Friday, August 31, 2012

More GFF Pictures in August

The cucumber harvest has been good this year - despite a slower start due to drought conditions.  Typically, peak picking is around August 5-10 for us.  This year, we are just getting peak numbers now.  The trick was to get the plants through the very dry and hot conditions earlier in the year.  Some plants, like the Cool Breeze hybrid, followed their normal schedule and died without a real peak.  Others, such as Boothby's Blonde, are happy we kept them going with water and by keeping them picked.

While we can't sell any of them this year, the Tolli Sweet peppers in the high tunnel looked great.  Every year, we try to get a few pictures of some of the varieties we grow so we can use them on our own website.  I think this works well to suggest what this pepper looks like.  Only issue with the picture is the lack of an item for size comparison.  But, since I think that sort of picture can be hokey looking...

We took this picture just prior to a trip to the dump.  For those who do not know, if you live in the country, you do not automatically get trash pickup.  So, we take our trash to the dump every so often.  Here are 900+ eggs ready to be dumped.  Just part of the cost of the spraying incident.  On the positive side - we do have 42 eggs in an incubator.  Wonder what we'll get out of this?

2012 is the year of the green bean on the farm.  One container, like the one shown below, holds an average of 25 pounds. 
We recently went to Scattergood Friends School Farm for our work day with Grinnell Heritage Farm.  Sadly, Blue Gate Farm could not make it to this day as they have much more important things to take care of (keep fighting Sean!).  It was a good day to take out aggressions by removing a roof. 

Last but not least, we harvested from our sprayed fields (a partial harvest) to document how they were doing.  Here is a sampling on August 20 of this year.  Two carts FULL of sweet peppers (over 1000).  On the ground are eggplant and hot peppers.  We're working to duplicate this harvest next year - without the spraying event.  We'd have loved to been challenged to move this many fruit, but it is not to be.  They make good compost.
However, we did learn some things in harvesting these.
  • We tend to harvest Ace green bell peppers early.  We found that they can get some serious size on them if left to their own devices AND if they are given a little bit of worm castings at transplant.  Irrigation is also liked by these peppers.  We noted some size increase in the Napolean Sweet bell peppers, but not much change in size for any of the others from prior years.  This observation is worth a small controlled study next season.
  • Wisconsin Lakes had the worst time of our sweet peppers in the heat.  In other words, they didn't excel.  But, they did do fine.  On the other hand, we have noted that they handle wet weather better than the others.
  • 8 to 12 full sized bell peppers isn't unreasonable in a good season.  Who knows what we could have gotten if we kept them picked.  At a guess, it would be 10 to 14 for most.  Some, like Napolean Sweet, are not prone to setting more fruit after the main set.  Others, like Ace and Quadrato asti Giallo seem to keep setting and have many fruit of varying sizes.  In order to temper expectations, we've gotten closer to 8 per plant for the better bell peppers in the past.

Friday, August 24, 2012

News of the Farm

Consider what follows to be a newsletter of sorts.  We've had so many things stack up on us that it will take a while to even sum up!

Summer Festival at Genuine Faux Farm
August 26, Sunday.  Starting 3pm.

Come enjoy an afternoon and evening at the farm. This is a family friendly, no work event. Potluck. We expect to begin the feast around 5pm, but we'll be ready for you starting at 3pm. Goes until everyone leaves OR the farmers fall asleep, then we ask you to quietly leave the premises in an orderly fashion. Bring some outdoor games to share. We'll give tours to the interested. 

NIFFP Farm Crawl
September 9, Sunday.  1pm to 5pm.

Genuine Faux Farm is one of several area farm destinations in the 2012 Farm Crawl.  In the tradition of the very popular farm crawl in the Knoxville, IA area, farms make themselves available for interested persons to see what they do and how they do it.  Visit this site:

GF7 - Genuine Faux Farm Fall Festival and Fetid Fruit Fling
Saturday, October 6.

Poultry News

Now taking reservation for ducks.  They will be processed end of September.  Price in prior years has been $6.50-$6.75/lb.  We must gather our cost information to determine whether we can hold the line on this price or not.

