Wednesday, May 23, 2012

More Than a Teaspoon

I'm currently tired enough that I'm bound to misquote here.  But, I seem to recall somewhere in the Harry Potter series that Hermione says something to Ron about having the emotional range of a teaspoon....  Sometimes it feels like it might be nice to have a simpler set of emotions and tasks on our plate.  This is one of those moments.  But, I know that I like variety and challenges, so I'll get over it.  One way of getting over it - and of keeping everyone informed regarding the farm - is to put a blog post out there so you can see what's on our minds.

Tall Farmer
We both spent a good part of the day while we were working outside thinking about the "Tall Farmer."  He underwent surgery today to remove some tumors and word is that all went as planned in a 6+ hour surgery.

The back door has been falling apart slowly but surely.  In fact, it has been getting worse as more people spend time on the farm.  Tammy and I get used to closing it a certain way, but it is pretty hard to get the plumber, new workers, etc etc to close it that way.  As a result, it wasn't looking very promising for continued use.  Happily, my Dad is here for a few days and he was willing to pick up a door and put it in for us.  It's pretty cool when a good sized project like that gets done and you only have to lend help when an extra hand is needed.

Speaking of Doors
We were?  Oh, yes we were!  We're pleased to have working overhead doors on the granary and the truck barn.  Already has come in useful.

Getting tired of a particular raccoon that gets into the bee hive each night.  Its days are numbered.  If only that number were one....  Though if it decided to move away, that would be fine too.

Two days.  2200 feet of taters in the ground.

Beans, beans the Miracle Fruit
Not to be outdone....1000 feet of green beans.  1600 feet of other bush beans.  All planted before noon today.  Earthway seeders are great when the rows are well prepared.

Organic Certification
Our inspection is tomorrow AM.  I don't mind the visits at all.  It has more to do with how human schedules never seem to match with nature.  We are frantically planting before rain (we hope).  It is likely to rain tomorrow afternoon or evening.  We want as much in as we can get prior to that.  We'll try to do that and the inspection.  Why not?  We can do anythin' an' everythin'.

Three Cups of Tea and Three Trays of Leeks
If it's iced tea, I'll take it.  If it's leeks, they're in the ground.  That's something like um....  1000 leeks?  Hope they're good this year.

Water Wands are Not (Entirely) Magical
I suppose the whole idea of a water want and the ability to put a water breaker on the end to soften the blow of water on target plants could be considered magical.  However, these wands are not the sort you wave once and solve problems.  In fact, with all the hot, dry and windy weather, we've become more acquainted with our water wands, hoses, etc than we really want to.  It eats time to have to water plants two or three times a day to keep them alive.

Insta Tan Part II
Another bout with wind.  Another day of Insta Tan.  We're getting so used to it, that we don't think anything about taking a trip into Sumner for a quick dinner (we just had to get away from the farm for a few minutes) and NOT doing more than washing hands (up to the elbow) and face (mostly).  Had goggles on for a while, so got to do the Inverse Raccoon look too.  One downside...blowing your nose and getting enough dirt to pot a geranium.

Heat & Bolting
A small crop report item.  We had some greens timed for early June.  Lots of it is already bolting.  Before reaching maturity.  A series of 80 to 90+ degree days does it every time.  Not cool.  We'll just keep planting and do what we can.  It's enough to get a farmer grumpy some days.

Gang of Four at Grinnell Heritage Farm
Our first of four visits for the Gang of Four occurred Sunday.  We had the pleasure of helping transplant sweet potatoes and learn how to use a water wheel transplanter.  Andy was nice and told us the goal was 4 rows - we got 8 done.  By the way...a "row" was probably 400 feet.  There were four left for his crew.  All I can say - it is fun to work with this group of people.  Wish we all were closer.  Or worked the same farm.  That'd be one heck of a farm!

Pieces of Barn
High winds = pieces of barn periodically taking flight.  Rethinking where we have the broilers now and will begin the process of moving them tomorrow.

Henlet - Shakespeare should have written it....
The henlets are outdoors now in their own little building and with their own section of electric fence.  They eat different food than the hens and we need to give them time to grow before we integrate the flock.

