This evening while moving the cattle to new hay bales I spotted a patch of ramps in the hedgerow.  Everything is greening up three or four weeks ahead of where were were last year.  We’ll be jolted back into snow and temperatures in the teens this weekend, so some of this early growth may stall out. These ramps need a few weeks before they are the “right” size for harvesting, but it is an encouraging feeling to pick the first edible of the season.

Early Birds Getting Worms

Our compost piles have been colonized by redworms, a member of the earthworm family.  These worms are popular in home- and industrial-scale vermicomposting.  They can be ordered online, but they seem to find our compost piles on their own.  Although the piles froze this winter, they didn’t freeze completely as in previous years, so the worms started growing earlier in the season than usual.  The chickens were thrilled to discover them, gorging themselves on the earthworms that shook loose with each scoop I took.   I don’t obsess over compost pile management (balancing carbon vs… Read More

Pigs and Body Image

The ideal body shape for pigs has changed dramatically across history and geography, depending on both the types of pork products desired and the available feed resources.  The incredible morphological plasticity with which pigs have responded to these pressures is amazing.  Fat or lean, long or blocky, coarse haired or smooth, one can find a pig for all seasons. In resource rich areas (i.e., areas where pigs were fed, not allowed to run free and scavenge) pigs traditionally were grown out to prodigious sizes.  Pig fat was in demand until petrochemicals replaced lard and… Read More

Just for Pretty: Piglet Nursing

Sweet Chariot

Last week I put the finishing touches on the multipurpose tractor carrier.  I enjoy building one-off projects, especially when I can scrounge many of the materials from my offcuts and from the discounted “shorts” piles in the back room at Albany Steel.  I fabricated most of the steel work in January during evenings and in-between other tasks, so I’m not sure how much time it took.  Our January weather was mild; most of the time I was working in the teens and twenties, which is great welding weather.  My welder is a bit lightweight for my needs,… Read More

Book Review: The Third Plate

I finished Dan Barber’s latest book,  The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food.  It was published back in May 2014, so I’m not on any cutting edges here.  I enjoyed the book.  I also grumbled my way through it. Dan’s point is that we need to continue changing our eating.  Lots of folks have pivoted away from fast food and non-organic food.  But he wants us to consider not just switching from grain fed steaks to grass fed steaks, or from unseasonal bland tomatoes to seasonal flavorful tomatoes, but to rethink an entire diet that can be sourced from locally… Read More