Jan 282010

Ok, so maybe this should be titled "Happy Belated New Year!"

We’ve had the warmest of days (high of about 58 degrees) and the coldest of nights (low of at least -8 degrees), one of the most celebrated times of year (Christmas) and the most challenging times (one of which was the hay pile’s plastic cover trying to blow off Christmas day! ) There’s been the brownest of times and the whitest of times (when snow came Christmas eve night) the calmest of times (no breeze to be had) and the blusteriest of times (Christmas eve had 40+ mph gusts) This family has had a little down time (getting to spend a little time together over the holiday season) and busiest times… and all this happened since the last update!!!

By the way, Hi!

Just in case you couldn’t tell it’s been a little interesting around the farm!

12-26-2009 (37)

We’ve had several very cute lambs born since the last update! In the photo above, a lamb can be seen snitching a snack from the black headed mamma ewe.

1-1-2010 (40)

The day before Christmas Eve it rained off and on all day making everything damp and there were even a couple thunder storms that rolled through! With about 1/2" of rain all our outside work was damp, but relatively warm with the temperatures in the mid 50’s. Trying to batten down the hatches before the predicted really nasty weather came in, Dad and I fastened down the plastic sides on the chicken palace. We also moved Spanky (our boar pig) to another pigorator bin and rigged up a roof and wind break out of tin to help keep him warm.

Our family planned to celebrate Christmas a little early this year because of other plans (they fell through) for Christmas eve and Christmas day. So, the evening before Christmas eve day (Wednesday) the six of us got together for our Christmas celebration. We gathered together before eating and as a family went around the circle praying and thanking the Lord for His goodness to us.

G-Jean and Jena had gone to great lengths and put on a feast for our Christmas buffet line! After going through the buffet and eating, G-Jean, Granddad and Jena couldn’t wait any longer to open presents so we went to the living room before having desert! We were a little too full for desert anyway…

Jena making shish kabobs for our special Christmas supper!

12-23-2009 (1)

The two grand cooks of this feast!

12-23-2009 (85)

One of the biggest highlights was when Jena and I opened up our packages and each found a homemade quilt from G-Jean! Jena’s was a double wedding ring quilt with horses and mine was a "North Woods" pattern. My, they are both beautiful and we will treasure them for many years to come! The funny part was G-Jean had to keep from spilling the beans that she was making a quilt for both of us. Jena and I were trying to keep an eye out for one another and make sure the other one didn’t slip in on G-Jean while she was working on the other one’s quilt!

This picture doesn’t show them very well, but there is a different kind of wildlife in each of the north woods blocks such as wolf, hummingbird, loon etc.

12-23-2009 (128)

12-23-2009 (171)

Christmas Eve day was a whole new ball game. The wind kept picking up until we had nearly 40+ mph winds blowing across the prairie and there was a cold rain too. Dad and I made a quick town run before too much started freezing down. By one o’clock the rain had started changing to something like small sleet. By evening the sleet was blowing so hard with the wind it felt like shotgun shot hitting us as we did chores.

Christmas Morning our world had changed! The sleet had finally given way to snow a little after dark and by morning there was a thin layer of snow covering nearly everything. Ok, so some areas were covered by a lot more snow than others as the wind was still blowing and made some pretty good drifts! As time went on the wind changed directions a little and you could watch the drifts move as the wind blew them into new places!

Action! Get them doggies movin’…they’re wound for sound! Caye especially loves the snow and you can usually find her with a frosting of it over her face if she’s been out playing. Tag on the other hand thought his winter coat was a little to short for comfortable playing weather.

12-25-2009 (12)

Doing chores Christmas day I discovered the high winds had nearly blown the plastic off our outdoor hay pile by tearing the plastic where we’d hung weights on it. With Kubota’s lifting muscles, Dad, Granddad and I got old tires and some old square bales of hay on top of the plastic to help weight it down. It took quite a bit of time, but we finally got it settled down from its vicious flapping.

I’m getting hay from the pile here to feed the livestock, but you can see the tires and hay bales we stacked on top.

1-1-2010 (57)

December 28th, which was the following Monday our wind finally calmed and the temperatures soared back up to 40 degrees! Unfortunately I had to be inside quite a bit of the day to place orders for several garden supplies needed for this coming season. Berry boxes, produce sacks, irrigation fittings and other supplies have already arrived.

