Oct 182011
 

Hello!

Here’s a greens update… Currently Swiss chard and kale are still available and we have developed a waiting list for spinach and arugula. We also have some garlic available. Prices are as follows: Swiss chard $2.75 per lb., Kale $3.00 per lb., Garlic $6 for ½ lb. or $10 per lb.

Harvest will be on Tuesdays and Fridays so please have your preorder in by midnight prior to harvest day. Please let me know if you would like us to harvest Tuesday or Friday and your order will be ready to pick up any time after 4:00 pm.

Many of the summer pictures included in this update were taken from my phone’s camera, so sorry for the inferior quality compared to Mom’s pictures!

In the last update we were finishing up Granddad and G-Jean’s new house addition and while we’re still needing to do some finishing touches it’s now nearly completed. Once the trailer house is moved out we plan to add a small mud room on and then everything will be complete. Shortly after the last update all the carpeting and kitchen cabinets were installed and they added the finishing touches to make it “home”. While I was gone through the summer Dad finished hooking up all the plumbing and appliances.

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Praise the Lord for such a beautiful and bountiful harvest of strawberries and red raspberries this spring! It was a wonderful harvest and once I left we were blessed with many individuals who took advantage of the u-pick option which helped our family out tremendously. Thank you to each one who helped harvest the berries!

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The Lord also blessed us with a great garlic crop which G-Jean, Dad and Jena harvested for me while I was away on my trip.

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The day before heading down to Mississippi our church put together a team to help with the Joplin relief work and I went over to help for the day. It was a blessing for me to help remove some trees from around a couple’s house so a contractor could come in and replace where a tree had come down and smashed through the roof. Other team members went to areas of the city where people were sorting through rubble trying to find any valuables that might be left from their destroyed homes.

May 27th was the big day! I took off early in the morning and started traveling south to Mississippi! I’d kept in touch with a friend of mine (Billy Gilmore the III) in Mississippi whom I’d met in February and he was planning to go to a job he was working on in Oklahoma around the same time frame I was going to head down to Mississippi. After I was on my way we happened to call one another and found out we’d both left on the same day and part of our route was going to be identical! Unfortunately we somehow missed seeing one another in a 10-20 mile stretch of road so didn’t get to meet up.

One “cool pup” back home! Not sure how well Caye really enjoyed Jena’s sunglasses but she looked pretty good in them.

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All things considered the Lord gave me a good, safe trip down to the Russell’s draft horse farm in Poplarville, MS and I arrived just before dark that evening. Over the next few weeks it was a blessing to stay on the Russell’s farm while learning more about the draft horses and learning how to slow down a little to relax as well.

These draft horses were big! Just for comparison the paint is an average size riding horse.

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There were many learning opportunities and firsts time experiences while on the farm. We built quite a bit of fence but also used the horses for some job here or there most of the days. Using the sled to clean out the barn was quite an experience as everything was in pretty tight quarters! Jim and Jake (a very well mannered and trained team) were extremely patient with a minimally experienced wanabe teamster!

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Cutting green corn for fodder was nearly a daily job and both horses and cows loved it! This corn knife strapped onto your leg and you just had to stomp at the base of the stalk to slice it right off. This left both arms free to gather up an armload of fodder and take it to the work sled. A machete or hand corn knife also worked well, but it didn’t allow you to have both arms free to gather up the fodder.

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With a dry spell open Mr. Kenny and I cut the Bermuda hay field. We just kept cutting and finished it off even though they didn’t usually try for that much at one time. It was fun having two teams and two #9 mowers humming round and round the field felling the fragrant, freshly cut grass. Over the next few days we used two types of tetters to fluff the hay and then got ready to rake and bale one evening. About the time we were ready to start Abigail, James and Mary Gilmore (siblings of Billy III) rolled in unexpectedly to help out!

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Abigail started up a team raking while Mr. Kenny drove the tractor with the ground drive baler. While the baler can be used with four horses abreast Mr. Kenny decided to use the tractor this time. The rake team kept making rounds with the baler coming behind and that baler kept chugging bales out! A trailer was being pulled directly behind the baler and once the trailer was filled up James and I started unloading the trailer while the rest of the crew kept loading. About dark we were able to finish loading all the bales and ended up having about 400!

