Recent goat miscarriage: possible causes & implications

In the background of all else going on this winter, we’ve been quietly considering and addressing some concerns with the goats, which came to a head on Thursday night with a miscarriage of three kids. We’re writing up a long description and discussion of these events and our analysis of them for multiple reasons: for our own records and use, for the openness about our successes and problems that is quite important to us, and for the use and reference of other small farmers seeking the same answers online that we so often do. We know that such openness has the potential to make us look like bad managers, but the reality is that sometimes bad things happen in farming. Analyzing the situation and reflecting on things we might have done differently is one of the ways we learn to do better in the future. And if this is helpful to others in a similar situation, then we deem it to be information worth sharing.

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Bird list & natural events, Februrary 2013

Well, February will certainly be remembered around here; it was quite different from last year’s absurdly warm & dry month. After a  first three weeks of stable, moderately moist, unremarkable weather, winter remembered its existence for the first time in two years and dropped two major winter storms in our laps within 5 days. The remaining week of February was quite memorable, not least because of the excellent birding produced by so much snow. Though the short-term damage and inconvenience are real, in the long run we’ll be very grateful for this much moisture added to the soil as we hopefully begin recovering from last year’s drought. Read on for this month’s extra-long bird list and some fun photos taken at our feeder. Continue reading

Handling winter storms on a homestead farm

Two strong winter storms over the past week offer an excellent chance to examine how a farm like ours can both benefit and suffer from winter weather. While these storms created a variety of problems for us, our long-term focus on diversification and self-sufficiency in both business and personal life really paid off under these conditions. Here’s a look at what happened, and how it’ll affect us in both the short and long term. Continue reading

Organic re-certification decision

Back in November, we wrote about the political uncertainty surrounding organic cost-share funding, and its potential impact on the farm for this (and future) years. Harvest Public Media did a story on organic certification & its cost in December. In the chaos of the fiscal cliff mess at the turn of the year, the old Farm Bill was renewed, but without funding for organic cost share. This is precisely the situation that we feared, and it is forcing us and other organic farms into a difficult decision of whether to continue to pay the costs associated with the legal use of that word, as reported in this Harvest Public Media story featuring Happy Hollow Farm.

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CSA event: Backyard Bird Count Saturday Feb 16

This coming weekend, we’ll be taking part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, and CSA members are invited to join us. This fantastic event is a joint effort by various organizations to crowd-source data on wild bird populations across the country; last year over 100,000 checklists were submitted with over 17 million birds counted. It’s a great chance for outdoors enthusiasts of any birding skill level to enjoy a morning on the farm and take part in some worthwhile citizen science. We hope some members can join us; details below. Continue reading

February newsletter & to-do list

February effectively marks the beginning of the 2013 farm year for us, with a wide variety of things to do from starting the first seedlings to firewood cutting. Last year’s post on winter farm work covers many of the same things we’ll be fitting into a busy month this year, but here’s a look at what’s on our plate for early 2013, along with a quick look at our January road trip. Continue reading

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Bird list & natural events, January 2013

We missed part of January on the farm, taking a road trip to the Louisiana coast, but still recorded the normal suite of winter birds (very similar to last January) The month was seriously dry until the 29th, when strong storms quickly dumped 2.27″ of rain, almost as much as we received from Hurricane Isaac last year. Ironically, given the dry soil and low, drought-stressed vegetation, a lot of this precip turned into runoff. Our stream started flowing for the first time in almost a year. We also had some erosion of roads and other hard-packed surfaces. But at this point, any rain is welcome. Not much else to report during what was a fairly stable and unremarkable month here; even our trail camera didn’t catch anything beyond a few deer and coyotes. Read on for the January bird list. Continue reading

Using pig organs & other unusual bits

This is the third year we’ve raised and butchered our own pork, and each year we try a few more ways to use every bit of the animal. This year, especially, we were able to experiment with some really interesting dishes using fresh blood, organ meats, and more, which we’ll describe here for others intrigued by traditional and interesting uses of pig parts. Many of these we prepared and served in one night’s meal shortly after butchering (in December), joined by an adventurous friend we were sure would want to explore some of these dishes. Thanks for helping out, Nick! Continue reading

Why we don’t deliver eggs to CSA members at World Harvest

More CSA members are opting to have their shares delivered to World Harvest this year (rather than to home/work). Under our interpretation of Missouri law, we cannot deliver our eggs to the store, because we have chosen not to get an egg license. But it’s just a $5 egg license, right? Why not get one? Read on for our  more detailed explanation of why we are choosing not to do so. Continue reading

Bird list & natural events, December 2012

December eventually produced some winter weather, a slower schedule of outdoor work, and the chance to pay more attention to our winter birds and other natural happenings. We spend far more time indoors, doing office & personal work, yet also tend to spend more time in the woods and non-field parts of the farm than during the growing season, giving us a different perspective on the natural world here. Read on for weather notes, bird observations, and more. Continue reading