Friday, July 10, 2020

Ree-chard!

We have had a pretty good year for birds on the farm and we are certainly hopeful that it will continue.  Of course, we are about to enter the season where fields around us will be sprayed with insecticides and fungicides and we know full well that it does not help our local bird populations.

That said, I didn't want this post to be entirely about that.  While I do want you to care about the over use and improper use of agricultural chemicals, I would rather you understand the value of some of the things that are threatened when we don't recognize that pesticides are dangerous tools that require extreme caution.

One of our pleasant surprises this year has been the contingent of Dickcissels that have decided our farm is a good place to next this year.  We realize that we have had Dickcissels other years on the farm.  But, unlike many birds, Dickcissels do not go back to the same nesting sites year after year.  Depending on weather and available food, they may opt for one site over another each season.

This year, the Genuine Faux Farm is a good place for Ree-chard!  Yes, we call them "Richard," but we try to make it sound like a French pronunciation.  And, just in case my former college French professor every reads this.. No, my very bad American accent had not improved.  So, yes, it is true that it does not actually sound very French when I say it.

Click on the picture to see a larger version!
Reechard is not terribly shy, but he does like his physical distancing!  We have identified at least three male Dickcissels that reside on the farm and they love to find the tallest part of our younger trees or bushes so they can make their song heard.  The Youtube video below provides you with the song we hear most of the time when they find these prominent perches.


If you go to the Audubon Online Field Guide for the Dickcissel, you will find that they provide a quick sample of each of the several songs our friend(s) named Reechard will sing for us.  Just take the link I have provided and scroll down and look at the bottom left where it says "songs and calls."  Song #1 is what we hear most of the time.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, as always, has additional information for bird identification, including photos and videos.  If you would like to learn more about any bird, we highly recommend their site.  Allow yourself to dig around a bit and I think you'll be surprised by how much you find there. 

And, just another note regarding our friends named Reechard.  We had some stormy weather pass through today.  We noticed that their songs stopped just prior to the point that we started noticing lightning.  We're pretty good at recognizing when the weather is going to turn, but they just might have a leg up on us.

And, yes, we did get everything closed up and inside before we got completely soaked.  Let's just say we were 'lightly soaked' and call it a day. Have a good Friday everyone!

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Merry-Go-Round

In early July, the daily chore list can get pretty long.  It's a good thing we have more hours of sunlight to do them in!  We had someone ask us to write a post about what it meant to "do the chores" at our farm.  As with every farm, the chore list has a great deal to do with the time of year and the way the farm goes about business.  For our purposes, we decided a chore was something we absolutely have to do every day or every other day, without fail.  That means things like, weeding, harvesting, planting, mowing, mulching... well, you get the picture... these things don't qualify.  We may do them most days, but it is rarely the same place or the same crop.  We also eliminated things like laundry and cleaning harvest containers.  These are done regularly as well, but I'm not sure we'll impress anyone by including them here.

And, you know us, we're ALL about impressing people.  Yep.

Step 1: Care for the Farm Supervisory Staff
You know what they say - if management ain't happy...

The Inspector will make sure that Step 1 is completed prior to any other task.
The cats (both indoor and out) need to have the ritual of food, water and some nice skritches for the day to start off right.  We have learned, much to our chagrin, that it is not a good thing at all if we skip step 1.

The Inspector will lead you to the location for food and water if you appear lost.

Step 2: Open It All Up
Most of the tools are in buildings.  There are plants in buildings.  If you want to do any work on the farm, you have to start.. er...   Ok, you start by caring for the felines.  But, if you want to start doing work, you have to open some things up.

We'll need some food for the poultry, I suspect it is in here.
Typically, we'll open a series of doors and leave them open for most of the day unless the weather is inclement or there is something we are hiding from the farm supervisors.

We'd better get Eden and Valhalla opened up too!
While we are at it, we have to make sure the plants in the high tunnels don't get to warm.  That usually means we open up doors and roll up the sides.  There are two high tunnels to open.  On a regular basis we run irrigation in the high tunnels (every 3 or 4 days).

Casa Verde needs to be opened up as well if there are plants inside!
Sometimes, we actually do a quick run around and let the various flocks of poultry out even before we provide them with fresh food and water.  This is especially true on very warm days/nights.

Interlude 1: Say Hello to the Workers
The bee hives are on the way to some of our next tasks, so we often stop for a moment and say hello. 

The bees usually are too busy humming a tune to return the greeting.
Step 3: Feed and Water Birds
This can often be the largest part of our chores, especially in early June when we have two flocks of broilers, two hen flocks, turkeys and a new batch of broiler chicks.

There be new broiler chicks on the farm!

Each flock is going to need food and water each day.  Well, ok, most days.  Sometimes, new chicks don't go through all of their water in a day and sometimes if there are lots of puddles, the other flocks may not drink the waterers down.
My, the turklets have grown into Turkles!

The birds currently in the brooder room are the turkeys and the broiler chicks.  The room is kept warm and we work to cut breezes until true feathers are forming.  As they grow we might start to ventilate the room more until we move them out.  We check how spread out the flocks are listen for problems - making adjustments as needed.

The henlets are next door.

The henlets (our new egg laying flock) are getting closer to full hen size.  At present, they stay inside the hen room in the Poultry Pavilion as part of the process of getting them to identify this room as their 'Home Base.'  In a couple of days, they will be allowed out into their pasture area.  As with all the other flocks, they need food and they need water.  Once we start letting them onto pasture, we will be opening and closing their room door so they are protected at night and have access to the outdoors during the day.

ah, the Summer Cottage is near Crazy Maurice right now

The hens are out in the Northwest Territories of the farm and are closed up in the Summer Cottage until we go open the door and put up their access ramp.  Obviously, we give them food and water - usually before we let them out so we don't have to dodge birds as we do it.  We normally make a first check for eggs at this time too.

