Gardening Bits

If garden weeds make you squeamish, stop here.  My one woman campaign against 6000 square feet of them hasn’t gone well, but we have harvested enough vegetables to make a significant difference in the grocery bill. My haphazard techniques have come back to haunt me in a variety of ways, but I’ve gotten enough experience over the last five years to know where I want to go next and generally how to get there.  I’ll leave those plans for another post. For now, you may view high summer in my garden.

A Genetically Modified Blog Post

I’ll state that I’ve never been enthusiastic about GMO labeling laws.  My experience as a farmer and food producer has shown me that laws and regulations always disproportionately burden small producers. Despite not being a cheerleader for GMO labeling laws, the passage of the absurdly misnamed H.R. 1599: Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 certainly rubs me the wrong way.  The bill is offensive because it has no other raison d’être than shielding the GMO industry from exposure to the vicissitudes of public opinion and market economics.  It certainly reveals the the disingenuous stance of many of its supporters who,… Read More

Drying Herbs

I have a small dehydrator I have kept going just about every day this summer.  Mint, parsley, chamomile, thyme, oregano, lavender, rosemary, tarragon, basil and whatever else I feel like makes its way in. I realized this week it is a simple enough job that I can hand it all over to the kids. They feel accomplished now and will be proud to pull out the jars when we need them in the winter.

Racing Stripes

Some of our black piglets have red stripes on them when they are little.  No, not this kind of Red Stripe.  We call them racing stripes, and although we can’t be certain that the pinstripes actually make them go faster, it at least makes them look faster.  Von Dutch would be proud of the detailing on some of these pigs. By the time they are a month or two old the piglets lose the red and become solid black.  We don’t notice the comparable transformations in piglets who are born with other… Read More

Bridge Building

We’ve been building a bridge over the last two weeks.  We replaced a culvert with a small span, crossing a seasonal stream in the middle of our land.  The stream runs most of the year, drying up for a week or two most summers.  It never gushes, but we’ve had problems with the culvert plugging with ice and shifting out of position during the spring thaw.  The bridge should allow us to span the entire streambed and thus avoid the freeze problems. At this point, we hit a roadblock because our old Case 530… Read More

Carrying Coals to Newcastle

During the summer we feed the pigs a fair amount of vegetables.  These are waste products from produce wholesalers and farmers markets, unsaleable due to discoloration, bruising, and freezer burn (when the coolers accidentally go below freezing).  Sometimes the fruit sports a light fuzz of white mold, but the pigs don’t mind that.  Feeding produce scraps is a time-honored, environmentally sound use of food that no longer is acceptable for humans, but still has too much value to be converted directly to compost. When I pick up the produce, I take whatever… Read More

Triple Threat

In a three way fight, who wins in this sequence:  bald eagle, Coopers hawk, or redwing blackbird? My camera couldn’t resolve the pictures of these birds in flight, but you might be surprised that the little blackbird came out the ultimate avian champion.  A bald eagle was soaring overhead today, but apparently it was in a hawk’s territory so the hawk kept flapping and pestering until the eagle left.  In the struggle against the eagle, the hawk encroached on a blackbird’s nesting site and a diminutive blackbird used the same techniques the… Read More

Solar Powered Trailer Trash

I built a portable high-power solar fence charger mostly from parts and scrap. I’ve been using a 2 joule solar fence energizer from Premier for four years and it has worked well when we need a temporary fence out away from our main fences.  But since the Premier fencer is in use over by the pigs and chickens, we needed another solar energizer.  Eventually we hope to extend our perimeter electric fences to the back fields, but that is a project for another year. The energizer I started with is a 6 joule Speedrite AC/DC energizer.  This was our main… Read More

Hurry up, goldenrod!

Remember when Han Solo yelled at C3PO, “Hurry up, goldenrod”?  That always struck me as a strange word choice, considering that the story happened in a galaxy far, far away and especially considering that the characters in question were on an ice planet. The cattle would love to hurry up and get out of the goldenrod and back into nice pastures.  They look askance at me and mutter imprecations under their ruminating breath.  I just keep reminding them that this is for their own good.  Next year when they come back to this pasture, they’ll… Read More

The Public Teat

The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the views of the pigs on this farm. I’ll eventually get down to a serious matter after I’ve had some fun.  I want to lay out issues I face making long term plans and investments in this farm.  I’ve been sitting on this post for a half year while trying to figure out how to best discuss it without sounding too shrill.  So I’ll try to diffuse the tension by offering a cute picture of cuddly nursing piglets. We’re going to talk about sucking from the public teat.  The phase… Read More