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
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
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
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
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
This is the winter squash equivalent of zucchini bread: easy and delicious. The year we were married was a great year for winter squash. They served as decorations and we served them in wedding cake, baked according to this recipe and dressed up with cream cheese frosting. This recipe is kind of heavy on white flour and sugar and somewhat sparse on farm ingredients (only eggs & squash, and occasionally yogurt if I substitute it for a part of the oil). However, it is yummy, so we’re going to provide the recipe as baked for that special day.
Weather permitting, the first CSA share of 2013 will be distributed Monday January 7th and Thursday January 10th.This will be a good trial run of the initial delivery routes, while functioning as an early-signing bonus for members who join up in time. We’ll be accepting members throughout spring until we fill up; the next share will probably happen in April. If you’re considering joining or rejoining the CSA, this would be a great time to do so. Continue reading
We’re often asked what we do in the winter when we’re not actively growing vegetables. The answer, is A LOT. This kind of diversified farm has seasonal work throughout the year, both to keep our own household fed & functional and to support the vegetable growing season. Here’s a wordy but far-from-complete brain dump of what we’ve been working on lately and will continue to work on through at least January; these are presented in no particular order. Continue reading
Recently a reporter from Harvest Public Media visited our farm to talk about the costs & benefits of organic certification; a well-timed story given concerns over the effect of a stalled Farm Bill on the cost of certification, and the overall conversation we have every year about whether to re-certify. This is a very complicated topic that encompasses everything from giant international mega-farms to tiny local family operations, across a wide range of geographic and climatic settings, producing pretty much every kind of food one can think of, and in various regulatory environments. We thought the story came out quite well overall, and encourage readers to listen to/read it here.
There is one significant clarification we’d like to make, however: the quote from Sue Baird saying “USDA stats said an organic farm nets $20,000 more than the same size conventional farm” is a broad oversimplification and quite misleading in the context of the story; it may be accurate for large grain farms or other high-gross operations, but not for the kind of small, direct-market farms otherwise described in the piece. We didn’t appreciate the implication (though unintended by the reporter) that a $700 certification cost results in $20,000 of additional profit. That’s not even remotely the case. Also, just to clarify for our CSA members, the lettuce being fed to the animals was freeze-damaged or otherwise seconds-quality; you’re not being stiffed!
Like September and October before it, November continued our long, drawn-out, stable autumn. Like much of 2012, it was generally warm (a few degrees above average) and dry (about 30% of average rainfall as recorded by the Columbia weather station). In fact, it’s been so dry that (like summer 2012) we’ve been having the desert-air effect in which days become quite warm but nights cool off rapidly, producing a multitude of hard overnight freezes on days we could work in T-shirts. This has been a problem for some fall/overwintering crops, from which we’ve had to remove all irrigation lines due to the freezes, but which are likely drought-stressed and thus under-performing (like spinach). In addition, our fields of winter cover crops have barely grown since germination. We are definitely concerned about a repeat of winter 2011/2012, which was warm & dry and got us off to such an early start to the season with a variety of problematic consequences. Regardless, it’s been a pleasant month with a fair amount of wildlife observation due to hunting season. Read on for some photos (including a very interesting new species for the farm) and bird list. Continue reading