Back Issue Vol: 46-1

Dans Tractor Parts

Dan’s Tractor Parts

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I first met Dan 10 years ago or more when I needed a radiator for my old John Deere A. Sure ‘nuff he had everything I needed and a whole lot more. With lots in common we became good friends. But as with so many things of such like, I completely put out of my mind my responsibilities as editor of this Journal until just the other day. Because it’s so close, and because I take it for granted, is no reason it wouldn’t help others to know about this ‘yard.’

Grinding and Using Whole Grain

Grinding and Using Whole Grain

When I lived in Tennessee, I traveled to a lot of events selling the baskets that I made. This gave me the opportunity to meet lots of interesting people. At one event I met the band director of a local school, his students were performing at the street event. The conversation turned to neither baskets nor music but rather gardening. He said he grew some of his own grain in his backyard garden. It grew across one end of the garden and he harvested it by hand. I had never heard of anyone doing such a thing. In this century at least. I was fascinated.

Jesus for Farmers and Fishers a Review

Jesus for Farmers and Fishers: a review

As someone who has struggled to find the time and presence for both spirituality and farming in the past few tumultuous years, reading Gary Paul Nabhan’s book was a grounding force to me in a number of ways. His work is endlessly readable and relatable but also a deeply and carefully complex love letter to the poor and marginalized agricultural worker. In it, I felt my own call back to my roots in farming, but also the call that the ancient farmers and fishers must have felt. I held in my heart the suffering and the grief of centuries of marginalized agricultural workers striving to keep food on their own tables while also feeding the masses. No wonder Jesus, so dedicated to helping all humanity at the sacrifice of his own life, spoke in parables of sowing seeds and planting wheat.

Layering

Layering

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Layering is the process by which a part of a plant stem is made to produce roots while still attached to and nourished by the parent plant, so that it may be able to maintain an independent growth. The tendency, under favorable conditions, to produce roots from the cambium zone of some part of the stem is manifested by many plants, especially in the tropics. With most such plants, rooting by detached parts is easily accomplished, and this being more convenient, layering is generally practiced only with those plants which do not root readily from cuttings.

letter from a small corner of far away 461

letter from a small corner of far away

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For this is a farmed landscape, shaped by generations who ploughed the valley bottoms before it became cheaper to buy their flour and feed for the horses, and who ran sheep on the fellsides since, well, who knows when? And the answer is, at least since Viking times, when those hardy Scandinavians colonised the north, leaving their influence in the place names and in the language which I share, the fells, the becks, the forces and the dales; which in southern English are mountains, streams, waterfalls and valleys, or for comparison in Norwegian, fjell, bekk, foss and dale.

LittleField Notes Note to Mr Berry

LittleField Notes: Note to Mr. Berry

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It was late April, the snow had only just melted, and I was putting the finishing touches on a wood framed greenhouse when a friend stopped by. We fell to talking about gardening and farming and I spoke of my interest in someday trying my hand at doing some actual field work with a team (I already had a number of years experience driving horses on dude outfits, but nothing in the way of farming). My friend Don said, “well you know there’s a guy, a writer from Tennessee who farms with horses and writes books about it. You should check him out.” Turns out you were from Kentucky, not Tennessee, as I was soon to learn after rounding up a copy of The Gift of Good Land, which I greedily read in just a couple of days. My life was changed forever.

Making a Wooden Neck Yoke

Making a Wooden Neck Yoke

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This old-time neck yoke is a simple carved wooden piece with strings and hooks that is placed on a person’s shoulders for carrying buckets. I use my yoke for hauling water for our sheep, bringing collected maple sap back to storage containers, and supplying fresh cold well water to our home. When buckets need to be carried over any distance, this yoke does a wonderful job transferring the buckets weight from your hands and arms to the top of your shoulders. My grandfather made the pattern and showed me how to make one. This style of neck yoke has been used in my family and among friends for three generations. It is considered a valuable tool in our homesteading lifestyle.

Notes and Wonders from The Fernskull Conservatory

Notes and Wonders from The Fernskull Conservatory

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A delicate butterfly wing, creamy-white coloured. A yellowing vole skull. A tin dish full of dried scraps of lichen. These rest below a string of dried flowers – pansies, calendula, chamomile, strawflower, pearly everlasting. And below that, on an old, rubbed-smooth shelf, sit crystals and rocks – dull pumice and lava rock, shiny quartz, ethereal satin spar and fluorite. Other curiosities – fragile bird’s nests, aquatic exoskeletons, elegant pheasant feathers – fill the gaps, each one labelled with a date, an observation and a note or two, and two names – common and scientific. This is The Fernskull Conservatory, a museum of naturally-found curiosities.

Pedro

Pedro

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“Free goats?” my husband Henry said, trying to control himself. “You said you’d take on these goats?” He stared at me with the look that made me know I better have thought this out. “You are going where to get these free goats without even seeing them?” He knew that when it came to building a goat herd, there were some things I just did not do because they were far too risky. He also knew that I was about to do one of those things. “This will give me some really important DNA in my herd,” I said, looking at him with eyes full of as much conviction as I could muster. He knew that I always try to have a well thought out breeding plan for my herds of Spanish and Savanna goats.

Rostrevor

Rostrevor

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And then it dawned on me – this ewe for all her mothering instincts and supply of milk couldn’t cope. She simply couldn’t contend with two lambs. Well not at first! Because in a very short space of time, three or four in-and-out sessions and one overnight restraint, she was delighted with both lambs and went from the wee garden at the house to further pasture with the rest of the flock. Yes, I know! In a life time of working with sheep, of holding and wrestling and doing ‘the Divil and all’ when I couldn’t, in the end, get the ewe to take up with the lamb – but this time it worked; so Harrah!

Seedbeds and The Rooted Mend

Seedbeds & The Rooted Mend

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Maybe we need to hear such things from each other but, No. NO, we are not share-holders. We are husbands, wives, partners, parents, care givers. Shareholders by modern definition come to the games with a whole lot to say but without liability. Their investment is the relative insignificance of money. They come to demand their ‘share’ and the opportunity to influence that which they hold a share in. They do it for profit. It’s about the money, honey. Period.

Species-rich grassland a review

Species-rich grassland: a review

Until now, I cannot remember any instance when I found a deep-seeded scientific tome on a tight and narrow subject to be anything but a chore to read. For me, Dr. Vanselow’s Species-rich grassland is a wandering wondering thrill to read, to hold and to peruse, not so much for traditional definitions, narrative and accessibility to information, but because it spills out in a thousand directions with its connections to so many aspects of biological health and human existence in a natural world.

The Harvest of Grain

The Harvest of Grain

When you watch a field of wheat turn from green to golden and wave lightly in the wind, see the shocks lined up in rows as you pass by on the road, watch a load of grain auger into the grain wagon, and then see the cycle begin again. It is beautiful and worth it all.