Friday, September 30, 2011

under $6

A neighbor knocked on the door. At the end of the afternoon, dinner cooking on the stove, farmers cleaned up and resting after a long full day. "You keep pigs?" was the question. Hearts sink. Jaws drop. "Yes" is the answer.

And the wrestling of a 200 pound pig commences. If you saw it on a map you would not believe the distance the pig traveled, alone, through a closed gate, out of a pen, through a back yard and into a sand mound to commence digging.

For under $6 at the local Tractor Supply, a new gate hinge was purchased and installed. Such a small thing, back in place, will keep loose livestock in and the fox out.

That's why farmers sleep well at night.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

clover, not the goose

Our goal here is to grow beautiful greens for all the livestock to eat. We began with vines, small shrubs, tons of the non-native Queen Annes Lace.

At least a quarter of the pastures has changed dramatically. We have not seeded or added any fertilizer or herbicide. Homer has moved the animals about, with quick visits that last a day or less. This area has converted over to clover..and the cattle and the honeybees both love it.

Not certain why the Queen Annes Lace has vanished. Something to do with the ph change I'll bet. Last year it was everywhere and now we have the small flowered, native, 5 foot tall asters everywhere. I am loving how this looks!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

racing the frost

Our old friend George offered us a squash. Not just any squash. A 2 year old squash. Beautiful, blemish free, evenly colored, free from bug bites and worm holes. Hard as a rock. We brought it home, cut it open, cooked it up and spread the seeds out to dry.

George has been selecting seeds for more than 2 decades. He is working towards a winter squash (which is a squash that grows all summer, has a shelf life that allows it to be saved and eaten months or years later) that produces many squash per vine and is bug and disease resistant without additional sprays, dips, sprinkles. He has been successful, this plant grows beautifully. He warns that at harvest time we must wear gloves and long sleeves, as the plants have thorns that cut right through skin.

We have tended George's squash the way we do many things here: if it looks good we leave it alone. As we watched it has grown, flowered, had many bees pollinating those flowers and has set fruit. Not fruit, but little baby squash.

George's squash is not strong enough to withstand cold. There are a number of plants, mostly leafy greens, that can withstand cold temperatures. Winter squash is not one of them.

We are here speaking encouraging words to our little baby squash. We want to put them into our CSA boxes, hold some for winter eating, give some back to George.

At the same time we watch nighttime temperatures and hope the days are warm and have some sunshine. We want these things to mature before frost kills back the plant and growth for the season is stopped. We are racing the frost to harvest.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Farm Bill vote

Today is the day we ask that folks from PA focus their attention on a fair farm bill. Senator Casey is on the committee and needs to hear from us!

I’m helping to generate hundreds of phone calls into the office of Senator Casey today (Tuesday, Sept 27). Can you make a quick call? It only takes a minute and makes a big impact. You are likely to get his voicemail. Try to call early in the morning or in the early evening and you might get a human answering – just please make the call on Tuesday and let me know you called.

Here’s why:
I’m working on a campaign to support food that is safe, affordable, and sustainable; and a food system that is fair for farmers and consumers. As a key voice on the Senate Agriculture Committee, we need Senator Casey to use his position to oppose the delaying or derailing of the fair livestock marketing (GIPSA) rules that USDA proposed in the last Farm Bill – back in 2008.

The GIPSA rules include many commonsense measures that protect farmers, growers and ranchers (especially small-scale farmers) from abusive treatment at the hands of the meatpackers and poultry companies, including protections for farmers who speak out about concerns with the livestock industry; prohibitions against sweatheart deals for the the select few industrial producers growing and packing most of the meat in this country, and protections from unfair trade practices that result in limited access for most people to anything but factory farmed and highly processed meats.

Visit for more information.

Will you make a call to Casey’s office? Every call makes a huge impact! When you make the call, can you please send me an email at so that we can track the number of calls we have generated to his office? It is very important to keep track of the number of calls so we can report it in the press, and the higher the number the better!

