Friday, June 28, 2013

Fun With Farm Implements

This contraption hooked to the tractor is perhaps our new favorite farm tool. It is a plastic mulch layer. But, it doesn't only lay plastic mulch. It lays drip-tape, digs up soil and then covers the edge of the plastic mulch to hold it down. All in one smooth action! 



This attachment is on loan from Farmer George. We are so thankful to have it. The benefits of this attachment are many. Plastic mulch keeps the weeds at bay and holds moisture in the soil.  Drip tape enables water to go exactly where we need it and not be lost to evaporation. The attachment also means Farmer John and I aren't trying to fight a roll of plastic all on our own - something we tried once without much success. 


Now, it's not completely perfect. Since our ground isn't perfectly level sometimes the plastic doesn't get covered, or the row isn't straight. However, its easy to cover up any spots it missed, and the plants don't care if the row isn't straight. 

Farmer John and I made eight rows the other day. We are still working on planting them - peppers, pumpkins, melons, squash, and eggplant will go in the ground soon. Then the drip tape system will have to be hooked up to the water pump. For now we are just excited about all this space in the garden that will be weed free! 

And, since it is a little hard to imagine how this contraption works, here's a video of it in action:
video

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Keets!

Uncle John's guineas have been guarding a nest for about a month now. We knew it was full of eggs, but didn't have a lot of hope about the eggs hatching. 

Boy were we wrong!


On Monday, 21 keets arrived in the garden! (Keets are baby guineas)

We considered letting the mother guinea keep the young hatchlings to raise, but after consulting with a couple of people we decided to put them in a brooder box instead. Catching them was a quite an ordeal. The mother guinea attacked all of us while we were trying to snatch them. Uncle John got some bloody scratches on his arm and Farmer John got flogged in the face. We felt bad for the mother, but there are too many predators and other natural hazards around the farm to let them run free just yet.

The keets seem to be drinking water and maybe nibbling on chick starter. The ever-vigilant mother guinea perches next to the brooder to ward off any creature that would mess with her babies, including us.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Garden bag

Our main garden used to be right next to the house. The new gardens Farmer John started are in the former hayfield. Due to the distance, I've started to carry supplies along when I go to work there. 

The purple bag was a gift from a student (also a farm girl) at the end of the school year. It's too small to carry school work, but it's perfect for garden gear.

Footwear needs can vary throughout the day. The morning I took this photo it was still damp and muddy, so rubber boots were good to start. As it warmed up and dried out, I switched to Chacos.

We have gotten very good at growing weeds with thorns. Therefore, I usually wear gloves. I picked these up at the Dollar Store thinking they were cute and lightweight. They had holes in two fingers after weeding only two rows of corn. I got what I paid for. 

Have I ever told you about the other farm where I worked during college? I wasn't allowed to wear sunscreen or drink from reusable plastic bottles. I put up with that for about a week. Staying hydrated and sunburn free is essential in the garden.  And now that I work on my OWN farm, no stupid rules.

Finally, the camera always comes with me to document the farm fun. Just recently I have started to bring my phone along. I use it to take quick videos and listen to music. When placed strategically, I can skip the ear buds and still hear the birds and Farmer John coming down the hill on the tractor.

All these supplies help make a four-hour-weeding-marathon go a lot faster and more comfortably. What are your gardening essentials? Anything I'm missing from the purple bag? 

Friday, June 21, 2013

At the market

Yesterday was the fourth Wetzel County Farmers Market of the season. The weather cooperated and we were out from under the shelter. 


This was probably the best market so far. There were a few new vendors, lots of customers, and live music provided by local talent. Our beef sold very well. Thanks to everyone who visited the market. 


And here's Farmer George posing for the camera. Actually, I think he was giving me a hard time about something...because that's what he's always doing. Shhhh...don't tell him he's on the blog.


