Getting Back to Blogging

November 15, 2020

It's been awhile since we wrote a blog, or sat down to type up an update on our newsletter. I guess that's what happens when you plant thousands of things and they start producing...

But, here we are on the tailest tail-end of our first market garden season, not to forget the cattle, sheep, meat chickens, and laying hens, oh, and ducks, and we can think about other things again. Like blogging and rendering tallow. 

We've decided that what we want most is to continue to nurture our relationship from us and our farm to our customers, and while we get to do that when folks come to the farm or we hand them their order, we can also do that by the written word online. It is 2020 afterall. 

So, we are getting back to blogging regularly, and opening our farm life to you. So many of our friends are increasingly interested in homesteading or gardening, and we want to give you a realistic idea of what this farm family life looks like. We also want to bring you along with us as we learn how to navigate the best sustainable methods in our times, which alone feels a bit like a lonely, daunting adventure. We are sure glad to have you here with us. Expect to see more real-life articles, posts, and videos on our site, newsletters, and social media.

Let's get to our "first" blog. 

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It's November 15, and we are wrapping up our fall CSA. Most summer CSA's in our area end around mid to end October, and ours did as well. We then had a five-week CSA that is comprised of fall goodies: kale, brassicas (broccoli, etc). Everything but spinach, which refused to grow well for me, and Brussel sprouts, which a quick fall storm blew the not-staked-down greenhouse right over top. Both spots of where they were planted. (HOW!?) I have their scrappy leftovers still in the field which come hell or high water, I will serve for Thanksgiving. RIP Brussel sprouts. 

The greenhouse...well, all garden projects, were a bit of work. And, I say that in the way a good ole grandmother would say it. First, we set out to build a cold room (refrigerated room) on the north side of our barn to store all the produce goodies. Awesome. In true idealistic fashion, Isaiah built a wood chip clay structure of magnificence. And it's lovely, but unused as wood chip clay doesn't manage moisture well. Lesson learned. We then opted for the less idealistic version - stick lumber, cellulose insulation, and metal, in addition to a new AC unit and Cool Bot, which helps air conditioners run colder than normal. 

Once that was completed, we had to build the greenhouse. And, also take it down from it's current spot. After cutting the current 48 by 96 foot greenhouse metal frame out of its cemented pillars, Isaiah moved it to the farm. We ordered plastic. Isaiah worked tirelessly to put up the metal, then build the wood ends, then stretch the plastic over. 

Guess what? Unbeknownst to us AND the company we purchased it from, we bought the wrong plastic. You see, in such northern latitudes, you want as much sunlight as possible to seep in. Well, this plastic, though insulating, only allows 55% of sunlight through. It can keep plants alive through the winter, but they won't be growing much. We've decided to yet again pivot, and use this area to house egg laying hens for the winter. Their happy peeps all through these dreary months will make this blunder laughable. Next year, we will need to purchase new plastic or think of something else. All in the lessons, right?

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In addition to all of the produce we have stored, and the produce being insulated in the current greenhouse, and our indoors growing, we are building cold frames to grow other plants, mostly cold-loving salad greens through the winter for our winter CSA. Cold frames are wood or straw bases, with windows placed on top. These are actually the premier winter growing devices. We are using straw bales, which we can then use as compost, or to line hen egg boxes, or even mushroom medium.

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This sounds a bit like a market garden disaster, but I didn't even touch on the hornworms or squash vine borers. Truth be told, that's not how it was at all. The produce grew beautifully, even through a severe draught, and we were constantly in awe of the abundance as it sprang forth each week for us, and you. We ate fresh "imperfect" produce throughout the entire season, and marveled at new plants we had never grown before. In one year, our pasture plot turned into an orchard with 70 organic fruit trees, 28 100 foot no-till garden beds, lined with large wood chip piles and berry bushes. It may not be the Garden of Eden, but it does feel like it to us. 

More next week, stay warm!

Danielle 

Danielle Olson Jones

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