Now taking reservations for turkeys.  Processed end of October.  Price has been $3.75/lb.  Similar comment to above. 

Laying Hens Part I
We will be 'retiring' a batch of our older laying hens.  They no longer lay consistently.  As we separate these birds out, we wanted to give interested parties a chance to purchase a mature bird or three for your own little flock.  We will not guarantee much for egg laying.  However, if you wanted to give a small flock a try, it is easier in many ways to go with one of the established birds to see if you like it or not.  If interested, let us know.

Laying Hens Part II
We have ordered an incubator.  In an effort to make lemonade out of lemons, we're going to try to hatch out some of the eggs that we have heretofore been throwing away.

Laying Hens Part III
We anticipate getting the ladies moved to their new room this weekend.  Wish us luck.

Laying Hens Part IV
We are looking at one more week of the great 'egg embargo' due to the spraying.  At that point, we anticipate making eggs available for sale again.  It is likely we will have a drop in production with the stress of the move, etc.  But, it is better than having zero eggs available.

CSA News
Expected Upcoming Share Amounts
The past couple of weeks have seen a wonderful spike in produce.  We have been proud to bring you full and varied shares of produce this season and having this nice little spike *without* some key items due to the spraying has been gratifying.  However, we have not been immune to the drought or the shortfalls the spraying has caused/will cause.  As always, we will do our best to keep your bags and boxes full of good, quality produce.  But, we would be remiss if we didn't tell you that we expect a bit of a drop off in the next few weeks until Fall crops start to mature.  Note - don't get too worried either - we're being cautious and keeping you informed of what we are seeing.  Details in crop news below.

Thanks to our Farming Friends
Scattergood Friends School Farm has been ever so gracious in donating peppers and eggplants to us so that we can get you some of these items.  We will also work deals with Grinnell Heritage Farm and G It's Fresh.  Both are also certified organic and run by excellent people.

Fall Membership Drive for 2013 CSA
It feels far to early to be starting to say this.  But, if we don't, we get surprised by the end of the season.   Typically, we begin taking deposits to reserve CSA spots for the next season in September.  We are 95% certain we will return with our CSA program next year.  The 5% uncertainty is simply a nod to the facts of life.  If you are too certain, then you aren't considering all possibilities of what can happen.
In recent years, we've opened reservations up for current CSA members for a period of time prior to throwing it open to all comers.  This year is different.  We'll open reservations to all, but we will keep two lists.  Those who are returning members get priority for CSA slots.  Those who are new will be first come first served for slots not taken by returning members.
We will announce when sign ups begin.  Please wait until we open sign ups, as we will be prepared to do the necessary tracking at that time.

Crop News

The tomatoes started to ripen on us quickly this week.  Thus far, the crop looks pretty good.  This means a couple of things.
1. If the crop goes as well as it looks like it MIGHT, we will be advertising tomatoes for sale to those interested in freezing/canning.
2. Again, if we have the crop for it, we will also begin appearing at the Saturday Waverly Farmers' Market with veg for sale (primarily tomatoes of course).  We will also bring extra to the Tuesday market and make them available for sale (as much as the space in the truck allows).

Another note on how the spraying event changed things for us.  We had a large number of salad sized tomatoes in the high tunnel.  They were just getting going at the point we were sprayed.  This explains why the CSA did not get as many tomatoes as we had hoped earlier.  The tomatoes were there, we just couldn't give them to you.  Rob picked 100 Jaune Flamme tomatoes, ripe and beautiful, several days ago -off two plants in the high tunnel.

Green Beans
From the "are you kidding?" files....  We have harvested 781 pounds of green beans this season.  We harvested another 44 pounds from the high tunnel after the spraying to get a sample (and then threw it into the compost).  We estimate we lost another 300 pounds in the Southwest field and high tunnel because of the spraying event.  Unfortunately, the southwest and high tunnel were the succession that were supposed to sustain us for the next few weeks.  We are not sure the older plantings will do much from this point on out.  But, we'll try to keep them picked and see what we get.  A very late succession has germinated in the field.  Here's hoping.

