it five?) as I type this.
That isn't sand, is it?

I can tell you that since we started farming, it has seemed to hold fairly close to true that the robins arrive and we get a few snowfalls.  Usually at least one of them is only a dusting that barely qualifies as the third snow fall.  But, when you are getting anxious for Spring, you'll count a single snowflake as an official 'snowfall' if only to get past the third "robin's tail snow."

Funny thing about Mother Nature, she doesn't really care what we think.  And, she certainly doesn't worry about staying true to an old saw about robins, snowfalls and the timing of spring.  Nonetheless, I still submit to you that, at our farm, the saying is accurate - on average.  After all, it was just 2013 when we got this snow in early May.  According to my notes, I had counted three snowfalls after the arrival of our first robins on the farm.  But, one was, admittedly, one of those snowfalls that didn't even give us a dusting of snow.  I should have known that there was still one more coming.  Darned robin and its tail...

For those who might enjoy it - here is a link to a time elapse snow cover of North American for March through May of 2013.  

The good news about snow?  Well, it looks pretty - even when you don't want it.  And it blows around alot.

Like this.  It wasn't that much snow, so we got 'mini-drifts' for the April 3 snow
Ok, maybe the 'blows around alot' part isn't seen as a positive by most people.  I think we're all over-reacting a bit to the snow this April because we (at least in the area around our farm) haven't gotten all that much snow this year.  Here is the snow cover animation for November 1 to April 1 of the past winter. 

March 15 on the farm.
The animation sure makes it seem like we got much more snow than we recall getting.  But, the truth is one inch of snow IS snow cover.  For us, we didn't have to do too much "path-making" in snow to get to the chickens until March this year. 
March 27 on the farm
 It all evens out in the end, depending on what sort of balance you are using.  For now, I am going to go outside and console the robins.

Their tails are getting a little tired carrying all of that snow on them.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

April Newsletter

Reluctance, Anticipation and Ambition
Every month of the year marks a transitional period for us at the farm.  There was a time when I wouldn't have agreed with that statement - until I realized that every time I set out to write the monthly newsletter, I found myself wanting to write about how things will change during the month.  So, here we are - in another month of transition.

The end of March and beginning of April has many similarities to the end August and beginning of September.  There is a profound sense of reluctance to move on.  In August/September, we are realizing that many of our crops are coming to an end, though there is always plenty to deal with into December.  There is regret for things that didn't get done and a realization that certain things cannot be fixed until the next growing season.  March/April is when we realize our 'other' season is coming to an end - just when we were really getting into the rhythm of doing things differently.  There is regret for things not completed and certain things cannot be fixed until the growing season reaches its conclusion.
On the other hand, we do have a sense of anticipation for the good produce that is to come.  There are days where we can put in an honest effort of labor and see the rewards of jobs well done.  We look forward to being outside for longer periods of time and being warmer while we're doing it (sometimes much warmer).

And, yes, there is ambition.  It is there, even if we might have trouble focusing that ambition on the new season that is coming.  Is it possible to be reluctantly ambitious?  If it is, I think that might be right where we are.

CSA Promotion
We need CSA members and we are kicking off our 2018 Spring Campaign: #PathstoProduce2018.  We would like you to join us this year.  For those of you who have already signed up or who have contacted us, thank you!  We will be sending information as we approach the season and we will keep you informed.  This year we are trying to be more flexible with payments to help everyone out with their budgets.  At the same time, we have expense we need to pay - so let's get the sign ups going!

Our next post will introduce the blog post/Facebook post promotion theme for 2018.  Above is a sneak peak!

Need to know what the CSA options are: Here they are!


Picture of the Month/Weather Whythards
Winter decided that we didn't need most of our snow until we reached the month of March this year.  The farm received somewhere around 17 inches of wet snow on the 23rd and 24th of the month.  Of all things, Rob and Tammy were away for that weekend, which left poor Caleb to deal with the farm in the immediate aftermath.  Happily, he was able to dig his little car out and get back home.


The snow melted fairly quickly, though we still have a little bit here and there on the farm as of April 2.  The good news about "warmer" temperatures and lots of cooler moisture?  Well, you end up with a nice hoarfrost most times that happens.  The fog/clouds didn't leave until mid-afternoon, so I had a few opportunities to try to catch some neat pictures of the farm.

