Apr 022009

Mud sloggin’ greetings!

Last week was extremely wet…especially by the end! Big news is SNOW! We got rain the first of the week then it started drying out only to get wet again mid week and then Friday afternoon it started raining again… it was cold too! (about 35 degrees and the damp wind was blowing!) Saturday morning it started up again and turned to a nearly freezing rain for a little bit then a slush which progressed onto small sleet and then snow! It was even thundering while we were getting heavy snow fall. It sure was pretty! The temperatures kept hovering right below 32 so with the warm soil a lot of snow melted making a cold muddy slush, but then it started sticking and we ended up with about 4-6″ of beautiful soggy wet snow! But wait! There’s more big news to come later in this update…

Jena and Tiny playing in the snow.
3-29-2009 (83)
Note to all CSA shareholders! I sent out a notice that we anticipate starting the CSA in a couple of weeks. If you have not responded yet please send a quick note confirming you received the CSA information. Thanks!
Asparagus!!! Our asparagus has “jumped the gun” and decided to start growing before the CSA. A limited supply of asparagus is available for purchase on a first come first served basis. I’m currently taking preorders for this farm fresh delicious asparagus as the asparagus’ growth is greatly affected with the weather and I’m not sure how fast it will be growing which affects how much we will have available. Asparagus is $3.50/lb.
Kale is available at $2.50 per pound or $2.25 per pound for 5 or more pounds.
Limited amounts of arugula are available at $1 for 4 oz. or $3.50 per lb.
Inside the big hoop house with snow all around!
3-29-2009 (109)
Farm fresh eggs from our flocks of pastured hens are available as well! These great tasting brown eggs are available for only $1.75 per dozen medium or $2.00 per dozen large eggs. The Cinnamon Queen hens are still outdoing themselves and we have a bountiful supply of these great eggs!
Regular produce pick up times are 5-7 pm. on Tuesday or 10 am to noon on Saturdays. Please preorder all produce at least by noon the day before pick up by phone or e-mail to ensure we have your order ready. If the regular pick up times will not work into your schedule let us know and we’ll do our best to accommodate you.
The chickens didn’t quite know what to think about all that white stuff!
3-28-2009 (54)
Also, due to the processing plant needing to reschedule it will be necessary to move our next beef preorder date up to June 15th. There is more information on this wonderful grass fed, grain finished beef on our website at: http://www.mitchellfamilyfarm.us/products.htm
A week ago last Monday it appeared to be threatening rain so we planted beets in the early morning then worked on putting boards back in the manure spreader’s floor. We had to quit mid afternoon though as I had an appointment to look at a team of horses. It worked out great as Dad was taking a week vacation! Dad, Jena and Leah decided to come along so we all headed out.
Planting beets.
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My great big huge news is that this was the team the Lord had been keeping for me!
I had been praying that when I found the right team it would be clear they were the ones. Other teams I’ve looked at have had some confusing aspects where I wasn’t sure if they’d work well or were well trained. After a couple visits to one team that was the most promising I decided they just weren’t quite the right ones. With me being slow at making decisions as a general rule, I figured it would be necessary for me to go back and see the team a few times before deciding for sure if they were the ones for me. I was a little wrong with that thought however because after we harnessed, drove and unharnessed this team I just felt like these were the right ones and why wait?!
The gentleman was bringing the team up from pasture when we drove in the drive and he harnessed them while we were watching. He has worked this team with three to four abreast over seven acres of ground about six times already this year so they were “up to par” on the driving end. When I got a hold of the lines to drive them they were very light. It seemed this team had been fairly “naturally” trained rather than “traditionally”. They would stop and turn with voice commands and responded very well to line pressure.
I drove the team as singles (one at a time) picked up their hooves (one of the horses I looked at in another team had tried kicking me) and played a little with their mouths to see how they responded. They weren’t overly fond of me playing around their heads, but would allow it, unlike another team in which a horse had tried biting me! I’m also particular about the picking-up-the-hooves part as my personal natural hoof care practitioner is very important to me (Jena) and I don’t want her to get hurt!
Bell on the left and Blaze on the right. So far they haven’t been very photogenic, but I’m sure Mom will be giving them lessons on how to look at the camera better!
3-26-2009 (43)
Tuesday, Dad and I reprioritized what we’d kind of laid out for the week and got a little fence built so the team could have some pasture and started back up on building the hay feeder. Dad, Jena and Leah built most of the fence while I was checking on the availability of harness! I called Jake Harmon to see if he’d be able to haul the team home for me and he said that Wednesday evening would be ok for him if the owner could work with it.
Fence building.
3-24-2009 (47)
