Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Hard work? Are you crazy?

When did the idea of farming take on such a negative connotation? How do people think their food get's to the grocery store?  Food fairy?  While you are sitting at dinner tonight, please stop for a second and think about how your food came into existence.  

Growing up I wanted to be many things-as children often change their minds with the season.  Not once was I ever met with the kind of disgust for a career choice as when I told people I wanted to farm.  It seems farming has somehow become the career choice to criticize.  It conjures up images of dirt poor, filthy, smelly sub human conditions all orchestrated by some overall wearing, hayseed, podunk hillbilly with two teeth in his head.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I challenge my readers who have these images to meet a few farmers.

When I tell people I want to give up my job as a desk jockey to become a farmer their reaction would make you believe I told them I wanted to go burn down an orphanage..

I see it in their eyes.  The look.. like I have lost my mind.  I'm met with confusion and they are probably wondering why I have decided to throw my life away.  "Why would you want to give up a good job?" I'm asked a lot.  What makes a good job?  The question is rhetorical.  I know what they mean.  "Why would you want to give up a job where physical labor is non existent?".  

How has hard work become something to be avoided like a widespread disease?  There is no more honest way to make a living than working hard.  If you don't work you don't eat.  Pretty simple.  It seems trendy to denounce hard work as something the uneducated and less fortunate have to deal with.  Something like hard work apparently should be avoided and by doing so has almost become some sort of a status symbol to those who can make a living without having to do much of it.  Seems culture has bred a generation a people who want big paychecks and status coming automatically without lifting a finger.  I know people who actually seem to be proud of their ability to survive knowing as little as possible and doing the same..People's value system has been turned upside down in my opinion.

I read a quote the other day "Hard work is for people short on talent".  Really?  Is the author trying to imply that those who avoid hard work have a real talent at it?  I would like to know this purveyor of widsom's definition of "talent".  Where does talent come from?  From the ability to be lazy?  Do those among us who are most lazy posses the most talent?  I recognize natural talent but I see that only carrying someone so far.  The rest of the way would need to be accomplished through hard work.  Every talented individual I know has acquired talents by way of practice and hard work.  I guess it might take some talent to convince your boss that you are actually working instead of playing solitaire or facebooking day after day.   Not exactly the talents I personally value or appreciate. 

I didn't realize knowing how to grow your own food, harvesting food, building soil, raising and caring for livestock, running a business, running machinery, fixing machinery, processing meat, preserving food, haying, conflict resolution, production planning, timber management, raising bees, making maple syrup ect. ect,.- doesn't take talent? 

"Why would you want to do that" is the most common question.  "Give up being warm in the winter and cool in the summer?!".  I'm not "giving up" anything.  I'm gaining.  Gaining a sense of purpose, a sense of security, of community and providing a good product that will feed and nourish people.

Hard work has become something to be avoided.  It carries with it images of dirty, uneducated destitute folks who just "don't know no better".   People who actually enjoy physical labor are looked upon as if they are denying themselves a good life.  It blows my mind, really. I find no greater satisfaction then coming in after a day of good physical labor. 

To those who work for a living:  Hard work is something to enjoy and be proud of.  A valuable trait to pass onto your children.  Hold your head high at the dinner table and NEVER be ashamed of EARNING your supper. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Low Impact

I took the 4 day Low Impact Forestry workshop at MOFGA (Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association).  Forestry?  No I'm not planning on being a wood chopper.  I am interested in managing wood lots and harvesting when needed for firewood or timber to build things.  I think every person interested in sustainable living should possess these skills.  I did learn a lot about forestry during the course and will use that knowledge in the future.

  The workshop consisted of two areas of focus.  One area was low impact forestry equipment and the other focused on using draft animals.  I took the draft animals portion. 

I hope to use draft horses for farming.  It is all part of my low overhead/sustainable business model.  The workshop was a great way for me to get familiar with, learn how to keep and work the animals.  It is hands on from the very beginning.  Although the focus was on forestry I was surprised at how in depth the draft animal portion was. For two straight days those of us using animals did nothing but drive teams through obstacle courses and the MOFGA wood lot.  Very hands on.  For someone like me who had only ever petted a horse and took a few riding lessons, I left after four days confident in being able to care for and drive a team. 

