Feb 132013
 

“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. … And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:13,19 Paul learned something I am still in the process of learning…being content in whatever circumstance I find myself in whether abounding with plenty or little. He reminds us however that as we faithfully serve Christ and share His love with others around us God is faithful and will always supply all of our needs. That is a promise carried throughout all scripture and one which we can stand on despite the storms of life that come our way!snow on the woodpile (2-13-2013)

Snow! We actually got a little more than a dusting of snow this time and it actually seemed to be throwing “snow balls” instead of snow flakes! Dad and I were doing chores while the huge flakes were falling just prior to it getting dark and how beautiful they were to see falling from the sky, lazily, with only a moderate wind to carry them along.

snow on kale (2-13-2013)

What a blessing it is for the Lord to be sending small rain showers along now too! Over the past few weeks it seems like we get about one or two days we can get in the garden and prepare a little more ground for planting and then here comes another rain shower soaking the ground (making it too sticky to work the ground) and preparing the seed beds for this coming season! Our cover crop of wheat has really been shooting up with the combination of rain, sunshine and warm weather!

working ground (2013-02-12)

Last year a 5′ rotary tiller was purchased for the Kubota in order to help Dad keep up with some of the bindweed and Johnson grass that was running rampant. While rotary tillers are a double edged sword (tilling causes severe soil compaction and destroys earthworms along with their tunnels which are very beneficial to the soil structure yet tilling produces a very nice, smooth seed bed) it has been a blessing to have it in several ways. G-Jean hadn’t had the opportunity to learn how to run it although she’s been itching to try it out. Soooo…one day while it was just barely dry enough (some of our heavier clay soils were still way to wet!) G-Jean and I went out to some ground we were ready to work up and after some brief instructions she took off. She tore the ground all up too! Just like I’d requested though. :-)

hoop house

We have been making headway towards getting the big hoop house put back together. All of the wooden boards have been taken off and nearly all the plastic lumber boards are fastened on completely now! There are still several details that need finished up but Lord willing it won’t be too much longer before we are ready to put the plastic back on.

Our unexpected early uncovering of the big hoop house exposed several overwintering crops to the elements, but thankfully since they were hardier crops like spinach, kale, Swiss Chard and green onions they appear to be ok although we may loose the first harvest of the early season due to brown edges around the leaves.

peanuts dryingThis past year Dad tried growing peanuts for the first time on our farm. They did ok although we would like to try planting them a little earlier if we grow them again as well as not having quite such a severe drought to grow them in.

Up and growing now are early broccoli, cabbage and new for us this season, Lacinto Kale! Lord willing we will be able to transplant these outdoors under some of our season extension “mini hoops” for some extra early harvests!

nest boxes

Recently Mom decided to experiment with using old, worn-out jeans to use as next box covers for her hens. So far they appear to be working out good!

This coming Saturday, February 16 will be our first Fruit Tree Pruning Workshop. More information is on our website: http://mitchellfamilyfarm.us/2013/02/mini-workshops/
Feel free to email or call if you have questions about the workshops. Class size is limited so please let us know if you plan to attend.

Better hop along for now, but enjoy the rain and beautiful spring like weather between!

May you have a blessed week.

Farmer Joshua and the Mitchell Crew

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Ps. Pre-Bloom Report (as good as we can do at the moment!) Spring is on its way!

Daffodils!

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Mar 182009
 

 Hello!

Does anyone have the fan control? Keep it on “low” for a while please! Whoever has that thermostat control could you please stop turning the knob back and forth!!! If you can’t keep it above freezing, please hold the temperature in the twenties. However, if you can keep it above freezing let spring come on as everything is turning green after the recent rains!

A week ago last Monday we started noticing the radishes and turnips we planted in the hoop houses are coming up! Rhubarb is showing its head as well and we are even seeing a few asparagus shoots! We’d hoped the asparagus would wait to come up until the CSA started, but we’ve just had too much warm weather for it to do that.

Quite a bit of the day I spent tearing apart the transplanter and finding what needed repaired before I can use it. Later that evening Sam Nisly, a carpenter we asked to build the addition onto the garage, drove up with the lumber for that project so it would be here and ready for him.

