Why We Don’t Plant Until June!

Spring melt is happening up in the mountains.  May is always a nail biter here on the plains.  It is almost a certainty that we will have severe thunderstorms and hail through Memorial Day weekend.  This year was no exception.  This is why A: we got the greenhouse (to protect the more delicate plants) and B: why we don’t plant outside until Memorial Day weekend.  I was lucky to escape hail damage to the truck on the way to the airport to pick up my mother.  I was pelted with golf ball sized hail and it made it impossible to see or hear and even in four wheel drive there was enough ice on the road to make me slide around.  Of course today it was 75 and sunny and we spent the day weeding out the big garden to get ready to plant.  The damage to the thistle plants was apparent (not that we cared) as many were broken off.  Looking forward to getting past this part of the year.  It is always a bit nerve wracking.

Tomorrow our newest layer hens head out to the coop and on Memorial Day the broilers head out into the tractor.  Its always an adventure and we play Farmville here for real!

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JAZFarm Aerial Tour

Aaron, my son, has been experimenting with the drone, the GoPro Camera and editing software.  I found this kind of awesome.  We have some other flyovers but this one is pretty neat.  Zina even makes her movie debut!

Learning How To Use You Tube

I had posted a bunch of videos a while ago through Facebook and was told that they wouldn’t play on this venue.  My technogeek son schooled me up on how to upload to You Tube and these seem to be working better.

Here is a fly over of the farm from earlier this spring.  The solar panels and greenhouse aren’t up yet but it is a good fly over of the place.

A Little Homesteader Vacation

We have been building out this farm for 3 years.  Time off from work and farm construction has been virtually non-existent.  Also, while we have had our followers during all of these years behind the hammer and drills, we have never had a time where we could sit and just chat and swap stories about our successes, failures, and future developments with other hobby farmers.

A great friend of mine from archery, due to various reasons, found himself living in Michigan only about 90 minutes from where I grew up.  We used to talk everything archery and shoot a bunch together.  I hadn’t seen him in several years since his departure.  We hooked up via text and email about a year or so ago and were both absolutely stunned by what we found out.  We had both gone off, bought land, and proceeded to destroy ourselves physically by building farms!!  Ours grew out of gardening, and theirs grew out of dairy.  Understand this though – in all the years we had known each other we had NEVER talked about it.  I still find it uncanny that we have both made this leap to self-sufficiency and simple living!

Every year Mother Earth News magazine hosts their sustainability fairs in various places around the country.  It is a collection of booths of many subjects and products as well as seminars spaced throughout the weekend.  We saw how to build straw-bale houses, keep bees, winter gardening, making solar panels, rocket mass heaters, and many others.  Two of my heroes, Wes Jackson, a biologist and Joel Salatin – the guru of the small farm movement were also there.

Paul, his wife, son – in – law, Zina and I decided to meet at the fair in Topeka, Kansas.  We had an absolute riot!  We went to breakfast, out to dinner, hung out at lectures, wandered booths (I even got to meet a Facebook brother face to face for the first time and bought one of his hand made brooms!)  It was just the ticket!  It was a short weekend with two long drives at either end, but I wouldn’t have traded it for anything.  It has been so long where traveling didn’t mean having to visit family, or clients.  The astronomy star-parties are fun, but the total upheaval of one’s sleep schedule makes it not as relaxing as it could be.

All in all the fair was pretty basic.  I have my ideas on how the vendor displays could be more homestead-ish and self-sufficient oriented than they were, but if my friends want to hook up again at one of these things, I’m all in.

Paul, Cindy and Jonathan, it was so great to see you!

MEN 4 MEN 3 MEN 2 MEN 1 MEN 5

Summer Is In Full Tilt!

We actually did what we said we should today. Got up early and worked outside before the inferno began. Of course we stayed out there well into the afternoon so the dehydration happened anyway! We hilled 250 row feet of potatoes, shoveled 4 yards of compost, weeded and did chicken chores. Because we old duffs need to get exercise (as if the farm isn’t enough), I took the tractor out and cut a mile and a quarter jogging path around the perimeter of the place. The weeds were super thick. In some places they were over 4 feet high. Tons of different kinds of wild flowers. It’s amazing to see that after only one year since we kicked the conventional wheat farmer off of our land how fast the wild things have rooted and retaken the place. They only choked the little tractor that could, once! Out in the way back we even have some new locust trees coming up and there is some native tall prairie grass trying to make a come back! The beans are beaning, the Potatoes are blooming, the Butternut and Acorn squash are squashing, the Carrots are carroting, the Onions are bulbing, the Tomatillos are growing their little lanterns, the Sunflowers are reaching toward space, and the Strawberries are running. Our peppers are coming on as well; the Jalapeños were the first but there are six more kinds starting to flower – even the Habaneros! After having a tussle with army cutworms, the cabbages appear to be thriving. The Beets are in desperate need of thinning and it looks like we actually may get Melons. A good looking year! Our wheat patch is ready to be cut, threshed and winnowed and the chickens are about a week away from the freezer. Piggies are now over 100 pounds and are rooting up their pen with vigor! They thought it great fun to come in after the tractor had scooped up a load of compost and bury their noses in it up to their eyes! On the conventional farms around us the wheat harvest has started in earnest. The trucks are backed up at the elevator. It looks like the American white processed flour addiction will continue unabated. The city garden is exploding as well. The usual gazillion Tomatoes, Lettuce, Kale, Cucumbers, Zuchs, and Green Onions. Green beans go in this week to replace the Garlic we just harvested. Now we are chillin’ Lovin the AC that will soon be solar powered! Zina is busy stripping a bushel of Thyme from its stems. I actually may begin greenhouse construction next week as well. Summer be in full tilt!