Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Poo d'Etat

There is much going on at the farm right now - so we'll do the "news brief" thing for this blog post.  We hope you enjoy!

Three in One?
There are a number of crazy things we find ourselves doing on the farm that make us shake our heads.  For example, if you had told us that we would own and operate three freezers and two refrigerators on the farm even five years ago, we would have laughed.   But, twenty-seven pound turkeys, two batches of broilers, lots of veg freezing, broth freezing, cooperative buys, etc etc....  So, yes, we have three freezers and two refrigerators.  We graduated to ONE freezer today by finally getting everything into the biggest freezer and the freezers that are part of the two refrigerators.  We hope these two will stay OFF until the broilers go to the park.  Oh...and yes.  It WAS a tight fit.

Two Hundred A Day
More or less.  That's what we are hoping we can manage as we transplant tomatoes into four inch pots.  There are about 2000 of them to do.  Then, if the peppers get a move on here, we do them.  And the eggplant.  Hmmmm.  The hardest part is figuring out where to put them all.

Closing at the Opening(s)
One of the things I found most humorous for signs of businesses in small towns were those that said "Open Until Closing," which made me think of this subtitle.  In this case, however, we are talking about openings in buildings on the farm.  If you follow the blog or farm happenings, you know we worked hard to rehab the truck barn last year.  We just never quite got the overhead door put in before Winter (such as it was).  We've also been struggling with the doors on the granary.  Stay tuned, it looks like we'll be getting some doors put up.  While it still goes against Rob's nature to hire someone to do these kinds of projects, that's exactly what we will do.  Why?  Because it won't get done until December if it is left to me....  And, it would likely only be one of the three doors at that.  Sometimes the right call means you pay someone else.

Old house.   Old buildings.  Working farm.  Lots of projects.

And every project has its own domino effect.  If you do any sort of house projects on your own homes, you know what I mean here.  How did stubbing in plumbing for a bathroom turn into replacing the water heater?

Oh.  Well.  I Guess We'll Do Something Else.
The simple (?) project of moving the burn 'barrel' to a new location away from the cold frame area got interesting.  This entailed cleaning up the new area and moving the barrel.  But, our barrel is essentially four heavy pieces of metal that have been bolted together in a rectangular shape using some brackets.  It was here when we moved in, so it's been through a bit.  Let's just say the "barrel" became a flat pile of metal as I tried to move it. 

Poo d-Etat
We are actively trying to build some new poultry rooms in the Poultry Pavilion.  To give you a summary... the building started as an open front machine shed.  It was closed up in the 1980's (we think) and made into a hog confinement.  We arrive and kicked the hogs out.  Unfortunately, some of the modifications made to the building (and time) have provided raccoons with some nice places to live.

So, what is the problem with that exactly?  Other than the fact that we fight them every year as they get into the chickens?  Let me put it this way.  Raccoons don't go outside to use the bathroom.

So, you know all of those spots that look like they've gotten REALLY wet in the ceiling?  Yep, the spots that actually have holes starting and the insulation falling through?  That isn't from a leaky roof.  It's from a raccoon leaking....  And remember, when you ask a raccoon "Number 1 or number 2?"  It will usually say, "Both."

What was a highlight of the day?  Pulling down lots of that ceiling so we can have a shot at putting together a good room for the birds.

What a wonderful smell I've discovered.  Maybe it should have been

Pew d-Etat?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Connecting the Hobby with the Profession Part II

 This envelope was mailed in 1905.  What's so cool about it?  We actually raise Barred Rocks as part of our mixed laying flock.  Our younger rooster is Fu, he is a Barred Rock, and he could have posed for this picture.

Ok, these are hens, not a rooster, but they do live on our farm!
Oh, and I think Sarcoxie is a cool name for a town.

The above item was mailed in 1901.  It's kind of fun looking at the various technologies used that were pulled behind teams of horses.  And, we see these technologies adapted for many of the implements we are now using with Durnik (our tractor).

And yes, Higganum is another cool name for a town.

This one may be worth using the right mouse button to view at a larger size.  This is a booklet that includes a speech by Representative 1933.  What was he trying to say?  We should use the excess grain produced in our country to supplement gasoline.  Interesting.

I know a cool person who has the last name "Hull."

Mailed around 1895 (hard to read the postmark).  Bee keeping has been around for a long time.  All I can say is that if it weren't for all of the native bees on and around our farm, our crops would be very poor.  This is a topic I am very sensitive too and I worry about every season.  It can be especially difficult for us because our 14 acres of ground is surrounded by corn and soybean fields.  So, there isn't a very large contiguous area within which native species can exist and survive.  If these species were to collapse, we would have difficulty producing many crops.

