Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Point of View

It feels to me as if we - and this is the everybody 'we' - are getting worse and worse at looking at things from differing points of view.  Our tunnel vision is getting thicker walls with fewer outlets.  Our blindspots are becoming invisible to us as we allow our brains to ignore their existence.  We are either too lazy or too battered to address the issue, so our inability to really see, hear and feel atrophies further until one day someone breaks into our little haven of certainty and all we can do is strike out violently because we have backed ourselves into a corner and everything that isn't ours must certainly be an attack.

One thing I need to do more often is to look at things in different ways.  So, I put together an exercise for myself on the farm.  Why?  Because I believe that if I practice changing my point of view with little things, I will have an easier time exercising it on bigger things.
Picture 1
I walk by this area on the farm every single day, but I don't usually see it.  I see Valhalla (the high tunnel) in the background.  Or, the field that is in front of Valhalla.  Or, when there are chickens there, I see the pasture just behind it.  But, I rarely give the walnut tree, the old fence, the old truck topper or the wood pile much of a glance.  I do know they are there. I just don't give it much attention or thought.

Our turkeys, on the other hand, saw this area very differently than I do.  They made a mass break-out from their pasture a week or so ago.  We found a fraction of them just outside the fence and as close to the door to their room as they could get.  But, we could not find the rest.  We hunted around the pasture, we checked the nearby hen pasture and we were looking any number of places.  We could not find them.

It turns out we walked past them more than once.  They found this area (and the pieces of cement to the left) and decided that it was worthy of a great deal of attention.  They had decided to roost there for the night.  Since it was dark, we might be forgiven for not seeing them right away.  But, the truth is, we weren't even thinking about looking there.  Happily, Tammy's brain must have taken note of something different and she decided to look more carefully after getting that little nudge.  What happens if she is never willing to consider a different perspective?

Now that we found them there, we see a good deal to recommend this area to the turkeys.  It has some nice perching areas for roosting.  It has a little shelter, some taller grasses to forage in AND it was near the flock of henlets.  In their turkey brains, this was a good place to be if you are unable to find your way back to your room.
Picture 2
After all, the view from the selected area still shows their red building.  Yes, the one they were SUPPOSED to be in that evening.  It also shows the hen pasture, with which they had some familiarity.  The only difference was that they are now on the opposite side of the hen pasture from where they were supposed to be.

I guess this brought about two thoughts:
1. Looking at things from a different point of view can be exciting and frightening, so it often helps to have some grounding to survive the experience.
2. Are humans no better than our turkeys that never leave their fenced in pasture?  Seeing everything from only that perspective and no other?
Picture 3
This is the path that we often walk to get to the broiler chickens and their pasture area.  It is situated just to the right of the first picture.  Proof positive that we really do walk past that area regularly.

Is it possible that there are many people with whom we have strong disagreement who are really only a step to one side or the other of where we are looking?  Are we really so blind as to be unable to turn our head ever so slightly to see what others are seeing so we can find ways to work together?  It certainly seems as if we are.

Picture 4
Here's where it gets even more fun. I took THIS picture from the same spot as the others.  Perhaps I moved 5 or 6 feet one way or the other to frame the picture a little.  But, that's really not much at all.  We herded the wayward birds between these fences and toward the North so we could go around the hen pasture and in to the turkey pasture.  This may well have been the turkeys' original route from their pasture.

When you look at this picture it almost seems like you are in a different world.  Yet, you can see it from pretty much the same place.  Have you ever wondered why someone you grew up with - perhaps a family member or childhood friend - doesn't see what you see?

Picture 5
I took a quick walk North of the temporary henlet pasture with its electric fence.  I turned around and took a picture, looking back at some of the same area that was shown in pictures 2 and 4.  Pictures 1 and 3 are to the left.  From picture 2, there was no way you could have known that the red building (we call it the Poultry Pavilion) was nearly so long.  For all you can see in the earlier picture, it could have been quite short.  And, you couldn't necessarily tell from picture 4 that there were henlets and a portable building inside of that fence.  Perhaps you could infer something must be in there because there was a fence.  But, it could have been a narwhal as far as you were concerned.

What is it you are missing and can you possibly predict what it could be? 
Picture 6
I then turned in place and took this picture.  It shows the multiple peaks of Mount Evermess, one of our compost piles.  It also shows a pear tree and a couple of spruces (and some corn in the background).  If I didn't tell you that this was taken from the same spot as the previous picture, would you have put them together?

