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Thursday

Another Set of Promising New Fruits

Another Set of Promising New Fruits

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The original bush of this very promising new raspberry appears to have been found by Mr. Ulysses Eaton at Cambridge City, Indiana, as a chance seedling in his berry field in 1885. He propagated this and planted it for his local market. In 1898 accounts of the large size and fine quality of its fruit reached Mr. Amos Garretson, who visited the discoverer and, being impressed with the value of the variety, secured some plants of it from Mr. Eaton for testing at his home at Pendleton, Indiana.

Cultivating Questions A Bio-Extensive Demonstration

Cultivating Questions: A Bio-Extensive Demonstration

Two management directives led us to a bio-extensive design. First, because our staff is small, we required a system that would provide inherently good weed control. Bermuda grass was a particular concern. Our second directive demanded a reduced dependence on outside fertility inputs, particularly industrial poultry litter. Many, if not most, of the organic market farms in our region depend on broiler or layer litter for annual supplies of nitrogen and organic matter. We wanted an alternative that would be more independent and sustainable.

Cultivating Questions the Well-Being of Small Farmers

Cultivating Questions: the Well-Being of Small Farmers

The Gregson’s question about sustaining the health and well-being of farmers kind of hit home as I had to learn how to contend with a chronic digestive disorder when we first started farming here. While this minor handicap definitely limited our farming efforts, it also helped us to plan some slack into our operation right from the beginning. It forced us to focus our energy where it would be most effective and encouraged us to rely more on observation and management than muscle to get the job done – lessons we might not have otherwise learned until later in life. As a result, we may have been slower than most in bringing the market garden into full production, but our limitations, in a round about way, may have encouraged us to bring some biological efficiencies into play which have made the work easier and more rewarding in the long run.

Dexter Cows and Kefir Cheese

Dexter Cows and Kefir Cheese

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We started hand-milking one cow. Now there are three. We are still milking by hand, and love the relationship with our cows, but will have to begin using the milking machine this spring as we add one more cow to the operation. We plan to milk a maximum of six cows. We purchased a 1940s Surge milking machine and assembled the entire unit from new and used parts we acquired from retired dairies in the area. The equipment we needed for the milk cooling room and the cheese room took an entire year to assemble because many of the things needed were just not readily available. With the help of some small dairy equipment dealers and by finding items on eBay, we managed to put it all together, under close scrutiny of the inspectors.

Erosion Control part 1

Erosion Controls part 1

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It is a common conception that gully control means building check dams, planting trees, plugging gullies with brush, or directly applying to a gully some other individual control measure. This way of thinking focuses attention on devices that stop gullies rather than on ways of farming that prevent gully erosion. A broad, coordinated attack is in general necessary to keep gully erosion under control. A farmer who wishes to keep his fields free from gullies must give first consideration to proper land use and conservation farming on areas that contribute run-off to the gullies.

Givens Failures and Moving Forward

Givens, Failures and Moving Forward

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Forgive me for what will be a rather rambling and maybe melancholy submission. Maybe I am actually writing this for me. You decide. Life is not always success and joy. It is tempered with tough times. So, when Shannon asked me if I had anything to contribute to this upcoming issue, I had to think through what would benefit us as readers. Sometimes sharing our weak moments, our vulnerabilities, our failures and experience strengthen others. That is really what I want to do, strengthen.

Homemade Hog Facilities and Equipment

Homemade Hog Facilities & Equipment

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Homemade Hog Facilities & Equipment

Horse Progress Days 2019 Weathering Change

Horse Progress Days 2019 – Weathering Change

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This is my third Horse Progress Days, including 2008 in Mount Hope, Ohio, and 2016 in Howe, Indiana. We could note a few trends in a nutshell — how tall draft horses are back, and miniature horses (which are not stocky ponies but perfectly proportioned horses more pleasing to the eye) are being bred to ever more refined and useful conformations. How the current style for most big draft horses is to have their tails severely docked, though the tails of miniature horses are left long. By way of footwear these days there seem to be few of the brightly colored Crocs for the whole family, but gray and black Crocs aplenty. One huge change over three years ago is that here were as many bicycles, with and without baskets and trailers (and some with batteries and motors), as the dark square family buggies drawn by identical lean brown trotters and pacers. Bicyclers include both youthful and older farmers, using this healthy and efficient form of transportation to get around.

