A Little Midwest Pragmatism

This article was posted by a friend on Facebook.  She and her friend have been members of the sustainable living and environmental movement in a significant way far longer than I have had the privilege.  I think this article helps to shed some light on what is -and may not be – important to the notion of localizing our food system.  Once a movement gets momentum there is always a fringe (and this case more than a fringe, especially in the city) that take a minutia of the movement and blow it up into monumental significance.  In this case, the micro-managing and obsession of cooking.  You know of which I speak.  When I was in high school my family was one of the first around to take up long distance bicycle touring.  We had decent bikes and we wore those old white helmets that looked like half an eggshell.  But we did it in T-shirts, shorts, and tennis shoes.  Now 30 some years later, everyone thinks they need to shave their legs and look like a competitor in the Tour de France simply to go on a nice bike ride.  This has now happened in cooking.  While having good equipment is nice and having a gathering of friends over wine and a nice meal contains a soothing animal warmth, the hipster movement has made cooking the Tour de France of food.  While yes cooking is important, the movement now has a plethora of those who are still out of touch with how their food is produced and the simple pleasures of eating foods that comfort like grandma used to cook.  A loose quote from the article is that if you cooked like your grandmother you would likely never open a cookbook.  Having to open a cookbook is indicative of how much of our roots, traditions and simple self-sustaining skills we have lost.  I would suggest that instead of learning how to cook Thai cuisine or attempting to become the next Julia Child, go to the farmers market, buy some great produce, and cook yourself up a good old fashioned hearty stew.  You will glow with satisfaction and you will have the basis of a recipe that you can build on and change and let evolve, that doesn’t require you to wear a stupid white hat and apron.


Stage One of the Pig Pen

The three of us got out today and laid out the 30 x 60 foot rectangle for the new pig pen.  Wow did we get anal about that!  We even made sure it is parallel to the house!  We got out the long measuring tape, measured the front edge from the farm house and equidistant from the sidewalk, put down the rebar, measured the hypotenuse of the right triangle to make sure it is squared and then put the posts in their proper proximity to the holes that will need to be dug.  They will all go in 2 feet deep leaving a 4 foot top.  Livestock panels and a gate will get attached and I am designing the shelter, water and feeding systems as well as shading areas.  To make this work we are going to have to find a couple of participants who want to buy into a whole pig or a side.  We will use one a year but they need to be raised in two’s or three’s because they are social.  Either that or we will get a few and then simply send one to the processor from time to time.  If we do that then we are given another set of variables; that being water heaters and heated shelters for winter.  Farmer Jon is thinking not.  That headache would fall squarely in his lap just like the chickens.  Unless I can quit my job…. HINT!  I can’t be out here to take care of wintering livestock.  Client livestock has something to say about that!  So we will probably get them in April and send them off to become freezer dwellers six months later and repeat every spring.



When we got our meat bird chicks back in May the hatchery sent us a “mystery” bird as a bonus.  It is always a guessing game as to the sex and type.  Our last mystery bird we guessed as a female until we caught “her” crowing.  He has now become one of our nicest and most protective boys.  This bird we guessed as a rooster and is now laying eggs.  Guess we suck and guessing!  So now that we know HE is a SHE we had to figure out what breed she is.  We have settled for now on Americauna.  She has the pudgy cheeks and feathering of one so until we see or hear differently “Squirtel” is a female Americauna.  Any opinions?

IMG_3703            IMG_3702

A Film Everyone Should See

A new documentary entitled “Fed Up” has hit the scene.  It is narrated by Katie Couric and I must say it nails what is wrong with our nation’s eating habits and our food system today.  It is quite an eye opener and for anyone who cares why we have a diabetes and obesity epidemic this will pretty well put it in perspective.  My family has watched it.  Having a 19 year old son who has been influenced by food advertising and led to believe that processed foods are some how “real” foods instead of food like substances, it really opened his eyes.  Sugar is the new cocaine.  Watch this and recommend it to others.  You might just save someone’s life.

Because of this film I am attempting to go as sugar free and processed food free as possible.  Indeed that is the cornerstone of why JAZ Farm exists.  My weakness isn’t so much sugary and processed foods as it is liquid calories…. in particular, wine (hear me sobbing as I write).  If one is to be able to be active and energetic as the years go by, the old jalopy of a body needs to be kept in shape.  You can’t have clear and efficient fuel lines if you keep stopping them up with goo.

Watch this show….  everything you may know about food could very likely be wrong.  Don’t torture yourself by saying you are going on a “diet”.  Make it a change in lifestyle.  I did, and I am adding this to it.



The Ending Of The Harvest

This is just a catch all update to wind up the 2014 harvest.  We have yet to have a freeze so many of the plants would and do continue to produce.  However, knowing Colorado pretty well, if we were to let these go until the first freeze it would likely be accompanied by a foot of snow!  So we have started putting the beds to sleep.  This involves pulling up and composting the plants, spreading compost on the beds and adding fertilizer, covering them with straw and then covering them with staked down burlap to keep it from all blowing away during the winter blizzards.  Its a big job but just like the saying, “How do you eat an elephant?  Answer:  One piece at a time”  A couple of beds per weekend and we will have it all done in a month.

Between the harvesting that Zina did while we were away for astronomy and the harvests of the past two weeks, we have put up more potatoes and squash, dehydrated a bushel of peppers, made beet and carrot juice and frozen it, and finished up shelling the last of the beans.  It has been amazing.  The food is SOOOOO good.


The Next Project For The Farmers

As posted previously, Zina has decided that she really likes the tasks involved with wheat, bean and corn production.  She spent hours this season cutting down wheat, picking beans and corn.  As a result, next year’s addition to the growing menu is going to be dent corn and organic spring wheat along with the beans.  The total area will be around an acre.  The book I’m reading about small scale grain production lays out a detailed plan for rotating the wheat and corn behind legumes (beans and alfalfa) and clover.  This helps to build the soil and to replenish the nitrogen being extracted by the grains.

Processing all of this by hand would be a fools task.  However, it has been a challenge to find small scale equipment as most of this ridiculous country has gone to massive scale production.  Homesteading equipment is a bit hard to come by unless you are willing to buy, refurbish, and then use, antiques.

Our search has not been for nought.  We tracked down a hand cranked grain mill, a corn seeder, and a peddle powered thresher (cuts the heads off the wheat stalks).  I found a small disc harrow for the tractor and a chain link harrow.  These are for preparing the soil and covering the seeds.  I will need to rent a trailer to get the disc to the property however.  It weighs 500 pounds and I would never be able to get it out of my pickup!


Corn Seeder


Treadle powered thresher


Grain Mill


Grain Mill