The next day our wind stayed calm, but the temperatures weren’t quite as warm. Dad and I had to make another town run and then split some wood to have on hand through the next predicted cold spell moving in. We also loaded feed barrels so Granddad could pick up feed for us the following day.

Jena decided to try on Dad’s homemade skies again. Dad had made the skies this past spring when there was a late snow. While there might need to be a few upgrades in design she still seemed to have fun and I’m constantly amazed how you can float across the top of a two foot drift without falling through…if you do it right that is.

12-29-2009 (13)

Flyin’ down the runway!

12-29-2009 (6)

Somewhere around the first of the year G-Jean and I planted onion and leek seed inside in flats. They are now up and growing well so we hope to have a good onion crop this coming year! That was pretty late for planting the onions since generally October or so is better, but we didn’t get our seed ordered soon enough for that.

12-31-2009 (1)

The 31st of December Papaw and Mammaw came for their Christmas visit from Kentucky. Unfortunately we didn’t exactly give them a "warm reception" weather-wise! It was good to visit with them a little inside while the snow was on and the temperatures were not exactly warm. Papaw and Mammaw both braved the cold, snow and wind with us while we were doing chores.

1-1-2010 (11)

On the second of January we looked at Granddad’s temperature chart and the high was only 16. I decided that would be a very good day to work inside so started putting together a PowerPoint slide presentation for a presentation I’ll be doing at the Independence Library February 4th. The goal is to share some of my experiences in gardening and pass along some of the ideas and tips I’ve picked up along the way. I hope to encourage more people to grow their own gardens, even if they start out small, so more people have the knowledge of what it takes to raise food. We need more people to raise good, healthy, locally grown food!

G-Jean wanted Dad and I to help put up her Christmas decorations so we got all the boxes out of the attic and then put them back up once she got all the Christmas decorations taken down and packed in the boxes. Dad also cut a load of wood while I made a few phone calls. That night we noticed a funny thing happen. At bedtime we saw the temperature was already down to zero and we expected it to really be cold by the following morning! However, when we got up the temperature had risen all night until it had reached 13 by the time we got up!

Papaw looking over the completed hog house with me. Our "UFO" SLS (small livestock shelter) we made a few years back from a bale ring, rubber belting and an old large style white satellite dish is in the background.

1-1-2010 (37)

January 5th Dad had to go back to work so we all really missed having him on the farm… Since our highs for the second week of cold weather (approximately December 31st through January 4th) had been in the teens with several days not getting above 10 to 13 degrees, it was pretty nice having the temperature jump up to around 25! I got outside with hay hooks and rearranged some hay in the pole barn so I could pick up alfalfa hay I’d bought for mulching part of the garden. The hay has some mold in it which is not good for livestock to consume, but will do an excellent job of mulching and fertilizing the garden!

Granddad went to pick up the alfalfa hay with me the following day and it warmed on up to 35 degrees! We had to take it really easy driving on the back roads because many of them had a generous layer of ice which was really slick in spots. With the Lord’s help we had a safe trip and Granddad helped me unload all the hay into the pole barn. That night it snowed a little more and the wind picked back up to a gale. I’m getting tired of high winds!

In a couple weeks Granddad and I hauled 200 more bales of alfalfa (on separate days) for livestock consumption. On one load of hay a trailer tire went flat and then "came apart" before I noticed and could get the truck and three tons of hay slowed down! Thankfully we didn’t have too wild of a ride (the Lord protected us from having the truck and trailer get out of hand) weren’t too far from town and found a tire repair shop with the correct tire in stock!

January 7th I did multiple projects, but didn’t really get any of them completely done. Sealing up the back green house a little better came high on the priority list along with taking the small electric heater apart to clean out all the silly mud dauber nests which weren’t allowing the heater’s fan to work properly! After the back green house was ready for cold weather (they were predicting a few nights of negative digit weather) I finished cleaning out the crop residues in the big hoop house’s beds and made a few tomato cages as well.

Making tomato cages.

1-7-2010 (12)

It stayed so cold the eighth (maybe I’m just wimpy not wanting to work in 10 degree weather any more than I’ve got to) I elected to work on the library presentation some more. Now it is getting to the place that it’s going to be necessary for me to take some of my warm days to work on the presentation too! Sigh…I’d rather play in the dirt than on a computer PowerPoint presentation any day…well ok, so may be that negative digit weather did cure me of saying I’d rather work outside just ANY day!

