Small Farmer's Journal

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Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT

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

Planting Calendar and Other Diagrams

From Dusty Shelves: A 1943 calendar for seeding your vegetable garden.

Cane Grinding

Cane Grinding: An Age-Old Georgia Tradition

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Most sugar cane is processed in refineries to give us molasses, brown sugar, and various kinds of white sugar. However, some South Georgia farms that raise sugar cane still process it the old way to produce the special tasting sweetener for their own food. One such farm is the Rocking R Ranch in Kibbee, Georgia. It is owned by Charles and Patricia Roberts and their sons. The process they use has not changed in the past 100 years. This is how it is done.

Cultivating Questions Cultivator Setups and Deer Fencing

Cultivating Questions: Cultivator Set-ups and Deer Fencing

We know all too well the frustration of putting your heart and soul into a crop only to have the wildlife consume it before you can get it harvested let alone to market. Our farm sits next to several thousand acres of state game lands and is the only produce operation in the area. As you can imagine, deer pressure can be intense. Neighbors have counted herds of 20 or more in our pastures.

Barnyard Manure

Barnyard Manure

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The amount of manure produced must be considered in planning a cropping system for a farm. If one wishes to manure one-fifth of the land every year with 10 tons per acre, there would have to be provided two tons per year for each acre of the farm. This would require about one cow or horse, or equivalent, for each six acres of land.

Cultivating Questions Winterkilled Cover Crops for a Mild Climate Part 2

Cultivating Questions: Winterkilled Cover Crops For A Mild Climate Part 2

Finding just the right cover crop-tillage combination for crops planted the last half of June has always been a real challenge in our location. While surface-tilling mature rye and vetch in May works well for fall crops established in July and August, this cover crop-tillage combo does not allow enough time for decomposition and moisture accumulation for end-of-June plantings.

Starting Seeds

From Dusty Shelves: A WWII era article from Farming For Security

The Woodfired Bottom-heated Greenhouse Bench

Cultivating Questions: The Woodfired Bottom-heated Greenhouse Bench

It took several incarnations to come up with a satisfactory design for the bottom heated greenhouse bench. In the final version we used two 55 gallon drums welded end-to-end for the firebox and a salvaged piece of 12” stainless steel chimney for the horizontal flue. We learned the hard way that a large firebox and flue are necessary to dissipate the intense heat into the surrounding air chamber and to minimize heat stress on these components.

How To Get Into Farming With No Money

How To Get Into Farming With No Money

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Let’s assume the beginning ‘farmer’ has absolutely nothing. Nothing but a will to farm and a reasonably normal body. The very first thing you must do is search out a farmer, preferably a farmer who farms close to the way that you want to farm. You must watch him, ask questions, do as you are told and learn everything you can. Very shortly you will be on your own and you will find that the more you learn now, the better you will be when you have only yourself to rely on.

LittleField Notes Seed Irony

LittleField Notes: Seed Irony

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They say to preserve them properly, seeds should be kept in a cool, dark place in a sealed, dry container. Yet the circumstances under which seeds in a natural environment store themselves (so to speak) seem so far from ideal, that it’s a wonder plants manage to reproduce at all. But any gardener knows that plants not only manage to reproduce, they excel at it. Who hasn’t thrown a giant squash into the compost heap in the fall only to see some mystery squash growing there the next summer?

On-Farm Meat Processing

The demand for fresh, local meat products – with no taint of industrial process – is absolutely staggering.

Henpecked Compost and U-Mix Potting Soil

We have hesitated to go public with our potting mix, not because the formula is top secret, but because our greenhouse experience is limited in years and scale. Nevertheless, we would like to offer what we have learned in hopes of showing that something as seemingly insignificant as putting together a potting mix can be integrated into a systems approach to farming.

English Sheaf Knots

English Sheaf Knots

Long ago when grain was handled mostly by hand, the crop was cut slightly green so seed did not shatter or shake loose too easily. That crop was then gathered into ‘bundles’ or ‘sheafs’ and tied sometimes using a handful of the same grain for the cording. These sheafs were then gathered together, heads up, and leaned upon one another to form drying shocks inviting warm breezes to pass through. In old England, the field workers took great pride in their work and distinctive sheaf knots were designed and employed.

Horsedrawn No-Till Garlic

Horsedrawn No-Till Garlic

We were inspired to try no-tilling vegetables into cover crops after attending the Groffs’ field day in 1996. No-tilling warm season vegetables has proved problematic at our site due to the mulch of cover crop residues keeping the soil too cool and attracting slugs. We thought that no-tilling garlic into this cover crop of oats and Canadian field peas might be the ticket as garlic seems to appreciate being mulched.

Cultivating Questions: Alternative Tillage & Inter-Seeding Techniques

Our intention is not to advocate the oddball living mulches we use with this single row inter-seeding system, but just to show how it is possible to utilize the between-row areas to improve insect habitat, reduce erosion, conserve moisture, fix some nitrogen, and grow a good bit of extra organic matter. If nothing else, experimenting with these alternative practices continues to keep farming exciting as we begin our twentieth season of bio-extensive market gardening.

LittleField Notes Hay

LittleField Notes: Hay

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Farming never fails to dish up one lesson in humility after another. Despite having all the weather knowledge the information-age has to offer, farmers will still lose hay to the rain, apple blossoms to frost, winter wheat to drought… If we are slow to learn humility in Nature’s presence we can be sure that another lesson is never far off.

The Way To The Farm

Lise Hubbe stops mid-furrow at plowing demonstration for Evergreen State College students. She explains that the plow was going too deep…

LittleField Notes Fall 2011

LittleField Notes: Fall 2011

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There is a certain set of skills and knowledge that tend to fall through the cracks of your average farm how-to book. Books of a more specialized nature are also abundant but often seem to take a fairly simple subject and make it seem daunting in scope and detail. What follows are a few tidbits of knowledge that I have found useful over the years – the little things that will inevitably need to be learned at some point in the farmer education process.

Small Farmer's Journal

Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT