Friday, April 1, 2016

New Month, New Blog Post

And, the calendar just keeps on turning - even though there are days when you don't want it to.  With the event of a new month, we felt we should do our duty to keep all interested in the Genuine Faux Farm up to date with the doings, events and musings of the farmers!

Hydrating and UV Protection

Well, the days are getting longer and the number of hours we spend out in the sun have increased.  We are sure that most of you have not even started THINKING about sunblock, nor have you gotten too concerned about keeping up with the fluids when you are outside.  But, if you do what we do, you must keep these things in mind.

We like toting around our nifty thermos with either water or iced (decaf) tea for the necessary fluids, but the suntan lotion isn't usually all that convenient to carry around as well.  This can be a problem early in the season because we're a bit out of practice with remembering to apply sunblock.

Happily, we are testing out a new product that can be added to the beverage of our choice.  This product works as a systemic sunblock.  Just add it to the correct ratio of fluids and consume regularly.  Viola!  Sun protection and hydration all at the same time!

We are noticing a few side effects, but we're able to tolerate them thus far.  After all, there is something to be said for being 'regular.'

Early Spring Issues

The garlic suppression campaign.
The early warm weather is something we've talked about in recent blog posts.  But, we don't always spend much blogging time giving specific examples of problems an early Spring can cause for us at the farm.

If you will recall, we had a very early Spring in 2012 that resulted in some difficult losses with our garlic (see #4 on this post).   Garlic was weeks ahead and their early emergence made them fair game for Aster Yellows.

Determined to avoid having the same problem in 2016, we decided to do something about it this year.  Tammy and I went out and pushed all of those anxious little garlic plants BACK into the ground.  We also made certain to give them a verbal admonition to wait "just a little bit longer - for your own good."  Unfortunately, garlic does not have ears, so they must not have heard us and they popped back up the next day.  It is also possible that a few of them will not be garlic plants anymore since they gave us the 'raspberry' when they popped back out of the ground.

Moving Away from Free-Range

If you've paid any attention to our farm, you will know that we are dedicated to practices that work with nature.  We grow certified organic produce and day-range poultry.  However, our days of free-range workers on the farm are coming to an end.

Apparently, the good people that work on our farm are quality individuals who are in high demand in so many other places.  Some of them graduate and then go on to further schooling or to a 'real job,'  leaving us behind with ne'er a backward glance.  Others, for some reason, find themselves taking things called 'internships' in their field of study.  Still others do things like 'get married' or take 'full-time employment' or whatever sad little reasons they come up with.

Well, we've had enough of this.  We are planning on moving to the confinement model for farm workers this year.  As long as we keep them fed and watered, they should be happy.  We may even throw them some excess produce now and again so they can chase it around the pasture like the turkeys do.

We still need to work out how we can keep them under control when we let them out of the pasture to do actual work on the farm.  We have considered the ankle bracelet monitoring systems used for some law enforcement purposes, but that seems cost-prohibitive.  Instead, it seems more likely that we'll just tie a bright red balloon onto a string and tie that string to the worker.  Then, we just need to look for the balloon so we can locate the worker.  I suspect there are some problems with that plan as well, but we have to start somewhere.

These are outside of the building... a stake out?
Responding to De-Flangification

We use electric posts/stakes for a number of things on the farm.  One of their primary purposes is to help hold up the tomato cages.   They work great, for the most part - except for the tendency of the 'flanges' to break off of the bottom of the posts.

Since we cannot help ourselves when it comes to word play on the farm, stakes that have more than a single weld to hold flange onto the stake are both RARE and WELL-DONE.  Seriously.  Yes, that was your attempt at a pun for this post.  If you were hoping for more than that, then you need to go read last year's posts about peas.

Litter Harvest at Record Levels this Winter

Apparently word has gotten out that our farm actually resides on one of the richest deposits of scoopable cat litter in the state.  As a result, the demand has gone through the roof since its discovery last November.

In an effort to keep costs low, we've been re-using old litter buckets to harvest the pure, unrefined scoopable litter from the deposits deep in the earth.

Thus far, we have been only selling the litter 'ore' to larger refining companies, but we are considering working on setting up our own refinery so we can sell local scoopable cat litter direct to the consumer.  The hardest part has been coming up with a name for the new product.  We were sort of thinking about "True Grit" but are a little nervous that there might be some legal fall-out from John Wayne's estate.

Sadly, we had to move to a new vein last week after Sandman, Mrranda and SuperCali (our outdoor cat farm managers) discovered the initial lode. 

Inspiration to Create UnderGround Light Rail Foiled

We're always looking for ways to improve how we do things on the farm.  This past year, we started work on our own mini-subway project in an effort to allow us all-season access to our high tunnel buildings.

Our land does not have much for rocks, which makes it a bit easier for the excavation process.  However, heavy rains illustrated for us that our high water table was going to make it unpleasant to traverse unless we learned to scuba dive in caves.

Instead of a subway type system we are now considering renaming it the 'Grand Canyon' of Iowa and see if we can turn a profit selling post cards that show off this modern marvel.  After all, our confined workers need something to write on so they can send cards home in an effort to arrange a 'farm break out' from our worker confinement system.  The great news about all of this is that we have all of the unrefined cat litter that will clump right up so we can remove the water as a solid rather than a liquid if we feel it is necessary.

We certainly know how to cover our bases at the farm, don't we?


Wow!  Imagine that. 
If you'd like to see prior year installments, here they are!

2015 April Fool Post
2014 April Fool Post
2013 April Fool Post
2012 April Fool Post

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