That Sunday, the tenth, was our coldest morning at negative eight and also the warmest day, that we’d seen in nearly a week, reaching up into the lower thirties!

It took a few days of hit and miss working, but I finally was able to clean out the brooder enough to lay a pallet in the floor so there’s a place to put this year’s soil amendments when they come. There was a bunch of trash that just needed to be thrown out, but there was some rearranging and PHDing (Piling Hire and Deeper) that also took place in order to make room for that pallet!

January 12th Granddad helped me load several of the sheep and goats along with Mom helping me load the young pigs into our GTU (Goat Transportation Unit…would more properly be called the SLTU "Small Livestock Transportation Unit) in order to haul them down to the Coffeyville Livestock sale. I was very thankful the Lord helped us get both loads hauled that day. During our cold weather the pigs seemed to really enjoy their hot mash since they couldn’t find much in the way of pasture under all that snow!

1-1-2010 (14)

We are having to cut back on the livestock to try and make the work load a little more manageable here on the farm. Our plan is to sell all the sheep, goats and livestock guardian dogs. We’ll also sell most of the pigs as well.

At this time we have about 34 Dorper/ Katahdin, cross ewes (many have lambs by their side!) 4 livestock guardian dogs and 4 high quality, registrable dairy goats for sale. Two Nubians, two Alpine. I hope we can sell all the livestock directly to individuals so we don’t have to haul them to the sale barn. If you or someone you know would be interested in starting your own flock give us a call and we’d be happy to sell part or all.

1-1-2010 (42)

Oh yeah, for those of you who read this and may not live in our area, this past week was really warm with the daytime temperatures staying in the forties most of the time and getting up in the fifties (nearly 60) a few days! Our beautiful snow is gone now, but it was wonderful to have it to look at for two weeks. The snow is an insulating barrier against the cold as well.

Also, just in case you’re wondering if most years are this cold around here I can tell you it hasn’t stayed that cold for that long in many years! When Granddad and Dad were growing up it wasn’t uncommon, but since I’ve been around I haven’t had near this much fun seeing how "Global Warming" is changing the climate! Now with this past week being so warm I am getting concerned that many of the perennial plants and trees will get in too big of a hurry and start budding out before it’s time.

January thirteenth Mom started her new semester of school. Our family is extremely proud of her getting a 4.0 GPA last semester after years (we won’t mention how many) away from school!

Mom with her Belle (the jersey cow) while the snow was on.

12-30-2009 (19)

Since it’s been necessary to cut some wood this winter (zero degree and colder weather uses quite a bit extra wood we noticed) Dad and I have been going down our south fence line and selecting leaning trees and low overhanging limbs on our side of the fence for fire wood. This will help enable us to replace the fence easier as the leaning trees and low limbs are difficult to work around.

With the snow gone, sun shining for partial days and the beautiful warm weather I’ve jumped at the opportunity to mulch strawberries, clean up weeds, fertilize and mulch around some of the fruit trees, prune the raspberries, cut off all the old asparagus stalks and even taking Belle (the Belgian draft horse) out to drag some brush to a brush pile!

I started my sun shinny day and warm day projects mulching the strawberries so I could finish them before it got to be such a sloppy, muddy mess I couldn’t. It took most of one afternoon, but it was sure a good feeling to have that job completed even if I am a month late!

1-13-2010 (4)

Caye LOVED playing in the snow and had lots of fun trying to find rats and mice that were living under the snow!

1-4-2010 (13)

Everything was getting to be very muddy between the snow melting and ground thawing but it finally started to dry up a little with the breeze and sunshine. At first I thought it wouldn’t be much longer before we’d be knee deep and then for a couple days it actually started to dry up! Never fear, Kansas is here! Seeing that it was getting a little too comfortable we received another douse of rain the night of January 21st! Sigh…everything was sloppy muddy again. For a couple days it dried out fairly well once again, but now we’re supposed to have snow moving in!

