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Amber Baker Letter

Amber Baker Letter

Hello from Michigan!

Dear Lynn Miller and staff,

Hello from Michigan! We have only just started to read your journal, and have really enjoyed it. This is my first letter to the Journal, so please bear with me.

First off, thank you for your publication. It is always a special occasion when the journal arrives, my favorite part would have to be when the seasoned farmer imparts some knowledge. Seems like some of the so-called “Millenials” think that the farming techniques of yesterday have no use in the modern day, but there are those of us who are thirsty for knowledge of the way farming used to be. Sometimes I wonder if we lost so much more than we gained in the last 100 years, not only economically, but also morally. It’s so nice to see the references to the Good Lord in your journal as well.

Secondly, my dad is trying to figure out how to make a PTO forecart, but we are having difficulty finding information on people who have made their own, or what dimensions to make the cart out of and such. Also, if anyone has plans for a draft two wheel cart, plans for those seem to be as scarce as ground driven PTO cart plans!

Amber Baker Letter

A little about myself. I am 21 years old, and have lived on the same 20 acres my grandfather farmed, give or take a couple acres, (the dawdi haus had to be sold sadly). We have always had a few animals, including a nice, old team of Belgian Drafts. I help with gardening, and taking care of the livestock. I like to read, sew, bake, and am trying to convince the draft horses they should let me ride them. I’ve been working in my dad’s welding shop, as well as taking some classes for animal medicine. I am really interested in heritage breeds, especially silkie hens and Duroc hogs. Both of which do great in the mid-Michigan climate.

Thank you again for all the information and encouragement you guys print. May you guys continue to bless your readers for another 40 years.

Sincerely,
Amber Baker
Clarklake, MI

Hi Amber,

Thank you so much for the kind words. The country has definitely seen a resurgence of interest in small-scale, ecologically sound farming among young people such as yourself. Just yesterday, a young man named Devon stopped by our office in Sisters. He has been working on a biodynamic farm in California, and next week he is leaving for New York for another such position in a conscious effort to expand his knowledge on his path to owning his own farm. Young people like you and Devon give promise to the future.

Your question about forecarts inspired last Friday’s post featuring Basil Scarberry’s forecart plans.  Ken Gies has also contributed his version of the ground-driven PTO forecart to SFJ.

Basil Scarberry’s Ground-Drive Forecart

Homemade Ground-Drive PTO Forecart by Ken Gies

I’m sure you and your Dad will find the instruction and inspiration to build your own. I really like how Basil used a 4-wheel drive hub for PTO engagement, but the simplicity and effectiveness of Ken’s scissor jack and belts can’t be denied. Ken also gives very valuable information on calculating and setting up the PTO RPMs.

As for a 2-wheel cart, I searched the website and found The Tip Cart by William Castle. Though on a smaller scale, A Pony-Powered Garden Cart by Jenifer Morrissey might spark some ideas. Lynn Miller’s Work Horse Handbook has plans for a nice non-ground-drive forecart that provides great visibility. As I move forward adding SFJ articles to the website, I will see what I can find for other styles of carts and put them up.

Thank you for your letter, Amber, it was great to hear from you.

– EG

Amber Baker Letter

Spotlight On: Farming Systems & Approaches

Low Tillage Radish Onions

Low Tillage Radish Onions

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The radishes came up quick, filling the garden canopy completely that fall, and the following spring we found the plot was clean of weeds and rows of open holes were left where the radish roots had been growing. Well, we had a few extra onion plants that spring and decided to plant them in these holes, since we already had very clear lines laid out for us and a clean seedbed. What we got were the best looking onions that have ever come out of our gardens.

Cultivating Questions Ridge-Till Revisited

Cultivating Questions: Ridge-Till Revisited

Delay ridge building until early fall so that the cover crop on the ridge does not grow more than 12” tall before winter. The residues from a short cover crop will be much less challenging to cultivate than a tall stand of oats, especially if tangly field peas are mixed in. Waiting for the winterkilled cover crop residues to breakdown as long as possible before ridge-tilling in the spring will also make cultivation much easier until you gain familiarity with the system.

Cayuse Vineyards

Small Farm, USA: Cayuse Vineyards

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How did the grape find itself here on the outskirts of Milton? If you ask one man, Christophe Baron, the answer is simple. “It’s the cobblestone. (The ground) reminds me of home”. For Christophe, home refers to France and the stone littered earth from which many famous French wines grow. Hailing from a family of vigneron champenois, Mr. Baron came upon this corner of the state by chance, saw its signature geology, and decided to establish his domaine right here in northeast Oregon.

The First Year

The First Year

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Prior to last year, I had felt I knew the nuances of the land quite well and fancied myself as knowledgeable about the course of the natural world. Outdoors was where I felt the most comfortable. The fresh air and endless views of fields, hills and valleys renewed my spirit and refreshed my mind. I didn’t think there was much that could fluster me when it came to the land. Until I became an organic farmer.