Then, there are the Boyus!

We have two flocks of "Boyus" in the Eastfarthing and they both need to be let out, fed and watered.  On an every other day basis (unless it is way too wet to do so) we move the buildings using Rosie, the tractor so they rest over a new patch of pasture.  Every couple of weeks, we have to reset the solar-powered poultry netting, which includes mowing the greenery down so it doesn't short the fence out.

Step 4: Wet Our Plants
Hey, the plant nurseries of the world get to use that pun all the time, but we also water plants, so we should get to use it if we want!

We have houseplants and flowers on the front and back porches
The potted plants usually need water every other day, unless it is particularly hot and windy, they we'll water each day.  They have enough soil to be somewhat forgiving.

There are fewer trays right now, but they still need water.
The plants in seedling trays need watering in the morning as well.  Earlier in the season, we have them in Casa Verde, in the trailer you see above, on a hayrack and on heatmats in the garage and basement.  These all need watering.  Since they have less soil, they are prone to drying out - so we need to pay attention here!

Interlude 2: Admire a Flower
We have flowers here and there, just so we can take a moment and view them as we go about our daily business.  This daylily opened its first flower for us at the Genuine Faux Farm. 

Ain't it purdy?
At this point, we are done with what we might term the 'morning chores.'  There are numerous other things that might happen during the morning chore set depending on how things stand, but they tend to have something to do with these tasks.

In other words, we can start doing "real work" now.
That might be Rob working for PAN or Tammy working for Wartburg.  Or we might plant, weed, harvest, mulch, turn a compost pile or clean out a poultry room.  Perhaps we'll prepare for a delivery?  The possibilities for the day abound!

Until...

Mid to Late Morning Chores
Well, whatever we decide to do, at some point we need to do a few things that are classified as 'chores.'

Like collect eggs from the hens.

Sadly, we have yet to figure out how to train the hen flocks in collecting, cleaning and packaging eggs.  We get to do that particular chore.  And, if we don't want them to break a bunch of those eggs, we need to visit them more than once in a day.

While we're at it, we'll check the babies.
And, if you have baby birds, you need to check them fairly often as well to make sure temperatures are what they need.  It doesn't take long, but it is just one more thing...

Oh, and about that irrigation you started this morning.  You probably should turn that off.

Oh, and don't forget to water the seed trays in Valhalla too!
Mid-Afternoon Chores
There are common themes here.  Collect eggs, check baby birds and other similar things.

Haven't we seen this picture before?
But, we also have to add - wash the eggs to this list.  It's a chore - that's for sure!

And yes, you should check all of the flocks on a warm day to make sure they've got water and see that there aren't other things going on that need your attention.  And, remember those seedlings in trays?  They might need more water by now!

Baby plants need water, that's a fact.
Early Evening Pre-Chore
So, about those broiler chickens....
Yeah.  These guys.

It turns out that they LIKE to be where their food is.  We take their feeders out of the building every morning and fill them and we put them BACK into the building every evening to encourage them to find their way into the building by the time the sun goes down.  A waterer usually goes in as well.

Why?  Well, we've found that most of the birds will go in without our doing this.  But, when we do put this step in, all but one or two will go into the building without our herding them later in the evening.  Believe me, it's a worthwhile chore to move those feeders now!

End of the Day - Put It Away
Barty and Rosie at the end of a busy day.
We admit that there have been days when we are really tired and there is absolutely no rain in the forecast that we might forego putting some things away.  This is especially true when Barty (the tiller) is on the other side of the farm.  But, most days, all the tools go back under shelter.  Sadly, we are not always so good as to put everything back into its place.  That is another story.

End of the Day - Close it Up
All of those opened doors need to be closed. 

Remember all of the doors you opened in the morning?
 And the high tunnels need to be closed as well.
Time to roll down the sides and close the doors.
We've considered leaving the high tunnels open on very warm nights, but we don't particularly care for dashing out to close them at 2 AM when a thunderstorm with strong winds pops up.  Others can worry about that.  Us, on the other hand?  We'll close them up every night.

Oh!  Better remember that too!
End of the Day - Shut It Down
We have learned the hard way that we need to check that all water sources are turned off.  Irrigation that runs for twelve to fourteen hours is not a good thing.

Ah, good the hydrant at the left is off.
We have two hydrants by Valhalla, one by Casa Verde and the faucet on the north side of the house.  It may not sound like much, but by the time we are doing our final chores, it is 9:30PM in June and July.  We're usually pretty tired and find ourselves reminding each other to do things like "check truck windows" and "make sure the door is closed" and "did I turn off the water?"  It is far better than climbing into bed and remembering one of these was not done.... and then going out to do it.
The henlets are fine.
While we are at it, we need to turn off lights for the henlets and give them one last check in.

And turn off lights and check the brooder room too!
 And, while you're at it.  You should probably put the cat food bowls away so the raccoons don't wreak havoc because they've found them!
The Inspector will expect to see you again in the morning.
End of the Day - Close Up the Poultry
Oh yes, now we need to close the door on the broilers and the hen flock.  

Most of the broilers are in their building by 9:25PM
Broilers are a bit of a pain to herd, so if you can get them to go in on their own, that is best.  Even then, there is usually one or two that will make you walk them around the building a few times before they go in.  With two flocks of broilers, this chore is a times 2.  Just like it was in the morning.

Good night Ladies (and Maurice)
The hens are usually in by 9:30pm (or so).  There are often a couple that meander around a bit while you wait for them to go in so you can close the door.  