Horsedrawn Dairy

Horsedrawn Dairy

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Mr. Davis said he doesn’t make any claims to environmentalism, although his business methods might look like it. He uses glass bottles and horse power because they are economically sound. He farms organically, although he is not interested in buying into ‘organics’ or its politics. He doesn’t tout ‘natural’ on the label. “My customers see the farm, they see the milk, they taste the milk, they come back. It’s that simple. I don’t promise them that it will cure cancer or prevent it. I don’t promise them that it is going to put the ozone back,” he said. “And, I don’t promise them that it’s going to make them feel any better tomorrow than they feel today. I just put good, healthy milk on the market at a reasonable price, and I farm in a conservative method that is not polluting.”

How To Select a Sound Horse

How To Select a Sound Horse

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An understanding of the desirable and undesirable conditions found in horses, together with a knowledge of their relative values, will enable the purchaser to select a better animal, with a considerable saving of time, inconvenience, and expense. A thorough examination for the various forms of blemish, vice, faulty conformation, and unsoundness in a horse is absolutely essential if serviceableness is to be secured, and a definite method of procedure should be adhered to in making the examination, which should correspond to the order in which the various steps most conveniently present themselves.

Lambing

Lambing

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Driving tepee truck is a humble job, beneath the dignity of a lamber, but it suits me fine. The ten-mile drive through the hills to Sunrise Camp is beautiful in the early morning. This is the season between snow and flowers, when the first soft green of grass and moss spreads over the hills with a promise. The long hard winter is over. Next month the ranch will be literally carpeted with wild flowers — bird’s-bills, dog tooth violets, crocuses, wild irises, evening primroses and forget-me-nots — a tangled, riotous fulfillment in colors no artist could paint. Beautiful, yes, but I like this season better. For everywhere I look I can see the stir of new life — in the tender, pale green of the hills, rolling on and on to meet the horizon; in the deepening green of slender, silver-trunked quaking aspen; in the sweet, sharp-scented fragrance of pine and spruce and fir, as the sap runs through their branches.

Losing a Farm

Losing a Farm

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When we finally accepted the fact that we would have to leave our home, we half-heartedly began our search for a new one by reading the want ads for rental possibilities. We had decided that we needed to be within 20 miles of the small city near which we lived or our marketing would be severely impeded. We didn’t find a single farm to rent and even the so-called “country” places had modern houses and very little land to go with them. We realized our only option was to buy a place although we didn’t know where we would get the money.

Making Sorghum Molasses

Making Sorghum Molasses

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Growing sorghum doesn’t take much work, according to Buhrman. You plant it in the spring, work it a couple of times and that’s about all that’s required until late in the growing season. That is when the work begins. Before it is cut, all the stalks have to be “bladed” – the leaves removed from the stalks. It’s then cut, then the tassles are cut off, and the stalks are fed through a crusher. The crusher forces the juices out of the plant. The sorghum juice is then boiled in a vat for four to five hours until nothing is left but the syrup.

Midwest Ox Drovers Association

Midwest Ox Drover’s Association

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Twenty four years ago, the students in Tillers International’s Oxen Basics class, enjoying their time together, decided to return the following year as a reunion of sorts, and so the Midwest Ox Drovers Association (MODA) was born, along with its Annual Gathering. The Gathering is held the weekend after Father’s Day at Tillers International in Scotts, MI. A weekend devoted to making new friends and greeting old friends while interacting with working cattle, the Gathering is always a great time. On Saturday night of the Gathering, after dinner, a number of us sat down for a moderated roundtable discussion. I had jotted down a few questions on the proverbial “back of an envelope,” powered-up my recorder, and we were off to the races.