And now I present the ultimate absurdity.  What if you and I stood next to each other and you looked at the building and henlets (#5) and I looked at the compost piles, trees and corn (#6).  I proclaim that composting is the answer and you counter with raising chickens as the answer.  Then, we start calling each other names.  You are an idiot and a $%*#@$% because you can't see the wonderful compost right here.  I am an imbecile and a #@$%*#$% because I can't see all of the chicken manure we can use.  Neither of us turns to look.  We just get more and more rude.  More and more angry.  And we build the walls thicker in our vision limiting tunnels.  Knowledge of our blindspots fade from our awareness.  And we get nowhere together.  Fast.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Eden in 2017

We try to take pictures of most, if not all, of our plots/fields (whatever you want to call them) at least once a month for our own records.  Sometimes, we share them as part of blog posts throughout the season.  Or, if the picture is particularly nice, it might show up in a presentation.  Every year, I tell myself that I'll make a post or two that shows everyone the progression of a particular field or crop through the season.  This assumes two things.  First, I make the time to do the post.  Second, that I actually have a decent set of pictures to begin with.  For some reason, there is always a month where I just don't get a picture of one field or another.

This year, it looks like we have enough to do a time lapse on Eden, the smaller and older high tunnel building on our farm.  We put Eden up in 2010 and put new plastic on it in 2016.  It's been the subject of several blog posts in the past, in case you were wondering. 
Blank slate in April
Often, we will over-Winter crops in the high tunnel.  Things like spinach, lettuce and kale.  Sometimes it works out well.  Sometimes it does not.  With the addition of Valhalla (our newer high tunnel), we were able to schedule the overwintered crops in that building so we could start Summer crops sooner in Eden this year.

Plants are in and already in need of a May weeding.
Of course, the best laid plans often go awry when Mother Nature is involved.  We had an early Spring with far less sun than usual (despite how nice the pictures above look).  So, things didn't bust out of the gate as we expected them to.  Even so, we got the tomatoes and peppers in much earlier than we have in prior years.  We're won't be entirely sure if we benefited from that or not until we do our analysis for the year.  My gut tells me that it was a bit of a wash this time around.  Call it a proof of concept year?
June saw some rapid growth.  Nice lettuce next to the tomatoes!
As you may already know, we do not like to plant any of our fields in just one crop.  We believe diversity is the best kind of insurance and the best way to inexpensively control pests and diseases.  The picture above shows tomatoes on the left with lettuce next to it.  The bigger leafed plants in the middle right are golden beets and carrots are next door to those.  Not pictured above are melons, beans, peppers, herbs and cherry tomatoes... oh, and a little swiss chard as an experiment.

Looking very good in early July!
The picture above is how we ideally see our high tunnels in our minds eye.  The weeds are under control.  The plants are a beautiful shade of green and it is obvious that they are all healthy at this point.  Well, the lettuce that remains is bolting - but that's to be expected.  We had harvested all but a few plants which went to the turkeys soon after this picture was taken.

There are a few issues.  The beans are trying to take over the peppers because they are SOOOO happy.  The tomatoes have reached the top of their trellising, so we were going to need to add more height to it soon.  And, the melons didn't have a particularly good year in Eden this year.  We tried to start them too early.  We'll know better for next year - we just shouldn't push them too hard early.
Early August - what happened?
Heavy rains in late July, combined with the harvest of the beets left us with a high tunnel that was decidedly less happy than it had been.  The beans are gone, boiled away by excessive water and heat well before we got our normal production out of them.  The carrots were harvested as well, but fully half of them rotted away at the water table line.  The good news?  We had already harvested the first flush (and then some) from the beans, we weren't shut out on the carrots and the rest of the crops were fine after things dried out some.

At this point, I stopped taking pictures every month.  The tomatoes on the right (cherry tomatoes) are now touching the top of the high tunnel and the tomatoes on the left of the picture are a good three foot (or more) taller.  It is late October, so they are showing signs of finishing, despite a very large number of fruit still on the vines.  The peppers have held their own this year, which is good considering the poor performance of the field peppers.  The golden beets were tasty and of good size.  The melons were a bit sparse, but well received.  Happily the melons in Valhalla picked up the slack this year. 