January 27th I had the blessing of Curtis Miller, a volunteer, to come out and help. First off I had to straighten up the stakes in the big hoop house which mark out the beds… Mom’s cows had gotten out while the snow was on and discovered the big hoop house was warmer even with the doors open than outside with the snow on the ground! When we found the cows they’d tromped around inside most of the hoop house (thankfully we didn’t have anything planted in there!) and decided to lay down and chew their cud.

Curtis and I were able to prep the big hoop house by spreading compost, a little of Fertrell’s all-natural Earth Friendly fertilizer and lime. After applying all the amendments we forked the all the beds lightly to incorporate them into the soil. I started having bad symptoms of fishing fever when we dug up some fishing worms! After Curtis and I ate lunch, and he had to leave, I prepped the small hoop house and then watered both hoop houses to moisten the soil a little.

It was beautiful out with a high of around 55 while working in the hoop houses, but that evening the day’s Southerly breeze calmed. A little after dark the breeze picked up a little but was coming from the other direction! By morning it had cooled down to 25 and an extra layer of clothes felt pretty good!

Seems as though things keep rolling faster and it’s harder to keep up with now, but, high ho and away we go! Lets get down, play in the mud and have a little fun while we work!

May you have a wonderful day!

Farmer Josh and the Mitchell crew

Belle and Blaze playing lazy in the barn.

1-12-2010 (1)

May 182009

Hello with a little sunshine mixed in!

The hoop houses are winding down now after four weeks of harvesting! There is still some great farm fresh food available this week! Green onions, mint, pure local honey and farm fresh pastured eggs! Pre-orders for beef are due soon! June 15th is the cut off date to preorder 1/4, 1/2 or whole beef for October/November pick up. For more information on our products currently available to the general public see our website at: http://www.mitchellfamilyfarm.us/this_week.htm

Chickens on fresh pasture! A proud rooster amongst his hens.

5-6-2009 (19)

G-Jean and I made up more soil blocks while it was raining and another day was spent filling six-packs with soil and planting melons, squash and cucumbers… I’m still trying to decide what to do on the pots versus blocks since the transplanter I have now can’t accept the soil blocks because they are too large. I do know where another transplanter is that will transplant the larger blocks, but I’m in the process of deciding if it’s a wise use of money to purchase it at this time. There are also other complications as it has set for two or three years!

Since I didn’t get the early melons, squash and cucumbers planted indoors when they were scheduled I had thought I’d just direct seed them in the garden. However, all this rain has really put a crimp in that idea so back to planting inside we go! I’m even trying to start some okra indoors to transplant! Okra develops a tap root if direct seeded though and I’m not sure it will do well when you block its tap root by putting it in a pot first.

The sugar snap peas have been a flop this year as we have lost several plants (something ate part of them, we’re not sure what) and they’ve been growing extremely slowly like they’re stunted. I’ve got a theory that it’s combined causes, but can’t prove anything. Excess rain, cloudy weather along with some inopportune freezing weather and I think the oats are planted too thick (to grow as the pea’s trellis) haven’t helped. I also didn’t feed them with compost or other soil amendments, so that didn’t help either…

Harvesting spinach from the mini hoops in the rain. It’s now time to roll the plastic up and take the hoops down so we can mow when I get time!

5-1-2009 (16)

In contrast to the peas our strawberries are out-doing themselves!!! This appears it may be our best strawberry crop since starting the CSA! I’ve heard G-Jean talk about strawberry harvests where you could sit down and pick a quart of strawberries in one spot, but I’ve never seen a harvest that plentiful…this may be the year! In a couple weeks I expect they’ll start to ripen and we’ll have delicious, lip smacking, farm-fresh, sugar-sweet, juicy strawberries for sale…We’ll keep you updated!

5-6-2009 (4)

Many crops have grown slower than usual this spring due to all the cloudy and earlier cool/cold weather. Radishes and turnips have been noticeably slower and the cut-and-come-again crops like mustard greens, spinach and arugula have been regrowing very slowly. The cloudy cool weather has been a blessing in that all the lettuces have held much longer than I’d originally anticipated.

We also had a new calf born a week ago! "Dot" is up and going well now with first time momma Dixie!

5-4-2009 (53)

5-5-2009 (35)

Our raspberries and Navaho blackberries had much more winter kill than we were expecting this year, so we’re waiting to see what kind of a crop they’ll produce.