First try the Harrisburg office: (717) 231-7540. You will likely get an answering machine. If his voicemail is full, you can call the DC office: (866) 802-2833.

Some options for what to say…
"Hi I'm __________, a constituent in ___________, Pennsylvania. I'm glad to hear that Senator Casey supports the GIPSA rules, but being in favor of it is not enough. Senator Casey should use his powerful seat on the Agriculture committee to fight for Pennsylvania family farmers and consumers by asking President Obama to implement the rule, not just sit on the sidelines. Please tell him to publicly call for implementation of the GIPSA rules. Thank you."

“Hi, I’m __________, a constituent in __________, Pennsylva
nia. Please tell Senator Casey thank you for supporting the GIPSA rules. I hope he will fight for their implementation. Thank you.”

“Hi, I’m __________, a constituent in __________, Pennsylvania. As a key voice on the Senate Agriculture Committee, we need Senator Casey to use his position to oppose the delaying or derailing of the fair livestock marketing (GIPSA) rules.

Thank you!

If you would like more information about the campaign, visit, or contact Charlie Furman (Food and Water Watch Field Organizer) at

Monday, September 26, 2011

on the run

All day long the dog runs. All. Day. Long. Sometimes we know what she is after, most times we have no idea. Today Homer said she did this for about 2 hours at top speed.

The rest of the day was spent running at a more normal speed.

Homer asked her over next to some vegetables still growing strong, for a perspective in the picture, so here she is guarding tomatillos:
When he asked her to sit next to the chard, she laid down and closed her eyes.
You know how they say dogs resemble their owners? She was supposed to be my dog, to keep me company and let me know when people knock on the door.

But she has opted to be Homer's dog. Up and running early, going all day. And when finally seated, slumps to one side and falls asleep. Just like Homer!

And one more, because these photos of the dog in the vegetables made me laugh. Hope you do too.

And she really does weigh only 11 pounds. But don't try and pet her. Her nickname of rattlesnake is well deserved.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Eat local winter plantings

It is surprising how easy it is to eat local in the wintertime. Seeds need to go into the ground while it is warm. They need the chance to germinate (sprout) and heat helps that happen. Homer adds a little bit of fabric row cover and in a few months we will scrape the snow off and eat from here. We should use the hoophouse but know that a few weeks in late January or early February the laying hens will need to go in there. It is just too cold for us to get water to them during those weeks. And no matter how hard we try they eat every green thing under the hoophouse. Even what is planted for us. So outside it is for our winter eats, and in late February after the weather breaks peas and other goodies get planted in the hoophouse. After the hens go back outside!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

double up

There are certainly times when I do not understand what Homer is telling me. His engineering mind jumps past mine and I am left in the dust, thinking maybe I should clean something. Just for that sense of accomplishment!

Today is one of those days. I don't understand what he is doing or why he is doing it. He is planting in elevated beds, tall enough that a ladder is required! We discussed adding additional hoophouses this year, but it is not in the budget. So he looked around at what we have and used it to install this:

An elevated planting bed!

And then he did this:
a watering system that uses the submersible pump that Carlisle Matt gave us. It also uses the water from the rain barrels and all that rain we have been blessed with for the last few months.

One more photo:
There is more than 1!! And to the left, under row covers, are the tomato plants. If the sun would come out the hundreds of tomatoes still on the vine would turn red. For now, nothing but green as far as we can see..

Friday, September 23, 2011

Turkey Break

Yesterday morning when the sun rose Homer was greeted with an unusual sight. Turkeys all over!

We keep them in pens to protect them from rain, hail, dogs, raccoons, hawks, owls, possums, skunks, snakes..everyone loves turkey! The door came undone..not at all sure how this happened..but there were turkeys, just hanging out under the shade tree. They went right back into the pen at feeding time, so all is well.

And they are looking beautiful! Last week one was purchased, dressed, and it was already 15 pounds. Turkey dinner, yum!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

one half day

Now there are 3 pens with pigs on the farm. 2 pigs that are huge in one pen, the little pigs digging up between garden beds, and then a pen of 5 that are clearing out the area beyond the trees, furthest from the house. Those 5 make the most noise of any animals we have ever owned! As we approach their pen they all squeal and shriek, they just make a huge ruckus. Now Homer is moving them twice per day.