There is usually a moment of 'reviewing it all' in hopes that we don't forget anything and we aren't forced to get up in the middle of the night to correct something.  We realize some of these things don't sound like much.  But, if you forget them, you can have a fairly big problem later on.  

Good Night Everyone!
If the farmers have the energy - and sometimes even when they don't - they say "Good night" to all of their friends and acquaintances as they see them during the evening walkabout to do chores.

Even the Barn Swallows are mellowing out.
The Barn Swallows are not chittering or performing their aerial acrobatics, but they are preening before finding their roosts.  A Great Horned Owl reminds us he's in the area with his call.  Richard, the Dickcissel gets one more series of songs in before calling it a day.  The monarchs float around the understory of the larger trees until they find their spots.  Meanwhile, the lightning bugs come out and light our way back from closing up the hens.

And the Inspector drops by for one more skritch and offers up a friendly purr.
We hope everyone has (or has had) a fine day.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Available from GFF July 8

This week, we are simply copying in our email with a few edits and maybe a picture to spice it up a bit.  This gives you a taste of what we send in our weekly emails to those who join our email distribution list.  If you would like to join us:  gff at genuinefauxfarm dot com
 
 
 ----------------------------------------------
In answer to the questions regarding eggs and veggies.  We will be delivering in Waverly today, Wednesday, July 8.  We have learned from past experience that it is not wise to mix fresh poultry delivery with a veg/egg day.

So - YESTERDAY, July 7, we had fresh broiler chickens being delivered in
Waverly - ST Andrew's at 5:00pm
Cedar Falls - Jorgensen Plaza at 6:00pm

TODAY, July 8, we will be in Waverly for veggies/eggs, splitting time between
St Andrew's at 5:00
Yogi Life at 5:45 (NOTE the later time!)

Quick news (details lower in this post):
1. Are you new to the Genuine Faux Farm?  Visit #5 in the GFF news below.
2. You can still sign up for farm credits, see #4 in GFF News below.
3. New Delivery Method: We will mark out 6 foot spacings with chalk OR if we run out of time, we'll just ask you to respect space.  We will place your order into a yellow tray and put it on our table.  Once we step away, place your order in your bag/box you bring.  then set the yellow tray in the 'dirty' pile next to the table.  
4. See list below for available items!
5. We will limit orders to 1 dozen eggs per family. If you are ordering for 2 families, please tell us so we can honor the 2 dozen order.
6. Please place orders by NOON Wednesday, thank you!
7. We will not take cash or checks from you during this delivery.  Use mail or other methods to buy farm credits please.

-------------------------------------------------------------
Waverly: Wednesday, July 8  5:00-5:30pm St Andrew's parking lot
                                                  5:45-6:00pm Yogi Life parking lot
Please respect each person's space.  We will place your order into a yellow tray and put it on our table.  Once we step away, place your order in your bag/box you bring.  then set the yellow tray in the 'dirty' pile next to the table.  

Contact: Rob 319 610 9201 Tammy 319 610 9115
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Available to members:
    eggs - $3.50/dozen (limit 1 doz per family)
   scapes - $1/bundle
    peas - $4/ pint
    summer squash/zucchini - $1 ea
   green beans? - $2 / half pound  (limited this week)
    -------------------------------------------------------------
THE GFF NEWS
   --------------------------------------------------------------
1. Upcoming Schedule
  • July 7 - Broiler chicken delivery in Waverly and Cedar Falls (unfrozen birds)
  • July 8 - Waverly Delivery
  • July 16 - Cedar Falls Delivery
  • we are carefully considering how to handle deliveries in Cedar Falls - especially at Hansen's Outlet.  See below for more in #? The construction there is ongoing and WILL require adjustments or potentially removal of that location for a time.  If you have specific feedback you should  let us know.  Our likely response is to give a longer period of time at Jorgensen Plaza until the work that limits parking lot options is completed.
2. Crop & Poultry Report
The broilers went to the park.  We got up at our normal time yesterday to try and get some work in the high tunnels done before the heat caught up to us and got out of the buildings by 10:30AM.  We both did office work during the main heat of the day with trips outside for various chores that have to happen.  In the evening, we made sure the truck was cleaned out and we gathered the crates to haul the birds.

Once the sun was going down (about 9:20 or so) we drove the truck out to the pastures and started loading broilers into crates.  The mosquitoes were nasty, but at least there wasn't a thunderstorm raging (yes, that has happened in the past).  We put an average of 12 birds in a crate and lifted them into the truck.  That got 144 birds ready to go.  We then drove to Greene and unloaded the birds from the crates and drove back to the farm.

Once back at the farm, we put the remaining 91 birds into crates and left those spaced in their building to keep them cool and in a familiar place.  Then, we got up in the morning, did chores and then loaded the remaining birds into the truck and took them to Greene - etc.

On the return home, we sanitized the back of the truck and gathered coolers and containers to pick up the processed birds.  When the birds are ready, we drive back to Greene, load them into containers, drive to Fredericka and leave the birds that have not been spoken for for freezing.  We will return to the farm and put a few more of the unordered birds in our freezers.  After that, we drive to Waverly and then Cedar Falls.

In short - it's a mad dash!  We appreciate your flexibility in working with us as we try to make it all happen.

3. New blog material for you
4. 2020 Pre-Paid Farm Credit Program
We will run the system in $50 increments.  In other words, you can purchase a minimum of $50 of farm credit at a time.  We will cap the maximum amount of credit at $200 and you can refill your farm credits at any point.

Like the CSA program, this gives you the advantage of not having to pull out money at each delivery.  Instead, we will have a ledger with tracking for your current credit balance.  This also provides us with some working capital to start the season.  Also, like the CSA program, we will give participants better pricing and opportunities than those who might prefer to 'pay as they go.'