Some of the crops have not enjoyed the wet weather and there are spots in the garden where they "drowned out" but thankfully with a little drier weather and sunshine most should pull out of it. All the rain has made an extremely hard packed crust on top of the ground… I anticipate if I don’t break the crust while it still has a little moisture it’ll be hard as a rock!

Most of the broccoli and some of the cabbage haven’t enjoyed the wet weather. Some of the broccoli plants are showing a lot of stress by sending up tiny heads that are trying to bolt…

5-11-2009 (8)

The rain hasn’t treated the corn an beans very well and it may be necessary to count the fist planting a loss…but this appears it could be the best garlic crop we’ve ever grown! I anticipate we should have garlic available for purchase to the general public for the first time this year!

Several new goat kids have been born in the last week. Mom is holding "Nutmeg".

5-10-2009 (2)

There are certain things I want the two draft horses, Belle and Blaze, to know before I hook them up to work so I’ve spent a little time just playing with them. I’ve been very grateful to Jena (our family’s horse psychologist) who has taken time to come out and instruct me in how to play with them to get the results I’m wanting naturally, without using harsh tactics. While Belle and Blaze are well trained I want to have a relationship with them so they can trust me and I can understand them and their concerns to help them be confident in their work.

Play time in the round pen with my (and Belle’s) instructor, Jena, supervising!

5-6-2009 (35)

This past Monday was the first time I’ve driven Belle and Blaze since bringing them home. I drove the horses individually instead of as a team so I can get used to each horse separately and they can learn to trust me instead of getting all their comfort from each other. Blaze ended up being a little nervous about the ordeal so I didn’t hook her up to anything, but drove her until she started relaxing and then ended her session on a good note. Belle on the other hand did exceptionally well and I hooked her up to the walking cultivator. We are still getting used to one another, but she did really well for having had such a long break. Jena was helping me by using the cultivator while I was driving so I wasn’t trying to figure out the driving and cultivating at the same time!

We’ve harnessed the horses other times since I’ve had them, but this was the first time we drove them. Below we’re harnessing…

5-9-2009 (16)

5-9-2009 (37)

and then driving Belle while Jena is cultivating!

5-11-2009 (46)

After Jena and I got the routine figured out a little better (Belle was already used to everything!) we drove Belle over to the wide isles where the strawberries and raspberries are planted and cultivated some there.

5-11-2009 (77)

You may wonder why I’ve chosen to farm with horses… Here are a few of my reasons and, while there are pros and cons to tractors versus horses, I’ve come to the conclusion the horses have won out for me. There are some things we will still use the tractor for, but the goal is to transition to using horse power as much as possible. Below are some of the pros and cons on the horses versus tractor debate:

(1) Tractors don’t reproduce themselves while with mares you can wake up in the morning and have a new baby "tractor!" :grin: This makes the horses more self-sufficient.

(2) Tractors burn petroleum over which I have no control of the prices while horses can raise their own fuel, hay and grain. Also, tractors don’t give you anything back besides power while the horses (even on "idle") always produce fertilizer which can be composted and used for plant nutrition. One plus for the tractor is that it doesn’t burn fuel while the key is "off." :-) Horse power will help our farm be more sustainable.

(3) You can have a relationship with the horses, but have a hard time developing that with a tractor!

(4) Noise pollution is much less with horses.

(5) Not that I’ve done a lot of it, but the horses seem to create a much more relaxed atmosphere to work in. You can listen to the horse’s hoof beats, hear the heel chains and evener clink, get a sensation of the horse’s movement through the lines, see all that’s taking place as you’re going down the row, hear if the equipment has a problem (the tractor makes so much noise you can tear something up real bad before hearing that something is wrong) and relax and enjoy the ride.

(6) I believe this is a draw… Horses can come up lame, get sick and even die with a big vet bill trying to get them better. Tractors break down and you’ll have to go get parts in town, hope you can fix it yourself or else you’ll have a huge mechanic’s bill. Eventually both tractors and horses need replacements, but that’s where the horses have a leg up…they can reproduce while tractor dealers love you to come by and buy!

Five reasons to farm with horses, one reason that is a draw… looks like we’re farming with horse power!

G-Jean hoeing in one of her flower beds. It’s been so wet we’ve been unable to weed very much outside. When the ground dries up enough G-Jean hits it hard hoeing all day until it rains again!