I recommend this course to anyone who is curious about forestry or draft animals.

 This is me twitchin' wood with Barney and Bill.
Barney and Bill.  A pair of beautiful Percheron horses.
Taking the reins to drive the wood scoot.

Monday, October 3, 2011


Well here it is.  An updated list of what I've finished and what I plan on accomplishing this fall/winter in order to get the house up to snuff so we can put it on the market.

Center room renovation: 
wall resurfacing
Paint Walls
Paint trim
sand floors
crown molding
fix ceiling/paint ceiling
Living room renovation:
wall resurfacing
Paint Walls
Paint trim
sand floors
crown molding
run wires for media
fix ceiling/paint ceiling
Front Hall renovation:
wall resurfacing
wall paper
Paint trim
sand floors
install new baseboard
fix ceiling/paint ceiling
renovate the staircase/sand/stain/paint/repair

Paint the outside:
 prep the outside scrape/caulk/fix any old clap boards
replace any old trim
prime the outside
paint the trim
paint the clap boards

Fix the roof:
 strip the shingles
ice and water sheild
drip edge

Install new door on the backside:

Stain front door:

Insulate the attic:

Storm Door on Front

Install new stove:
Remove old wall thimble and exterior piping
Frame in new wall thimble.
Patch interior and exterior walls.
Install new piping and hook up stove

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Waldo County!

I consider myself lucky.  Wasn't always the case.  I remember growing up in Belfast, ME as a young feller with his sights set on living "outta state" like many young people I knew.  I couldn't WAIT to make tracks for a big city.  I had it all planned out.  I was going to college, graduating and heading out.  New York?  California?  Yes please!  Anywhere but here!. Why?  I don't know.  I never knew, I was sure the "real world" was out there and I was going to grab it by the horns.  What changed?  LIFE.  I hit a wall and it slowed me down.  I realized I wasn't chasing some dream, but was actually running away.. I didn't know who I was and figured "out there" must have the answer.  I internalized.  I stopped looking to the horizon and started looking around and realized what I have been looking for all this time-it's all around me.  It's been here the whole time.   I discovered who I was and where I belong..  I'm very fortunate.  People spend their entire lives wondering and chasing and never truly find it.  You know.  That one passion that consumes you?

Well I found it, but more than that through all of this self evaluating I rediscovered a place.  Waldo County, ME.  A place where  people think local.  A place which supports local food, local craftsman, artists and farmers markets.  Open minded, hardworking- self reliant folks who by their nature seek good, clean and honest work.  It's inherent in the community.  If you want a community where locally based, self reliant agriculture is not only encourage but supported  it is Waldo County, Maine, U.S.A.  Absolute!

Take my hometown for instance, Belfast.  Cruise through town and look around.  It's local food, art and goods taking up store fronts.  Take a ride up into freedom or head into Unity, Montville.  Take the back roads through Searsmont, Morrill.  Head up to Brooks, Monroe or Winterport and open your eyes.  You see farm after farm.  Old or new.  You see new ones popping up and old ones hanging on.  If it's not a farm it seems almost everyone has a few chickens or a garden growing something.  Waldo County is deeply rooted in it's agricultural heritage.  I love it.  I love the land and attitude.

I grew up and experienced first hand the rural beauty of Waldo County.  The people, the culture.  It formed who I am today and I carry it with me wherever I go.  I wear it with pride like a New Yorker wears his accent. 

I've put a lot of thought into where I would like to buy land and make this farming dream happen.  Many things I've considered and thought about.  The answer is clear:

I'm going to feed people.  I'm going to farm.  Put my hands in the ground and plug in to the most supportive, locally minded- tight nit- community of people I know. When we sell the house and the last box is packed I will return to the green pastures, wood stands and tilled earth of Waldo County.  

I'm going home. 