Hooking up the dump rake the next day Jim, Jake and I raked up the remaining bits of hay the baler had missed. We were able to gather up enough to bale a little more and pick them up with the work sled.

Here’s a picture of three of the four rakes and tetters we used.

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One of my biggest highlights was the small grain binder! It took several hours of lubricating, adjusting, tinkering and fiddling to get the small grain binder going, but it was worth it all once we got out to the field. Just hearing the binder click along, watch the gently swaying amber oats fall at the touch of the sickle only to be conveyed over on the canvas and lifted to be bundled and ejected out the side. All this was going on while you could watch the three abreast, beautiful black Percherons stepping out and going to work. It was such a privilege and thrill when Mr. Kenny stopped the horses and said, “Get up here and try it.” What a thrill that was!

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After the oats were bundled Mr. Kenny and I shocked the field and it looked like an old time picture looking across the field at all the shocks. It had been a drought prior to that time, but then some rain started moving in and we had difficulty trying to get all the oats dry. With rain to help the corn out a little Mr. Kenny said it was worth sacrificing the few oats we’d cut though.

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Upon leaving the Russell’s farm around July 7th the Gilmore family invited me to stay in Mr. Billy the III house (with his permission) for a time while he was gone to Oklahoma. My goal was to grow in the Lord and have more time to study the Bible and seek His will for my life. It was a tremendous blessing and wonderful opportunity the Gilmore’s gave to me and the Lord used that time to help me grow in Him. If I wanted a project to do there was always something going on, but I was free to study as long as I needed.

While staying with the Gilmore’s I had the opportunity to try something new to me. Sawing lumber! They have a band saw mill and since that part of the country grows some beautiful, straight pines, they’ve sawn a lot of lumber for their projects around the house. It was fun and exciting to learn how to saw your own lumber.

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Helping a neighbor put up some square bales was another job I helped the family with one afternoon. Latter in the evening rain clouds started forming and praise the Lord, with some stiff hustling at the end we were able to get the bales under cover before the rain turned loose and poured!

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Playing in their large family garden made me feel right at home…except the sandy soil was much nicer to work with than our clay!

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Miss Karen (their mother and second Mom to me) and crew took me down to see the ocean and stand on a beach for the first time in my life. Unfortunately Mr. Bill had to work that day so couldn’t join us. What an awe inspiring sight to see the Lord’s handy work, a seemingly endless expanse of water with a couple of distant islands barely visible. Seagulls sailing gently along only to glide down for a graceful landing, small fish coming near the shoreline, small stranded or floating jelly fish and hermit crabs all over the edges of the waterline.

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Hermit crabs lined up for the race to water!

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Miss Karen is missing here as she’s taking the picture.

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Others in the family saw a couple stingrays and James even found a crab that had gotten stranded in some rocks down the shoreline a ways!

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Also in that rocky area were tiny crabs, not even dime sized, taking refuge amongst the rocks. This Kansas farm boy had fun seeing all the unique things the Lord created in other ecosystems that I’m not used to observing!

While in the area they also took me to see a tree that’s supposed to be five hundred years old called the friendship oak

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Here’s the entire Gilmore family including Billy III.

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Miss Rachel (the youngest) and I had fun harvesting blueberries together one day when the family took me to one of the area’s many u-pick blueberry patches. What a treat to harvest blueberries! Our soil here in Kansas isn’t typically acidic enough for blueberries so the unique experience was fun!

After what seemed like a relatively short eighteen days, on July 25th, I felt like the Lord was ready for me to move on and I made my way up to Papaw and Mamaw’s (Mom’s parents) place near Jackson, KY. While we have visited with one another over the years when Papaw and Mamaw have come to visit I never have really felt  “connected” or like I knew them well. I thank the Lord for the month and a half I was able to spend with them until September 2nd when I came back home.

Eastern Kentucky is a beautiful hilly area in the Appalachians with a widely diverse mix of beautiful plants! Walking through the woods on Papaw and Mamaw’s hill and traversing the small creek trickling along below the barn made for some beautiful times of exploration and seeing God’s handy work through nature.

All kinds of ferns, fungi and mosses were thriving in the understory!

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Along the creek.