We crossed the 3000 unit mark for cucumbers this week.  That marks a respectable season for the Genuine Faux Farm, but no where near normal capacity.  In 2010, we pulled in over 7000 marketable cucumbers by the end of the season.  The real reason for this success is the inclusion of Boothby's Blonde and True Lemon cucumbers.  They look different, but CSA members are finding out that they taste great.  And...they are a winner for the farm during a dry season.  While the standard green cucumbers have been running at 30-40% normal production levels, these have done well.  As a result, we've been able to get the CSA some nice cucumber numbers for the year - and some of each type to keep all tastes satisfied.  Another winner has been the open-pollinated variety named "Parade."  We like new discoveries of this sort.

We are watching the plants carefully.  They do have a limited production period and we know we are approaching the age where succession I will drop from peak production.  We just hope it will not be a crash.  We will be attempting a late planting in the high tunnel and the field.  Seedlings are in trays ready to go to the fields.

Other Farm News
Looking for a New Truck
We have to admit that we've been lucky to have Grover (our truck's name) for as long as we have.  Some of you know that 5-6 years ago a building came down on him and we thought we'd lost him then.  But, he still carries use around with our produce when we need it.
However, if you look carefully at the back bumper, you may have noticed it is no longer level.  A visit to a mechanic/body shop told us what we didn't want to hear.  There are some major structural problems looming and we can no longer rely on this truck for more than a couple of months of work - and we certainly cannot tow anything.
While we aren't really ready to make this purchase, we know we have to.  So, the process begins.

Change in the Guard
The time of year has come yet again where most of our work crew goes back to school or otherwise moves on.  This, of course, includes Tammy going back to her real job at Wartburg College.  We've been through this every year, so we have ideas as to how things have to change.  But, again, it is important that people recognize a few things when this happens.  We'll do our best to not make it apparent that there are fewer workers on the farm.  But, we do ask for understanding when the number of hours in the day do not allow Rob to complete all tasks.

We say good-bye to Anden Drolet, who has worked with us for three Summers.  We wish him the best and are proud of his work as crew leader this year.  Jordan will continue to work for a while into the Fall around her school schedule.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Summer Festival at the Genuine Faux Farm

It would help to have a date - mixing a farmer and typing at the end of a day isn't always the best idea:  August 26, Sunday.  Starting 3pm.

Come enjoy an afternoon and evening at the farm. This is a family friendly, no work event. Potluck. We expect to begin the feast around 5pm, but we'll be ready for you starting at 3pm. Goes until everyone leaves OR the farmers fall asleep, then we ask you to quietly leave the premises in an orderly fashion. Bring some outdoor games to share. We'll give tours to the interested.

Details:  Our farm is an organic vegetable and poultry farm with plenty of space for adults to wander and kids to run and play.  Summer Fest is fun, conversation and outdoor relaxation.  We have a few buildings with good roofs, so we hold the event rain (hah!  not this year!) or shine. Tammy will prepare some small sandwich makings and ask people to bring salad, chips or desserts to share.  I supply cups and table service plus water and lemonade, though it might not hurt if you wish to bring your own table service if enough people arrive.  We respectfully ask friends to not bring pets, tobacco products (tobacco is actually really bad in combination with some of our vegetables) or alcohol.  Please do bring families, friends, lawn chairs or blankets, lawn games (no hard balls, just soft to all the little ones are safe), bubbles, etc.  Plan on the temps being both much windier and much cooler on the farm than in town, so sweatshirts are often nice as the sun starts to get lower.

We invite people to begin arriving at 3pm, with serious food eating planned for about 5pm.  If the weather permits we will have a small bonfire to roast marshmallows (but with the dry weather we have had burning bans, so don't count too much on this!) in the evening.  We will host people for as long as they want to stay into the evening.  Sunsets are really lovely here this time of year...  Feel free to come and go as your family's schedule allows.

Directions:  WE are about 25 minutes NW of Waverly:  Take Hwy 63 north (either Bremer Ave/Hwy 3 east to Hwy 63 or 1st St. north past Nestle, right on C 33, left on Hwy 63) and turn right on Hwy 93.  Travel 2 miles and turn left onto Navaho Ave.  Travel 2 miles on the gravel and turn right on 150th Street.  Travel .5 mile and turn left into our driveway.  We are the only farm in that block - we have a large blue Harvestore and shiny red roofs that are good markers.  2345 150th Street, Tripoli, IA  Call if you need help:  319-610-9115 (that's my cell).