A major difference this year is that farm credits can be used for ANY farm product the Genuine Faux Farm offers.  If you buy farm credits, you can apply them to purchasing meat chickens, vegetables, eggs or any other thing we offer this year.

Want to sign up by mail?
Genuine Faux Farm
2345 150th Street
Tripoli, IA 50676
make checks to GFF or the Genuine Faux Farm

Want to use Paypal?
You may send cash to gff at genuinefauxfarm dot com

We are accepting purchases of credits now and throughout the season.

5. Welcome!
If you are new to this email newsletter for the Genuine Faux Farm, we would like to welcome you.  If you are an 'old hand,' we want you to feel welcome too - but we were gently reminded that we need to introduce people a bit more to the system.

The basics are as follows:
  - we deliver once per week - alternating between Waverly and Cedar Falls locations.
  - Waverly is on Wednesdays
  - Cedar Falls is on Thursdays
  - anyone with farm credits can order from either location, you just have to arrange to get what you order.
  - to order, you only need to respond to this email - sent the day prior to the delivery.
  - a "gentle reminder" email is sent the day of the delivery.  This email confirms that we have received orders by listing those from whom we have received orders.
 - delivery instructions will be in this email each week.  Please pay attention as circumstances may require a change.

6. The Hansen's Outlet Location
As some of you may have noticed, Hansen's Outlet is now deep into their remodel, with the parking lot access changing from delivery to delivery.  You may also have noticed that the side of the building we used to do CSA deliveries has had the sidewalk pulled and is no longer friendly for that purpose.  We fully realize that many of you prefer that location for a host of reasons.  Among them is the fact that many of you also pick up dairy from them.  We get it - because we also use that moment to pick up dairy products for our own use. 

We have received feedback from some folks regarding the delivery points and we appreciated hearing from you.  At this point, we think it is likely that we will remove Hansen's as a delivery location until things settle down a bit there.  We are not positive at this point what our answer will be, but we are leaning towards simply providing a longer delivery at Jorgensen in large part because there is an option to get under shelter if needed.  As we move to a new delivery method that still works to protect you, this may become important.  And, we find that the travel from Hansen's via Main Street to Hyacinth usually takes us five minutes.  It's a mild inconvenience until Hansen's gets some work completed.

Thank you.

7. New Delivery Method
The prior method of placing orders into the back of vehicles worked reasonably well and we attribute that to your willingness to work with us!  thank you!

We are, however, aware of some problems with the current system:
- we are using far more single use plastic than we want to be using and we want to go back to some of the re-use practices
- our available product list will become more complex as we get deeper into the season, which makes the current model a little more difficult to pull off

So, we return to asking you to bring a re-usable bag, box, etc to put your products in.  We will use chalk to provide guidance for physical distancing.  We will put your order in a yellow tray on the table(s) and you can then remove your order and place it in your bag/box.  Once done, we will ask you to place the used tray into a pile.  We will clean these on our return from the delivery for the next use. 

8. Egg Cartons
We will be willing to receive egg cartons from you starting this week.  We will put a green tray out for you to put used cartons in for re-use.  Please nest these cartons so they take less space.   We will not use any cartons we receive until they have been 'quarantined' for a period of time.  Research has shown that the Covid-19 virus does not live long on cardboard surfaces, but we'll be safe and re-use boxes by taking the ones that have been in our supply longest first.

Be Well!
Rob & Tammy

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

GFF Broiler Chickens Available

The broiler chickens go to "the Park" Monday night and early Tuesday morning and we are providing the opportunity to acquire them as a fresh, unfrozen meat chicken Tuesday evening.  Please read the details carefully and feel free to ask if you still have questions. 

Locations and Times:
Tuesday, July 7
Waverly - St Andrew's Church parking lot - 5:00 to 5:20 pm*
Cedar Falls - Jorgensen Plaza West parking lot - 6:00-6:20 pm**

We will only bring as many meat chickens as are ordered.  The rest will be dropped off at "Freezer Camp" to be flash frozen at the Fredrika Locker. 

* This arrival time is our BEST estimate.  We will select one person to be our contact if we find we are running late.  If you are willing to be that volunteer, please let us know.
** This time should be solid, but it may move if we are very late to Waverly.  We could use one volunteer here as well.

To Order:
Respond to this email (gff at genuinefauxfarm dot com) and tell us how many whole chickens you want by 1 PM Tuesday, July 7.  We will reply with a confirmation at our earliest convenience.  If you prefer larger or smaller birds, we suggest you include that preference with your order.

These are processed as whole birds.  We can have Martzahn's cut them up, but we would need to know this before we leave tonight with birds.  If you want to cut up your own chickens, we have instructions here.

To Pay:
You may use your farm credits to pay for your meat chickens, just as you do eggs or veggies.  If you do not have farm credits with us, it is easy to add them.  See details below in this email.  If you opt to pay us on site, we will accept a check or cash.  But, we will NOT be giving out change.  If there is excess, we can put into credits for you with future purchases.

The Cost:
We are continuing to offer these birds at $3.50/pound.  These birds are anticipated to weigh 4-6 pounds, so prices will range from $14 to $21.  You will have an excellent estimate if you assume 5 pound birds ($17.50 each).

How To Pick Up Your Order:
We will bring some chalk and mark out 6 foot spacing to make sure we all maintain appropriate physical distancing for safety.  Bring a cooler or other appropriate container for your purchase.  Set it down where we can get to it (we will have a table) and we'll load it up and we will gladly carry it to your vehicle if you wish.  Of course, if you would prefer the exercise, we'll let you carry it - but we feel it is appropriate to offer our services for lugging things about!

If you are paying on location, we will ask you to place your payment in the cash box.  We will not give change, but we will record the cash amount you say you are giving us (if it is cash).