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Papaw was gone during the day, working on a house painting job he had going, but during the evening hours he and I had a considerable amount of conversation time. During the day I had the privilege of spending time doing things with Mamaw. Also, they, as the Gilmore family, allowed me to have as much time to study, think and pray as I needed.

Mamaw and I built a black raspberry trellis, cut pipe canes (looks like a variety of bamboo that has started growing wild in their area) for pole bean tepees, tilled and planted a new section of garden to pole beans. Having gardened in three states this year I conclude both of the areas I was in Mississippi and Kentucky have beautiful soil to garden in!

Part of Mamaw’s garden.

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Planting pole beans

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After completing several smaller odd jobs like washing the house, working in the garden a little and cutting down some trees that were needing to be taken out, Mamaw and I took on the project of making a chicken pen. While it may not sound like that big of a project it took a considerable amount of time and we tried our best to make it coon proof. By the time we were done Papaw was teasing us saying we’d need to call the bank and say we had a safe ready if they needed it, or call the jail and say there was a cell that could be used if necessary.

Existing Chicken house.

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Mid work and finished product.

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One day Papaw took a day off work and we all three loaded up in the car. They took me site seeing along with driving me around to see where Mom used to live growing up (the house has since been demolished) and a couple different schools Mom attended. It was a special day and was beautiful besides!

While in Kentucky it was so neat to see the hills and think of how so many of the Psalms refer to the hills and mountains. Relating to those Psalms took on a whole new meaning when you could read a Psalm and look out to see such a beautiful hillside and landscape!

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Arriving home I started realizing a little more how much work my very special family had been doing while I was gone. Dad had tried to start a cover crop, but due to the extreme heat and drought it had dried up before becoming well enough established so he tried to just keep a “dust mulch” over the ground to help hold the moisture in.

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Well, after my summer trip you’re probably wondering what I learned and what plans I have for the future. As for learning, the Russell’s imparted a lot of knowledge to me about draft horses which I am very grateful. Throughout the time away I was able to slow down and learn to study and have more of a hunger to know my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ better. Some other things I hope I’ve learned is to be more careful with my tongue, to cultivate faithfulness to the Lord, to love as He loves, to seek Him first above all else, get a little bigger glimpse of just how simple and yet complicated faith is, desiring to be filled and led by His Holy Spirit each and every day of my life and one of the most difficult I’m trying to learn is simply waiting on the Lord.

Lord willing we will have all the perennial crops producing such as: asparagus, strawberries, blackberries and red raspberries this coming year. At this time I’m unsure if we will be planting other crops beyond these but will try to keep you updated. This coming year I will not be doing the CSA.

Upon coming back home I have done several odd jobs like cleaning out bindweed and Johnson grass in the hoop houses, clearing enough brush so I could run an electric fence around another section of pasture so the cows could have some fresh eating, planting a few things in the hoop house, replanting cover crops in the areas Dad had tried earlier when the drought hit and I’ve figured up and ordered the materials needed to replace the roof on Mom and Dad’s house. That roof is going to be quite a project!

G-Jean and I planted some garlic for next year’s harvest. Here it’s all set out before we covered it.

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Dad, Jena and I also tore out all the old plaster in one back room and sheet rocked it. There is currently one coat of mud on and another needing to be applied before painting can be done, but we haven’t gotten that done yet.

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Sanding the first coat of drywall mud down.

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A couple good friends, Stuart and Ezra Willis helped Dad and I get most of the plywood and concrete board down for a pad we were building in the back room also. Mom’s wood cook stove will be installed there so we can have wood heat throughout the entire house. When we were ready to lay tile Dad’s mind got to spinning and while I was gone somewhere he got very creative with an old camera tripod, broom handle, some other pieces of  wood a laser level and a lot of electrical tape! The ladder with a milk crate a counter balance of a box of sheetrock mud and another laser light completed the contraption. Putting both laser lights to cross hairs he could mark out where each tile should start out so we’d have a reference point to start with. It looked very creative, but worked beautifully!

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Mom ordered some more chicks so Lord willing we’ll have eggs available again next spring when they start laying!

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During the summer Jena started working on a mammoth sized obstacle course down along the creek. Here Dad is helping her get some things figured out.

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Farmer Josh and the Mitchell crew

www.mitchellfamilyfarm.us

(620) 330-1966

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