Pre-bacon

This was bound to happen…

20160219_140249

It’s been fascinating to watch these two little girls – we have them in one of the large barn pens until the weather is better. This is the pen where we keep the beeves while they are waiting to be taken to the butcher, so there is a nice deep layer of cow poo, straw, and hay for the pigs to root through. As you can see, they got right to work looking for yummies to eat!

They have pretty precise control over that snout of theirs – I’ve seen them delicately root in one spot, but they can also use that snout like a plow and move through several feet of debris.

They also “nest” – we have a heat lamp for them, and I watched them paw the hay around where they were going to sleep until it was where they wanted, then they snuggled into the nest together.

Little Pink is more wary than Big Black, who will come right up to me now. They both know the sound of the feed bucket, and start running around until I get in the pen.

And they don’t stink. Really, they don’t. In my experience, stinky animals come from being confined to too small of a space, or being fed a poor diet. They do have a scent, but everything has a scent. ūüôā

 

Day 271

It occurs to me that I should be paying more attention to this blog!  With my laptop gone, I have to remember to use the “big screen” because my tablet makes it a little convoluted to post.  Here’s to good intentions! Things have definitely picked up around here – my two classes are taking their […]

It occurs to me that I should be paying more attention to this blog! ¬†With my laptop gone, I have to remember to use the “big screen” because my tablet makes it a little convoluted to post. ¬†Here’s to good intentions!

Things have definitely picked up around here – my two classes are taking their amount of time, and it doesn’t help matters that I’m creating everything for my humanities class. But that also means that when I teach it again, I will have much more time to tweak things and not worry about having to make a presentation for the next class. ¬†Good news there.

The barn is filled with hay – next step is to go back out and mow the second cutting. For that, we all need to be healthy and able to sit on a tractor for hours. We’re working on that. It may be a touch of the flu, it’s definitely allergies, and all the bean/corn dust in the air from harvesting isn’t helping one bit. If you’re driving down the road in the morning and notice what looks like smoke hanging over a harvested field – that’s probably dust still hanging in the air from the combine harvesting the day before. And it is horrible for breathing!

Remember these cute, fuzzy things?

IMG_0370

They now look like almost proper chickens, just smaller:

2013-09-28 08.26.46They still have the fuzzy chick head, but the rest of them look like proper Barred Rocks. I didn’t know this, but their legs have black bands on them.

Lovely harvest moon the other evening – hope you had a chance to see it. Yes, those are geese!

2013-09-18 19.27.31

 

We have a couple large stands of pampas grass (a tall, decorative grass) that the dogs love to hide in. You’ll be walking around and hear “swish swish” as they move through. I found Prince hanging out in here the other day:

2013-09-18 14.00.12He’s such a silly dog.

Interwebz shopping is just about awesome. Click, click, and here comes the UPS or FedEx truck with your goodies. I don’t remember ordering this though:

2013-09-19 14.32.27

 

The garden is finished – we got a lot more tomatoes of the vines, harvested the potatoes, and pulled the last cabbages. Now for the clean-up crew.

2013-09-28 08.25.34They’ve done (as always) an amazing job of eating, and they haven’t even been in here a week. After they’re finished, we’ll put them back in the “test garden” to work in there some more, then start our soil amending in this garden – cow/horse manure, straw, and green manure (a seed mixture that fixes nitrogen and other good stuff in the soil). After the green manure has a chance to get started, we’ll probably open the gate for the chickens to scratch around and do their thing. It’s going to be a lot of work (well, what isn’t around here!!), and a lot of poo to move, but in the end, we’ll have better soil for food growing.

If your garden didn’t perform “up to snuff” this year, chances are you may be missing something in the soil. Our corn was pretty lack-luster – small stalks, small ears that weren’t all filled out – so that was our clue that the ground needs some TLC. You can buy soil analysis kits at home improvement stores – try one and see what your soil is telling you.

 

 

 

Day 271

It occurs to me that I should be paying more attention to this blog! ¬†With my laptop gone, I have to remember to use the “big screen” because my tablet makes it a little convoluted to post. ¬†Here’s to good intentions!