P.S. - You can now "like" and follow Wetzel County Farmers Market on Facebook. They'll keep you posted on market updates and events.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Taming the paper monster

This is our kitchen table. I love our table. It's big, fits lots of friends around it, and is perfect for big cooking projects. Alas, it is usually covered in paper. 

As the farm continues to grow the piles of paper and farm debris grow with it. We need a better system or place for all this. If for no other reason than I don't want to lose the phone bill in the pile of NRCS grant papers. 

Do you have any advice? Have you ever run a business/farm out of your home? Is there a way to tame the paper monster? Help!


Monday, June 10, 2013

Officially Farmer John

As you know, I've been calling John "Farmer John" since the beginning of this blog. Which was true, he was a farmer, and he was also a teacher. In May, his resignation from his teaching job became official. At the end of this school year, which is tomorrow, he will truly become Farmer John.

Below is what John has to say about all of this:

Since the rumors began, and since the official word spread, we've both been dealing with lots of different reactions. MANY people have been supportive and excited for me and my big shift to full-time farming. Others have been shocked or surprised that I am quitting  a "good job" for a "hobby". I don't think that farming has ever been just a hobby to me, it's a lot of work, but work that I enjoy. We've been slowly growing the gardens, pastures, and acquiring more livestock. The farm has got to the breaking point where if it is to grow any larger, I need to devote more time to it.

Over the past few years of success and failures I have found inspiration from many people who are farming small acreages for a full-time income. No one sugar-coats it, the days are long and the work is physically demanding, but the joys of the job far outweigh any negatives. I understand that it may take a couple of years to get there, but the hope is one day it can be my sole occupation. For right now I will be farming full-time in the summer, fall, and spring and substitute teaching during the winter months.

We're excited and a little nervous about what the future holds. Thanks for following along on the blog for our new big adventure and always offering us tremendous support. Finally, just to prove that it's official, here is a picture of my resignation letter on the fridge. 


Sunday, June 2, 2013

Our week

Whew! It has been a busy week around here! Which is why I haven't posted anything to the blog. Here's a run-down of the past several days.

Tuesday: Farmer John loaded the oldest bull and took him to the processor aka butcher. Taking an animal to the processor is always a difficult day at the farm. But, we'll be excited to have grass-fed hamburger for sale at the farmers market in a couple weeks. 

Wednesday: After school we got everything ready for the farmers market. This was the first one of the season, so we were a bit out of practice and it took longer than usual. We picked and sorted about 20 bags of lettuce, 10 bags of kale, 8 bags of spinach, and 20 bunches of radishes. Also cleaned all the eggs we had. All but the eggs and beef were packed into coolers for the night. 

Thursday: We left school a bit early, got home, loaded the truck, and headed to the first Wetzel County Farmers Market of the season! It was so much fun to see all the producers and customers. It is such a social event, and everyone seemed excited to be there. We even had a couple special visitors that came all the way from Wisconsin! This week one of the local radio stations broadcast from the market. They talked to Farmer John along with some of the other producers. 
Friday: Farmer John picked up a truckload of plants from George at Sunshine Farm. I helped Joyce (Farmer John's Mom) make 50 half-pints of strawberry jam. Yum! When I got home from that, Farmer John and Farmer Pap were down in the new gardens tilling. Pap was on the tractor, and Farmer John was aiming the Jetta's headlights on the garden. They finally decided to call it a night around 10pm. 

Saturday: There was more work tilling the new gardens. Then Farmer John direct seeded more corn, more green beans, pinto beans, black beans, and kidney beans. Then the real work began. We planted 800(!) tomato plants. That might be a new record for our farm. I'm so glad we had a couple extra hands to help, they made the job a lot easier. 


Sunday: We were both exhausted and took it pretty easy. Farmer John picked up more plants from the greenhouse at one of the high schools. (No more tomatoes this time!) We have lots of peppers now, which will go in the ground sometime this coming week. And now, it's bedtime! 
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