Thank you for being considerate.  While we certainly do not want Covid-19 ourselves, our worst fear is that we might become a vector for others as we try to get good food to all of you. 

Details About the Broiler Chickens:
The broilers arrived at our farm as chicks, shipped via the US Postal Service.  From that point, we placed them into our broiler room, feeding them a mix from the Canfield Family Farm near Dunkerton.  Once they could regulate their temperatures and the weather allowed, we moved the birds onto pasture.  Once on pasture, they were 'day-ranged,' which means they were allowed outside in a pasture area that was fenced in by solar powered portable electric netting to protect them from ground predators.  These birds were put back into the shelter at night to protect them from weather and night time predators, such as owls.

Once they are ready, we take the birds to Martzahn's Farm in Greene, where they are processed as whole chickens and placed into plastic bags.  You will notice Martzahn's label on these birds (sadly, we did not get our own labels re-ordered in time).

Please take note that your support of our farm actually provides income to multiple Iowa businesses.  Our farm (of course), the Canfield Family Farm (feed), Martzahn's Farm (processing), Fredericka Locker and our solar netting comes from Premiere One, also an Iowa based business.  We would like to thank you in advance for choosing to support local foods and the businesses that surround it.
 
If you would like more details, you may visit a post from last season that outlines how we raise these birds.
 

What Will This Process Look Like to Us?
There will be very little Tammy and I can do to prepare the birds for transport until the sun reaches the horizon.  We can get the transport cages out to the birds and make sure the truck is empty.  Otherwise, the birds will see it pretty much as any other day, just with less food.

We, on the other hand, realize we will have to load birds up into cages and then into the truck starting around 9:20PM.  One we have loaded as many as will safely go into the 12 cages we can fit into the truck (while keeping them cool enough and uncrowded), we will drive to Martzahn's in Greene (about 45 minutes).  Once there, we transfer the sleepy birds to their holding areas and then we drive back to the farm.  Upon arrival we will cage up the remainder of the birds while they sleep, giving them a bit more room than the first batch.  They will be left in their building for shelter until the morning when we load those cages into the truck and take the rest to Greene.

Once we return home, we need to do our chores, clean cages and clean the truck.  We also need to prepare coolers and other carriers for the processed birds.  Somewhere in there, we each have meetings we need to attend or orders to respond to.  Hopefully, we can then leave to pick up the birds around 2pm, drive to Frederika so the birds not ordered for today will be frozen for later sales.  Once that is done, we head on to Waverly and from there, Cedar Falls.  It will be a fun-filled day for us!  Okay.  Maybe not.  But, we will be getting our exercise in.

2020 Pre-Paid Farm Credit Program
We will run the system in $50 increments.  In other words, you can purchase a minimum of $50 of farm credit at a time.  We will cap the maximum amount of credit at $200 and you can refill your farm credits at any point.

Like the CSA program, this gives you the advantage of not having to pull out money at each delivery.  Instead, we will have a ledger with tracking for your current credit balance.  This also provides us with some working capital to start the season.  Also, like the CSA program, we will give participants better pricing and opportunities than those who might prefer to 'pay as they go.'

A major difference this year is that farm credits can be used for ANY farm product the Genuine Faux Farm offers.  If you buy farm credits, you can apply them to purchasing meat chickens, vegetables, eggs or any other thing we offer this year.

Want to sign up by mail?
Genuine Faux Farm
2345 150th Street
Tripoli, IA 50676
make checks to GFF or the Genuine Faux Farm

Want to use Paypal?
You may send cash to gff@genuinefauxfarm.com

We are accepting purchases of credits now and throughout the season.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Be A Real Fan

My Dad likes to tell the story about how I turned out to be a left-handed baseball player.  Apparently, he would toss a ball towards me with his right hand and I would pick it up and throw it back with my left.  When he decided to test this out by tossing one my way with his left hand, I returned it with my right. 

Yes, I was an observant child - even if my observations were very much colored by my own personal perspective.  That explains why I throw left-handed.  It may explain some other things, I'm just not sure what.

Growing up, I would certainly participate in football and basketball, but baseball was the sport that attracted me the most.  I played all the way through high-school and considered college, but found time to be too limited and had to make choices.  Once I graduated, I found fast-pitch softball and then rediscovered baseball when my brother invited me to play in a baseball league centered around the Newton/Des Moines area.  I was still playing in that league until about 2012 or so.  I didn't stop playing because I couldn't or didn't want to.  I stopped because the combination of the drive and conflicts with the farm and other duties became too much. 


Who is that "00" guy?
You're Garbage!

Our high school home games were called by the local radio station and we did have someone running the PA address and scoreboard.  There was even a concessions stand.  One of the things I recall is that our Newton Cardinals did not have terribly many 'fans' who attended our games at Woodland Park.  But, there was a core group consisting mostly of parents and family and a few good friends. 

Then, there was the group who came to the park and used the game as an excuse to gather.  In a very loose sense of the word, they were 'fans.'  They would cheer our team if we did something good - if they managed to notice.  What they were really there for was the 'sport' of jeering our opponents.

"Heyyy #12!!!  You SUCK!  You're GARBAGE!  Go back to your hole in the ground!"

Normally, they were not terribly creative because the only thing that changed was the uniform number, the rest of the words were essentially the same.  The players could usually ignore it as background noise.  But, I will tell you this - very few of us, if any, found it to be of any real value when we were the home team.  When these people didn't show, we didn't miss them one bit.

This group would cross a line if, heaven help you, you were the away team and there was a player on your team who had a physical characteristic that made them stand out.

"Hey FATTY!  Get off the field and go eat more candy!"
"Go gnaw down a tree for a new bat Bucky!"
or
"Nigger!  I've got a rope right here for you!"