To Market, To Market, To Buy A Fat Pig

Within so-called alternative agriculture circles there are turf wars abrew

Raised Bed Gardening

Raised Bed Gardening

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Raised beds may not be right for everyone, and our way is not the only way. I have seen raised beds made from rows of 5’ diameter kiddy pools, and heard of a fellow who collected junk refrigerators from the dump and lined them up on their backs into a rainbow of colored enameled steel raised beds. Even rows of five-gallon pails filled with plants count as raised beds in my estimation. Do it any way you care to, but do it if it’s right for you.

Cultivating Questions A Diversity of Cropping Systems

Cultivating Questions: A Diversity of Cropping Systems

As a matter of convenience, we plant all of our field vegetables in widely spaced single rows so we can cultivate the crops with one setup on the riding cultivator. Row cropping makes sense for us because we are more limited by labor than land and we don’t use irrigation for the field vegetables. As for the economics of planting produce in work horse friendly single rows, revenue is comparable to many multiple row tractor systems.

Wild Potatoes and Calcium

Wild potatoes bring increased calcium for better tubers.Have you ever cut into a potato to find a dark spot or hollow part? Early research shows that these defects are likely the result of calcium deficiencies in the potato — and that tuber calcium is genetically linked to tuber quality.

Mayfield Farm

Mayfield Farm, New South Wales, Australia

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Mayfield Farm is a small family owned and operated mixed farm situated at 1150 m above sea level on the eastern edge of the Great Dividing Range in northern New South Wales, Australia. Siblings, Sandra and Ian Bannerman, purchased the 350 acre property in October, 2013, and have converted it from a conventionally operated farm to one that is run on organic principles. Additional workers on the farm include Janette, Ian’s wife, and Jessica, Ian’s daughter.

Useful Birds

Useful Birds

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Whether a bird is beneficial or injurious depends almost entirely upon what it eats. Birds are often accused of eating this or that product of cultivation, when an examination of the stomachs shows the accusation to be unfounded. Accordingly, the Biological Survey has conducted for some years past a systematic investigation of the food of those species which are most common about the farm and garden.

Personal Food Production

Personal Food Production

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We can argue about when, but someday within several decades, oil and the plentiful super-market food we take for granted will be in short supply and/or very expensive. We must all start immediately to grow as much of our own food as possible. This is the fun part and is the subject of a vast popular movement highlighted by innumerable books, magazines, and web sites. Square-foot gardening, raised beds, and permaculture are the new rage. We don’t need thirty-million acres of lawns. Flowers aren’t very filling either.

Fjordworks A History of Wrecks Part 2

Fjordworks: A History of Wrecks Part 2

It is always fascinating and at times a little disconcerting to watch how seamlessly the macro-economics of trying to make a living as a farmer in such an out-of-balance society can morph us into shapes we never would have dreamed of when we were getting started. This year we will be putting in a refrigerated walk-in cooler which will allow us to put up more storage-share vegetables.

Farm Manure

Farm Manure

Naturally there is great variation in manure according to the animals it is made by, the feeding and bedding material, and the manner in which it is kept. Different analyses naturally shows different results and the tables here given serve only as a guide or index to the various kinds. The manure heap, by the way, is no place for old tin cans, bottles, glass, and other similar waste material.

The Brabants Farm

The Brabants’ Farm

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The Brabants’ Farm is a multi purpose farming operation whose main goal is to promote “horsefarming.” Our philosophy is to support the transformation of regional conventional agriculture and forestry into a sustainable, socially responsible, and less petroleum dependent based agriculture, by utilizing animal drawn technology (“horsefarming”), and by meeting key challenges in 21st century small scale agriculture and forestry in Colombia and throughout South America.

The Best Kept Secret, Revisited

The Best Kept Secret, Revisited

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At the same time that U.S. commercial beekeeping is circling down in a death spiral, hobby beekeeping is booming and almost every beekeeping club in the country has at least twice as many members as it did twenty years ago. What this means is that if you are fortunate enough to live in a place with relatively clean and varied sources of pollen and nectar, the potential for a successful family-sized commercial apiary is better now than it has been for many decades.

A Year of Contract Grazing

A Year of Contract Grazing

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Contract grazing involves the use of livestock to control specific undesirable plants, primarily for ecological restoration and wildfire prevention purposes. The landowners we worked for saw grazing as an ecologically friendly alternative to mowing, mechanical brush removal, and herbicide application.

An Introduction To Farm Woodlands

The farm woodland is that portion of the farm which either never was cleared for tillage or pasture, or was later given back to woods growth. Thus it occupies land that never was considered suitable, or later proved unsuitable, for farm enterprises.

Journal Guide