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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

Cayuse Vineyards

Cayuse Vineyards

Small Farm, USA: Cayuse Vineyards

by Joel Sokoloff of Walla Walla, WA

Milton-Freewater, Oregon is an understated town in almost every way. It’s flat, well-treed, and the main drag could be mistaken for Anytown, USA. That is, with the exception of Milton-Freewater’s signature frog sculptures that adorn many a street corner, reminding one that this humble town’s inhabitants take pride in where they live. At its core, Milton-Freewater is an agricultural town, and that’s where we leave the highway and head out past the packing sheds into the orchards and wheat fields.

There’s another crop, one which has begun to proliferate in recent years, which has displaced itself over increasing acreage with each passing vintage. It’s the wine grape, vitis vinifera. 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. Most any farmer might look at this ground and think it the antithesis of good growing land, but Mr. Baron saw great opportunity in these weedy fields and old orchards. Sixteen years after the first vine was planted, the name Cayuse Vineyards, now encompassing nearly 55 acres of mostly Syrah grapes, has become regarded as one of the premier producers in the Northwest and beyond.

Traveling around southeastern Washington and its borderlands with Oregon, vineyards are a common sight. However, Cayuse, named after an American Indian tribe native to the area, is typical of this landscape in only the most superficial ways. One of Cayuse’s unique features stems from the beliefs brought to the business by Christophe and his crew. Enter Efrain Meza and Christopher Galasso, jacks of many trades, and garden masters extraordinaire.

Cayuse Vineyards

While producing exceptional wine is the business foundation of Cayuse, creating an environment of plant diversity and exceptional food is on par as a top tier priority. Rows of cabbage, garlic, peas, peppers, and tomatillos fill a large, fine tilthed parcel just a half mile from ‘the heart’ of Cayuse. “We want to bring organic food closer to our people”, Efrain says of their large, worker run garden, and there is a bounty to be had. The garden, unusually fecund for the middle of May, is conspicuously varied and colorful situated in this landscape. Its neatly tended rows of produce are cared for by volunteer squads of vineyard workers, organized by Efrain and Christopher. When the crops are ready to consume, Efrain distributes the produce in a CSA like manner to the 40 or so full time workers, ‘purchased’ with volunteership. The workers have a real interest in seeing the garden bear since they are its direct beneficiaries. A young latino man pounds reused vineyard stakes into the soft ground for trellising pea plants and by next month he will be eating its peas. That makes a lot of sense. “It’s a social statement. I want my people to know that good food is available to them. If you go to the store and want to buy Organic food, it’s expensive”, explains Christophe.

Asked about any special cultural practices, garden manager Christopher states that they try to employ biodynamics as much as possible. Cayuse Vineyards has been certified biodynamic, a sort of beyond organic set of cultural principles, since 2002, and that knowledge has transferred to the cultivation of annual crops as well. “We plant by the biodynamic calendar”, Efrain says, referring to the way in which moon phases, amongst other criteria, decide days of planting and harvesting. Doing so apparently has had a noticeable affect on the vigor and health of their crops. In a planting assay using (Cayuse?) oats, Efrain noticed that the seeds sown according to the Stella Natura calendar “had a certain richness of color. The stems were much stronger” than those planted out of synch, which bore grass with “spindly” stems. In the near future, they plan to spray with natural components made in accordance with biodynamic recipes to increase the health and nutrition of the crops, all part of the practice’s doctrine.

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Spotlight On: Book Reviews

A Short History of the Horse-Drawn Mower

A Short History of the Horse-Drawn Mower

Book Excerpt: The enclosed gear, late model John Deere, Case, Oliver, David Bradley, and McCormick Deering International mowers I (we) are so fond of had a zenith of popular manufacture and use that lasted just short of 25 years. Millions of farmers with millions of mowers, built to have a serviceable life of 100 plus years, all pushed into the fence rows. I say, it was far too short of a period.

Starting Your Farm

Starting Your Farm: Chapter 5

You might think that your new farm is fenced all wrong, or that a certain tree is in the wrong place, or that a wet area would be better drained, or that this gully would make a good pond site, or that a depression in the road should be filled, or that the old sheds should all come down right away. Well maybe you’re right on all counts. But maybe, you’re wrong.