Asparagus, Asparagus...There's something funny about asparagus!
Looks like this will be the last week picking asparagus.  They want to fern out and they've been going for a while.  It's not quite what we wanted.  But, that's the way it is sometimes.  At least we got asparagus!  And it has been yummy!


  • Friday 4pm to 6pm at Hansen's Outlet - Plant Sale.  Many plants still available.  
  • Saturday  8:30am to 11:30 am.  Waverly Farmers' Market.  Lots of plants available!
  • Monday  3:00 pm to 9:00 pm.  Iris Fest at the farm!  Potluck. We will provide a turkey to share (cooked!)  We do not plan on firing up the grill.  You may bring other items for the potluck.  Bring chairs, games, attitudes ready to enjoy the day and the farm! 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Insta Tan, Free Highlights and Mulch

Have you looked in the mirror lately?  Wishing your complexion showed a bit more of that healthy, outdoorsy glow?  Or maybe you are just jealous of someone else at work or school who has killer highlights in their hair.



This will work wonders in a matter of moments.  All you need to do is come out to the Genuine Faux Farm on a day where the forecast calls for "Breezy" weather.  It is best if the day is sunny and the weather is dry.  Apply suntan lotion.  Go out into the fields and VIOLA - instant tan!  Of course, it won't be as smooth as your skin might normally be.  In fact, we guarantee that your skin won't be as smooth as it normally is after this application is removed.  But, we accept that this is small price to pay for beauty.

For those who wish for a deeper, layered look, we suggest running a tiller for half an hour.  We specialize in the 'Reverse Raccoon' look.  Simply apply goggles over your eyes while running the tiller.

Highlights of Your Day, Month - or Just Your Hair

We make no claim of instant gratification here.  However, if you spend enough time outside at the Genuine Faux Farm, those of you with darker hair will be awarded with highlights that rival the best any salon can give you!  We recommend that you wear a hat so that the resulting ring of darker hair can accentuate how fine those accents in your hair really are.  

Who Needs an Emery Board?

Spend some time digging in the dirt at the Genuine Faux Farm and you'll no longer have need for that Emery Board.  We use a twofold approach to removing the need for this little accessory.

First, you will find that your nails, one way or the other, are going to be shorter.  And, any cracks or sharp points will tend to wear off.  Don't worry about any new splits or other issues with your nails.  In most cases they are replaced by other splits, etc in a short period of time, eliminating the need to address the original problem.  There will be no need of a manicure either, since your cuticles will get pushed back when you plunge your hands in to the dirt.

Second, if you really feel you need an emory board to file down something - just use your hands.  A few days working in the dirt and your hands will rival a cats tongue for roughness.  We find this to be incredibly useful when building fine furniture.

Free Mulch, Compost and Potting Soil

While you are working on your tan, do not forget that the farm will throw  in a free bonus of mulch or potting soil that will be deposited in your nose, ears and eyes during your stay.  For those that wish the potting soil, you should clean the soil out of your ears, etc upon arriving home after your visit.  For those that wish to have mulch, make sure you come on a windy day where we are applying straw.  And, of course, compost requires that you do NOT clean out your ears right away.  The first sign of a giant ragweed germinating out the side of your head is an indication that your compost is nearing readiness.  It also probably means you forgot to the turn the compost in a timely manner.

Who needs a spa?  Come work on the farm!


We've taken refuge inside the house earlier than usual.


There is only so much time a person can have dust blown into your ears, eyes, nose and mouth.  The wind wasn't too bad until we got to mid-afternoon.  But, it went from breezy with gusts to constant poooooof.

People who have read the blog or newsletters in the past know that we often site wind as the hardest weather to deal with.  But, this wind is particularly onerous.


Glad you asked.  It's because the temps are abnormally high for mid May and the air is drier than usual.  This makes it particularly tough on our young plants.  In fact, it is really making it hard for our Spring crops to reach their potential.  Arugula should not go right to bolting this time of year - yet we have some doing just that.  Before we even get one picking out of it.  What gives?  We had that crop in at the right time....