Yes.  I heard each of those at high school games.  The last was directed at one of our Junior Varsity players when I was a senior (and not on the JV squad).  You see, each school had an area where a group of people who were not really fans would come to hang out and use the game as an excuse to belittle and abuse others.  And yes, players were instructed to ignore them regardless of what was said.  But, it did not stop the entire varsity squad from sending a collective glare towards the source of that last comment.

It wasn't right then - and it isn't right now.  And I see that this still goes on with a sad example at a recent Waverly-Shell Rock game

What Real "Fans" Do

I have something to tell you - I AM left-handed - sort of.

Why would a person drive 2 to 2.5 hours, ONE WAY, to play one or two games of men's baseball every weekend during the Summer when there was a farm to take care of?  I was asked that question frequently when people learned how far away from the ballpark I lived.  It wasn't until I was also asking that question a bit too often that we stopped making the trip.  It certainly wasn't because I was tired of playing and it was not because of the wildlife.

Obviously, there is a love for the game and a joy that comes with participating.  But, I would not have continued if I didn't have Tammy's support.  She typically drove both ways.  As a passenger I could begin prepping by putting on the suntan lotion, stretching etc etc.  She also drove back because someone who was functioning well should be driving!  After a double header in Summer heat, that was not me.

But, I want to go back again to my high school playing days to memories of what the true fans did that encouraged me to continue to play this game well after most had tried slow pitch softball for a few seasons before ceasing to play altogether.  The things I remember hearing were words of encouragement and praise for effort.  Perhaps my Dad didn't think I was listening for him, but I heard his words and his tone that encouraged all of us to do well.  And, by that I mean the whole team.  He bothered to learn names.  He didn't have to say too much either, because even a little bit went a long way.

The great news?  He was not the only parent who was at many games and who dished out the praise and the support.  I remember Mr. Trease doing the same - I recognized his voice because I played on the same team as his son through little leagues and into high school.  No one blamed them if they reserved more support for their team - but they also applauded fine plays by the opposition as well.  If someone crossed the line, they would say so.  The problem of course, is that the group that was there to jeer were typically well away from the rest of the fans.

Even better news?  There were parents like that at most schools I remember playing at.  It was actually a bit uncomfortable when we played at a school where there wasn't a positive fan base for the home team.
 
We Need More Real Fans
Let me be perfectly clear here.  I loved playing baseball.  And I got to be quite good at the "Do or Die" play from Right Field.

But, looking back, I learned more while I was playing baseball than you might think.

- I learned that there are people who love getting attention and approval by attacking others.
- I learned that people like that are motivated by someone else's failure because it makes them feel better about their own shortcomings.
- I learned that there are some pretty ugly ideas out there and that it is good for me to think harder about my own assumptions regarding other people.
- I learned that heckling and jeering has no real value overall.  At best, it is ignored as background noise.  At worst it can permanently wound a person.
- And, I learned where some of those 'lines' are that should not be crossed.  When they are, it is time to push back rather than ignore what is going on.

Even better - I learned some things from the real fans!

- I learned that I can achieve and I learned to adjust my goals based on what I had achieved thus far.
- I learned that it isn't just about me - it's about making all of us better.
- I learned to appreciate the success of others, while I also learned to celebrate my own accomplishments.
- I learned the value of encouragement and enduring support.
- I learned that role models have power, but it is up to those of us looking at the model to decide what sort of power we will give them.
- I learned how to give constructive criticism blended with praise for effort and encouragement to learn and improve.

And, I learned to appreciate the people who showed up and gave us real support and real encouragement.  As far as I know, none of the Newton Cardinal teams I played on had players that went on to professional baseball.  But, because there were some real fans, I suspect there were a number of young ball players who turned into pretty good people.

Today's challenge to us all - be real fans.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Weather Wythards 2020

So here we are on July 4 and it is pretty warm out there.  We can avoid the bugs if we're outside working during the warmest hours.  But, if we want to avoid the warm, we get the bugs.  Alas.

But, I didn't bring you all here to talk about bugs.  We're here to talk about weather!  Why?  Because weather is a Big Deal.  Yay! 

the nearly permanent lake for the months of May and June
Many of you have taken note that we have had wet weather (again).  We know this partly because our 'how wet are the fields' barometer is this puddle that resides near our granary and truck barn.  When it is dry, the fields are normally in pretty good shape to be worked.  Today, the area is dry, though there is a bit of mud still in it.  Believe it or not, we are not used to walking between the two buildings because we spend so much time walking AROUND this puddle.

Not to worry, by the time we allow ourselves to start using that path again, it will fill up.  It is destined to be at the Genuine Faux Farm (or so it seems to us sometimes).

from KWWL blog
So, we get another "top 5" finish in the category of "Wettest June on Record."  We're just so happy.

Take a look at this KWWL blog post that outlines how the month of June was in Waterloo (the graphic form above comes from this blog).  We are not surprised to see 2020 sitting right next to 2018 because we were just noting to each other than this season has mirrored 2018 for weather at the farm thus far....  that doesn't exactly bode well.  

Ok.  We're not happy.  What is astounding is that we have five of the top ten wet Junes falling in years AFTER the Genuine Faux Farm was formed.  Four of those five are the even numbered years since 2014.  If you wanted evidence as to WHY we have been changing our farm so much over the past several years, you need go no further than this particular graphic.


Once again, we fully realize we didn't get as much as some and we got more than others.  It is really more the fact that our soils, water table levels and grade make life harder on us during wetter years than might be the case for other farms. 
from KWWL blog
The graphic above really shows me something interesting.  In particular you should note that Southwest Iowa has areas that received significantly less rain than normal, just as we received significantly more rain than normal.  We are also familiar with this pattern as we do have friends who are farming in other parts of the state.  They have been surprised more than once over the years when we talk about how wet we are - especially when they have been praying for rain for weeks.