Very soon, we will move Eden to its other position so it can cover some lettuce, chard, kale, pok choi, spinach, tatsoi, komatsuna and other goodies for Winter or early Spring harvest.  The tomatoes that look like they will still ripen will get harvested and brought in and the vines will be taken down.  We'll clean off the peppers and harvest the chard.  We've had better years in Eden than this, but it surely hasn't been a horrible season by any measure with nearly 1300 pounds of produce in this 30 foot by 72 foot building.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Covering Ground

Every year we do our best to make the current growing season our best growing season in as many senses of the word that we possibly can.  And, every year, as the season progresses, we succumb to the temptation of criticizing ourselves for our recurring failure to succeed.  Since this is our fourteenth year of growing on this land, I am tempted to say that we are being completely unrealistic.  But, I don't think the goal is unrealistic.  What is unrealistic is our interpretation of how well we have done each season to attempt to reach that goal.

The farm is full of complexities and there really is no way for us to do everything we intend to do with perfection.  Part of the challenge is figuring out what 'good enough' is and how to live with that.  Case in point - our struggle every season to incorporate cover crops into our production fields.

For those who do not know, a cover crop is essentially a planted crop that is not intended to be harvested.  Instead, it is meant to be turned back into the ground.  Examples of cover crops we grow on our farm include clovers, buckwheat, millet, sunn hemp, tillage radish and annual ryegrass.

Let's go see what we managed to accomplish in 2017 for cover crops.

Let's go out towards the field just South of Valhalla.
Our plan developed this Winter called for the removal of two fields in our rotation from cash crop production.  The intent was to put the cover crops in and let them mature through the summer.  Some of the crops would be mowed before they went to seed and others might have had poultry on them, depending on the stand and timing of those flocks.
And here's where we are right now with those fields
Our plan was to run sections of different cover crops.  We wanted buckwheat in some of the areas where we have noticed more Canadian Thistle.  It seems to us that buckwheat is a good smother crop.  A smother crop does exactly what it sounds like it does.  It germinates and grows so quickly that any other plants just have trouble competing.  While buckwheat will not remove the thistle, it sure does set it back.

What's with the bare area in the middle?
Of course, the best laid plans were not followed.  We just didn't have enough time in our days to get the cover crops in as early as we wanted.  As a result, we planted some larger seed cover crops during a very dry time of year.  Of course they (and the clover) decided not to germinate well.  So, the center area has more button weed than cover crop.  Guess we'll have to get in there and cut them down before they go to seed.  But, hey!  Even button weed residue is going to help create organic matter in the soil.

The left side of the picture shows millet and sunn hemp.  The millet is doing extremely well this year and we intend on leaving it and letting the cold weather kill it.  This crop will keep the soil covered to prevent erosion and the dense foliage will add nutrients for next year's veggies.  The sunn hemp, on the other hand, got a slow start and hasn't gotten as big as it was intended to get.  In a decent year, it easily gets taller than the farmers.  This year, we'll settle on half its normal height.

The picture does not show the tillage radish back towards the bush line.  These are daikon-like radish that grow strong tap roots that break up the soil.  We felt that some of the area in the East of this field area was compacted, so we put this cover crop, along with clover, in that area.

The clover is just getting started after all of the rain we have gotten. Better late than never, but it did nothing to keep the weeds from taking off as well.  We may have to mow this area to keep the weeds from going to seed, but the clover is short enough, we should be able to get away with it.  Clover and vetch are great cover crops to add nitrogen to the soil.  We felt that some of the middle areas in these fields could use a nitrogen boost, which is why we made the choice we did.

Guess I have to mow the buckwheat!
Buckwheat is a short season crop that flowers well and then sets seed.  Typically, we want to kill the buckwheat before it forms seed.  The dry weather resulted in smaller plants that went to flower quicker than usual.  We WERE counting on a frost kill.  But, it is October 11 and... no frost!  So, we need to mow it down.  By cutting it and letting it lie, the residue will break down naturally on the soil.

We have had people ask us if we were going to let our chickens graze the buckwheat.  However, everything we have read suggests that will not be a good idea.  It's one thing for a chicken to find a buckwheat plant here and there.  But, if they eat too much of it, we will not like the results.

