Newsletter #7 – June 2009

Newletter #7

18/06/2009 5:11:12 PM

Hello all! 


 First off, please allow us to apologize for how long it’s taken to get the first newsletter together – we have a new system being implemented that we are hoping will make us more cold, heat and drought resistant.  It has been very labor-intensive getting things set-up, and not much time for being on computer!


The year of course is late, by perhaps three weeks or so.  We are anticipating starting deliveries in July, and fulfilling the full 16 weeks by extending things into the fall.  Our new system of extensive covered-beds, to be augmented by more hoop-houses, should allow for production later than would normally be possible in this climate. We have started plenty of produce in the field at this stage, including beets, carrots, cabbage, broccoli, salad greens, onions, corn, potatoes, peas and cauliflower.  Pretty soon here the heat loving stuff started indoors will be going out – beans, squash, melons, tomatoes, etc.


The big challenge right now is water – there has been no significant rainfall yet this spring at the farm.  Thankfully we had plenty of snowmelt, and lots of water in the ground so far.  The animals have just gone out on grass, but the grazing is patchy – good grass is limited to those areas where snow drifted and melted, and on the native grass uplands the land is cracked open and the grass is scorched and crunchy.  We will likely be bringing in more hay, something we have never had to do before winter in previous years.  Things may turn around, however. We have seen many springs start very dry here on the plains with rains coming in June nonetheless.  In the meantime, we have purchased a gas-powered pump to augment our hand-pumps, and it is seeing daily duty getting water to the new transplants.  We are not of course “hydrocarbon-free” on the farm as some have dubbed us in good faith – no one is in our culture.  We are working towards sustainable alternatives with animal and human power wherever possible, however.  We have no tractor, choosing the horse instead.  We think ultimately the Amish may have the best attitude towards technology – accept that which enhances daily life short of running the risk of building dependency and/or causing fundamentally damaging cultural change.  We can do this on our little place.  Off-farm, however, we have less leeway than they do!  


We have a new pond dug, so now we have two.  The runoff here was tremendous this year – a river!  It partially destroyed the spillway on the new pond, but a “lip” remained and held back an appreciable amount of water, and there are springs in the bottom.  Ducks and geese are fond of it already, and muskrats have taken up residence.  We have stocked it with local lake chub, blunt-nosed minnow, white sucker and brook stickleback for mosquito control, and broadcast cattail seeds in the hopes of establishing this very useful plant – a veritable grocery store in and of itself and a purifier of water.  The spillway will be repaired this summer, ready for next year.  Our existing pond is well patronized by a number of duck species, swallows, eastern and western kingbirds, muskrats, tiger salamanders, chorus and wood frogs, and many other species.  Where there is water, there is life!


The horses are well, and Gwyn and Emma (Clydesdales) hitched three-abreast with Raven (Clydesdale/Percheron) did a lot of work on plow, disc harrow and spring-tooth harrow this spring, muscling up noticeably!  Sarah (Emma’s filly) watched from the sidelines – she will be ready for some work next season at three.


We have had one new yak born so far this year, a bull-calf.  He is now being bottle-fed, as his mother, Lillith, died due to complications despite treatments – something rare for yaks, which are usually fool-proof calvers.  We think she may have had genetic issues – last year she miscarried.  We will miss her.  At any rate, her calf – “Wild Bill” – is doing very well, a cute little devil full of life, and we may make him into a steer and use him for packing and winter work. 


We are looking forward to a good season, and hope to get you all involved here to the degree of your interest.  We see this enterprise as a community venture, and hope to find more ways to celebrate this fact this season.  We are open to suggestions and ideas, and look forward to meeting you all.   



Thank you!


–          Andrea and Jon



“The greatest fine art of the future will be the making of a comfortable living

on a small piece of land…”   


 – Abraham Lincoln

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