Dig This

Five years ago I wrote about digging 1500 feet of trench for buried water lines.  It turns out that on the same exact day this year I was at it again, only this time we placed 1800 feet of pipe, five hydrants, and roughed in the plumbing for one water trough.  I’d gladly take credit for getting better in my old age, but the truth is that the kids are becoming more useful so they contributed to the efficiency of the work. This project is long overdue, but getting weather and time… Read More

A Tornado Hit the Farm

Picking up the pieces.

October on the Farm

We have been enjoying the beautiful early fall days. While installing new tin siding on the back of the shed I have been listening to a book by one of my favorite authors, Wallace Stegner.  He must have understood my joy at being outdoors these days when he wrote this appropriate line: “It is such a morning as all the old remember and only the young belong in.” Turkeys are reaching peak turkeyness, inflated and quivering and proud of their pendulous snoods and wattles.  The steers are beginning to grow out their… Read More

Let Them Eat Rocks

Visitors to the farm are sometimes surprised to learn that we feed our chickens and turkeys rocks. In the case of turkeys, a lot of rocks. Many birds use rocks as a digestive aid. This arrangement makes sense because birds lack teeth for chewing, so anything that can’t be broken down by pecking or clawing goes down the hatch whole. Rocks collect in a bird’s gizzard and they are used to mill food into smaller pieces for more thorough extraction of nutrients. Over time the rocks (technical term is gastroliths for any… Read More

WDF Beef and Water

Once when selling at a farmers’ market, a customer told me she felt particularly conflicted about purchasing beef because of the water it wastes. Indeed, depending on the source of your facts, you can find shocking statistics stating that beef wastes between 500 and 2500 gallons per pound of meat, so it isn’t surprising that she was so troubled. This horrific waste is a favorite argument cited by those who’d wish to convince others to stop eating beef. I’d like to present my reasons for positing that Wrong Direction Farm beef doesn’t… Read More

Solar Pump Station

There is a curious ineluctability that simple solutions are difficult to achieve. After four years of tinkering, I am finally satisfied that I have a working solar water pumping station. Most of the farm is downhill from our pond, so we can siphon our water to the cattle and the poultry without using any power. But there are a few fields at the same elevation as the pond, and for those we need to pump water. Over the years I’ve gone through five different pumps, four charge controllers, and two sets of… Read More

Wildlife Sightings

Sharing two new wildlife sightings. Actually there was a third, a striking godwit out by the pond, but the photos were too fuzzy. Yogi Berra was right, “You can observe a lot by just watching.”

The Fencing Project Pallet

One of the persistent challenges for our type of farming is maintaining some organization in the chaos of tools and supplies.  Everyone who knows me knows that I’ve never been good at keeping things tidy.  My workshop is a disaster.  But I’ve made a baby step of improvement, and just that incremental difference makes me feel like there’s hope for future improvements. About a month ago I tackled the fencing supplies.  This includes a half dozen spools of wire, spinning jennys, insulators, staples, tensioners, and an assortment of both common and specialized tools.  This… Read More

Guard Geese

Maybe not a great idea

Tall Grass Carbon Capture

In recent years I’ve come to appreciate the value of grazing chickens and turkeys on taller grass.  My old thinking was that shorter grass would be more digestible and more accessible to the birds.  But now I prefer more mature pastures. With our chicken shelters, we find that the rubber conveyor belt flaps on the leading edge are sufficient to knock down tall grass and to lay it out as a nice mat underfoot for the chickens as we move the shelters.  All that lignified, high-carbon grass acts as great bedding for… Read More