Apples of North America

Freedom has been called the ugly duckling of disease-resistant apple varieties. But that shouldn’t detract from its many merits. These include the freedom from apple-scab infection for which it was named, a high rate of productivity, and an ability to serve as a good pollinator for its more attractive sibling, Liberty.

The Horsedrawn Mower Book

Removing the Wheels from a McCormick Deering No. 9 Mower

How to remove the wheels of a No. 9 McCormick Deering Mower, an excerpt from The Horsedrawn Mower Book.

Dont Eat the Seed Corn

Don’t Eat the Seed Corn: Strategies & Prospects for Human Survival

by:
from issue:

Gary Paul Nabhan’s book “WHERE OUR FOOD COMES FROM: Retracing Nikolay Vavilov’s Quest to End Famine” (Island Press, 2009) is a weighty tome, freighted with implications. But as befits its subject it is also portable and travels well, a deft exploration of two trips around the world, that of the author following in the footsteps of a long-gone mentor he never met, the Russian pioneer botanist and geneticist Nikolay Vavilov (1887-1943).

Haying With Horses

Hitching Horses To A Mower

When hitching to the mower, first make sure it’s on level ground and out of gear. The cutter bar should be fastened up in the vertical or carrier position. This is for safety of all people in attendance during hitching.

Work Horse Handbook

Work Horse Handbook

Horses are honest creatures. And, what I mean by honest is that a horse is almost always true to his motivations, his needs, his perceptions: if he wants to eat, if he needs water, if he perceives danger. He is incapable of temporarily setting aside or subverting his motivations to get to some distant goal. This is often mistaken as evidence for a lack of intelligence, a conclusion which says more of human nature than equine smarts. What it means for the horse is that he is almost never lazy, sneaky or deceptive. It is simply not in his nature.

Starting Your Farm

Starting Your Farm: Chapter 2

How do you learn the true status of that farm with the “for sale” sign? Here are some important pieces of information for you to learn about a given selling farm. The answers will most probably tell you how serious the seller is.

Art of Working Horses Another Review

Art of Working Horses – Another Review

by:
from issue:

One could loosely say this is a “how-to” book but it is more of an “existential” how-to: how to get yourself into a way of thinking about the world of working horses. Maybe we need to explain what a working horse is. A working horse is one, in harness, given to a specific task. So, in that context, the book illustrates the many ways Miller has worked with his equine partners over the years – helping them understand what he wants them to do, as both work together to create relationships that help achieve desired goals.

Wheel Hoe

The Wheel Hoe: A Tool For Shallow Tillage

When we bought this little farm I soon realized I needed a wheel hoe. The size of the horse and tractor dictated space wasting wide rows in crop production and, to some degree, so does my two wheeled tractor.

Starting Your Farm

Starting Your Farm: Chapter 3

What goes with the sale? What does not? Do not assume the irrigation pipe and portable hen houses are selling. Find out if they go with the deal, and in writing.

Honoring Our Teachers

Honoring Our Teachers

by:
from issue:

I believe that there exist many great practicing teachers, some of who deliberately set out to become one and others who may have never graduated from college but are none-the-less excellent and capable teachers. I would hazard a guess that many readers of Small Farmer’s Journal know more than one teacher who falls within this latter category. My grandfather, and artist and author Eric Sloane, were two such teachers.

Basic Blacksmithing Techniques

Illustrated guide to basic blacksmithing techniques, an excerpt from Blacksmithing: Basics For The Homestead.

An Introduction To Grasslands Farming

From Dusty Shelves: A World War II era article on grassland farming.

Making Buttermilk

The Small-Scale Dairy

What kind of milk animal would best suit your needs? For barnyard matchmaking to be a success, you need to address several concerns.

Posts

Driving Fence Posts By Hand

Where the soil is soft, loose, and free from stone, posts may be driven more easily and firmly than if set in holes dug for the purpose.

Swallow

Rotation As A Means Of Blight Control

Every farmer knows that when a crop is grown on the same field year after year, it becomes inferior in quality and the yield steadily diminishes.

Art of Working Horses

Lynn Miller’s New Book: Art of Working Horses

Art of Working Horses, by Lynn R. Miller, follows on the heels of his other eight Work Horse Library titles. This book tells the inside story of how people today find success working horses and mules in harness, whether it be on farm fields, in the woods, or on the road. Over 500 photos and illustrations accompany an anecdote-rich text which makes a case for the future of true horsepower.

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