5-7-2009 (3)

I’ve looked at some more equipment since the last update, but haven’t decided to purchase any yet as parts aren’t readily available for some things like the small 30-36 grain drills I looked at. However, Dad did help me pick up a horse drawn sickle-bar mower! It needs some repair and it’s been a yard ornament for years. After looking it over though I don’t think it will require a lot of time to fix it up to be field ready. Dad has already drained the oil/water mix that was in the gear box and rinsed it out with diesel. The water must have come from condensation, but surprisingly the gears and other internal parts only had minor surface rust!

5-2-2009 (7)

Dad, Jena and I took a trip and found the Amish country store near Dennis where I picked up mower parts and found the Blacksmith shop where I ordered a double tree rigged with the single trees and a single tree alone. We could make the single trees etc. but it took so much time to make the first one I decided to buy one set and then I can make more later as I have time.

We’ve had a couple big storms move through one which was memorable because I’d just taken the horses out to pasture a few minutes earlier. It had been cloudy all morning, but I had finally decided to just take them out anyway as it hadn’t gotten serious about raining. Wrong decision! It started pouring shortly after I took them out so I ran back to the round pen where they were grazing (it was too wet out in their "regular pasture") and started to halter them. Since they hadn’t been out long Blaze decided she didn’t want to be haltered! I ended up calling Jena to take Belle to the barn and then she helped me play with Blaze until Blaze allowed me to put the halter on. By that time we’d worried Mom to death in the house for about thirty minutes since it was thundering and lighting all around. My, by the time we got Blaze to the barn Jena and I were both soaked despite the rain coats we were wearing and the storm was about over!

Dot and the lamb, Paint, playing.

5-12-2009 (14)

The second big storm came last Friday when I was washing up equipment about daylight for harvesting CSA. The wind came up and then down (or sideways) came rain! The rain kept going in circles and couldn’t make up its mind which side to blow in from! It was blowing so hard I’d try to wash a tote and, literally, the other five would fly off the table! I finally gave up on cleaning and just went to the house. Dad told me later we’d had what was considered an inland hurricane! I was thankful we missed the worst of it though. We didn’t receive as much rain as some and so far have only found minor wind damage to tree limbs and trees that fell, along with minor crop damage. Some of the limbs did make a mess of a few fences though so after completing the harvesting, washing and packing of the CSA shares I was privileged to get the chain saw out and cut up some limbs that had fallen on the electric fence. Dad helped me finish up that project when he got home.

Belle munching on some leaves from a hackberry limb that fell in their pen.

5-8-2009 (10)

Our Friday storm probably only lasted 45 minutes to a hour, but the wind made it seem longer. Thankfully we also didn’t get much hail (what we did get was small) which was predicted to be up to baseball size! The crazy thing was that preceding the storm it was calm, during there were extremely high winds, directly after the storm the wind died down slowly until before long it was calm again and then throughout the day it picked back up. Some sunshine started coming out too and with the recent rain it about steamed us to death! I was very thankful it stayed partly cloudy all day!

Our last batch of continuous rain from the previous update ended after eight days with rain coming either all or part of each of those days. Monday we had a break and a little sunshine then it rained again Tuesday! Since then it hasn’t made up its mind what to do being sunny, cloudy and rainy all in the same day!

The mamma Killdeer has hatched two baby chicks! Mom got to see one of the chicks just as it hatched and was all wet! Below you can just barely make the little wet guy out next to two unhatched eggs amongst all the rocks…

5-4-2009 (30)

…and then what they look like after the babies are dried off!

5-2-2009 (44)

The mamma killdeer abandoned her nest for several days after hatching two eggs and now she’s back (we assume it’s the same one) and has laid a couple more eggs!

I have caught one more swarm of bees since the last update. They were another easy-to-catch swarm out of the cherry tree, but although being a nice sized swarm it wasn’t as large as the first. During last Friday’s storm the hard winds tipped two bee hives over and Granddad set them back up after the storm passed. Those bees weren’t happy campers for awhile though and challenged anyone around the garden! Thankfully they decided to stay home instead of flying off.

G-Jean and Granddad enjoy watching the birds and have several bird feeders. This week they’ve had a lot of indigo buntings, quite a few gold finches, a painted bunting (beautiful bird) grosbeak, oriel and the usual visitors.