On common ground

What a weekend!  Visited the Common Ground Fair Friday and Sunday.  The fair, located in Unity, ME, is a celebration of rural life featuring local agriculture, artistry and craftsmen all on display.   Three days of events and seminars on everything to do with sustainable living.  I had a blast and cannot wait until next year.  MOFGA (Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association) puts on the fair every year and does a spectacular job with it's legions of generous volunteers.  For anyone interested in local sustainable agriculture this is a must attend event.

I spent a great deal of the two days just wondering the fairgrounds taking in all the local music, food, wares and many gardens MOFGA has set up on the grounds. I watched livestock demonstrations and toured the many barns and structures filled with all different types of animals.  One of the main reasons I did attend was for the draft animal seminars.  I am very interested in using draft animals someday on my own farm and found the draft animal basics and low impact logging with draft animals portions of the fair very helpful.  I enjoyed them very much.  I want to expand my knowledge of draft animals so I plan on taking MOFGA'S low impact logging course in November! 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Fall is just about here.  Apples are coming on and I'm seeing local cider pop up everywhere.   Pumpkin stands are showing up on the side of the road.  My favorite time of the year.  Wood stove weather, the harvest, deer season and hard cider.  The last week has given us a taste of the chilly fall weather I absolutely love.  Standing on the deck breathing in the cool, crisp air at night while wearing my flannel and big socks makes me happy.  I love to watch the trees turn, eat frost kissed squash and witness all of that energy put forth in spring to breath life into everything slowly wind down.  Fall is the beautiful, vibrant, colorful transition to still winter slumber, when all of the animals are scurrying to prepare for the white winter wonderland just around the corner.  

The garden has pretty much run it's course.  Over the next couple weeks we'll take out what we can before the frost kills it, move the herbs inside and dry what we can.  I have the hoop house which will provide greens for us well into winter, but for the most part and the garden has done it's job.  I will keep my carrots and potatoes in the ground for awhile and harvest them as I need them over the next couple of months.  They will be accessible as long as I cover them with hay to keep the ground from freezing.  I harvested my last bit of potatoes last year on Thanksgiving day!  It was nice to have fresh potatoes to go with everything.  We had a good year for taters and should be well stocked, if put away, well into next year. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Growing A Farmer

I try to read whenever possible. I actually love to read. Weird, because I hated reading as a kid. I was never really encouraged to do it, I hated school and watched a lot of t.v.. Now that I'm older, I ,like many, wish I would have read more as a kid and watched t.v. less. So now I try and make up for lost time by reading as much as I can before my mind shorts out with old age. 

90% of what I read is farming related...SURPRISE!...I know...during the winter months I do enjoy a break from the norm and usually pick up some fiction novel about turn of the 20th century life at Hudson Bay or maybe the Allagash logging camps in Maine. Last winter it was
Nine Mile Bridge, Three Years in the Maine Woods by Helen Hamlin. I really enjoyed it. Such great escapism stuff.

Anyway, I read a lot and most of what I have learned from farming has come from books.Yes I do learn from the farmer I work for, but there is so much to farming and Joel can't teach me all of it. I only spend a few hours a day with him. The only way to get a full, well rounded education is to seek out information from other farmers. I need to learn how other farmers do things and how they approach a problem differently than Joel. I mean Joel didn't learn how to farm from one guy. Yes, he grew up on a farm, but the majority of his knowledge was gained through books and talking to different people.

Most of what I read is "how to" basics about organic farming. How to build your to grow to raise meat get the idea.  It all kind of follows the same pattern and can-at times-get a little boring. This is why I was so happy to find a book like the one I am almost finished with called:
Growing a Farmer: How I Learned to Live Off the Land written by Kurt Timmermeister.

Although yes, there is a lot of "how to" in these pages it doesn't feel or read like a how to book. Quite refreshing actually.  It's a story about a man and his life going from restauranteur to farmer. Kurt (the author) didn't have any experience farming or know anything about farming when he decided to take the plunge. In fact a lot of what he learned he said was from reading how to do it and just having the courage to try it.  I could relate.  I have learned much from this book, not only in the area of what not to do, but how to approach farming on a small scale. How to roll with the ups and downs of starting your own farm and what to expect as a young farming green horn.  Also, I have gained a little confidence in my ability to actually do it, to make it happen, reading about a man who basically did what I want to do and succeeded at it. 