A little black rain cloud.
Then, there is insult to injury.  You know how this one goes.  It looks like the lake by the granary is mostly gone and you are putting things together to cultivate or maybe prep some beds for planting.  You look to the NNW and you see a little black rain cloud.   You know pretty well how things have been moving over the past couple of hours and you can easily see that this little cloud is going to "center" the farm.

Ah.  That solved the drying puddle problem.

And, stopped the cultivation right quick it did!



Typically, rain from the 'little black rain clouds will not cause this sort of problem on our farm.  This comes from the all-day/all-night variety.  Or, in this case it was an all-day/all-night/all-day/all-night/all-day rainfall.  You know the kind of rainfall we talk about.

The "it rained twice this week - once for three days and another time for four days."

And now, we have heat and sun.  This tends to bake a nice hard surface to the soil that has been tilled - making weeding and cultivating pretty difficult.

The good news?  We have much less area to work than we have in previous years.  The bad news?  We have fewer hands to do it.   The difference this year?  If we can't save it soon, we're tilling it in.  This is part of the reason we went with no CSA and Rob picked up another job.  We can cut losses and continue to adapt the farm in hopes that maybe we can get back on the horse with a new saddle. Here's hoping!

Friday, July 3, 2020

Meanwhile, Back at the Farm

There are sounds we experience in the country that automatically put me on alert and cause my attitude to change for the worse no matter how I was feeling just prior to hearing them.  One of those is the self-important whine of a "highboy" spray application rig.  Ok... pretty much any spray application rig gets my attention and makes me less happy than I was.  But, those highboys have a very distinctive sound that just grates on me.

As I was doing some office work, I heard a piece of big equipment slow down in front of our house and enter the field just South of us.  It wasn't a highboy, but it was a spray rig.  We've had enough bad situations that my first thought is some mix of "oh no, not again" and "stupid, nasty, irritating, etc etc." 

THEN, I usually calm myself and check the conditions.  And they were about as good as they were going to get.  Very light wind, moving away from us.  Possible conditions for temperature inversions, so if it is a volatile herbicide, we could have a problem.  I also noted that the rig looked a little different, as did the service vehicle that came with it.

I prepared myself to to make myself known  and I was intent on being polite, but I was ready to be forceful if I needed to be. 


The sad thing is, it does not normally occur to applicators that they could cause us a problem.  Some are sold on the idea that this stuff 'never drifts' because that's what they have 'been told.'  Others are 'just doing their job' and can't be bothered to do things that aren't 'in their pay scale.'    And then, there are those that feel we are a nuisance and that our farm is far less important than their farm.

So, what happened on this day?

We had a pleasant surprise.  The application team was very willing to talk to me.  I made note immediately that they had waited for the wind to shift AWAY from our farm and that I was grateful for the consideration.  They also pointed out to me that they were using a heavier carrying agent AND they were using new spray nozzles that encouraged a heavier droplet size. 

These people were equally unhappy with the number of sprayers (and the companies they work for) that apply and leave what looks like a cloud of mist behind their rig.  In his words - "you know you are not doing it right when you see that cloud.  That's just an indicator."  He heartily agreed that sloppy application methods promote herbicide resistant weeds and that they just cause conflict that isn't necessary between farmers like me and professionals like him.  He also pointed out that "this $#%@ is dangerous.  You've got to be careful with it."

And suddenly, I had a bit more hope for this world after one short conversation with people I thought would naturally be an adversary.


1. This was about being a responsible professional.

In my mind, a true professional IS responsible, but that's another matter entirely.  My point is that a responsible professional is going to be aware of the surroundings and the risk for injury or damage that surrounds the act of doing the job in question.  A true professional is always looking for possible problems and working to remove or mitigate them.  These people are the ones that will accept some inconvenience if that is part of the cost of doing the task safely and well.

I expect this of myself as a grower of food for people to consume and I have a difficult time understanding people who will not do what it takes to be a responsible professional in whatever it is they do.  This is especially true when you deal with "dangerous $%#^."  I won't accept having an irresponsible and unprofessional doctor performing surgery on my lovely bride.  I don't believe software developers should design and code as if any error will 'cause little harm to others.'  And, I certainly don't want anyone who is applying dangerous $%*^ to do it in a way that illustrates just how dangerous it can be.

2. This was about having integrity so you feel no need to bluster, bully or avoid discussion.

The person I talked to did mention that he has had people angrily confront him and he was ready for that possibility with me.  But, he understood why.  If your experience with pesticide applicators has been pretty awful, you'll just assume all applicators are pretty awful.  That, in itself, made him upset at other applicators that do a poor job - causing problems for those who are true professionals to carry the same stigma.

And, you know what.  If his experience with organic growers has been pretty awful, it would make sense that he might not initially want to talk to me either.  I'd like to think I was ALSO being a responsible professional with integrity.

I can still hold the position that I think we over use chemicals for pest control and he can still tell me that they are a valid tool if used correctly.  In fact, I'd love to sit down and have an hour long conversation about it with him some day.  Who knows what each of us would learn?

3. This was about being brave and motivated enough to point out something that was done RIGHT.

It is very difficult to walk up to a pesticide applicator you do not know to have a discussion about a topic that is loaded for you AND a topic that can feel like a personal attack to them.  Add to it my general dislike of the pesticides and it is tempting to just grumble about it to each other and just get unhappy all over again.

But, I told people in my computer science classes and I tell people who get farm products from us that it is just as important to tell those who do a job that you liked how they are doing something as it is to tell them you would like them to change.  In fact it might be more important to highlight when things go well!