Rob & Tammy

Friday, August 17, 2012

It's Not Just the Organic Certification...

We continue to process how we have to do things on the farm after the spraying incident.  We realize this has taken an inordinate amount of our time in blog space and other communications.  But, it is an important issue.  It is especially important that you understand WHY we are taking this so seriously.

At this point, sympathy is not needed.  Instead, we need people to take some time to read/listen and understand.  We need you to get informed enough so that some change can happen because living in Iowa is not supposed to be equivalent to living in fear that someone will spray you with chemicals and then fly away.

Organic Certification
It seems unfair on the surface.  We didn't do the spraying, yet we lose organic certification on the fields that were hit for three years from the point of the spray incident.
But, this is why I signed up for organic certification.  It should mean something.  Just because I didn't MEAN for it to be sprayed doesn't make the fact that it WAS sprayed change.  Things grown in that field simply cannot meet organic certification levels.  Period.
We believe in organic certification.  We abide by the rules because we think they are right.  If we don't report because we fear the loss of certification, we undermine what the whole process stands for.  Then it will mean nothing.
In the end, we are content that loss of certification for three years is correct and as it should be.  This does not imply that we are ok with the event that caused the loss in the first place (of course).

Food Safety
This is one of the things that upsets us the most.  The chemicals sprayed on these crops were not intended for the food crops we were growing - especially not at the time the spraying occurred.  These chemicals were not intended for human consumption.  Some of the numbers that came back from the lab from samples collected 3 days after the event were easily 10 times maximum levels allowed for conventionally grown veg.  Others more, some less.
One chemical is systemic, which means the plant will absorb it and it will continue to be in the plants system for some time after the event.  If none were systemic, it might have been a simple matter of "soaking the area down" and removing all fruit that were on the plants at the time of the spraying.  That would still be a big hit.
We pride ourselves in growing safe, quality food for our use and your use.  This food is not safe.  None of us will eat it.  We will not feed it to our birds.  We will place it in the compost pile that was sprayed and encourage Mother Nature to break it down for us.
So, the reality is this.  All food crops that were scheduled to be harvested from our Southwest field and the high tunnel tested with high levels of these chemicals.  They will all be removed, along with all plant vegetation.  We'll till the fields, put cover crop in some and probably put something new in the high tunnel after we run overhead watering over bare soil for a period of time.

Our understanding at this time is that the FAA grants a great deal of leeway (exemptions) for crop dusters.  About all they can or do enforce is that they should always maintain the ability to crash land safely.  They HAVE however, taken interest in the fact that Rob was physically hit with spray.

It is our belief that the FAA may need to revise these rules for crop dusters since it is becoming apparent that they cannot handle these exemptions responsibly or safely.

Lab Report Results
We were able to talk with someone at the lab to help us interpret the results.  The lab (without prompting) indicated that we must have been hit directly to have levels as high as the readings given.  Remember - these were samples that were taken three days later.  They agreed that we should give up the crops that were existing at the time of the spraying.  They also agreed that we could consider Fall and Winter crops in the high tunnel with no concerns about the food's safety. 

What are we doing with respect to our claim?
We will give much less detail here until we know better what our strategy will be from our legal representative.  Suffice it to say, we have identified the lawyer we feel comfortable with.  The first step is likely a 'pre-demand' letter to let the parties involved know that we incurred a loss and that we intend to file a claim for damages.

What are we doing with respect to social and policy change?
We are trying to formulate some coherent idea as to what we think could or should be changed so that what happened to us (and to others who have told us their stories) doesn't happen again.

this is where you can help.

First step - help us by discussing policy changes that are
  1.effective changes to reach our goal
  2. passable in a state where it is unlikely that the use of chemicals for commodity crops will be banned.  We understand the feeling of wanting to just get rid of them, but we have to admit that an all or nothing approach will likely result in nothing - which is not acceptable.
  3. reasonably encapsulated for clarity and understanding so that public support can be won.