A great read.  I highly recommend it.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Getting there.

I have been working on the house, whenever possible and unless pictures of scraped paint and caulking fascinate you, thank me for sparing you the boring blog posts about the fix up.  I think we should be ready for paint very soon (within days) and then it's the roof hopefully by the beginning of September. All this progress just get's me thinking about finally moving out of our home to a new home and new venture.  

Because of my work schedule (my real job) I have not been to the farm in a couple of weeks.  I feel hollow.  I do however have plenty of books to keep my mind active.  I have three going at the moment two on organic farming and one chronicling another mans journey into farming.  

Side note:  I had a wonderful thing happen.  After a year and a half of searching I finally found the farm I would like to buy-of course-when the time is right.  It is a spectacular place with correct portions of pasture and woodland.  It reflects perfectly the vision in my head of what a farm should be.  It also takes me full circle in life because I once lived there when I was very young.  More on that later.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Fox on the run!

For the past couple months I have noticed quite a few feather piles around the farm.  It kinda looks like a chicken might of crashed landed. Feathers are strewn about for 5-6 feet...yet no chicken is found.  Joel has been awakened to the sound of something grabbing chickens in the night, and has gotten out of bed many times to try and stop whatever has been grabbing the birds...

In the spirit of good husbandry I feel it is important to not only learn how to raise healthy food animals, but also how to properly protect them.  It is your job to protect your property, your investment as well as control pests not only in the garden, but in the barn as well.  I understand we all have to eat, but we all don't have to eat MY EGG LAYERS!

So it's early...we just unhooked the hay bailer from the big filthy orange machine and I'm holding coffee in one hand and a tool bag in the other walking towards Joel who's sipping coffee in the cockpit of big filthy.  As I round the front of her ready to hop aboard for the ride up to the back garden I look across the farm and spot a fox standing on the roof of Joel's shed feasting his eye's on the flock of egg layers below; kinda like me staring into a meat cooler at the butcher's shop.  He was picking out the "best cut" if you know what I'm saying....Without wondering how a fox got on top of the shed to begin with I quickly dropped the tools and coffee and ran for the rifle...Now, a lot of farmers will tell you to have a heart...I have a rifle...It's much easier to hit a fox at 100 yards with a rifle than a heart...but before the tears start...He vanished like a paycheck on Friday...the game begins.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The New Organic Grower

Pretty psyched!   I received a copy of The New Organic Grower in the mail last night...Another book by Eliot Coleman; who I really enjoy.  He's got a great style and teaches you through text and illustration.  If you remember I read Four Season Harvest by him last winter  I really benefited from that book, but Joel told me I would have benefited even more by reading this book first before I read Four Season Harvest.  It dives deeper into the fundamentals and the other books build upon this one.  I have already started reading it and can tell that Joel is right....again.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

House progress.

Putting all my energy into the house for the rest of the that the gardens are out of the way, pretty much, I have some spare time.  Lately, between work and the farm I have been limited on time, but I have been scraping and caulking and looking to start slapping on some primer...We hope to get it listed by the end of the year.  *fingers crossed*

We have been taking weekend drives through the areas of Monroe, ME and Winterport, ME looking at farms that are on the market. Summer time drives through these two places are therapeutic..if you could only bottle up the smells and sounds you would make millions....These two areas are my favorite places right now.  I also have my eye on maybe something in the Lamoine, ME area.  I have dreamed about a coastal farm for a long time...hmmm..we'll see where the chips land.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

La Roma!

Gorgeous morning!  The birds were out and the temp was down making things less muggy.  The air was crisp and full of summer smells; it was lovely.  I planted La Roma tomatoes all morning.  Joel has a truck load of tomato seedlings to put in consisting of every variety known to man as far as I can tell...PILES of them...all in trays and laid out on the ground; because we are behind they have been in the trays a little longer than normal and are starting to look a little pekid- so the race is on!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Pleasant morning. The bugs weren't too bad.  Spent the morning planting peppers with Joel.  I like working opposite of the farmer planting away because I get to pick his brain for info while we work on down the rows..

