Friday, June 3, 2011


We consider our farm organic...kinda. We are not a certified USDA Organic farm. You might have seen their logo in the grocery stores. Getting that certification is a long, expensive process. It is suited for large argi-business and not a small operation like ours. We do use organic practices in almost all areas of our farm. We do not spray any of the produce with large amounts of herbicides or insecticides. We use manure and other organic materials to keep the soil fertile. We do not give the livestock growth hormones or unnecessary antibiotics. They have lots of pasture, fresh water, and shelter.

Here's how we think about things on the farm - we (and our family, friends and neighbors ) are eventually going to eat the produce, meat and eggs. So, we don't give the plants and animals anything that we don't want to eat also. I've been thinking about this recently, especially when it comes to the livestock. It's been hot here, which has brought out the flies and mites. Also, two chickens have died in the past couple weeks. It's really hard to know for certain what caused those deaths - so we're doing what we can to make sure we don't lose any more.

When it comes down to it, Farmer John and I don't care about any kind of label we may or may not give the farm, we care about the health and comfort of the animals.

Here's what we're trying for the chickens:

Farmer John scratched up some dirt, and added Insectrin dust to it. The hope is that the chickens will use this for their dust baths. The Insectrin dust will kill the mites that are all over the gals (and rooster). We were also looking for some wormer that we could give them. Everything that we found said it was not to be used with laying hens. But, Farmer John talked with some of the old guys hanging out at our local feed store. They said "you don't need any of that stuff - just add some vinegar to their water". This seemed like a much better solution than feeding them something that would make the eggs inedible.

And here's what the cows are dealing with:
FLIES! Tons of flies. Butterscotch beats her horns on the ground to get them off of her. Of course that only works for a few seconds, then they're all back. Swarming her eyes, nose and horns.

Can you see all that black on top of his horns, closest to his head? Those are all flies. Masses of them. Gross.

So we use a spray for flies and lice. Farmer John sprayed most of the cows last night - trying to get their heads, horns and backs as best he could. It's amazing how quickly the stuff works. Within minutes there was a noticeable difference in the amount of flies on the cows. I have to think this makes them feel so much better.

There's a balance to farming. This is the balance between organic and not that works for us. It's exciting to think of how in time we'll keep learning and refining all practices on the farm.

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