Starting points:
  Here are our starting points
1. Fields that are to be sprayed that abut a property where someone other than the farmer responsible for the spraying lives will require a spraying setback.  That setback will be larger for aerial spraying.
2. The owner of any registered adjacent property with a listing of any sort in the sensitive crops directory must be contacted 24 hours prior to the spraying event, whether it is ground or aerial.  A list of the chemicals to be applied and their rates and application method must be given.
3. The sensitive crops directory should be expanded to include food crop designations, spray free pasture designations, designations for pastured poultry or other livestock and perhaps other agricultural endeavors that I am not currently thinking of.
4. All aerial sprayers must be equipped with a GPS system that records exactly where chemicals were dropped.  These records should probably be filed either with the Pesticide Bureau or some other public body and made accessible to interested persons (usually bordering property owners).
5. The owner of the property to be sprayed or their representative should be on site at the time of the application of the chemicals.
6. Those responsible for the application of the chemicals must be aware of all use label precautions and be held responsible for any application that fails to follow the use label recommendations.

This is a starting point.  We are working on more detail, but invite discussion here.

August in Pictures

It may only be half way through the month.  But, we had a batch of pictures we wanted to share.

We're a bit shocked by how green things are now that we had a bit of rain and some cooler temps.  The picture above shows how dry it was in early August.  It also shows how we are trying to get the birds off of the NW pasture that was sprayed.

the Poultry Pavilion needed some weeding and TLC.  Thanks to the Figura clan for help!
Even the bees wanted us to remove a few weeds.  Rob did that to be safe.

And, then Dad Faux came and helped open a hole in the South side of the building.  We're going to try to have the chickens go out this way for a while to get them off the North pasture entirely.

Wow, the field to the East of the high tunnel was parched.  We've now mowed down the cover crop, tilled it in, chisel plowed the area.  Looks very different - we'll try to get a picture of that in the 2nd half of August picture fest.

Ok - the spraying issue is still a daily part of our lives.  Here is the inside of the high tunnel.  At left, peppers.  At right, green beans.  Tests came back pesticide and fungicide positive.  All of these will be pulled out after we harvest, weigh and count.
Gorgeous Tolli Sweet peppers.  Rob was so proud that he identified this sweet pepper for the high tunnel this year.  And they did him proud.  Disappointed we can not eat any of them due to the spraying. 

The Southwest pepper and eggplant field looked very good.
And we were getting some nice production.  Above is Casper, a white eggplant.  Again, none of this production will do us any good this year.  All of it tested positive for pesticide and fungicide.
The year of the green bean!  These are from the Southwest field, so they also were sprayed.  However, our beans in the East are fine and doing well.  As of August 15, we had picked 630 pounds of green beans.  Pretty happy with that.

A cart full of forbidden fruit.  Nearly 200 eggplant destined for the compost.  If you don't fully understand this, let us clarify.  The chemicals used that were wrongly sprayed on our farm were NOT intended for food crops.  It is not as if most healthy people would keel over and die immediately if they consumed these.  However, some with particular illnesses, young children, etc could get sick.  And, sufficient amounts of intake could cause illness.  We are not going to let anyone eat any of this as long as there is risk.

Ah...  curious turkeys.  They can be fun to watch.