Here is what they do in half a day. You can see all around what they ate through, and if you look closely at the location of the pen you can see they did, in fact, knock down a tree about an inch and a half in diameter. Yes, thoughts of pig use in Deadwood occurs on a regular basis.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

who works?

Homer and I love to tease each other about the condition of our hands. Sometimes people tell me my hands are soft. Because they are..

Homer's hands are rough and cracked. By mid-November they are cracked and bleeding. His Christmas and birthday presents always include some salve or ointment, a concoction with the shortest list of ingredients possible, meant to heal his poor hands up.

Evidence, my hands:

Nary a crack or snag. Not even a hang nail.
And now, here are Homer's:

Cuts, cracks, knicks, scars, calluses. Stains and spots.

He says the worst I get is a paper cut. Or a cramp hitting the shift key.

True that!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

late blooms

Even this late in the growing season we still have things blooming! We have about 3 weeks until our first hard frost, and still the flowers are setting on a bunch of squash. It is a thin line between putting row covers on them to protect from night time temperatures and breezes that strip moisture from the plant and allowing the flowers to be pollinated by the bees so we get squash to eat. Yesterday was the day these plants were covered, after we witnessed a lot of this for a couple of weeks:

Monday, September 19, 2011

spraying Dibrom

Yesterday, via email, we received word that the state of PA will begin spraying flood areas for mosquitoes. In an effort to combat West Nile Virus. Of course, what kills a mosquito also kills honey bees, Mason bees, and a variety of other good bugs. Dibrom is a carcinogen..known to cause cancer. This information was sent to us because we are registered beekeepers with the state, and they want to warn us to cover or shield our hives. We are surprised that parents were not informed. My bees might be out, and we might lose some. But children will be out at dusk and into the evening as the planes fly overhead. With farming, we never know from one day to the next what work will suddenly pop up..beyond what we normally do every day. Which is a lot. Covering our hives is not something we thought would need doing. On our farm the ducks eat our mosquitoes. At dusk the bats empty from our trees to catch bugs all night. Yesterday I got in touch with people at PASA, the organization based in PA that is in favor of sustainable agriculture. I wonder 2 things.. 1. Are the nighttime temperatures too cold for mosquitoes to breed and grow? 2. When and under what circumstances does West Nile get transmitted? I had a long list of things to get done today..mundane things that will happen later in the day. Right now I'm going to find mosquito experts and pose these questions to them. I'd prefer this spraying not happen this evening..there is no evidence of mosquitoes here these nights not at markets I've attended this past has been too darn cold! Off to ask a few questions.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

chicken Roman shade

We have very few window coverings in our house. It is a farm house on a country road, so who needs them!? After 2 winters here we have discovered that we, in fact, do need them. To cut down on cold breezes, not just drafts. This house leaks cold air constantly, and the poorly installed, no insulation windows do nothing to help.

Little by little we are adding protection between the elements just beyond these thinly covered holes to the great outdoors and us. Last year Homer cover the big picture windows in the living and dining room with clear plastic. This summer we added insulated drapes, to block the heat of the sun on hot summer days. Now, as the temperature gets a chill in the air, we will open those drapes in the daytime amd close at night, so we can get the solar gain.

When Claire visits she mentions, sometimes casually, sometimes forcefully, that "you 2 are not the only ones here you know" relation to bedroom and bathroom windows. We hear you hon, and are under way with window treatments on the north side of the house. The cold side, where we will add heavy insulation to all the coverings there. And where visitors can close the shade when it is not, ya'know, just the 2 of us here.

Starting with the upstairs, all white bathroom. We brought what was in our bathroom at the old house. In that bathroom, it was tiled in blue and yellow, cool old tiles. This one? Bath Fitters. I just know there is black mold growing behind that plastic wall covering, but that it a post for another time. The bathroom is all white as are the shower curtain and rug. Just too much white, something else needed!