Of course, we had plans for cover crops in other parts of our farm as well.  But, such things do not always happen as planned.  For example, we intended to cover crop the field West of Valhalla.  Instead, we still have kale growing there.  And, we have some fallow soil as well.  What happened to our plan for this?  The answer my friend is blowing in the wind.

No, seriously.  It was the wind.  Some of our early storms packed a solid punch.  As a result, some tasks on the farm got pushed out of their slot because we had to address some situations brought about by storms.  Cover crops in this field just got bumped.  It happens.  And, the kale has just continued to do well, so there is no reason to take them out just yet.  We could have cover cropped around them - we just didn't.  Such is life.

The good news about this?  Well, we've identified the labor bottleneck that prevented us from executing some of these plans in a timely fashion.  Now we can explore ways to address the problem.  I consider that part of this season's success.

And, of course, we'll do better next year.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Celebrating 1000 Posts

While you may not have been counting, it just so happens that the Blogger software does.  This is the 1000th post on the Genuinely Faux Blog - the "official" blog of the Genuine Faux Farm.  I have heard somewhere that a 1000th blog post deserves some sort of celebration.  So, we thought we'd celebrate by highlighting GFF bloggishness (yes, I did just make that word up - isn't that great?) by just sharing all sorts of things blog.

Hey, it doesn't have to make any sense - it's the farm!  We would now like to introduce our host and Spokescat, the Sandman!
"I would like to state, for the record, that I am celebrating this 1000 thing under protest.  I, the Sandman, have spoken"
Um.  Thank you Sandman.  In case some of you have missed it, the Sandman has spoken before on our blog.  He would probably appreciate it if you checked it out.  Or, perhaps, he won't really care.  We can't always be sure.  But, he does like a good skritching.

We were curious what posts landed on other "milestone numbers" and here is what we found:
 Interestingly enough, these four posts don't do a half-bad job of representing some of the things that matter to us.  Clearly, a sense of humor - such as it is - is required here.  Add in a decent dose of introspection and some honest to goodness farm reporting and you've got the blog.

Well, that and - there have been quite a few cool pictures in the blog. 
Like the 2016 Photo of the Year
 It seems like the high tunnels get a fair amount of 'press' on our farm.  But, when you think about it, they have been a pretty big deal since the first build in 2010 and have perhaps made the most difference between a farm failure and a farm success.

And, there is all sorts of silliness in this blog if you are looking for it.  We actually pick some of them out every year in our Best Medicine posts.  For example:

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.

From Slivers and Onions - May 3, 2012 you think there is a market in "pre-tested" zucchini?  The hardest part would be trying to figure out how to attractively package this product.

What?  I was thinking about zucchini with a bite taken out of each one.  What were you thinking?!? 
From Counting Pre Tested Zucchini from August 5, 2013

Our blog has chronicled a wide number of topics, including our involvement in the Gang of Five (it was Four) farms.  We get together with our farm friends each month during the growing season to do work on one of the farms and then share a meal. 
And the group believes in getting kids started using real tools early in life.
We have identified posts that we feel are some of our best work and we will share links throughout this blog post.  If you want to get a flavor for what we think is some good reading, check these out:
Best Post: A Choice of Litany
Best Pun Post: Minding Your Peas (and cukes)
Best Story Post or Series: The Oh Well Saga, post III (has links to I and II)
Best Post about the Environment: Eyes Wide Shut

We'll be sure to share more "best" posts as you scroll down.  But, things have gotten too serious here and we need to share some more "lines of merit" for your amusement.

*cue Indiana Jones music*

Wait a minute.  Why does this music have castanets in it?  I don't remember those.  Oh.. that was your teeth chattering?  Umm never mind the music then.

 From Adventures in the Negative - January 27, 2014

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."

From Poo d'Etat - April 25, 2012

It might be tempting to think that all we do on the farm is think up puns and things to write about.  But, much of this is driven by the fact that Rob does spend a good deal of time working on the farm.  Some of the tasks he has to do are repetitive in nature, which leaves his mind free to roam.
So, blame the farm the next time he puts out a pun that makes you groan!
Now, that's a word I think has alot going for it - "obliquely."  But, I probably shouldn't talk about it directly - it might be offended.
From November - A Quality Month : November 18, 2015

I keep telling myself - "Self, get the digital camera out.  People want to see pictures."  Unfortunately, my self replies with, "YOU go get the camera, I'm busy."   I'm not sure if this is a good sign when one's own self is indignant with a request...  I'll have a word with him later.