Itsy the spider.  We removed her from a picking container and hope she, and her egg sack, found a safer home.  We've worked hard to encourage a diverse population of insects and spiders on our farm.
Didn't we weed this field before?  How is this possible?  It gets more interesting when wind rolls cauliflower and broccoli plants into the rows.
Broccoli - gotta like it.  Been a decent year for them. 
Durnik the tractor at work.  Of course, he ran out of gas (literally) at a point nearly as far from our buildings as it could get.  I keep telling myself to just put more in the tank every time I go out.  But, do I listen?
Stars of the garden - Italian Heirloom tomatoes.  Averaging about 3/4 pound each.  Meaty and delicious.
We've had some odd growing years, but some of the things happening in the tomato field this year have me baffled.  Two varieties in these rows.  Rutgers on the left and Druzba on the right.  Druzba is typically more compact, but not this much more compact.  Druzba has never had cracked fruit for us, until this year.  I've checked the irrigation line, it's ok.  Both mulched.  Both irrigated, weeded and otherwise cared for in much the same way.  Hm.
Something to expect in excessive weather patterns - blossom end rot.  Sad.
This one is the way it should be.  Orangeglo watermelon. 
A little bit more use of the paper mulch.  this time for kale and chard.  We've been pleased with the use in the watermelons and melons so far.  But, the experiment is not over.   The end game may cancel out any early success.  So, we continue to observe and learn.
This is what excessive heat can do to lettuce.  this is called 'bolting' or 'towering.'  Typically if lettuce does this, it is trying to flower and set seed.  Taste tends to get strong or bitter.  This plant never did put on the size we needed or wanted prior to harvest.  It was a gamble. They were in trays, they needed planting.  They bolted.  It happens.  Above is Rouge d'Hiver
And, Grandpa Admires is quite heat tolerant.  But, it was excessive heat.
On the other hand, Pablo is doing fine.  It is a longer season lettuce (70 day), which may be part of the equation. 
Sunflowers in the West, lettuce just East in an effort to provide afternoon shade.  Working for the Crispmint, Pablo and Bronze Arrowhead.  The down side is what happens in a strong wind, you may have to cut out some downed sunflowers.  The other thing to look for is the need to irrigate a bit more, sunflowers can be very overbearing when it comes to water.
When an intercropping plan comes together.  Zinnias in the pumpkins.  Pumpkins in between two successions of sweet corn.  Sunflowers bracketing the whole field.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Lab Report Results

We just received the lab reports taken and sent to Columbia Food Laboratories, Inc.

In the interest of full disclosure to our CSA members and others who have an interest of the farm - here are the details.

Spray time and date: July 27, 6:50 PM
Applied by air to soybean field located N and W of farm.
Winds out of the NNW
Products applied were Lorsban, 4E, Stratego YLD and Sniper
Chemicals are: Trifloxystrobin, Chlorpyrifos, Bifenthrin and Prothioconazole
Samples were taken on Monday, late afternoon - July 30, after the Pesticide Bureau investigator also took samples.  Sent soon after by overnight courier to the lab.  Received on Aug 2.

Five samples were sent.
   SW Field West End
   SW Field East End
   High Tunnel next to the building
   High Tunnel inside the building
   Northwest poultry pasture

All tests came back with measurable levels of each chemical with most being well above acceptable food use maximums.
The area around and inside the high tunnel was, as expected, lowest.
The west end of the SW field and the poultry pasture were worst, but there is not sufficient lessening by the East end of the SW field to make much difference.  We will consult with our legal representative regarding how much information should be shared, but doubt that it is inappropriate to share this information with our CSA farm share members, our customers and those who support the farm.

We will continue to research what these numbers mean on other levels.  But, we can safely say that we will not provide you with any of the produce from any of these locations.  The only way we could do that would be to submit a similar battery of tests over and over until they come back clean.

Simply put, it isn't worth the cost.  These tests alone cost $1700 to do.  The wait is long enough, and the crops won't wait long make a difference.

What does this mean for you:
   1. As we guessed earlier.  All peppers, eggplant, dry beans, green beans, hot peppers from the SW field will be destroyed.  We are sorry, they are not safe to give to you.
   2. We hoped this would not be true.  But, all peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, green beans, eggplant, paprika peppers and hot peppers in the high tunnel will also be destroyed.  We simply cannot guarantee their safety either.
   3. Now that we have numbers, we hope we can get answers about how long it will take our laying flock to flush these toxins from their systems.   We are hoping four weeks will be sufficient, but are reluctant to make any promises.
   4. We are also hoping to get straight answers regarding the turkeys.  We are optimistic that they can flush their systems prior to processing.

Thank you for your support.

Rob & Tammy

Friday, August 10, 2012

July in Pictures

We usually intend to do more with pictures this time of year.  But, as you can guess, we don't always find the time to get the camera out.  And, in fact, we often have a hard time believing time has gone so quickly.  Add to this the fact that we have slow internet - so uploading opportunities are limited.

But, the farmers are taking a day to do some computer work where the internet surpasses the speed of dial-up!  The result - you get to see some pictures.