Wednesday morning we had to take Tiny (Jena’s Great Dane) into the vet because she was really sick. The vet never did figure out exactly what was wrong, but basically did exploratory surgery. They kept Tiny overnight, but Jena checked on her later in the afternoon. The vet had Tiny in a cage with 2×4″ welded wire and zip tied all the way around the seams. Just in case you’ve never seen Tiny and Jena they’re really close buddies… After Jena left the vet said Tiny was ready to come home and literally took the cage apart snapping zip ties until she could fit through the growing hole! Needless to say Tiny was glad to get back home the next morning!’
Dad and I continued working on the hay feeder Wednesday and I took out in the late afternoon to go pick up the horses with Jake. I really appreciated Jake taking as much time as needed to load and unload the horses as the first horse didn’t want to unload when she came here…backing, backing, but she didn’t want to set her hoof down off the trailer!
3-25-2009 (2)
Thursday and Friday were mostly spent getting to know the team a little better and working on the hay feeder. By Friday night we pretty well had the feeder completed. Dad and I closed up the east end of the square granary temporarily so there wasn’t quite such a wind tunnel for the poor girls since the rain was blowing in hard. They even thought the new hay feeder made of a cut down, reconstructed and rewelded rectangular hay feeder with a remesh floor, recycled belting sides, plywood dividers and hand heated and bent sucker rod tie rings would work!
Friday morning we got up and Tiny was sick again so we took her back to the vet. Once again they couldn’t tell what was wrong, but helped her feel better. They sent her home that afternoon with more medicine instead of keeping her overnight again though! We’re very thankful that the Lord has kept Tiny feeling better to this point now.
Dad and I got back around to working on the manure spreader Saturday and finished putting the floor boards in it. The high was only around the mid 30’s so we backed the car out of the garage and put the manure spreader in! We had also replaced the front tires earlier in the week so it rolled pretty good.
3-28-2009 (5)
While the rain made everything extremely wet since the ground was already saturated the snow later in the day sure was pretty to watch while laying on my back looking out the garage door under the manure spreader drilling holes through the spreader’s frame and boards and putting nuts on bolts Dad drove down to me from the top side.
The next morning we saw a low of 22 degrees! Since the snow had been so wet, everything that had melted slightly was slick ice on top and the rest was heavily crusted with ice. On a wild hair I took a friend’s advice who loves cross country skiing and tried to improvise a quick set of skis… They were very cobbled together using scrap lumber and pipe I found laying around the garage along with a couple pieces of baling twine to strap my boots on. The skis didn’t work the best, but were fun to play around with.
3-29-2009 (88)
Dad saw my humble piece of work and his brain’s wheels started turning. While I played with my skis a little he tramped down to the recycle pile a couple times and came back with a rail from a galvanized steel gate that had fallen apart. Cutting some ski tips from pipe and bolting them on, he had me find a set of big old rusty barn door hinges. After bolting the hinges to the rail just a little off center we took some twine and lashed Jena on for the test run.
3-29-2009 (1)
This set of skis worked much better, but the temperatures were warming up fast! The warmer it got the less of a crust she had to float over… Our twine also kept breaking as the hinges would cut it into so we found some heavier duty lashing material to keep Jena’s boots in place. As we went by the scrap pipe pile Dad grabbed a couple of “ski poles” for Jena. Before she was done Jena got the hang of skiing pretty well and she’s now the Mitchell Family Farm cross country ski pro!
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The Mitchell Family Farm ski inventor with his improved set of skies!
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Monday I fixed up the next two pigorator pens and moved the pigs in. Those pigs loved all the sprouting seeds that were coming up in their new territory! You could almost watch them smile!
A good part of Tuesday was used setting up group pick ups for CSA members. Later in the afternoon I was able to get back around to the manure spreader and made progress to where we can turn the wheels which are on off the floor with jack stands under the frame and the beaters turn! I still need to get the drag chain fixed in it though… There is still quite a bit of work needing to be done on it yet, but it’s coming along!
Wednesday I worked on the manure spreader as little and almost have three rows out of the four row corn planter ready for the field with Granddad’s help!
4-1-2009 (19)
Two of the guard dogs, Bella and Russa, came to see what we were doing cross country skiing and didn’t think it was fair they were stuck on the other side of the creek…They wanted in on some of the fun too! Caye was also having a ball playing in the snow!!!
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Try to keep dry in this unpredictable weather!
Farmer Josh and the Mitchell family crew
Bloom report: It was interesting to see flowers poking out from under their snow blanket. New blooms have been slow to emerge in the colder weather.
Purple tulips at the beginning of the snow and then a few hours later!
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Grape Hyacinths peeking out – snow blew onto the camera lens blurring the photo
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The Red Bud trees in G-Jean and Granddad’s yard were in full bloom as well.
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The skis are ready for next year!
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Blaze looking over the barn gate.
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