3-11-2009-5

 We have planned on making that addition for quite a few years, but never have gotten around to it and had used some of the tin we had purchased for that project to cover our front porch so we could have a little more storage room for the house. With the lumber here and Sam wanting to get started the next afternoon (it rained, preventing him from carrying out our well laid plans) Dad, Jena and I scrambled around and got the tin unscrewed and pulled off the porch taking all the styrofoam insulation out along with the 2×4 stringers we’d screwed the tin down with. It was dark by the time we got done, but we made it!

That night we had heavy wind and a downpour of rain! By morning there was hardly a puddle to be found although the creek had risen some. I also noticed that some of the oats planted in the pea rows were popping up!

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  Mom had checked the weather forecast and told me it was basically supposed to just get windier and colder all day. Deciding if it was going to stay cool and cloudy I’d prefer getting the mini hoop plastic over the hoops before the wind got any stronger…it was already coming across the country at a good clip!

The morning kept me hopping between projects; from getting the trailer ready for Granddad so he could haul gravel for the garage addition’s floor to helping G-Jena get set up for planting onion sets, chores, unloading Granddad’s first and second loads of gravel and believe I watered the hoop houses as well. I may have watered that afternoon…can’t remember for sure… We did cheat on unloading the gravel though. I think the picture is self explanatory!

  3-10-2009-8

 Our weather basically followed the weatherman’s prediction and hit a high of 60 by 10:00 am. and then started falling and didn’t quit until it found a low of 24 that night! During the day we had a few small cold showers of rain and the wind did increase on average. By that evening it was getting rather chilly!

Since the temperature was getting so cold I decided I’d better drain the hoses, cut what little asparagus was poking through the ground as it was just going to freeze off and mulch the rhubarb that was showing itself as well! Oh yes, had to check out the hoop house heaters and take the 100 lb. propane bottle down to the little hoop house and hook it up along with checking out and setting up a squirrel cage fan that someone had given to us to move air in the big hoop house.

I’d hauled the fan up from our recycle pile after dark the night before since it was supposed to rain. The fan actually worked without me needing to repair it! Transferring the big hoop house’s fan out I hooked the squirrel cage fan up and took the other fan down to the little hoop house.

Jena and Leah playing with horses.

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 Wednesday I set up some more lights on the plant shelves as the back green house is full and I didn’t have room for the cabbage and broccoli that needed to be transplanted into larger blocks! I started making soil blocks after getting the plant shelves set up. Since I ran out of the large soil blocking mix, I had to mix up some more. Dad came home shortly after that so I grabbed him for a little bit and got his suggestions on getting the transplanter in working order.

Early Thursday morning I made some more soil blocks and then Sam Nisly was able to come over with his son Nathan to work on the garage addition. Our family was very favorably impressed with the speed they made things happen! Jena helped G-Jean switch out trays of transplant blocks while I helped Sam and Nathan. I was very thankful for Jena’s help!

Progressive pictures of the addition throughout the day!

 

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 Our family also really enjoyed Sam and Nathan’s cheerful smiles and attitude!!!

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 After lunch I got G-Jean started transplanting blocks of lettuce, spinach and radicchio from the back greenhouse to both the hoop houses. When G-Jean was done transplanting she hoed in the big hoop house. Funny, even though the temperatures were kind of cold outside, G-Jean seemed to really like working in the hoop houses! The little bit of sunshine making its way through the clouds sure warmed up the hoop houses!

Sam and Nathan pretty well had everything under control so after getting G-Jean started on the transplanting I worked on putting the transplanter back together. I think it’s nearly ready for a test run!

About dark Dad and I hauled the new drag closer to the garage work area to fix it up. One of the main level adjustment pieces needed straightening. My goodness those bolts were rusted solid! With a little work Dad and I were able to get it back to operational although not in prime condition. (There are still a few warps and bends, some make-do pieces and a quite a little rust.)

Sam returned the next day to put the finishing touches on the lean-to. I helped a little trying to keep him supplied in materials etc. It turned out that we’d had a miscommunication and Sam wasn’t prepared to build doors on the end of the building. He had quite a shock when I said something about building the doors that day! Since building the doors wasn’t on his agenda he hadn’t brought any hinges so I rustled around a bit and found just the right number of hinges in a stash of “extra” hinges Dad had picked up a while ago. We were also running close on lumber so I scrounged around and came up with just about the correct amount of lumber in our recycle pile! The Lord just kept helping us find what we needed to make the doors come together and Sam was very generous in taking the extra time to make them…we are extremely grateful to him!