This is addressed to Xeno Putnam.  "Xeno" is a cool name.  And bees are just plain cool.

And, for those of you who are curious about post number 1 on this subject.  The items were from 1883, 1912, 1913, 1905 and 1905.

And now you know - we've had a couple of cool days.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Extension Workshop at the Farm

DATE:  4/13/12


Contact: Tammy Curley, Bremer County Extension, 319-882-4275 or


Adults and 4-H’ers wishing to learn more about raising their own poultry for eggs and meat are invited to an on-farm demonstration and educational program on April 30th at Faux’s Genuine Farm, 2345 150th St. north of Tripoli.  Beginning at 6:30PM, visitors can learn the practical aspects of working with poultry, from new chicks through their adulthood.  There is no cost for the program.

Guest speakers Dave Foelske, Bremer Fair Poultry Superintendent plus the Faux’s, will share their practical experiences with raising their own backyard chickens ducks, and turkeys. 

And yes - please note that the farm name IS Genuine Faux Farm.  Yep, that's us.

Linking the Hobby to the Profession?

 This is one ugly chicken.  Note - the reason the chicken doesn't look as healthy as it should is because the Aultman & Taylor equipment did a better job not leaving behind any of the grain heads that other equipment was prone to do.  At least, that's what they're trying to tell you.
 For about 7 bucks you could get one of these beauties.  We have a 'similar' tool.  But, it is plastic....and cost a bit more than 7 bucks.  Still, we wouldn't be without it.
 Ahhhh.  Crook neck summer squash.  We used to grow this, but have opted for the straight neck varieties.  The main reason - they don't sprawl as much as the crook necks.  We have to fight that battle with cucumbers already.
 Hay!  That barn is still standing.
And... from the "that's just plain weird" section.  Are we sure these animals have the required muscles to smile like that?

Kids Cooking Class

GFF is partnering with Emily Wilson to present a Kids Cooking class. Looking for ways to encourage your kids to eat more veggies? Do your kids love to help in the kitchen? Kids are more likely to eat the food they help prepare!  This special Kids Cooking class will feature Chef Emily teaching kids how to make a lettuce wrap using GFF lettuce.  Eating the produce will, of course, be involved, too!

Two classes will be offered - kids 4-6 years old and kids 7-10 years old.  Classes will be approximately one hour, with the little ones first, then the older ones on the same day.  We have limited space available for this first set of classes.  We are looking at either Friday May 4 after school or Sunday April 29 early afternoon. The classes will take place at a place to be determined in Waverly.  Please reply to (don't reply to Rob, please) if you are interested, which date works better for your family and age(s) of child(ren) involved.  There is no charge for GFF kids.

Tammy & Rob

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Balls of Fluff

Below is the 'egg newsletter' Tammy sent out this week.  Rob usually puts the posts out in the blog - but we're finding this is a good way for Tammy to get some time in the blog as well.

Eggs delivery on Tuesday!  This Tuesday (April 17th), we will be at the Konditerei (Wartburg) from 10-noon, CEEE (if anyone requests) at UNI from 4:30-4:45 and Rudy’s Tacos (Waterloo) (parking lot from 5:15-5:30 and in the restaurant until about 7pm).  Please email to let me know how many dozen you would like and where you will pick up.  Call if one of these times does not work for you.

(ed note: it really does help if we get a note that you want eggs and how many first.  Remember, we have to pack them and bring them along.)

A little break this week from introducing the “ladies” to introduce you to the babies.  Yep – GFF sounds (and smells) like an animal farm this week.  I picked up 75 day old pullets (baby laying hen) at Hoover Hatchery in Rudd (25 are for a friend of ours) on Thursday.  Since the Poultry Pavilion remodeling project is not done, they are being temporarily housed in the garage.  The real surprise came on Friday when we got a call saying the broiler chicks had arrived (we have them mailed from the hatchery in PA to the Waterloo post office)!  We had not expected the 250 chicks until the following week.  So, we scrambled about, cleaned the garage and made room for 2 more brooder boxes and now have 250 broiler chicks and 75 hen chicks.  EEK!

This new batch of hens is a mix of Buff Orphington, California White and Americana.  Some of the chicks consented to pose for me.  The picture with the 3 chicks are the broilers – a breed called Freedom Ranger.  The Rangers (aka “The Boyus) will be cute for about 2 weeks and then spend the next 9 weeks being eating machines.  The hens grow much more slowly and will look like chicks for about 6 weeks, but don’t reach full size for about 20 weeks.

California White (hen)

Buff Orpington (hen)

Americana (hen - lays the green/blue eggs)

 Freedom Ranger (broilers)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday the Thir.....oof!