Nine Acres of Intimacy

Nine Acres of Intimacy

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Fortuitously, by January another local farmer stopped by out of the blue one day when I was cleaning out junk that had been piled next to “the hangar” (I will always call it that). He had heard through the neighborhood that I might be looking for a new operator. It was a beautiful afternoon and we had a nice visit, leaning on opposite sides of the pickup bed, discussing the merits of organic methods and other stuff. Though his family operation does very little of it, for a conventional farmer in these parts to even consider non-chemical agriculture was pleasantly surprising.

Picking Beans

Picking Beans

Beans are picked by hand. Payment is usually at a given rate per pound or basket. A worker’s earnings depend on the quantity of beans picked. In a given field, the quantity of beans a worker picks depends mostly on two things: How you do the work, and, how steadily you work. Skill in doing the work is acquired through practice of good methods. The things that a skilled picker does to make every move count are the following:

Plowing Match at Howell Farm

Plowing Match at Howell Farm

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Howell Living History Farm’s 13th Annual Plowing Match was held on Saturday, August 31, 1996. Howell Farm is a 130-acre working farm located in Hopewell Township, Mercer County, New Jersey. It was donated to Mercer County in 1975 by Inez Howell, widow of State Congressman Charles Howell, and it is in the ongoing process of restoration to a family farm circa 1900-1910, when horses were still the main power source. The Mercer County Park Commission opened the farm to the public in 1984 and their first plowing match was held that year. It has been a success ever since.

Rock Island Great Western Low-Down Spreader

Rock Island Great Western Low-Down Spreader

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We have in our archives this interesting and informative booklet on a manure spreader from circa 1900. We have reproduced the whole pages for you to give a complete picture of how good a job of selling these old companies did, especially when it came to the presentation of real engineering advancement. Hope you enjoy it.

Russian Dacha Gardening

Russian Dacha Gardens

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Russian household agriculture – dacha gardening – is likely the most extensive system of successful food production of any industrialized nation. This shows that highly decentralized, small-scale food production is not only possible, but practical on a national scale and in a geographically large and diverse country with a challenging climate for growing. Most of the USA has far more than the 110 days average growing season that Russia has.

Sulky, Stacker and Buckrake Plans

Sulky, Stacker & Buckrake Plans

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Includes plans for a homemade Buckrake, a homemade Tower Stacker, and a Long Shaft Sulky cart.

The Beauty of Nineteenth Century Rural Press

The Beauty of Nineteenth Century Rural Press

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Have a Happy Independence Day!

The Biology of Soil

The Biology of Soil

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In the last few years I have noticed a lot of buzzwords being used around the grazing industry and in my readings, like sequestration of carbon, living soils, microbes, mycorrhizal fungi, biochar, regenerative agriculture, micro-biome and cover cropping. These all are in reference to techniques and terminology associated with awareness of soil biology. If any of you are like me, I sometimes will not ask a simple question because I don’t want to sound uninformed, so today I will start out with a simple explanation as to what the natural cycle of plant photosynthesis is and how a plant goes about getting the nutrients it needs to grow.

The Emotional Toll of Drought

The Emotional Toll of Drought

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This morning, I awoke to another depressingly beautiful January day – clear skies and an expected high temperature here in Auburn of close to 70 degrees. I say depressing, because we should be in the midst of our rainy season here – but since December 1, we’ve measured less than one inch of precipitation. And there doesn’t look to be much moisture in our future, either. Even the television “meteorologists” have quit using words like “beautiful” to describe our weather pattern – which must mean this drought is getting serious.