And - we have some reminders for everyone:

- Plant Sale at Hansen's Outlet in Cedar Falls from 4pm to 6pm tomorrow.
- Waverly Farmers' Market from 8:30-11:30 am Saturday
- Tom Sawyer Day at the farm Saturday from 2:30-5:00pm  RSVP if you plan to attend.

Finally - a thanks to the group who visited us from the U of Iowa today.  Hope the stay blew you the figurative sense.  We know the wind tried the literal sense.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Weight of the Nation on HBO

Rob and Tammy from Genuine Faux Farm joined several other Practical Farmers of Iowa members in a discussion for HBO a couple years ago (2010 - you can see a reference on this past blog post) at Grinnell Heritage Farm. The website for the film is here:
We are told that you might see PFI farmers in Part IV of the main film and perhaps even more in the bonus feature: Healthy Foods and Obesity Prevention: Increasing Markets for Fruit and Vegetable Farmers

The focus of the film series is on the obesity problem we are currently seeing in the United States.  The timing of the release has to do with the impending FARM BILL.   If you don't think you should pay attention to the farm bill - then you are wrong.  The farm bill should really be a FOOD BILL.  Why do you think we have so much support for corn syrup and soybean oil (for example)?   Why do you think many farmers get most of their crop insurance paid for them and small farms such as ours can't get reasonable crop insurance?  Pay attention to this bill if you really want to make a difference in our country.

Note: we do not have television on the farm and our internet is way too slow to view. So - someone else view it and let us know if it is good or not! 

What we do know is that the discussion we had in Grinnell was fascinating and intense.  I don't recall everything that was said and I certainly don't recall everything Tammy or I might have said.  I suspect I was too scary looking and they edited parts with me out of the mix.  But, Tammy's cool - so she might be there.  

I wonder if I would still say the same things now with another year or so of experience?  But, I do know this - we want to produce good food.  We want our right to produce this good food to be defended.  We (GFF) are not asking for handouts or subsidies, but we are asking for a leveled playing field.  Let's change this so that those less fortunate aren't finding that they must select potato chips instead of broccoli because of cost. OR, worse yet, because they don't know how to use broccoli and turn it into a meal that costs less than the potato chips.  Let's change this so people have the option to select farming as their career. 

Upcoming Events

Just to try and keep up with everything that's going on:

Tuesday - May 15 - Egg delivery/pickup in Cedar Falls at Rudy's parking lot.  5:30pm.  You need to 'reserve' your eggs.  email Tammy prior to noon today or call her by 4:00pm.  We need to know how many to bring.

Friday - May 18 - 4:00-6:00pm at Hansen's Outlet in Cedar Falls.  GFF Plant sale.  We'll have heirloom tomatoes (20+ varieties), peppers and eggplant with us.

Saturday - May 19 - 8:30 - 11:30 am in Waverly.  Waverly Farmers' Market.  We'll have plants at the farmers' market this Saturday as well.  Come see what the market has to offer you.

Saturday - May 19 - 2:30-5:00PM at Genuine Faux Farm.  Tom Sawyer Day.  Come plant trees and bushes on the farm.  If that doesn't sound like fun, we have other things we can have you do - which could even include painting.  Well, actually priming....a building.

Friday - May 25 - 4:00-6:00PM plant sale at Hansen's Outlet in Cedar Falls.

Saturday - May 26 - 8:30-11:30 AM Waverly Farmers' Market.

Monday - May 28 - 3:00-9:00 PM.  Iris Fest 2012 at the Genuine Faux Farm.  Potluck with turkey provided by the farm.  We'll cook up one of the big birds we still have in our freezer from last year. 

Saturday - June 2 - 8:30-11:30AM.  Waverly Farmers' Market.  We anticipate that this will be the last Saturday market that we will have plants for sale.  Our attendance at the market from this point will depend entirely upon available produce.