Highest wind gust for March: 35 mph
Highest temp for March: 54
Lowest temp for March: 12
Snowfall: 17 inches (est)
Rainfall: .15 inches

Farm News Shorts and Announcements

  • We have had one Wartburg Service Trip group at the farm in March and may have one or two more at the farm this month.  The first group helped us cut down some brush, pick up trimmings from our fruit tree pruning and lay down plastic on what will be a new veggie plot.  Tune in next month when we report on the other group efforts.
  • The hen chicks are now on the farm!  About sixty (or so) little ladies arrived in the mail last Thursday and, of course, the weather went and got really cold on us!  This appears to be a tradition for us.  Get chicks, weather gets cold.  The birds are in the brooder room where they get plenty of heat to stay healthy.
  • The first batch of broiler chicks will arrive in a week and a half.
  • Speaking of broilers - last year's broilers are now sold out!  We have a few stewing hens available.  But, until we process batch #1 of broilers at the end of June, we will have no more broilers for sale.
  • Plant starts - do you want some?  If you want some, you need to speak up so we know to start them for you.  As per our decision last year, we will not be holding general plants sales.  However, if you are one of the people who has relied on us for plants over the years, you need to say something if you want us to start them.
  • Our plant starting shelves hold peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, kale, broccoli, flowers, tatsoi, komatsuna and various other items.  We have a huge planting list to start in a about one week.  And, Valhalla has tubs with started lettuce, spinach and onions.  It has begun.
There be tubs of spinach, lettuce and onions in that building!
April Calendar
You may notice that the first item on our list is a Flash Veg and Egg Sale.  We anticipate that this will be during the first week.  We have some greens that will need to be harvested, but we have to respond to the weather.  Tuesday does not look like a good options.  But, hey!  This is the nature of a "Flash" sale - it happens when it happens.

  • April 5 (Thus) - Flash Veg and Egg Sale
  • April 12 (Thus) -  Egg sales Waverly and Cedar Falls
  • April 24 (Tue) - Egg sales Waverly and Cedar Falls

Song of the Month
Here we are, on the cusp of a new growing season.  It only seems right to have a song titled "the Precipice" by the Classic Crime as our song of the month:



Time to Have Pun
We've noticed in the past that there are a number of characteristics different potatoes exhibit.

For example, there is the potato that makes all the other potatoes do what it wants.  That's a dic-tater...
Every once in a while, we get one that seems to be tainted by the negative side of the force - also known as - Darth Tater
We also find some that are very helpful, we call them facili-taters.
The common-taters just keep talking, but you can find them everywhere you look. 
Once in a while, we find a potato that was cut by the potato digging tool.  Depending on how badly it destroyed the potato in question, you might say it was a decapi-tater or an ampu-tater.
If potatoes could talk - would they yell "Im-a-Tater!"  And, if they did, would you assume that they were trying to act like someone else?
The medi-taters always seem thoughtful and others balk at being pulled up out of the ground. Silly hesi-taters!
And, finally, all of the little ones that we find when we dig up the rows - they must be speck-taters.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

About Our 2018 Promo Campaign

Welcome to 2018 and another year of the Genuine Faux Farm Community Supported Agriculture Program!

<insert clip of hundreds of fans cheering and clamoring for fresh produce>

Our theme for 2018 is "Paths to Produce" and we hope you will join us as we travel down the various pathways, both familiar and unexpected, that this growing season will bring to us.  If you use Facebook, you will find the hashtag #PathstoProduce2018 will bring up many of our posts on the subject.

The inspiration for this year's theme would be the photo shown at the right.  The pathway in the snow was created by our Farm Managers (the outdoor cats) as they find their way to different locations on our farm.  In the background, you will see the area that is to become our new washing station/packing area in 2018.

Tammy and I have been growing produce on this farm since 2004 and we officially started the Genuine Faux Farm in 2005.  We know that each season will bring its trials and its rewards and it is our job to negotiate these pathways to bring you delicious and fresh produce, eggs and poultry.  We have the experience to find our way with a good chance for success, but we still need one more thing if we are going to make this growing season a good one for the farm.

We need you.
We would like you to join us by participating in our farm shares.  If you want to see what options are available and the pricing of those options, we recommend you go to this page on our blog.  If you are interested in what you see, please send us an email and we will work with you to make your membership a reality.

About the Stamp:
The stamp that we have modified was created for United States postage in 1975 as part of the Bicentennial celebration.  At the time, the postage rate was 8 cents.

The stamp features Sybil Ludington on her ride to warn U.S. militia in the area about an impending attack by the British on Danbury, Connecticut.  Her ride covered about 40 miles on the night of April 26, 1777 and could be compared to similar rides that are known to have occurred that were taken by William Dawes, Jack Jouett and Paul Revere.  Sybil was sixteen years old at the time of her ride. 

Monday, April 2, 2018

When Your Calendar's a Day Late

Welcome to the month of April.  This year, the month sneaks up on us by hiding behind a combination of an early Easter and cold weather.  We thought we would take the time to thrill you with various news of the farm in this post - since it has been a while since we posted!