The English Shepherd and the Diversified Small Farm

The English Shepherd and the Diversified Small Farm

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A while back, with the farm slumbering under a full moon and a clear winter sky, my husband Mark and I decided to take a stroll down to the mail box, ostensibly to see if the outside world had delivered to us anything of interest, but really just to enjoy the night. Jet, my one-year-old English Shepherd, was with us. Just out the door in the driveway, Jet suddenly puffed up and let loose with his woo woo woo bark that means, in his language, something’s wrong here, folks. Then Mark and I saw a big black shape lumbering toward us.

The Flax-Fiber Revolution

The Flax-Fiber Revolution

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Flax is a native species of the Pacific Northwest and was widely used by Native Americans for basket weaving, rope making, and clothing. With the coming of Europeans the flax industry began to flourish around 1868 when numerous flax mills were established in the fertile Willamette Valley. These mills produced high quality linen, linseed oil used for paints and finishes, oil cake for cattle feed, as well as twine and rope, among countless other products.

The Plough Guy

The Plough Guy

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The plough guy is close to my heart. I miss getting my bare feet in a furrow as the earth goes back to work. I wonder what my Amish neighbor would do if I pulled over my Jetta, took off my socks and shoes, rolled up my pant legs and fell in behind his plough. He might shake his head, but I think he would understand. He would probably stop his team and look behind him and recognize a 38 year-old farmer’s daughter and say, “Well, if you’re gonna walk in my furrow you might as well be helpful and pick up some rocks.” I’ll let you know how it works out.

The Satisfaction of a Well-Turned Furrow

The Satisfaction of a Well-Turned Furrow

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We had all the time in the world, the day was cool and lovely, and there was no reason not to just keep at it. During a short break, Charlie gave me some pointers, but he added that it was mostly a matter of “getting the feel of it.” He said he couldn’t really explain how to hold a plow; the knowledge would have to come to me as I held it. When we started up again, an old memory welled up: that first exultant glide after my father’s steadying hand had lifted from the back of my bicycle seat. All at once I relaxed and felt connected not to a lump of contrary metal, but to the living force that a plow becomes behind a team of horses. And a long cusp of earth curled over like an unbidden line of poetry, all but making music.

The Straw-Loft Poultry House

The Straw-Loft Poultry House

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Little need be said about the first principles in poultry raising, but a few introductory remarks about comfortable quarters for the flock may pave the way for the description of the straw-loft poultry house illustrated in sketches shown. It goes without saying that the laying hen must have comfortable quarters if she is to be expected to produce her maximum yield. Warmth, dryness and protection from preying animals are the prerequisites to comfort. The poultry house sketched here is a practical starting unit embodying all of the protection features so essential in poultry raising.

The Work of Rocks

The Work of Rocks

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I never collected rocks, but I knew plenty of children who did, and I wonder where those collections are now. I wonder if they lie arranged in cardboard boxes, tuck under beds, patiently waiting to be returned to the ground. Stones are confident in that way, in a way I am not; they know where they came from, and they know where they are headed. There is no end for them, just a slow, steady smoothing of rough edges, a mellowing by age and time.

Workboat Futures

Workboat Futures

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Back in the Spring of 1995 we offered an insert in SFJ that was a set of plans for a Workboat Prototype. That was our name for an implement which sees multiple use on many farms and ranches. We had come up with a design, at Singing Horse Ranch, which we felt might have possibly contained the seed of something folks could expand on. Since then we have received many letters and photos from readers demonstrating that the plans did indeed offer a starting point of some value. We were heartened. As I said in that article we offered the design into the public domain claiming no property rights to the design and deeming that no one else should either. It was our small hope that along with the mechanic in the farm shop a small business might grab up the idea and make it available, at an affordable price, for those of us who are not able to build the sled at home.

Yoders Produce

Yoder’s Produce

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Yoder’s Produce is a market garden seeds and equipment supply company located in the heart of Ohio Amish country. Anyone serious about growing produce would benefit from reviewing this company’s catalog. They offer a wide assortment of seeds and tools. From the process of creating raised beds in fresh tilled earth all the way through to fertilizing, planting and spray applications, Yoder’s offers exceptional equipment.

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