So work begins on a lined, Roman shade. With chicken fabric picked up somewhere. Because it is, after all, a farm.
I lined up the edges, cut down to the size I wanted.

Added rings and strings.

and open or closed (and someday we will add a bracket to tie the thing off, for now, yes, it is the toilet paper holder) we are happy to have another window covered! And not in white!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

why Food Alliance Certification?

We considered many different certifications. We do not use chemicals, either organic or synthetic, on our farm. We feed cattle grass: pigs grass, leftover bread from a mostly organic, naturally levened bakery, and grindings from a mostly organic juicer bar: poultry a GMO free ration and grass, and we grow an acre of open pollinated, heirloom variety vegetables.

We wanted certification that reflects our growing philosophy, and examined all of our practices, not just what we feed the livestock. Food Alliance examines many aspects of sustainability: animal waste and ground absorption, water ways and discharge into, treatment of employees and other aspects. You can read more here:

Now Foo Alliance has made it easy to distinguish differnt certifications, and what they examine. You can download The Eater's Guide to Food and Farm Sustainability from their website. This is a fold up, pocket sized guide to 3rd party certifications, which will help you to make informed decisions. Download here.

Happy eating!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sandi the adoptee

We adopted a 9 year old Jack Russel terrier earlier this year. We have no desire for a puppy and all that goes with that, and Sandi was from a well loved and well cared for home. Her owners relocated to a much colder climate and 11 pounds of dog could not deal with that.

We received lengthy instructions, medical records, toys, beds, collars, leashes, food, treats, took her previous owners several trips to get everything into our house.

She us sweet with us, but will growl and snap at people who reach out to touch her. All is well if visitors ignore her!

The other instruction we received was not to touch her body. She was in pain and it showed..she would cry or yelp if we tried to rub her belly or scratch her back.

When she arrived we took all her food: packaged and with a long list of ingredients on every pouch, and gave it away on craigslist. Her diet was changed the minute she walked in the door to only farm food.

She eats about 10% of her body weight every day. She also runs miles every day as she is always on the hunt for rodents.

Chicken wings, legs, thighs, hearts: all fed to her raw. Every so often an egg with a cracked shell is broken open and the contents go into her bowl. She gets a bit of yogurt from Keswick binders, fillers, stabilizers..nothing but good cultures. When we cook anything from Yeehaw Farm beyond organic flour she gets pieces of that.

Last week at the bank drivethru they gave her a liver snap treat. She looked at it in my hand, looked me in the eye, back at the treat and turned her back on me. She flat refused to eat it!

She came to us in February. Now, in mid-September, we can pet her like a regular dog, rub her belly, scratch her back..and she loves it. She comes back for more.

It has been a pleasure to watch her change. Sometimes we talk of fibromyalgia, the unexplained pain that people experience. It seems like that is what this little dog lived with for years and it seems like it might be related to the food she consumed.

I've known people who raise and breed show dogs, and are huge believers in a raw food diet for dogs. I sure love what the raw food diet, with most of her food coming from this farm, has done for her!

She is living the life now!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Mitchell's drake returns to Sunnyside Farm

Early this spring we had birds hatching out of the incubator on a regular basis. One of those days the Mitchell family was visiting, and took 2 ducklings home with them. The ducklings grew and grew, withstood all the predators and developed into beautiful birds.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, in the middle of the night, something got the hen. She made a lot of noise (as did the drake) and woke up the entire Mitchell family. Searching for her was fruitless, she was gone.

An amazing thing about ducks: they really bond with each other. They move through the farm together, usually in a row behind each other. If they lose a member of their group, they all call until everyone is reunited. Here on the farm we can hear them, in sort of a duck version of the swimming game Marco Polo, calling and answering until reunited.

The Mitchell hen did not answer when the drake called for her, but that did not stop him from calling for her. Calling A LOT. The neighbors in the Belair-Edison area of Baltimore were understanding of the ducks when they made soft sounds to each other during daylight. But around the clock, loud, "where are you" duck sounds did not cut it.