Tuesday - June 5 - 3:30-6:00PM  first CSA pickup - Waverly Group.  At the Waverly Farmers' Market.
Wednesday - June 6 - TBA first CSA pickup - Tripoli Group
Thursday - June 7 - 4:00-6:00PM first CSA pickup Cedar Falls Group.  At Hansen's Outlet.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Sorting Hat and More

Sorting Hat
The annual sorting hat activity on the farm took place on Friday.  Well, the first iteration of the sorting hat.  We transplanted somewhere in the range of 1800 tomato plants for about 32 heirloom varieties.  We have a fairly complex plan for what we intend to plant on the farm, but that still leaves about 1000 plants that go up for sale.  The net result is that we have to select plants to stay on the farm to fill out the plan.  Then, we have to decide what plants are ready to go to market (and hopefully new homes).  And, of course, we have to decide which plants need a little more hardening off/TLC.  Finally, a few plants have the "mercy rule" applied.  It always takes more time than we think it should.  But, it's part of what we do.  We have tomato plants for sale.  Want any?

Waverly Farmers' Market
In case you all forgot, Waverly Farmers' Market is *every* Saturday from May through the beginning of October.  Judging by the "crowds," there were several people out of town and many others who didn't remember.  Don't get us wrong.  We were pleased to see everyone who DID come out to the market.  And, we'll be equally pleased when we see others there next week and the week after that.  We just need to remind ourselves that just because we think about market every week, that doesn't mean it has as much of a hold on the lives other people live.  So - it is our job to remind you!  Hey!  Waverly Farmers' Market.  Saturday 8:30-11:30 AM.  Street near the post office in Waverly.  Come see us!

Two for One in the Bargain Bin
 Speaking of farmers' market.   (We were?)  Saturday market days...and the afternoon to night prior... can be pretty hectic.  Typically, most of Friday afternoon and evening is spent preparing for market.  Potentially longer, depending on what we need to have ready.  We get up early Saturday to handle all of the chores, load the truck, pack additional items that were kept in refrigerators (eggs for example) in hopes of getting set up prior to the 8:30 AM start.  We often forget about the 30 minutes we should allow for travel time (assuming you don't remember something you forgot and turn around).  By the time we are packed up (usually by 12:30pm) we need to find a little food and sit and debrief for a while.  Average return time is 2pm to the farm.  After the truck is unloaded, we often give ourselves permission to read, nap, take it easy for an hour or so.  After that, we do our best to motivate ourselves to do farm work.  It doesn't always work out.  But, when we do, it is like getting two days out of one.  Or at least it feels like that's the case.  We both thought market was 'yesterday' a couple of times this evening....

Birds Evicted
 The broilers have been officially evicted from our garage.  We are, to say the least, relieved.  If you've never raised birds before, they can kick up alot of dust -and it coats everything in the building now.  The birds have been out in the Chick Inn for a couple of nights now, but we just got to removing the boxes, bedding, etc from the garage in the "second day" today.  Maybe relief isn't a strong enough word for this.  Now to get the hen chicks out of there.

Till 'Til the Cows Come Home
We managed to get a few more beds tilled and put in several trays of lettuce in our second day of Saturday as well.  The soil is finally looking great.  We're going to probably work ourselves silly next week.

What Friends Are For
GFF will be going to Blue Gate Farm for an 'emergency' work day.  While this does not mean anything to most who read the blog initially, we thought we'd mention it because it should mean something.  This is a reminder that there are many things more important than all of those niggling, irritating things that we let get under our skin so often.  One of those important things is that friends are more important than most anything else.  When you can make a difference for a friend, you go make that difference.  'Nuff said. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Farm Report

It's time to do a farm report.  It's also time for a little drier weather?