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Cut worms..

After a long day of planting you return to the house and have yourself a nice sit down, proud of the hard work you've put in that day.  Pat yourself on the back and have a nice cold drink.  You reminisce about the days events and feel a little relief knowing that you are that much closer to the finish line.  Another step closer to completing your planting duties for the season.  You sleep well, rise early and head up to the garden ready to make further progress.  A little hop accompanies your step as you mentally lay out the days strategy.  Upon reaching the garden you notice something different.  Something seems to be missing.  Where you though you planted seedlings yesterday now only has a few seedlings surrounded by stems..hmmm.  Upon further inspection you in fact find just a stem remaining of what was a beautiful little green seedling as if it had been cut.  You see the wilted tops laying on the ground next to it.  As if someone had come by with scissors and just cut the little guys and left them to die..Again and again you find just another.  What the hell????

Was it aliens?  Sasquatch, perhaps?  The punk kids across the street??

Nooooo, sorry.   I'm afraid you have been hit by cut worms. <---follow link!  Interesting stuff!!

See.. while you slept, an evil force was at work destroying a good portion of your hard work and making what you did yesterday seem like it never happened..  Cut worms are devastating and annoying little bastards that can do some serious damage in a short amount of time.  If I plant 100 cabbage seedling one day I could have to replace 60-70 (I'm being conservative) of them the next day due to cut worms.  I've seen a single worm take out 11 seedlings in a row in just one night.  Imagine what multiple worms could do...

Here's one of the dirty little buggers I found.  Since we use plastic mulch it is pretty easy to spot the empty holes.  When I see that cut worms have been at work I start digging.  I dig down and dig up the cut seedling with my hand and throw the hand full of dirt on the plastic and spread it out.  Cut worms never go far from where they feed.  If there's no worm I move onto the one next to it and so on.  Finally after 5-6-7-8-9 empty holes down the row I usually find the bastard.  Then I squash it and move on.  

here's a beautiful cabbage seedling

Here's a seedling that has been cut.  As you can see just the stem remains.  :(

The cut seedling close up.
Here I threw a handful of dirt onto the plastic and found the worm center right.
Up close

They're pretty nasty little creatures and something you don't want in your garden.  So?  What do you do about them?  I hear certain cover crops grown in the fall will prevent them from seeking out your spread.  I haven't tested this personally so I don't know for sure, but there are plenty of remedies natural and non natural and I'll leave it up to you to decide which one is best (follow the link above for more info).  There are natural pesticides and physical barriers etc.  I use a jar and a flashlight some folks use nuclear grade pesticides, but I wouldn't want to eat their cabbage ;)  Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

a little advice...

For those of you like me who are thinking of becoming a farmer KNOW THIS!:  When you tell someone you want to be a farmer you need to be prepared for TWO kinds of reactions.  The first one is the preferred one, where someone smiles and wishes you luck.  The second one is less preferred but more common, where the person questions your sanity tells you that you are "LOSING IT!" and they wear a look that makes you wonder if you smell like rotten seafood...

plastic mulch

The plastic mulch is going down pretty well.  After the slow wet spring we've had I never thought we'd get to this point.  This is the first year Joel has done plastic and so using the machine has been a learning experience.  Once we get the machine tuned in and running well, it pretty much lays itself. 

 above is the first five rows of plastic mulch laid.  By this time all the kinks had been worked out so the rest of the field went  relatively smooth.

Here is a pic of the entire field covered.  Notice both black and white plastic.  The color of the plastic is determined by what is going to be planted there.  LOOK!: the lower right hand corner shows cabbage already planted in the row! Now that one field is ready for veggies, going forward I will be a planting fool for the next few weeks. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I'm getting there.

I have made some really big strides this year in my home garden.  Compared to my first garden, 5 years ago, the garden has gone from two small struggling plots to a year round provider.  I have noticed healthier,faster growing, better tasting vegetables as I progress.  I remember growing lettuce and not being able to eat it because it was too bitter.  I approached the farmer and he told me that my soil was the cause.  So I worked it, added nutrients, compost and mulch.  Now my lettuce is so good the farmer wants it!  