5-10-2009 (24)

With little snatches of time here and there I’ve been able to finish fixing the manure spreader chain using a few links I picked up from the Amish country store. On one of the sunny days I also oiled the manure spreader floor and the sickle mower’s new tongue. After a couple days (when the boards dried from the rain again) I was able to oil both of them once more.

We took the manure spreader for a couple empty test drives to make sure everything was working. Then Thursday evening Dad went out with me since the ground had dried enough we put about 1/3 of a load of compost on and spread it! We found a small modification we may do if we have time, but it worked well enough we may leave everything as is. It’s always nice to see a project we’ve been working on finally come together enough so we can use it!

Dad worked on the work sled (converted hay bale forks) and after we figure out how to finish the runners it should be ready for a test drive too!

5-9-2009 (6)

Wow! This was a beautiful sight as the sun set and shone through some clouds… Pictures can never do God’s handy work justice!

5-9-2009 (42)

This past Tuesday we did things a little backwards to our usual CSA day routine. Most CSA days it’s full bore ahead to just get the regular CSA shares ready with no other projects except for chores until the shares are ready. However, the ground was just dry enough to till lightly and more rain was predicted for the afternoon. Since there weren’t a lot of extremely time consuming crops to harvest such as arugula I decided to try getting a succession planting of turnips, radishes, carrots and green onion sets planted. I also decided not to take chances on the first planting of beans which haven’t been coming up very well and planted a few more beans. The kohlrabi hadn’t come up very well so a little more of it needed replanted as well.

I had tilled up the ground the night before so everything was ready to go. Our friend and working share member, Mary, came out and helped us hand plant two rows of seed. For a little while I wondered if I’d done the wrong thing as the sun started peaking in and out of the clouds warming things up to the point it was going to start wilting the greens before we could get them to the cooler! After a little time though more clouds rolled in and it started thundering…shortly after the thunder started it was sprinkling, then raining lightly. That’s Kansas for you! In the end I was glad we had taken time to plant seed earlier in the morning as it ended up raining 3/4" again!

We got a late start on CSA since we’d planted first thing in the morning, but G-Jean, Granddad and Jena all helped me get the shares ready and thankfully we had them ready in record time!

All the cover crop of ryegrass has matured too much since I’ve been unable to mow it due to the heavy rain fall. I may have a "weed" of ryegrass now since the seed heads are shooting up and mature! We’re planting seed in the photo below and the over-mature rye grass is on the left.

5-12-2009 (2)

About 550 sweet potato slips arrived by mail this week, so now we’re waiting on a little drier weather to set them out! I was really hoping to use the transplanter to set out the tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, sweet potatoes, melons, squash and cucumbers but it may be necessary to mud them all in by hand!

Most of my Thursday afternoon was taken up covering the two outside rows of potatoes in the bed we’ll be harvesting for new potatoes. I’d planned on coming back shortly after planting the bed and covering the outside two rows better, but I’d wanted to lay out some insect barrier fabric first so I could figure out how wide to allow the leaf mulch to spread. Well, I never got back around to the insect barrier so the potatoes have grown with little mulch covering them. There wasn’t enough cover for them to produce well so I had to go back and cover them up… I still hope to get the insect barrier over the bed before the potato bugs come out in force!

5-3-2009 (15)

Three hurrahs for the ladybugs and lacewings! Especially the ladybug population has exploded and the voracious aphid-eating ladybug larva have been severely chomping into the aphid populations in the big hoop house! Way to go ladybugs! That’s a "natural" way of handling the aphid infestation without sprays.

Ladybug laying eggs

4-30-2009 (19)

We’ve gotten pretty far behind in the field work due to the wet weather so I’ll probably not have time to write an update while I’m trying to get caught up. Mom will likely be posting photos to the blog now and then to keep you informed as to what’s happening on the farm.

Have a great summer!

Farmer Josh and the Mitchell Family Crew

Bloom Report:

4-30-2009 (4)

Sweet William

4-30-2009 (7)

Snowball Bush

5-4-2009 (39)


5-5-2009 (26)

Daisy Fleabane (wildflower)

5-6-2009 (27)


5-6-2009 (29)


5-7-2009 (125)


5-7-2009 (131)


5-9-2009 (14)


5-11-2009 (15)

Japanese iris