We don't tend to be superstitious, but after the start we had today, I'm beginning to wonder.  It's not that anything particularly bad has happened, these are all surmountable issues.  And, it's not that I'm looking for sympathy, all of these events are things that happen on and off with the farm.  It's just the way it is.  But, it can be strange how these things tend to happen all at once.  And, I didn't know that this was the 13th *AND* Friday until I wrote down the work plan for today (last night). 

My first thought was - "All right!  Dad's lucky day!"
My second thought was - "Is Dad's lucky day, my lucky day?"

To set the tone, allow me to sum up yesterday:
I've been fighting a head cold, which means less sleep and less energy.  But, things still have to get done on the farm.  And, part of that something is reorganizing everything from "Winter" mode to "Rest of the Year" mode.  That implies alot of lifting and energy used.  We got alot of it done, but a few things just didn't get done.... yesterday was worth a blog post.  Maybe later.  Also, we picked up hen chicks.  Our chick area in the Poultry Pavilion is not ready, so we had to work up an area in the garage. 

Last night's plan for today:
I made two plans.  One in case it rained over night and one in case it held off.  Rain meant spending the day on farm paperwork, taxes, grants, etc.  If there was some time prior to rain, the plan called for some work on the tractor and maybe a little tilling/planting just prior to the rain.
What did the weather do?
It didn't rain overnight, but as soon as the sun started to come up, the wind began to howl.  As we started to do some things outside, it began to rain sideways.  So, it looks like we finish chores and necessary things I do office work.

What ACTUALLY happened?

The wind this morning wasn't "hold onto your hat" strong, it was "hold onto your head" strong.  First issue - several trays of onions blew off their cart.  Result, we lost a number of onion plants.  Of course, these were some of our oldest ones (closest to transplant).  Oh well, these things happen.  We picked up the pieces and got the rest off of the cart and onto the ground.  This was one of the things we meant to do yesterday, but figured they were fine where they were.  After all, they'd been fine for a week or two on that cart.

Issue #2 - the door that would not stay closed.

The chicks are in the garage, right?  Well, the wind and cold was coming from the East-Southeast.  The doors on the garage both face east.  Chicks are sensitive to breezes and cold, so we didn't want to open the overhead door any more than we had to.  So, we used the service door.  It decides to not latch properly anymore AS OF TODAY.  So, the wind had a great time "re-opening" the door for us.

The call that made us wonder if we could hit the restart button.

We decided to go into Tripoli and check the PO box and just take a moment to set ourselves for the rest of the day.  On the way in, I answered my cell.  It was the Waterloo post office telling me they had MY chicks.  My WHAT?

Schedule as we knew it?
April 12 - Hen chicks
April 20 - Broiler chicks
May 31 - Ducklings
and turkeys in there somewhere too.

Remember the part about not having an area ready for the hens in the Poultry Pavilion?  Well, if you didn't, you do now.  This means we have to move a bunch of things out of the garage that were slated to be moved - but maybe not right at this moment.

The NEW work plan for the day...
Prepare for 250 (or so) broiler chicks to arrive. 

More About Doors
A good gust of wind today was strong enough to make me wonder if I could get knocked over if I also happened to be a bit off balance.  So, if the wind was that strong, imagine what it was like trying to open and hold a door that opens INTO the wind.  Now, imagine opening that door when you have a heavy bag that requires both hands to hold them. 

On the Bright Side
We know some physics profs who could use the door opening problem as a neat exercise for their students to figure out the force exerted when wind hits the surface area of a standard size door that is angled to be perpendicular to the wind direction.
We don't have to go driving to the Waterloo post office next week to pick up broiler chicks.
We'll get on the ball and start the late batch of onions sooner rather than later.
We'll be encouraged to replace a door we meant to replace anyway.
We moved a whole bunch of stuff that needed moving anyway.
ALL of the chicks appear to be in good shape so far.
I have a super cool spouse with whom I enjoy spending my time - even when things don't go as planned.

Friday the 13th IS my lucky day.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

It's That Time Again!

 First Posted; Saturday, May 8, 2010

"The Safety Plantz" by a Man with a Hat

The Dance of the Seedling Trays got me thinking about a certain tune. Then I started playing with different words for that song. I couldn't help myself - so here it is:

Revised lyrics for the Genuine Faux Farm to the tune "Safety Dance" by Men Without Hats

We can plant if we want to
We can leave clean hands behind
'Cause the seeds must grow and if they don't grow
We're in the unemployment line
I say, weeds can grow where they want to
Drive us out of our mind
But we can act like we care for this world
Leave the herbicides far behind
And we can plant

We can sow when we want to
The soil is warm, so we can try
And we can mess with peat, spend some time on our feet
And surprise 'em with the brocco-lie!
Say, we'll make a pact if you want to
If we don't, tell me who will?
And you can eat real food, good taste we'll include
And I can be green with chlorophyll!