The Garlic Harvest

It was nothing like it has been other years, but not as bad as we feared.  Here's some of the garlic on the way in from the field July 2.  Note the very dry looking stems and the dry looking fields behind.  Typically, we don't pull our garlic in until July 20.

I Want My Kohlrabi

Another picture from early July.  This gives you an idea as to what happens when we pull in kohlrabi (for example) for a CSA harvest.  The cleaning/hydrocooling area was already full, so these had to wait a few minutes before we could work with them.

Kolibri is a hybrid purple kohlrabi and Winner is a white hybrid.  We find kolibri to be a bit quicker to be ready and also quicker to get pithy - especially in hot weather.  When peeled, both have a similar white color (the purple is only on the skin).  We also grow Early Vienna (an open pollinated white), Gigante (open pollinated, large white) and Superschmeltz (medium to large white).

The Olympics Should Have THIS Sort of Fencing
This picture is both ironic and an illustration of what happens when you have good friends.  Our 'Gang of Four' farm alliance group is again visiting each other's farms and doing a project.  the project on our farm was to start putting up a permanent pasture fence in the NorthWest and to try to finish the new hen room in the Poultry Pavilion.  The irony?  We're now frantically trying to get birds off of this pasture (see last photo).

Cough Cough.....Water!
We've spent many hours trying to get water to crops and to set up irrigation lines.  Below shows a picture of the pumpkins at about 11 am on July 22.  They're letting us know that they aren't liking things so much in this illustration.
We tried to keep the lettuce going.  But, hot dry weather makes it very difficult to get the transplants (or seeds) going without a high loss percentage.  This batch was planted just east of the sunflowers, which helped reduce the number of hours of hot sun.
On the other hand, the melons and watermelons are liking this weather (as long as we give them a drink now and again).

A bit of an idea as to how far irrigation spreads from a drip line.  Placing these lines well is one key to avoiding wasting alot of the water.

Crop Walk
Tomatoes all mulched and mostly caged/trellised by the end of July.  As always, some doing better than others and some trellised better than others.
The summer squash and zucchini have struggled in this weather and the root crops we threw in next to them really didn't germinate.  As a result, weeds got a foothold, requiring a significant weeding push.  Below is an illustration as to the piles of weeds we can manage to create.

Potatoes and beans.  Pretty clean in this picture.  Funny how it never seems to stay that way!

Butterbeans in the middle, surrounded by pea rows, then cucumber rows.  Picture is from July 22 - it looks NOTHING like this now.  It needs weeding...again.  And the cuke vines have started to really crawl.
Crops that tend to like warmer weather (in general) though too much heat at night can prevent fruit set are eggplant and peppers.  Looking very good on July 22.
More on Weather
This picture is east of the house (by our east fields) looking towards where the ducks have been kept for part of the season.  The boxy structure under the telephone pole took an unscheduled flight toward the fence corner at right in the picture.  Happily, it has undergone extensive repair and is back in use.
Normally we have some nice looking clover in the yard, the pastures and ditches.  This clover does not look so happy.

When we finally did get a little rain, it came with wind.  The sweet corn we had thoughts of harvesting decided to take a nap.  It has since twisted itself up vertical again.  Just a little harder to harvest - if the kernal formed for us...

How NOT to close a month out.

And, as you all likely know by now.  We were hit by an aerial sprayer on July 27.  It's hard to believe that it has been 2 weeks already.  The amount of energy we have expended on this situation has been significant.  Whether all of the energy used was productive or not is far from the point. 

The irony of the fencing is the fact that we spent time working on finally putting in a permanent fence and finishing a room to use the northwest pasture more efficiently.  The plane you see above is spraying that pasture.  As a result, we can't leave the birds there.  The other irony, if you see it, is the picture just 5 days prior to the spraying event showing our peppers, eggplant and beans.  I had intended to put a blog post out showing this field and using it to illustrate how we were working to keep thing producing in a drought.

Future Goal
We'd like to run out and get another series of pictures for August before it is September!  But, failing that....

Consider coming to Summer Fest this year on August 26!  More details in upcoming posts.