Does it mean things will be ok the next time someone sprays near us?  Of course not.  But I believe we just raised the chances a little bit.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

What is Rob's Job Part II

There continues to be some curiosity surrounding Rob's new job with the Pesticide Action Network, so I thought it might be a useful post to give a bit more context now that I am about to conclude my third month in their employ!  As you might expect, I know a good bit better how I can answer the natural questions people might have.  It also makes sense that I would encourage you to support PAN if you find that the work they do matches with your intentions for giving.  If it does not, well, that's fine too.  Just give me a chance to change your mind some day!

Iowa Communications Associate

In short - Rob has to do some writing for PAN.  A subset of the writing has an Iowa slant or focus.  Most of that content comes out in the Iowa Updates posted every four weeks.  Additional material is posted by me on Facebook and Twitter by PAN and we do send out emails to a special Iowa list of interested persons.  They receive the Iowa Updates that get posted online, but they may also receive additional alerts or information that will not necessarily appear on the PAN web pages.  So, if there are things that are related to Iowa legislative sessions and our priorities, then I will typically be the author.

I am also charged with writing about national topics from a farmer's perspective.   PAN sees some real value in having someone who works the land comment about the policies they support as well as those they oppose.  Therefore, this is most of my energies will be placed. The most recent example of my farmer voice writing can be found here: I'd Want More Tools than a Hammer.

More desk time for the farmer....but not at locations like this anymore!
Over time, I will also write pieces in the 'organizational voice.'  In those cases, I will not be listed as an author, but they will appear as resources that PAN produces and houses on their websites.  And, in addition to these duties, I am part of a team that reads and edits each other's work, checking facts and working to find the best ways we can say things in a limited number of words (because, unlike most of those who read this blog - people have very short attention spans!). 

PAN also has several 'larger' projects that may also pull me in for various tasks.  For example, there is an agroecology project that I have stepped into as a part of my job.  At the very least, this job promises to be interesting.

He Even Gets Interviewed with His PAN Hat On

Ok.  He is still wearing that lovely Cincinnati Reds hat when he does these things.  The "PAN hat" is a metaphorical hat.  And I'm only saying that because I wanted to use the word "metaphorical" in the blog today.  Now I am happy and I can continue with the regularly scheduled content!


Apparently, I have shown some propensity to do reasonably well in interviews, both live and for articles, so they are already trotting me out there on a semi-regular basis.  There is some pressure that comes with this because I need to be very careful to speak to what I know rather than speculate.  That also means that I have to keep working on expanding my knowledge so I can answer questions that are not directly specific to the kinds of farming I do.  Granted, most requests for interviews come from 'friendly sources' who are unlikely to be trying to trap me with something.  However, I suspect everyone who reads the blog knows how important I think it is to maintain accuracy and integrity when you want to advocate for any given position.

And, please note.  I wanted to use the word 'propensity' in this blog post.  I succeeded there as well!  Wow! This is a great blog post so far!  

****Cue lots of people rolling their eyes heavenward after this statement ****

The funny thing about it is this - when you interview, you can never be certain what they will decide to use.  For example, I had a suspicion that the little tidbit they took for this Marketplace interview might be something they would select.  But, it wasn't really the thing I felt was the most important part of the interview.   I even hesitated bringing it up in hopes that they wouldn't seize on it.  Yes, it is a valid point and it is dramatic.  But...

In contrast, the piece of the interview they selected for this Civil Eats piece was probably more consistent with my overall message I was hoping to deliver.

Either way, I get it.  They need to collect information, understand it, and then compile into something people will read that is (hopefully) accurate and compelling.

Taking it From There
I expect that I will have involvement in the next Iowa Legislative Session. I also anticipate that I will be encouraged to give presentations among other things.  We'll see where it goes and I'll try to take you all along for the ride!  If you have suggestions for topics I should address with my PAN hat, send them on to me.  If you want to know how you can help make good changes in this world with respect to pesticides, ask!

Let's see what we can manage together.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Missing Hollyhocks

 I've heard them called 'Outhouse Flowers' because there was apparently a tradition at some Iowa farmsteads to plant them next to the outhouse to shield that necessary building a bit more from the rest of the farm.  Hollyhocks are pretty tough flowers that can reseed if you let them.  But, what happens when the hollyhocks disappear from the farm?

We always want more flowers on the farm, but the reality is that we do not have the space to start everything we want.  And this year, we don't have the space to plant everything we want as we work to re-format our fields and add swales. 

You see, it had been a tradition to have some hollyhocks down in the southwest corner each year and we let them reseed themselves.  The problem is that after a while, the area gets overrun by less desirable plants and you have to start over.  We just haven't given ourselves the opportunity to start over with the hollyhocks.


That is the difficult thing about 2020 at the Genuine Faux Farm.  We're trying to "start over" on so many levels.  We certainly have enough experience at the farm to know what we like about it.  And, we actually have pretty good knowledge about how to get to where we want to be. 

So, what's the problem? 

Two key resources - time and energy
and
Two key issues - too much rain and too many buffalo gnats and now.. mosquitoes.  The wet limits our time and the flying flesh eaters gnaw away at the energy.

It's the same old themes all over again.  If we had cows, it would be deja moo.

Nonetheless, there has been some progress.  We spent some significant time in two plots with the wheel hoe and the soil behaved beautifully - just as we picture it behaving in our farm 'handbook.'  We got some trellising and caging up and the plants look pretty good.  We've been harvesting zucchini and summer squash ALREADY!  Usually, that's a just after July 4 treat.  Meanwhile, the peas we planted on time are just getting going - so they are a little late.  But, still we had a nice big pot of peas tonight as the highlight for dinner.

Keep giving me fresh peas, green beans and a good bit less of the nasty biting bugs - and we'll have hollyhocks before you know it.