From Mad Dash - May 20, 2011

There are a couple of annual posts that seem to get a fair amount of attention each year.   Our yearly April Fool's post and our Thanksgiving post probably get more reaction than anything else we put out there.  We took a moment and selected the two examples of these posts that we thought were the best on our blog:

Best April Fool's Post: 2017 April Fool
Best Thanksgiving Post: 2015 Thanksgiving

We have been able to share the things that happen on the farm with the hopes that it will help others to make more of a connection to their food and to the land.  We see this blog as an educational tool, as a promotional tool and as a personal recollection that we share with those who care to see it.

All that, and we like neat pictures of garlic.
And, there has to be an outlet for some of this.. erm... stuff:
We have noticed that one of the few plants that suppress Canadian Thistle is Crab Grass.....  As Anden said so well, "The enemy of our enemy is.....uh... still our enemy."

From All We Are Saying - June 29, 2011

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

From  The Safety Plantz  - May 8, 2010

And, we had a few more categories that we thought would be fun to share as "Best of" posts:

Best Post Featuring a GFF Critter: Mr Wren's Day
Best Post for other Farmers to Relate to: The Season for Farmer Delusional Syndrome

Best Philatelic Post: Misunderstandings and Irony
The "We can even make numbers (somewhat) enjoyable" Post: Things (Farm) Records are Made Of

Squish - ya, that's a squash. There is a summer squish, pumpkin squish, butternut squish and rotten squish that goes 'squish' when it's squashed.
2009 Mutual fascination between kids and turklets
Our blog is a chance to view the journey that is our time making the Genuine Faux Farm work.  There are difficult times, mistakes, successes and big projects.   In all cases, we remember to not take ourselves too seriously and above all that we must see the positive side and use humor to help us get past things that threaten to drag us down.

If the number of items with high VAPCONs is ridiculous and your VAPWWYTRat is high enough to warrant a farm-wide Red Flag Warning, then you are probably not actually dealing with VAPs.  Instead, you have succumbed to the temptation of creating OAPs (Overly Ambitious Plans).  And, we all know what that leads to...

A NAP (No Ambition Plan).

From VAP : July 8, 2016

Because You Need to Laugh Post: Know Your Okra, Know Your Farmer

Thank you for joining us for the first 1000 posts of the Genuinely Faux Blog.  Here's to 1000 more.

2016 Farmer Selfie!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Oh, Give Me A Home

Every day, we do chores to support our chicken and turkey flocks in the morning and we do chores for them every evening.  They need to be let out of buildings.  They need food.  The need water.  They need to be locked back in safely at night.  And, of course, we need to collect and clean eggs.  If something happens during the day that requires attention with respect to any of our flocks (hens, henlets, broilers (aka nuggets or boyus) and turkeys) we give it to them.

Of course, there are things that have to happen on a semi-regular basis as well.  We need to move buildings and fences.  We need to add straw to nest boxes and overnight rooms.  We repair shelters and deal with any bird that is injured or ill.  

In other words, we do spend a fair amount of time dealing with our poultry flocks each year.  This is why it sometimes hard for us to recall exactly how we USED to do things with the birds.  We get so many repetitions with new things in a short period of time that the "new" thing doesn't seem all that new for long. 

 For example, the building above was in poor repair at the end of last season.  Caleb and Rob spent some time on it this Spring (or maybe it was early Summer?) so it could be used by the henlets.  While it wasn't the most difficult job to do in the world, it still took time and effort.

But, I use this as my case in point simply because I couldn't remember for sure WHEN we had refurbished that hoop building.  We've been dealing with it all Summer (and for nearly as long as the young hens (aka henlets) have been alive on the farm).
However, it has been time to integrate the young hens into the regular laying flock and move the 'retirees' out of the main flock.  The problem?  We can't just swap buildings.

Well, ok.  We CAN.  But, it isn't the solution we would prefer.  In fact, we've had a dream of creating a much more portable hen building for a few years now.  So, we decided to take this:
And modify it.

If you'll notice in the picture above, we have used this flair box pretty much "as is" to shelter our retiree hens for the last couple of seasons.  It worked reasonably well... I guess.  But, collecting eggs was pretty difficult since we had to climb INTO the trailer to get them.  And, the roof was a slap together affair that wasn't terribly water tight.