Each year (despite protest from my wife who likes green grass) the garden gets a little bigger.  This year I have dedicated all of the available garden space to the things we eat the most.  The knowledge I have picked up farming and reading has given me better results.  Better results equals more fun!  

Joel tells me that I need to walk before I can run, so I have decided to get really good at growing the things we like before I venture out and diversify our table.  

I take the home gardening pretty seriously.  I look at it as my own personal study.  My lab and learning space.  My homework area, maybe?  It is the space where what I have learned is being applied and a lot of what I have yet to learn is being taught.   

I look at it like this: if I can't grown good carrots in my raised beds at home how am I going to do it by the acre?  Here in our small urban garden is where my skills will be perfected!

Monday, June 20, 2011

It exists!!

So there has been a rumor going around the farm that a baby chick exists somewhere.  For a couple weeks now the farmers youngest daughter has been talking about seeing a baby chick running around.  One day, she even tried to find it, to prove to me it existed,with no luck. She insisted anyway that there was in fact a baby chick.  I just smiled and nodded.  Keep in mind Joel's egg layers are free range or "pastured", so they are scattered all over the farm making it difficult to see ALL of them.  Anyway, I had not seen it and honestly figured it was probably hanging out with Bigfoot or the Lock Ness Monster, if you get my drift.  After all I do work at the farm and see the chickens pretty much every day so if a baby chick existed I would more than likely had seen it  by now, right?

A week or so had passed since I had first heard about the chick and I had pretty much forgotten about the whole baby chick thing, when one early morning I was down front drinking coffee, half awake, when out of the tall grass came an egg layer and running behind her was a little baby like the un-prepared, fumbling, bumbling moron I am at 4:30 in the morning I barely got a pic of the little thing before momma saw me and took off running with it close in tow...sorry for the quality. I was moving fast!

 The little blurry golden ball just to the right of the two egg layers is the elusive baby chick.

Joel gets a shipment of egg layer chicks about every year.  He raises them up under heat lamps and when old enough he puts them outside to pasture them.   I see the chicks only after they become pullet sized (A egg layer chicken with feathers under a year old).  Up until then they are in a box somewhere.  Well apparently the last batch of chicks contained a few randoms that turned out to be roosters..He decided to keep the roosters for whatever reason and I don't need to explain to you the birds and the bees- so now Joel has a baby chick on the farm.   I'm really surprised that there is only one.  I've never counted, but he has got to have at least 100 egg layers and out of all of them only one baby chick so far. 

I have got to tell ya.  This is what is so great about working for a farmer like Joel who really believes in allowing his animals to be animals.  This life was made in nature not in a controlled environment.  Not in some lab or chicken house.  This chick was an egg laid in the grass nurtured and protected by it's mother.  Momma chicken was allowed to be a chicken and exercise her natural instincts.  He want's his chickens to roam, scratch, dig, peck.  He want's his pigs to root and his cows to be out in the air free to graze on endless pasture.  He, to me, is a great example for those of us who want this sort of life style where we are not only good farmers, but good stewards. Thanks for reading!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Like a kid...

Remember being a kid a dreaming about driving around in big dirty tractors?

Question:  What has two thumbs and drove the big filthy orange rig around all morning?

Ya, bud!  Friggin right I did!  Laying plastic down and keeping the ol' girl centered in the rows like a pro!  Good times...good times... I gotta say for a second there........I felt like a farmer.

Check out big filthy without her front paws on.   She looks like a farming rig now.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Soil is key...

I write a lot about soil structure and nutrients.  I don't go into great depth; one: because I myself am an amateur and quite frankly don't have the knowledge to go into great depth and two:  This is a blog about my journey to become a farmer- not biology class.  Although, I believe the best way to learn is to teach, so you could make the argument that I should in order to really learn.  However, at the risk of putting people to sleep OR losing readers, due to them falling asleep and then out of their chairs causing injury, I won't go into great depth about how to build soil structure...If you are really interested in farming on a molecular level, like I am,  I can always recommend resources for you to seek out and use.