Things have definitely picked up around here – my two classes are taking their amount of time, and it doesn’t help matters that I’m creating everything for my humanities class. But that also means that when I teach it again, I will have much more time to tweak things and not worry about having to make a presentation for the next class. ¬†Good news there.

The barn is filled with hay – next step is to go back out and mow the second cutting. For that, we all need to be healthy and able to sit on a tractor for hours. We’re working on that. It may be a touch of the flu, it’s definitely allergies, and all the bean/corn dust in the air from harvesting isn’t helping one bit. If you’re driving down the road in the morning and notice what looks like smoke hanging over a harvested field – that’s probably dust still hanging in the air from the combine harvesting the day before. And it is horrible for breathing!

Remember these cute, fuzzy things?

IMG_0370

They now look like almost proper chickens, just smaller:

2013-09-28 08.26.46They still have the fuzzy chick head, but the rest of them look like proper Barred Rocks. I didn’t know this, but their legs have black bands on them.

Lovely harvest moon the other evening – hope you had a chance to see it. Yes, those are geese!

2013-09-18 19.27.31

 

We have a couple large stands of pampas grass (a tall, decorative grass) that the dogs love to hide in. You’ll be walking around and hear “swish swish” as they move through. I found Prince hanging out in here the other day:

2013-09-18 14.00.12He’s such a silly dog.

Interwebz shopping is just about awesome. Click, click, and here comes the UPS or FedEx truck with your goodies. I don’t remember ordering this though:

2013-09-19 14.32.27

 

The garden is finished – we got a lot more tomatoes of the vines, harvested the potatoes, and pulled the last cabbages. Now for the clean-up crew.

2013-09-28 08.25.34They’ve done (as always) an amazing job of eating, and they haven’t even been in here a week. After they’re finished, we’ll put them back in the “test garden” to work in there some more, then start our soil amending in this garden – cow/horse manure, straw, and green manure (a seed mixture that fixes nitrogen and other good stuff in the soil). After the green manure has a chance to get started, we’ll probably open the gate for the chickens to scratch around and do their thing. It’s going to be a lot of work (well, what isn’t around here!!), and a lot of poo to move, but in the end, we’ll have better soil for food growing.

If your garden didn’t perform “up to snuff” this year, chances are you may be missing something in the soil. Our corn was pretty lack-luster – small stalks, small ears that weren’t all filled out – so that was our clue that the ground needs some TLC. You can buy soil analysis kits at home improvement stores – try one and see what your soil is telling you.

 

 

 

Day 237 ‚Äď applesauce, tomatoes and honey

It’s been a food-themed few days around here.  Tomatoes keep coming on, so I’ve been coring them and filling baggies to keep them in the freezer until I have several hours to can.  I think I’m at 4 or 5 bags full right now. I was out harvesting tomatoes this evening, while the apples were […]

It’s been a food-themed few days around here. ¬†Tomatoes keep coming on, so I’ve been coring them and filling baggies to keep them in the freezer until I have several hours to can. ¬†I think I’m at 4 or 5 bags full right now.

I was out harvesting tomatoes this evening, while the apples were cooking, and saw that there are even more green beans ready to pick. ¬†I’m very happy about this, since we had to dispose of jars that did not seal properly this year. ¬†As the House Stark motto goes – winter is coming. ¬†I’d rather see too much food preserved, than not enough.

Also cooked down and canned up the mess of apples from our tree, along with some various and sundry apples that were laying around our refrigerators. ¬†6 pints of applesauce later, that’s done.

Had the great opportunity to watch a honey harvest Saturday afternoon at¬†Angry Hippy Farms. ¬†Robert has had bees for several years, and they open their home at honey harvest time to show the process and sell the honey right then and there. ¬†Doesn’t get much fresher and pure than that.

We’ve been considering getting bees for the farm, and since it would be up to me to tend the hives (Denny + bees = bad), I wanted to get an idea of what I would be getting into. ¬†Robert already had taken the supers (the boxes with the honey frames) from the entire hive, so I didn’t get to see the excitement that happens when working around angry bees, but I remember from having hives as a youngster that lots of smoke is advised, to keep the bees sluggish and less likely to sting. ¬†Robert said he wasn’t able to pull all the frames because of time, and the bees were particularly angry that morning. ¬†Good thing for bee suits.