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 Completed project!

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 Shortly after the addition was finished we started having company roll in. A family from church came out and fed the bottle lambs and took a tour of the farm. Leah’s family drove up too with some friends. Leah had come earlier so she and Jena could get Storm (Leah’s horse) ready to ride. They even put Leah’s new saddle on so all the kids could ride “western”!

Feeding lambs…

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  …saying “hello” to Abigail and Anyque…

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 …gathering eggs!

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…and on top of the world!

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 That evening I tried out the drag to see how it would work. The oats I had disked up a few weeks ago hadn’t decomposed enough for it to work properly. The drag would gather up a big wad of oat “trash” and then either dump it in a pile or start pushing a growing mound of soil. I had hoped it would break up some of the soft, crumbly clods that the rain had softened. Oh well, it was worth a try.

Dad had to work a half day at the cement plant Saturday morning, but we were all very thankful that he could come home about 1:00. Granddad was rolling up wire and after lunch Dad and Mom went out to burn off some more of the big pasture. After Granddad was done rolling up wire he helped Mom and Dad burn and they got about half the main section of the big pasture burned by evening.

 3-14-2009

The section of pasture we burned off near the end of January has been coming back beautiful and green with the gorgeous warm days and recent rains. You can see the contrasting brown of the unburned pasture in the foreground and on the left.

 

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 Jena and Leah went to trim for one of her Natural Hoof Care clients and didn’t get back until late afternoon. G-Jean worked in the garden and hoop houses most of the day. I, on the other hand, played a little with all the different land levelers and clod crushing pieces of equipment I could think of to find something that would crush the dirt clods and handle all the extra oat “trash”. I didn’t find the perfect piece of equipment, but a combination of a couple pieces of equipment may end up working. Dad found plans for making a “mumbler” (clod crusher) made out of boards and if I get time I plan to try making one.

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 Planting a cover crop of peas and oats in one section of the garden was also on the agenda and I was able to get that done.

 


As many of you are aware the government seems to keep getting larger and larger managing to make more and more rules and regulations that may be well intentioned but could end up squashing small farms. There are now several bills in congress (H.R. 875, H.R. 759, S.425 and H.R. 814) that will make it nearly impossible for small farms to register and keep up with all the necessary licenses, record keeping etc. The cost for the mandatory registration will put most small farms under. In my opinion it’s safer to have many smaller sustainable farms that are customer inspected (on small direct-market farms the customers are the end consumers!) rather than the large mega factory farms that have a government inspector swing by every once in a while… Just look at all the medical problems related to mega factory farms and processing facilities recently!

Another view is if there are many small diversified farms there will be a much more stable food base than a few large farms supplying huge percentages of the food supply. One small 160 acre farm going under for one reason or another won’t make nearly as large a ripple in the food supply as a 10,000 acre farm! For more information on the bills in congress look at:  http://thomas.loc.gov/ and type in the bill of interest. A good article to read is posted at the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund website:  http://www.ftcldf.org/news/news-02mar2009.htm  Also check out the Action Alert located here:  http://www.ftcldf.org/aa/aa-14mar2009.htm

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 Of similar concern for small farmers is the NAIS (National Animal Identification System) which will require farmers to implant micro chips in all kinds of livestock including chickens and other small animals! For more information on the NAIS look at:  http://farmandranchfreedom.org/content/federal-updateshttp://www.nonais.org/  and http://www.ftcldf.org/nais.html

If  you are concerned about maintaining a base of diversified small farms across this country, read up on these issues and write your congressmen to let them know how you feel.


Enjoy the spring weather!

Farmer Josh and the Mitchell family crew

 www.mitchellfamilyfarm.us

Cell:620-330-1966

 Jena calling the sheep in for breakfast and counting lambs. We now have 33 lambs and a set of triplet goat kids!

 3-9-2009-8

 

 

Bloom report:

Many color variations of daffodils are still blooming

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Glory-of-the-Snow

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