So the Mitchell drake has been returned to Sunnyside Farm. He is a beautiful version of a Buff Duck, with lovely details and coloring. As with other male ducks, his tail has a tight curled feather at the end of it. His head is a little different than the rest of his body, and there is subtle striping along the wings and back feathers.

He tried to run with the gesse, but they said no way.

He tried to hang out with the older crowd of ducks, that includes his parents. His father is the other dark headed duck in the flock. The Mitchell drake is the biggest bird in the flock, and has the most gradients of color.
At the end of the day, the Mitchell Drake was with the 2 youngest ducks we have. These two were hatched the same way as he, in the incubator in the kitchen and are just a couple of weeks younger than he. The field is quiet, it appears he found a group to run with.

Cliques on the farm, who knew?!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Extending tomatoes

We grow old varieties of tomatoes, and they are all indeterminate. This means they grow and produce more fruit until something stops them..usually cold weather. Temperatures are predicted in the high 40's at night here on both Thursday and Friday night, that is getting close to temperatures that will kill pepper plants, eggplants and tomatoes. Homer spent yesterday afternoon in the hot and sunny hoophouse getting row covers on the plants. These thin (and for us reusable) fabric sheets change the conditions for the plants. They change it enough that we can keep our plants alive for several more weeks. Last year we had fresh tomatoes until late October, and we hope to do so again this year.

We eat our own tomatoes year round. Fresh for months, canned up to have a couple quarts a month, dried in the dehydrator. Most of the winter and spring we just pass on tomatoes, except for a local group that grows organic grape tomatoes in a heated greenhouse. We wait until next summer and eat ours fresh again!

Seasons are changing, get ready.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

eat local, wintertime

It seems impossible to eat local in the winter. It gets so cold that it is difficult to imagine anything growing. When we lived in Towson on a small lot, Homer built a cold frame from old windows on the south side of the brick house, and we were able to harvest greens all winter.

Our huge hoophouse serves as our winter growing spot. It hard to comprehend that a thin layer of plastic could provide enough protection to grow anything and yet it works beautifully. Last winter we pulled fresh potatoes, pea shoots, many kinds of lettuce, Chinese cabbage and other greens. Just the blocking of the wind makes a huge difference for the plants, and the layer of plastic provides enough protection to move us south by one USDA growing zone. When we add floating row covers it lowers our USDA zone by another level.

Many things have been planted for our wintertime eating. some are farther along than others, and will help us close out the CSA season. Others will be what we get to eat. I could be wrong, but it seems like the dark leafy greens make getting through winter easier..eating those cooked in a cast iron skillet with local garlic, butter, and home made hots just feels like the right thing to do! Here are some of what is sprouting now. Of course, a few beds were washed away in the ridiculous amount of rain dumped on the area last week and will need reshaped and replanted. But here is what we have now:

potatoes, peas, carrot, daikon, buttercrunch lettuce, peppers.
and the sun coming up, producing fog on these fall mornings.

Monday, September 12, 2011

stink bug: solution?

The stink bugs, the ones introduced to this country in the last 10 years, are just awful. We have no squash and the cucumbers were quickly disappearing. There is a spray, untested, that has been approved for agricultural use, but we would not use it here. We have found some other solutions. One, Homer made a mash up of a variety of plants the stink bugs never visit, and sprayed it on the cucumbers. Here is the result:

around it, other cucumber plants withered and died. This one is still going strong.

2nd, our pal George, who has been selecting seeds for productive, bug and disease resistant winter squash, gave us some seeds this year. Amazing, he still had a squash from 2009. It was unblemished, solid and full of seeds. He also gave us a package of seeds from his best squash from 2010. We planted 4 rows, and are keeping the balance of the seeds safe. The seeds came to us late in the planting year, so we hope to have something to pull of the vine before it gets too cold. They have resisted everything and have plenty of flowers. We will need to get hoops and fabric row covers on them this week if we hope to keep the plants alive. Temperatures are going into the 40's at night.