Well, that trailer looks pretty different now:
Bryan has done the lion's share of the work on this, but we've had lots of other participants in the project.  Caleb helped Bryan and I put the roof on.  Darrell, Sue and Tammy got it painted.  Jocelyn, Caleb and Emma helped take the old flair box off the running gear.

It's been a project that's taken some time.  But, once it is done, we think we'll have something that will work well for some time to come.

Ah, chickens!  They've never had it so good!

Monday, October 9, 2017

October Newsletter

October, So Close - So Far Away.

Life on the farm always has its two faces.  One faces the light and the other is always turned away from it.  You may take that any way you want, of course.  But, I have been seeing the pattern from month to month this year as I've worked to create interesting monthly newsletters.  Each month has its positive, hopeful side.  And, of course, each has the reverse of the coin.  September was the month of despair and hope.  October is the month of  (to quote Grover) near and far....

We're so close to being done with the growing season.  Yet, there is so much to do and the end of the growing season is actually far, far away!  Unlike the despair and hope of September, it is not so clear to me that one of the opposites is entirely positive, nor is the other entirely negative.  There are many times where we rail against the marching of the days.  There is so much to do and so much potential still.  We don't want that killing frost and we're not ready for the growing season to end.  Except... we really would be ok if the growing season ended sometime soon.  As long as we get everything done first.

I suppose you could say we're conflicted about October.

Conflicted or not, here we are!  Enjoy our October newsletter.

October Calendar of Events

  • Delivery 21 ***My Garden is Dead Shares Begin***
    October 3: Delivery 21 Waverly
    October 5: Delivery 21 Cedar Falls
    October 10: Delivery 22 Waverly
    October 12: Delivery 22 Cedar Falls
    October 17: Delivery 23 Waverly
    October 19: Delivery 23 Cedar Falls
    Delivery 23 ***Traditional 20 Share ENDS***
    October 26: Turkeys go to "the Park"
    October 27: The Great Turkey Pickup
    October 31: Delivery 24 Waverly
Adding Some Members in the Fall:
If you are a current member with a Traditional 20 farm share, you can extend your season with deliveries 24-28 for only $150!  You will continue to get fresh produce until mid-December.  That includes a delivery of fresh veggies right before Thanksgiving.  Can you imagine being able to provide your extended family with some GFF lettuce as part of the Thanksgiving day meal? 

If you are not a current member, we are still willing to add some folks for the remainder of the season.  Contact us and we can quote a pro-rated price for the remainder of the season.

Poultry Orders - Get Those Turkeys Ordered!
Our broiler chickens usually taste very good and we have a hard time eating chicken sourced from elsewhere. 
This isn't just us trying to build up our own egos - it's just a fact.  We like how our chicken tastes.

BUT, people who have purchased broilers from us in the past are noticing that they taste EVEN BETTER this year.  Perhaps a bit more moist and tender.  It's really hard to quantify.  It's been enough of an improvement that we've now had multiple people ask us what we are doing differently this season.

Well, it's not the weather, we're pretty sure that's not it - though it has been fairly friendly for our birds.  It's not how we treat the birds, though we always try to do better with them every single season.  We don't think there are any huge changes in our treatment that would alter the taste.

But, we have changed to getting feed from the Canfield Family Farm this year.  While they are not certified organic, all of the grains are grown on their farm and the feed is processed on their farm.  They are located in Dunkerton, so they are fairly close to us AND they're just plain good people trying to make a diverse farm work.  We like the fact that there is a bit more variety of grains in this feed and we like that we can trace all of it (except the added trace minerals) to their farm.

While we can't prove that this is making a difference, we suspect it could be a contributing factor.
Here's the good news.  We have many more broiler chickens available for purchase.  And, the turkeys are being fed grains from the same farm.  We know you've enjoyed the turkeys in the past.  In fact, you got to enjoy some at the GFF Summer Festival if you attended.  What would you say if we're thinking this batch might taste even BETTER?

You'd better get on the ball and get one ordered!

Song of the Month
Paper Route is a group that is new to us, even though they have been around for a while.  Balconies is a song that came around for us at a time when we needed to hear it.  Therefore it gets "song of the month" status.