  • We're farmers.  We talk about weather.  We complain about weather.  It's what we do.  But, the reality is - we can't get into our fields.  The time between rains hasn't been sufficient to dry them out.  We have alot of plants waiting to go in.  
  • Speaking of plants - we've got about 700-800 tomato plants into pots already.  We'll have a nice selection for next Saturday's market.
  • There's a roll up door on the east side of the granary now.  That's really good since we were both getting VERY tired of the sliding doors that are temperamental when it comes to the sliding they are supposed to do.
  • Have you ever been so tired you can't go to sleep?
  • We have a great dandelion crop this year.
  • It looks like we'll have two bee hives on the farm this season.  We like those little guys, so this is a good thing.
  • Speaking of bees, we've seen five or six different native bees hovering around the dandelions so far this year.  We're not experts at telling them apart, so there could be more, but we aren't able to differentiate.
  • It must be the growing season.  The indoor cats don't want to sit on our laps in the evening.  They'd rather sit in an open window.
  • We asked our mechanic (Dale's Service in Waverly) to take a look at the truck before we got deep into the season.  They put it on the lift and evidently it tried to do a "lift and separate."  The "left rear main leaf spring" is broken.  This apparently keeps the frame and the bed of the truck together...or something like that.  Let's just say, we'd better get it fixed.  Our poor vehicles.  They've had a rough week or two.  They should have known when they signed up to work with us.
  • Thursday is the "Green, What Does it Mean?" event at UNI for high school students.  Rob will be there speaking for all but one session (they set one aside for lunch).  It was pretty cool last year and we think it's an important event.
  • We had some wonderful transplanting help on Saturday afternoon.  Thank you to Jo, Shawn, Joey and John.
  • Thank you also to Jo Foster's Environmental Biology class that came out and did some things on the farm with us Friday.
  • While we are at it.  Thanks to Dawn Wiegmann for putting together the health fair and partnering with the Waverly Farmers' Market.  
  • And, to Rick Montgomery, for helping get the Waverly Farmers' Market going again this year.
  • And, to Emily Wilson, for running an excellent kids cooking class last Sunday (really?  that long ago already?)
  • And, to Ron Lenth and Iowa State Extension, for sponsoring the poultry field day at our farm.
  • Spring CSA - next delivery is Saturday May 12 at the Waverly Farmers' Market 8:30-11:30 AM
  • Eggs - those who are getting eggs from us prior to the regular CSA season start.  We will have them available at the Waverly Farmers' Market (same times as above).  We're trying to cut down time off the farm in the month of May in hopes that we can get things going once things dry out some.
  • Plants - we will have them at Waverly Farmers' Market on Saturdays. We will also have them at Hansen's Outlet in Cedar Falls on May 18 and May 25 (Fridays) from 4 to 6 pm each of those days.  We still need to discuss whether Roots wants to retail some of our plants.  We are working on a date for Tripoli.
  • Iris Festival on our farm is slated for Monday, May 28.  More details forthcoming.  This is a potluck event.  CSA members and friends of the farm are invited.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Wire to Wire

Today is/was one of those wire to wire days.

We set an alarm to make sure we got up and moving quickly.  That was a good thing because we were pretty exhausted and were both sound asleep when it went off.  Usually one or the other (or both) of us is awake before the alarm.

We had a visit from Jo Foster's Environmental Biology class today from about 9am to noon.  That meant, of course, that we had to get chores done, do a little mowing so paths were ready for a tour, gather tools, etc before they got here.  Tammy likes to have zucchini or pumpkin bread for groups like this, so she started that in the morning as well. 

We managed to be mostly ready and Tammy was able to finish things up while Rob gave the famous GFF nickel tour!  On completion of the tour (final stop was to see the baby chicks), we had some Q&A and then we got to split people into groups to do some farm tasks.  The group was fabulous and worked hard and did their best to be helpful.  We are most grateful!

But, as with all things like this, there is prep and there is 'tear down.'  So, we had to do that as well.  The group will be pleased to hear that we managed to finish the raking they came very close to completing before the rains came this evening (with an hour to spare!).

Since our first Waverly Farmers' Market is tomorrow morning, we had to go get our truck in Waverly (getting a checkup).  It needs some repairs - but it is a 20 year old truck.  On getting back home, we needed to pick for the market, clean, pack, etc.  We also needed to get all of the seedlings watered, etc etc etc.  We managed to get everything put away and under cover before we had the back end of a thunderstorm come through.  I need to print a few more labels/signs and we're catching some ZZz's until tomorrow - which will come early.

so - come see us!  Talk to us!  Buy some lettuce, asparagus, spinach, kale or green onions.  Try one of our Silvery Fir Tree tomato plants - great for pots!  Tammy will be inside the W with a table at the Health Fair.  Rob will be outside with the Farmers' Market contingent.  We'll have our organic canvas bags with our logo for sale and we'll have the MACSAC cookbooks along for the ride.