Another way to combat unwanted bugs is with spiders. There are spiders all over the farm now. This one is a bit larger than most, more colorful than the others, and spins a beautiful web when touched with morning dew.

In action. We wish it was a stink bug and not a cricut. This move is impressive anyway you look at it.

Just like that, mummified!

Of course, the chickens eat the stink bugs and their offsprinng (tiny things that look like the adults and stink just as much) without a moments hesitation. Here is what they get done in a day. Not much left but the deeper roots they can't scratch out.

We will figure out how to slow those stink bugs down, even without spraying everyone else to death. Including us.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

pigs build walkways

We grow a variety if livestock. There was such a difference between chicken we grew and chicken we bought that we now grow all the meat we eat!

For me, pork was the first meat I stopped eating. I could taste chemicals every time I tried it. And the smell of it cooking made my skin crawl.

When we leased land we began with broilers. Then added egg layers. Then turkey. Then beef. The land owners said no to pigs. Actually, some said yes, others said no, and it was awkward. Not something we wanted in the middle. The time was right, and we moved to our own farm.

Here on our own place pigs were one of the first to get here. Our idea was to do the same with them as everything else, to move daily in portable pens. The breeder has become a friend, and called us a couple of weeks ago with an offer we could not refuse: 4 more pigs! Weaners, just off their momma.

They are ours now, brought to the farm in a dog crate in the back of the truck. And installed in the pen with our other little ones, set to the task of clearing walkways between garden beds. The straw on top of their enclosure? The plan is for the piglets to tear out every thing growing, roots and all. Then pull the straw down and pack in place.

And the pork? As with everything else we grow here, it tastes nothing like what you are used to. It is rich, full, a deep color and no trace of chemical to it.

Farmers amuse themselves with the smallest of things, here tweaking pig noses:

They can only do this while small, otherwise they might break out and eat all we have planted!

Saturday, September 10, 2011


and then *poof* it is summertime again! Warm and humid, sunny with blue skies. Usually we can allow tomatoes to grow from Sunday picking to the next Saturday picking. This week there are many split tomatoes, even under shelter the ground is so full of water the tomatoes are bursting!

Homer continues to calculate losses as a result of the storm. All turkeys, pigs, ducks and geese are accounted for. We lost a small calf and a couple of broilers, but it looks like the laying hens are all fine. Some vegetables were beaten down hard, and planting will occur again. Most of the winter greens have been washed away..I envision someone miles from here finding Drunken Woman and Tom Thumb growing in a ditch and taking them home for a fresh salad!

We had no markets this week, which means no income. And yet, visitors to the farm purchase fresh chickens, deposits for turkeys arrive, a little honey is sold here and there! Next week we will get to markets and back on track!

Friday, September 9, 2011


This week has been a farming bust. Torrential rains and flooding daily. It hardly seems possible that so much rain could fall from the sky.

We leased land at a few different places before we bought here. One thing always happened: small creeks become raging torrents, wide rivers run through where there has been nothing. Chickens in moveable pens need protection from the rain and wind one week, the next week it gets so hot that they need to be able to catch a breeze. We learned and bought high on a hill and still waterways form. Yhe chicken pens have been stationary the last few days, the ground lined with straw, keeping the birds dry. It looks like it worked, as losses are minimal. We remember a time when one heavy rain, and the resulting flooding, caused us to lose large numbers of birds and we are glad we remembered when buying land and when relocating birds. Experience.

No seeds went in the ground, as this is the weather that just washes the seeds away. Along with topsoil. Most of our beds are still full, so we are lucky and did not lose much.

Our impressive crop this week:

this one is as bug as Homer's foot!

I'm going to market today. I've been here for days and am not really loving it, We have completed a few inside the house tasks: getting curtains hung, a roman shade almost completed, house cleaning and organizing. There is a chance of rain today, along with a chance of no rain. I'm going for it!