I say, we can sow, we can plant
Everything out in the ground
We can hoe, we can till
We're doing it from field to field
We can weed, we can mulch
Everybody look at our hands
We can wash, we can scrub
Nothing is gettin' them cle - e - ean!

We can water 'cuz we need to
We've got our seedling trays in line
As long as they could use it, not gonna refuse it
Everything'll work out right
I say, we can plant if we want to
We'll be plantin' all the time'Cause the seeds must grow and if they don't grow
Well we're in the unemployment line

[Refrain in early Spring when it could still frost or freeze]

Is it safe to plant, oh is it safe to plant? [6x]


The original lyrics of Safety Dance can be found here:

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Howling Maelstrom of Silliness

Yes, that's what it was like outside today.  The temps were nice.  There was sunshine.  I now have a headache from being in the wind - and I made sure I wasn't in it all that long.  However, even if you work in a high tunnel, the wind has an impact on your day.  It is really LOUD in that building when the wind is going. 

Some quick news shorts about the farm:
  • the disk harrow finally has been made to work.  As a result, we were able to disk nearly every one of our plots in a few hours.  Some will need further work - but this is a huge difference from the time required to do initial tillage in the past.
  • the entire length of the old hog building that came down about 7 years ago is now cleaned up.  2/3rds of it now has cold frames along the foundation.  
  • Not only have we had to mow some of our pasture areas, we couldn't catch the grass because it was TOO LONG.  April 5?  REALLY?
  • It's going to freeze tonight...again....  Not unheard of.  But, the poor fruit trees are going to lose their flowers.  We knew this was coming.
  • Mice in the seed trays.  This is bad.  They dig up the seed and eat it OR they mow off the seedlings.  Sticky traps?  Yep.  One down.  ? to go.
  • Picked for the Spring CSA today (Monday).  Picked greens for Hansen's  Picked lettuce for Waverly Child Care.  Eggs cleaned.  Yep - ready for Tuesday deliveries.
  • R worked on organizing the office for several hours today.  Why does it still look like the howling maelstrom of silliness hit it?  Wait, I think I see two pairs of cat eyes.  Hm.  Of course, it could also be that he's not finished with the job.

Monday, April 2, 2012

It's Late, But So What?

  • On-farm Energy Production

    Tom Sawyer Days at the Genuine Faux Farm will have a whole new look and feel as a new purpose will be added. The addition of a local fuel production plant in Tripoli will encourage more small farms to grow dry beans with the express purpose of collecting methane gas.  GFF plans to ramp up dry bean production and increase the number of festival days in an effort to support renewable energy.
  • Packaging Options

    A combination of wax and plastic will be used in an effort to meet new food safety regulations. A wax coating will be placed on each individual vegetable, which will then be surrounded by a vacuum wrap plastic. In an effort to also support recycling, GFF will encourage customers to reuse the plastic for lunchtime sandwiches. Also, a wick will be placed into the wax for each fruit, thus allowing your produce to double as a scented candle - as well as a delicious and healthy part of your meal.
  • All Action No Talk

    An "All Action, No Talk Day" is being scheduled and sponsored by the Genuine Faux Farm.  Those interested will be required to attend three informational meetings prior to attending the actual event.  Those interested should probably say something.  But, you can put off doing anything else.
  • Weed Maze 2012

    GFF enters agritourism with first annual weed maze.   Anticipated opening of the maze is sometime in August when the foxtail, pigweed and giant ragweed have had a chance to reach their growth potential.  Tammy was quoted as saying that this would work as long as those pesky tomatoes weren't always in the way.  An attempt to have a weed maze in 2011 was thwarted when the worker who was sent to mow the maze path was lost.  Recent field clean up revealed that the worker had survived the mild winter, eating frozen tomatoes and field mice.   
  •  New Pen Pal Program

    In an effort to improve the general public's connection with their food, GFF introduces a new pen pal program.  Persons interested in getting to know their food will be allowed to pair up with different plants or animals on the farm to exchange letters.  While this may seem a bit odd to some, Rob points out that, "plants and animals thrive under attentive care.  Finding ways to show that you care results in a healthier and happier creature.  We're pretty sure we can figure out a way to make this work, but participants may have to send one letter (of the alphabet) at a time.  Hey, there's more than one reason it's called the 'Slow Food Movement.'"  Imagine getting to know your own personal radish or garlic friend.  Just watch out for the common taters, you won't get a word in edgewise.  Interested persons should send their first letter, with a request for a particular plant or animal to GFF at PO Box 121 Tripoli, IA 50676.