2013-08-24 15.32.29

This picture is Robert using an electric “knife” to cut the wax caps from the comb. ¬†Once both sides are un-capped, the frame goes into a separator, which spins the honey out of the frame. ¬†From there, the honey is collected and strained several times to remove any wax, bee bits, and other debris. ¬†Finally, the strained honey goes into the jar, and out the door.

Final answer – it’s not easy (but what is on a farm?), but doable. ¬†Another beekeeper friend gave me his last year catalog, from which I can buy starter kits – comes with everything needed to start beekeeping. ¬†Looks like my Christmas list will be very short – beekeeping kit, please!

Tomorrow is the first day of one of my 2 college courses to teach, so that will throw another “thing to do” into the mix. ¬†I’m ok with that though, because time management has never been one of my strong points. ¬†I actually do better (well, up to a point!) with a busy schedule, because I know that thing A needs to be done, and class A starts at this time, so I better keep on track or else thing A doesn’t get finished.

 

Day 237 – applesauce, tomatoes and honey

It’s been a food-themed few days around here. ¬†Tomatoes keep coming on, so I’ve been coring them and filling baggies to keep them in the freezer until I have several hours to can. ¬†I think I’m at 4 or 5 bags full right now.

I was out harvesting tomatoes this evening, while the apples were cooking, and saw that there are even more green beans ready to pick. ¬†I’m very happy about this, since we had to dispose of jars that did not seal properly this year. ¬†As the House Stark motto goes – winter is coming. ¬†I’d rather see too much food preserved, than not enough.

Also cooked down and canned up the mess of apples from our tree, along with some various and sundry apples that were laying around our refrigerators. ¬†6 pints of applesauce later, that’s done.

Had the great opportunity to watch a honey harvest Saturday afternoon at¬†Angry Hippy Farms. ¬†Robert has had bees for several years, and they open their home at honey harvest time to show the process and sell the honey right then and there. ¬†Doesn’t get much fresher and pure than that.

We’ve been considering getting bees for the farm, and since it would be up to me to tend the hives (Denny + bees = bad), I wanted to get an idea of what I would be getting into. ¬†Robert already had taken the supers (the boxes with the honey frames) from the entire hive, so I didn’t get to see the excitement that happens when working around angry bees, but I remember from having hives as a youngster that lots of smoke is advised, to keep the bees sluggish and less likely to sting. ¬†Robert said he wasn’t able to pull all the frames because of time, and the bees were particularly angry that morning. ¬†Good thing for bee suits.

2013-08-24 15.32.29

This picture is Robert using an electric “knife” to cut the wax caps from the comb. ¬†Once both sides are un-capped, the frame goes into a separator, which spins the honey out of the frame. ¬†From there, the honey is collected and strained several times to remove any wax, bee bits, and other debris. ¬†Finally, the strained honey goes into the jar, and out the door.

Final answer – it’s not easy (but what is on a farm?), but doable. ¬†Another beekeeper friend gave me his last year catalog, from which I can buy starter kits – comes with everything needed to start beekeeping. ¬†Looks like my Christmas list will be very short – beekeeping kit, please!

Tomorrow is the first day of one of my 2 college courses to teach, so that will throw another “thing to do” into the mix. ¬†I’m ok with that though, because time management has never been one of my strong points. ¬†I actually do better (well, up to a point!) with a busy schedule, because I know that thing A needs to be done, and class A starts at this time, so I better keep on track or else thing A doesn’t get finished.

 

Day 168 – bush beans

168

 

More food growing – our plot of bush beans. ¬†I just can’t say it enough – fresh food tastes so much better than what you find in the produce aisle (conventional or organic – it’s usually picked before it’s ripe and shipped however many miles from field to grocery). ¬†We’ve gotten spoiled by the proliferation of fruit and veggies that we sometimes forget that at one point, you couldn’t get fresh apples if it wasn’t late summer or fall. ¬†No strawberries in January.