R & T

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Slivers and Onions

It's 9:06 PM.  Do you know where your farmers are?

Well, this one is at the computer, typing a blog post.  The other one is getting to take a shower after a long day.  We flipped a chicken to see who got the first shower.  Heads, Tammy got to shower first, tails, I got to shower first.  While Tammy was trying to catch the chicken, I ran inside and took a shower.

The rain we've had the last couple of weeks has our fields pretty wet - making it very hard to get into the field to plant.  This happens every year.  Here's hoping we can hit it right.

We've spent quality time in the Poultry Pavilion the last several days.  Happily, it hasn't just been Tammy and myself working in there.  My dad, the best dad IN THE WORLD... ok, ok.. You can all argue for your fathers as well and we'll agree in the end that they are ALL the best.

Now that I've been sidetracked.  Let's get back to the point of this section.  We've had some wonderful help from my parents the last couple of weeks, and it has been deeply appreciated.  We also made a request of the fine, upstanding Dr. Ben, who was kind enough to come and help us put tin on the ceiling of the new chicken room.

We've all gotten to improve the muscles that involve holding arms over our heads.  Isometrics anyone?  And, yes, we've been working with alot of old lumber - hence lots of opportunities for splinters.  We also got to take down ceiling (mentioned in the prior post as the Poo d'Etat).  The room is getting closer, but these things always take so much longer than we'd like.  The birds need that room - probably yesterday.

The annual dance of the seedling trays is in full swing.  We have many trays of onions and other plants looking for the chance to go into the ground.  Until they do, we have to keep them safe, watered and healthy.  The great transplant of tomatoes into pots is continuing - but has stalled a bit with the Poultry Pavilion, among other things, taking priority.

But, by way of a quick field/farm report.  We have managed to put in another 400 feet of spinach, 200 feet of kale, 200 feet of chard, 200 feet of radish and a mixed 200 foot row of arugula, mustard and calaloo.  The older planting of spinach should be able to be picked by next Saturday, as should arugula and mustard and radish from that planting.

The Spring crops in the high tunnel are winding down, but there is still some excellent lettuce in there!  Asparagus is happy.

Other Stuff
  • Our little Honda (we named him Clyde) had its first semi-major issue.  Not bad given it has 150K miles on him.  Something about the key not wanting to go into the ignition when it is out and not wanting to come out when it is in.  Just got him back today.  
  • We have a new water heater in the house.  Finally, we got the 40 year old water heater replaced.  We even managed to do it before the old water heater decided to rust out and turn it into an 'emergency.'  But, you have to wonder.  We made the decision to do the water heater and Clyde decided to have his little 'issue.'  Timing is everything.
  • The first Waverly Farmers' Market is this Saturday.  Half will be at the regular location and the other half will be at the W with the Health Fair (to promote the Farmers' market).  We will be at the W.  At present, the plan is for Tammy to be inside and Rob will be outside.
  • Another 3000 lbs of feed picked up from Frantzen Farms north of New Hampton.  Must be that time of year.
  • We just heard from Eric at Hansen's Outlet that there is still Bronze Arrowhead lettuce from our last delivery available there.  Go get it folks!  They are big, beautiful heads of lettuce, alot of goodness there.  
  • Waverly Child Care got a nice batch of lettuce from us today.  Once the spinach gets going, they'll be getting some of that too!
  • Week 5 of the Spring CSA is completed and we're pleased with the value our members have gotten this Spring.  And, the asparagus is just getting going.  
  • Asparagus, asparagus!  There's something funny about asparagus.....
  • The kids cooking class appeared to go well last Sunday.  Those of you who attended, please feel free to give us feedback.  We'd be happy to sponsor more of these, but we have to know what works so we don't just start shouting at an empty room.
  • The poultry gathering at the farm on Monday also went well. Thanks to Ron Lenth for setting this up and Iowa State Extension for sponsoring this field day.
  • And, the Choir's newest album - The Loudest Sound Ever Heard is getting a work out on our music players.
And now, I bid you all adieu.   It's time to stop typing when you see two of each character you type.