Wooden model class at Columbia Area Career Center

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Would you like to build and display something like this? Building wooden models engages the mind and hands, teaching patience and craftsmanship. It’s a hobby I really enjoy, and can be pursued on a tight budget with creativity and planning. While interacting with communities online, I’ve found that many new modelers tend to ask the same questions, face the same confusions, and make the same mistakes. Model-building is a hands-on, tactile experience and it’s hard to convey answers and experience through the web, yet many people also don’t have in-person access to other modelers.

On Saturday, February 20th, 2016, I’m offering an Introduction to Building Wooden Models class through the Columbia Area Career Center, from 9 a.m. to noon. Attendees will explore basic skills for kit or scratch-built models. While I’ll be drawing on my own experience with maritime, aircraft, and model-railroad structural models, I hope to facilitate discussion within the group to bring out as many different experiences and perspectives as possible. Continue reading

Birding local farms in May: Recap of Columbia Audubon Society field trips

We organized and led two birding field trips this May to central Missouri sustainable farms whose land management integrates a wide variety of wildlife habitat into their food production. Unlike monoculture cropland, the right kind of farmland can actually increase bird habitat and biodiversity, and such private farms host interesting landscapes that might not be represented on public lands. We hoped to give Columbia Audubon Society members, and other birders, a chance to visit and interact with some new locations and landscapes they might otherwise not have access to. Read on for details of each trip. Continue reading

Visit us at Columbia’s Earth Day, Sunday April 26

Note: The Columbia Earth Day event has been postponed to April 26.

For the second year, we’ll be hosting a booth at Columbia’s Earth Day festival. Last year, we won the organization’s Best For-Profit Booth award. We are looking forward to another enjoyable experience, this time with a location on Eco Avenue, the heart of Earth Day, located on Elm St between 7th & 8th St.

This year we intend to have a variety of interesting reasons to stop by, including:

  • Kid-friendly, hands-on interpretive displays of natural items from the farm.
  • Wood products for sale, including garden-bed frame kits and birdhouses built to Audubon standards, all made from cedar wood cut and milled on-farm (more about birdhouses here).
  • Signups for notification of produce available later in the season, including strawberries and garlic.
  • Small packets of Mercuri tomato seeds, a rare heirloom tomato that come from a friend’s Canadian-Italian family. These are winter-storage tomatoes; they will not beat most summer tomatoes in fresh flavor, but will store for months in your pantry, giving you fresh tomatoes long after the growing season is over (and saving significant canning work). They are prolific, hardy, and disease-resistant. We offer these through the Seed Savers Exchange network, but will make them available at Earth Day as a way to encourage home gardening and local food consumption.
  • We may have small amounts of herbs or other produce for sale. This will be a last-minute decision.

Here are photos of some prototype wood products we’ll be offering. Top photo, from left to right, wren house, bluebird house, phoebe shelf. Bottom photo, 3’x4′ garden bed frame. Finished product will be screwed together at the joints, ready to be filled with soil/compost and planted. Also available, 4’x4′ squares. Cedar lumber resists rot very well and will last many years as a bed frame. These are also good for framing young trees.
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We both plan to attend this year, so stop by, check out the displays, chat about eco-friendly diversified farming, consider adding a birdhouse or garden bed to your home, and help make this another great Earth Day!

Pesticide drift article in Growing for Market

The April issue of Growing for Market, a national “trade publication for local food producers”, carries an article we wrote about farmers handling pesticide drift incidents. It briefly tells two stories of recent drift contamination in central Missouri (our own experience and that of Terra Bella Farm), and presents ways farmers can prepare for handling or preventing such an event. If you’re not a Growing for Market subscriber but want to read the article, individual issues can  be ordered in print or digital format.

For readers of GFM who have found our site after reading the article, you can read more about our specific experience in this three-part blog series: Part I, Part II, & Part III. We hope the article is helpful to others in preparing for this increasing threat, and welcome any feedback, comments, or stories you may want to share.

Birding class this spring at Eagle Bluffs

In April we’ll be offering a chance to learn more about central Missouri birding, with a one-day class through the Columbia Area Career Center. This is a great chance to explore Eagle Bluffs, one of the region’s top bird conservation areas, and gain some practical skills in bird identification and appreciation. Here’s the catalog description (p. 45) followed by some more detail about our goals for the class; we hope to have an enthusiastic group and cooperative weather! If interested, register through the Career Center.

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Basic Birding Skills

Saturday, 4/11/15, 8:00 – noon

Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area is a birding gem in Columbia’s backyard. We’ll explore its various habitats, practice observational and listening skills, and consider bird behavior. No experience necessary, only a desire to discover what makes birding so popular!

Course description: In a hands-on natural setting, students will explore how to observe and listen to a wide variety of birds, understand and analyze their habitats and behaviors, and otherwise gain basic skills that can be applied to birding in any location. Course is intended to teaching birding skills in the field rather than bird identification per se, though we expect attendees will come away more familiar with specific birds than when they arrived. For example, we will practice observing and recording specific features of birds that can be used for later identification, rather than trying to identify birds on the fly. Overall, we want students to see some neat birds, enjoy a morning of nature observation, and come away with new confidence and birding skills.

Presenter biography: We are members of the Columbia Audubon Society, and experienced observers of birds across central Missouri and on our own diverse farm. Joanna is a lifelong birder from a birding family, while Eric holds a Masters in Teaching and has extensive experience in public science education.

2014 CSA distribution #7

Welcome to summer. Long, hot days on the farm under continued good growing conditions result in copious vegetables and somewhat stressed farmers. The peas are taking over where the strawberries left off as a harvest time sink. Planting, weeding, mulching, and other tasks continue to more than absorb what time and energy we have available.

Continue reading

Good weather, good work, good food, good life

There are hard days on the farm, and then there are days like Tuesday. Sunny, temperatures soaring to near 60º on a warm southerly breeze, the snow & ice of a long winter melting rapidly with the delightful gurgling of awakened streams. We’ve been getting a lot of useful things done lately, but this temporary relief from the cold made everything seem even better. Here’s a photo essay of some mid-February farm conditions and projects. Continue reading

Help free Shakir Hamoodi, for his sake and ours

Once again, supporters and family of Dr. Shakir Hamoodi are mounting an effort to convince President Obama to commute his current 3-year jail sentence to time served, achieving his release and return to his family & business (past efforts have been ignored). Beyond our personal opinion of the matter, discussed in this piece from last year, this situation affects every member of the Chert Hollow Farm CSA and all those with an interest in the stability and success of our farm. Continue reading

No phone service (NOW FIXED)

Phones are back up again.

We currently have no phone service, with uncertain date of repair, but our internet is still working. With a distribution coming up tomorrow, we wanted to note this in case anyone needs to get in touch. Please use email if needed, with the understanding that who knows if that will stop working too.