Besides, one of the greatest overlooked facts about farming is that it is a competition.  "HUH??" people always say to me when I say this.  Yes, a competition.  Farmers compete against one another for market share, and honestly it is almost like European football (soccer) type of crazy competitiveness.  Anyone familiar with that sport will know what I mean. 

My farmer want's to grow the best looking and most nutritious food in order to gain a bigger share of the market.  He want's people to flock to him at the markets and buy his stuff.  He want's his food to stand out against all others.  How can this happen if I'm giving away all of his secrets here?  So for the sake of competition, I keep a lot of things "general".

Getting back to soil structure I wanted to show people how important having good soil is.  If you could spend a lot of time on just one thing, it has been stressed to me over and over again by Joel that soil structure is that one thing.  Don't blow your cash on a paint job for up that old useless farmall so you can look the part.  Instead, lay down the cabbage (money) for some nutrients or composting animals.   See, not only is screaming good soil important for growing good, nutritious, healthy food it is also important in regards to being able to withstand drastic changes in weather.  If your soil is good and I mean screaming good velvety dark goodness with minerals and organic matter then you should be able to fair better during drought or monsoon.  Good soil stays moist and drains well.  

If you read this blog you'd know that just about every post for the last month has talked about how we've just been getting hammered with rain up here.  Now,  for anyone who knows soil knows most uncovered, bare soil that has been pounded and pounded with rain usually ends up dry and feeling like concrete after it finally dries out.  It gets hard packed from the constant pounding.  If you tried to drive your hand into it you'd probably end up tearing off a few nails and breaking a finger or two.  I have a spot in my garden that I haven't built up yet and right now looks like the salt flats out west, just light, dry and hard..When it rains water will stand on the surface and create a puddle. 

Joel's soil doesn't do this because he has great soil structure.  He realizes the importance of good healthy earth and has taken the time to turn what used to be poor soil into something fantastic.  Think I'm crazy?  Check out the vid below.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Grab yer Deer Isle Sneakers!

If you are planning on coming out to the farm you'd better get on your Deer Isle Sneakers!

Or a canoe!

Too bad it's a hard living selling mud cause we got plenty of it at the farm.  How much ya need?  After the last two days of rain there isn't much hope of planting any time soon.  We spread some nutrients today, but that was about it.  Because of the absolute nightmare mud conditions we couldn't get the dirty orange machine onto the fields to start laying plastic mulch.  Because the fields are so saturated and keep getting hit with rain whatever has been planted is rotten by now.  We need some sun and wind to dry this place out!

Monday, June 13, 2011


Just when you thought the bulk of the rain had passed and we could look forward to getting some work done, the weather takes a turn and it looks like rain again all week.  Hard luck farming!  It's rained so much you can't drive a tractor on the fields.  Hard to lay down plastic mulch without the tractor.

Had a decent weekend at the farm except for yesterday (RAIN!).  Got a lot done Saturday in terms of getting closer to the big planting days. I can't tell you how much of a great experience it has been this spring, with the unpredictable weather, bad weather and all around "emergencies" that spring up around the farm.  I have learned that nothing ever goes according to plan on the farm and do not plan to do tomorrow what  you could do today because tomorrow the pigs are going to get out!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Acres and Acres and Acres

Just pulled the trigger on a subscription to Acres U.S.A magazine...The farmer told me if I were to subscribe to any one publication I would benefit most from this one.  I have been reading Acres for almost a year now, but it has not been the entire magazine every month.  I go to their site and read the free articles or pick up a mag here and there, so this is going to be a great resource for me going forward in my farming venture.

If you are interested in sustainable, organic, cutting edge science and farming methods I would highly recommend this mag!

Everything I want to do is Illegal!

Here is a great article by Joel Salatin (the author of the book I'm currently reading "You Can Farm").  He explains how the agricultural bureaucracy machine makes everything he want's to do illegal.

I read this piece a year ago for the first time and have since then run into some of the exact same issues he addresses here on the farm I work at now.  

Click and enjoy:

Thanks for reading!

New stickers are in!!

The new stickers are in!! I'm pumped!