New Approach to Fencing - Living in a Gated Community?
The biggest issue with fences on the farm is that once you put a fence in, it doesn't move easily.  Those of you who know our farm will realize that one solution has been to use portable electric netting to surround areas of pasture where our chickens reside.  But, we'd like to use fencing to prevent deer from getting to produce and the turkeys are really not as deterred by the electric fence as they are by something sturdier.
We've decided we may have the solution right here on the farm in the form of several old gates.  We figure if we plan it all just right, we can have a flexible pasture by simply making each "fence line" out of a series of gates.  When they are oriented one way, they create one set of fields.  If you "open" them up, you get a different configuration of fields.  We could get really fancy and even have stakes set up so we could run a diagonally situated field!  Now, if we could only find a way to get a whole bunch of stakes inexpensively.

Virtual Skritching Becomes the Rage at GFF
For those of you who might be fans of Snoopy - or if you've known us for some time - we bring you the 'skritch.'  Some pets like to be 'scratched,' but ours prefer to be skritched.  For those moments at the end of the day when you see a cat that needs a little bit of a skritch, we bring you the virtual skritch.  See below.
You can click on the picture to see a larger, more detailed version.

Dyed Water to Get Colored Eggs
Our farm participates in many research projects.  Some of them are of our own making, and this year is no exception.  We have noticed that the composition of the eggs laid by our hens can change depending on what the birds ingest.  For example, you might notice that the eggs become a richer yellow as they spend more outdoor time on green pastures and they fade a bit during the Winter.  In fact, we've noticed a definite orange tinge to the yolks when we feed them squash.  If you need more evidence, let me point something out.  What happens when you eat red beets?  I rest my case.

After the recent egg sales for Easter, we realized we may have missed the boat on an opportunity here.  Therefore, this Summer, we will segregate a small batch of chickens and put colored dye into their water.  Can you imagine how convenient it would be for all of you to celebrate Easter with pre-dyed eggs?   Our next step will be to figure out how to pre-hardboil the eggs.  We're not sure the chickens are going to enjoy that experiment as much.

Who Knew - Stakes are like Potatoes?
The Genuine Faux Farm is always looking for ways to develop new products or reduce supply expenses and we believe we may have found one such opportunity.  We've planted various stakes over the years and have never seen any of them produce fruit successfully.  Well, it turns out that they grow more like potatoes and they put their fruit BELOW the ground.  Now we know - we need to mark the planting locations so we can dig for the harvest.  Please take note - new stakes have a skin that isn't tough enough for standard use.  Stakes are better when they reach full maturity.
Oh look!  White stakes this time!

Farmers Taking Disco Classes
Both Tammy and Rob like to think of themselves as life-long learners.  Every Winter, we try to learn something new.

Apparently, this year it was Disco?
Star Wars has it Right
Wheels?  Who needs them?  We have decided that wheels are over-rated and we're looking at new ways to move things about the farm.  Rob is working on a 'hover-craft' of sorts and has already identified the payload - the old flair box shown in the picture below:
A thousand and one uses....
Thus far, efforts have met with mixed (at best) success.  The first effort with a series of shop-vacs pumping air out the bottom resulted in some lift, but there was no room left for anything else because it took too many vacuums to get it to go.  For all of you I borrowed shop vacs from - I'll get back to you (see below).

The second effort seemed to work better.  I put the shop vacs on another wheeled cart and then had the vacuums suspend this box over the cart.  It looked neat until I realized I was still relying on wheels.  In disgust, I cut off the power to the shop vacs.  So.... about those shop vacs I borrowed.

My next effort was an attempt to get electromagnetic suspension to work.  Using maglev suspension methods that are used for some trains as a model, it seemed like I could be in business.  The parts only cost a little bit.  Well, ok, let's just say I owe more than I'll ever earn in my lifetime.  The whole project hit a snag when I realized I needed to lay rails everywhere I wanted to go on the farm to make this thing work.  Since I didn't want it to be limited to only certain areas, I decided to lay track "on the fly."  As the thing moved forward, I picked up the rails that were behind it and moved them to the front.  It's not hard to move them with the loader on the tractor.  Did you spot the problem with this solution?

Yep, the chickens kept getting in the way.

Speaking of chickens, my latest idea is to strap a whole bunch of chickens to the bottom of this thing and get them to fly.  What could possibly go wrong?

Next Year's Project: Rear-Discharge Lawn Mower

Genuine Faux Farm Kickstopper Campaign - FAILURE
Last year's Kickstopper campaign that was created in an effort to STOP ROB FROM POSTING these things that always seem to appear around April 1.  It was an abysmal failure.  You only have yourselves to blame for this post.  If you'd only supported the Kickstopper Campaign when you had a chance, you would have gone on with your lives not thinking about chickens, beets and disco-dancing farmers.

Would you like us to start another Kickstopper Campaign?  We're willing to give it a go.


If you'd like to see prior year installments, here they are!
2017 April Fool Post
2016 April Fool Post
2015 April Fool Post
2014 April Fool Post
2013 April Fool Post
2012 April Fool Post