Recipe of the Month
October shares feature potatoes, onions, kale and garlic - a perfect start to some Zuppa Tuscano!

Zuppa Tuscano (Kale and Potato Soup) - GFF version


  • 3 brats, precooked or grilled, cut into cubes
  • 3 potatoes, cut into cubes
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 6 slices bacon (we find that cut up brats could work as well)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2-3 cups kale - washed, dried, and shredded
  • 2 tablespoons chicken bouillon powder
  • 1 quart water
  • 1/2 T salt
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  1. Cook bacon and onions in large fry pan until bacon is crisp and onions are almost clear.  Remove bacon and crumble. Set aside.
  2. Add garlic to the onions and cook an additional 1 minute.
  3. Transfer onions and garlic to large saucepan. Add chicken base or bouillon, water, and potatoes, simmer 15 minutes.
  4. Add crumbled bacon, brats and kale.  Simmer 5 minutes.
  5. Add cream and stir. Turn off heat, let sit 5 minutes and serve.
Yields approx 6 servings.

Field Report
If you have been reading our blog you've probably gotten enough "field report".  But, we'll try to give you some additional information because... well, it's tradition...  We're a farm, we have to give a field report, right?
Our September picture (top) as opposed to August (bottom)
The most difficult thing for Rob to do this time of year is to walk the fields and do an inspection.  Why?  Well, many of the crops look terrible now.  The once healthy summer squash vines are a shadow of their former selves.  The fields that were weeded and so clean have weeds in them again because we've had little time to do anything about them.  Most of the flowers are past their peak and are looking a little tired.  It can be hard to see all of that because after a season of hard work, you'd like to think that things would look great.  But, it's the way of the growing season for things to fade this time of year.

And then, we notice the monarchs on the clover that we mowed in late August.  We were hoping the timing for mowing was right and it appears that it was.  And the bees have been all over the basil.  Yes, the basil is looking a little rough now.  But, there is still plenty of flowers on the plants and the bees are more than happy to visit.  And, the thousand-flower asters are in full bloom  (and the insects like them too!).

We've got three rows out of twelve potato rows dug and in.  As we expected, we're going to get a mixed bag this year.  We have also pulled in most of the pumpkin-type winter squash.  The average size is a little smaller than usual, but not terribly so.  The numbers are about average, so we should be fine.  The butternut squash are scheduled to come in soon, but they're showing that they would like just a little more time on the vine.

The field tomatoes are telling us they are pretty much done, but the field peppers are actually wanting to give us something before it gets too cold.  Better late than never!  Meanwhile, our fall root and greens crops look fine - as long as we can keep the rabbits and deer out them.  Always something to do on the farm.

Picture of the Month
Guess what?  We like our borage flowers!  You could probably have guessed since there are two pictures of borage in this post.  The first is a more typical picture for us.  But, the dew and sunlight was just right, so I took the picture below.  It looks a good deal better if you click and see a larger rendition of this one.
Farm News Shorts
  • The West field for Eden is planted and the time is coming where we move Eden onto that plot and off of the East plot.  We're hesitating some because the tomatoes are doing so well in Eden East.  We may end up doing some covers on the West crops just to give the tomatoes a little more time.
  • We finally made time to clean and paint the shelves in the truck barn.  This may not sound like a big deal to you, but it's often 'little' things like this that become big accomplishments in October because it is something we managed to do that was beyond our normal farm work.  It hasn't hurt that outdoor temps are warmer than normal.

Time to Have Pun
We wanted to let everyone know that our flakiness in our blog is reflected in other ways at our farm as well!  For example, we name our compost piles.  Yes, yes.  We can be a little odd at times.  However, it might help you to understand if we tell you their names.  Mount Evermess and Mount Brushmore.  A few years ago we had a Mount RainHere and then it started raining and didn't stop.  We removed that compost pile.  We are still considering putting a small shed and fence around the asparagus patch.  The shed would have to have an overhang so it could be the Awning of the Cage of Asparagus.  I know, I've done that one before.  But, it would be SOOO good to actually build that thing.

Speaking of building, we're building a portable hen coop and I've considered putting a fireplace in it so we can have a "flue de coop."  But, since that is unlikely, I'll just tell you that we have a portable coop  so we can move them to fresher pasture areas.  In other words, it could be considered a coop de grass.