I’m not sure that we’ve improved food by having it available all year long. ¬†I remember what a big deal it was when the local FFA (Future Farmers of America) would send out information to order Florida citrus – boxes of oranges and grapefruit would arrive to be portioned out for the orders.

There’s something good and right about having to wait for something – the first strawberries or tomatoes off the vine, the first green beans snapped into a metal bowl on the porch. ¬†It tastes better, it’s enjoyed more (especially if you grew it yourself and put your time and sweat into it).

It’s a tricky balance – convenience versus anticipation.

 

Planning spaces: working animals into a sustainable permaculture plan

I’ve learned a lot about utilizing the ground for food production over the past few years, and one of the things I have learned is that there is no space, whether it is a garden, a tilled field, or a pasture, that should ever be left for a single use. Nature multitasks everything, and the […]

I’ve learned a lot about utilizing the ground for food production over the past few years, and one of the things I have learned is that there is no space, whether it is a garden, a tilled field, or a pasture, that should ever be left for a single use. Nature multitasks everything, and the best farm plans do the same.

While that is true, I am surprised how many sustainable agriculture pundits leave the animals out of their plans. Don’t get me wrong, there are a few who advocate using animals, but for the most part, most of the people out there talking about sustainable agriculture keep their animals mostly seperate from their agriculture.

What I have come to realize is that the best way to utilize space is to have animals as part of every stage. For instance, we use goats to keep grass areas trimmed and chickens to keep the goat manure broken down. Chickens tend our gardens during the winter months, eating weed seeds and grubs we could never control otherwise. Cows, and eventually goats and chickens, patrol our pastures and keep them healthy through carefully managed grazing.

This year, I plan to experiment with using chickens to tend the aisles of our gardens using tunnels to keep them off the plants. Chickens are death on weeds and insect pests.

All of these ideas, and some yet to come, require some degree of consideration as part of planning our operations. I’ve found that we have to think differently about how we design our growing areas to¬†accommodate¬†animals as well as plants. The more we accommodate, the better things seem to work.

As far as I can tell, there is no foolproof method for such accommodation–that is, I have not identified one yet–but there is a question we should ask whenever we are planning a new space: how will I use animals here?

I think that including animals in an overall sustainable agriculture plan will make the plan that much better for us, our plants, and our animals.

DLH

Read more at my Farming blog...

MENF 2011: It takes a village

While it is possible to do, there are very few people who manage to establish complete self-sufficiency, and it is my belief that such an effort is counter-productive and, in many ways, wrong.¬†Perhaps a better term for the effort I advocate is “local-sufficiency” because I believe that it really does take a village to make […] Continue reading

While it is possible to do, there are very few people who manage to establish complete self-sufficiency, and it is my belief that such an effort is counter-productive and, in many ways, wrong.¬†Perhaps a better term for the effort I advocate is “local-sufficiency” because I believe that it really does take a village to make things work the way they should.

In our efforts to establish things like sustainability, resource sovereignty, and long-term readiness, we have to realize we cannot do everything. Part of what we must do is build communities of people all working toward those common goals; communities that build on individual strengths and buttress individual weaknesses.

Unfortunately, Americans are a stubbornly independent lot, and we tend to think the¬†pinnacle¬†of success is “going it alone.” It is my experience that such thoughts are often a¬†recipe¬†for failure at the best and for disaster at the worst.

Instead of trying to make ourselves independent from everyone, we should be working to pick who we are dependent on and to develop relationships that can sustain us regardless of circumstances. In order to do so, however, such an idea requires us to rethink how we approach almost everything we do.

We have to identify the things we are good at, the things we do well enough to help others, and the things we won’t or can’t do ourselves. We have to identify that there are things we do right now that don’t work and find ways to do them better.

Once we do, we will realize how much of the way we approach life right now is inefficient, wasteful, and just plain wrong. It is at that point that we can look around us at our relationships and communities and start building the kinds of networks necessary for sustainable, sovereign, ready lives.

And once we do so, we will discover that we will have freed ourselves from so many of the problems that have dominated the last half of the 20th and first part of the 21st centuries. Such liberation should be something we all strive for.

DLH

Read more at my Farming blog...