Thursday, September 8, 2011


O my, what a mess. It has been raining for days, sometimes heavy and sometimes light, but no sunshine inbetween. The rain has been unrelenting. Much time has been spent shifting animals from lower lying areas that have water pooling in them to higher, dryer spots. While losses have been minimal, the farmer and the farmer's wife are tired and stressed. No markets this week, some cancelled, some we just could not get out to get to. All in all not a fun time. We see predictions of sun for next week and look forward to it!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

oil vs. solar

We have oil heat in our house. The house was built just after WWII when oil was cheap and plentiful. There is also little to no insulation in the house, and the heat ducts from the oil furnace only reach the 1st floor. Pretty cold where we sleep (and bathe) come winter!

Last night our oil company called us, asking us to pay $188 to lock in a price of $$4.09 per gallon. It turns out our oil usage is about 450 gallons per year, our tank is half full, and we can still get our locked in price from last year to fill it up..$3.09 per gallon. We will take an oil delivery this week and I'll watch the tank and monitor the price of oil this winter, and have it filled again when the price drops. We only burn 3 tanks full of oil each year with the size we have.

Of course the furnace is original to the house and both large and inefficient. We replaced the furnace on our previous home and decreased our costs of heating dramatically, and could maintain a comfortable temperature to boot.

A dollar increase a gallon in one year has me thinking. And our electric company will increase our electric rates by13% this week.  That also has me thinking. We can't really charge more for what we grow here on the farm, we need to reduce our costs, not have them increase if we are going to make it here.

our tank, housed in our basement:

and our heat pump actually has ducts that go into our upstairs. The thought of heat in our bedrooms is tempting..but I have no idea how to compare the efficiency of either unit.

And then there is solar. Homer has built gear that is circling the globe, engaged in activities he is not allowed to discuss. I'm thinking, can't we purchase the panels and have him install them? Our first thought is that they need to go on the roof and that mounting those heavy things would be dangerous. Then, um, we think..we have 13 acres! Why not on the ground with the wires buried? A trench is easy to dig, support stands fairly simple to install..wires go to a circuit breaker, and our meter spins backwards for a portion of the year.

I'll be asking our accountant today how the federal and state rebates work. And knowing that if our liability insurance, home owners insurance, real estate taxes and steady rains were not predicted for the next 7 days we would have the money to do this in September! Funny how a small change can make a huge difference. We will be working to figure out just how we can fire this up using the sun!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Move That Livestock!

Just yesterday, at the goat roast we attended, Homer was asked how he can do all he does with just occasional help. As he described moving the cows,  a look of confusion came over the face of people he was in conversation with. They described moving t-posts, coiling and uncoiling the wire..sounded like an activity that would take all day! Here at Sunnyside Farm each week Homer sets up a series of paddocks and then allows the cattle access little by little, by simply adjusting the electric rope. It is the system he originally set up, his ability to look at the farm as a whole with moveable parts and his deep understanding about moving animals off of their waste frequently for maximum health that combine to influence his design of systems.

As he described how the cows get moved, the response was similar to what we usually hear. "That is so simple, so beautiful!" along with "I never would have thought of that, ever!". With off the shelf materials, not used for their original intent, Homer identifies clean, easy, and inexpensive ways to run a one man farm. No tractor, no rototiller. He already has many of the plans designed and ready for distribution, scheduled to take place during a day long workshop here at the farm. Don't miss it!

For more information on this build it yourself day at the farm, click here.

Monday, September 5, 2011

more mushrooms

Hmm, with this weather maybe we SHOULD be in the mushroom business..

Sunday, September 4, 2011

an unplanted crop

It rained 7 or so inches last Saturday/Sunday. It has been raining here for a few days off and on. Heavy fog was all over the back yard when I let the dog out late last night.

And so we get another crop here on the farm. Not one we planted. And not certain we will eat it either!
rain and thunderstorms are in the forecast everyday for the next week! We should get more of these..

Saturday, September 3, 2011

good news..and not so good

Homer's little pigs, working between the rows of our vegetable beds, are doing a bang up job.

not so great, our winter luxury pumpkins are gone:


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