Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Seeding, Weeding, Meat Chickens and a Helping Hand....

Getting the fields planted for fall has been a "challenging" task, to say the least. We are still pulling out summer crops that are at the end of their production cycle and tilling new fields that are grass and weed heavy and it seems nothing is easy. But that is life on a newly established farm. You can never have enough help prepping the fields, tilling, and planting during these times.

Growing on this new land has presented its own challenges, many of which we have not been prepared for. I've written about our sorry soil (if it could be called that) many times through frustration and aggravation and I think I have now moved past that. We are starting to see changes in the soil now and a glimpse of hope in our fields. We continue inoculating our fields with mycorrhizal fungus and humic acid, which has really helped the plants during the soil difficulties we’ve experienced and will continue to help build a better soil.

Mycorrhizal fungi develop a relationship with the root systems of living plants. Networks of mycorrhizal filaments envelop the seedling's root structure, greatly extending and enhancing (by a factor of several hundred to several thousand times) the growing plant's water- and nutrient-gathering abilities and protecting the plant from disease. Humic acid provides natural carrier compounds that transport nutrients and vitamins into your plants more efficiently enhancing their growth. Together, they enhance the growing conditions for each plant.

Another thing we have incorporated is a raised bed system down our fields. We till in the soil adding fresh compost and add another layer of compost on top, about a foot high. We cover the raised bed with newspaper, wet it down and apply wheat straw. Then we inoculate the row with mycorrhizal and humic acid. This in effect should give us a no-till system, make the plants and soil healthier and make weeding more manageable.

Meet the Meat Chickens….

I love the play on words, but really, we will be processing our first broilers (meat chickens) in three weeks. This is exciting for us as we know that these birds are healthy and are fed a certified natural feed. They get fresh air and are out on pasture eating fresh grass and bugs along with the feed we give. This is an exciting time for 180.

The Blessing of Extra Hands…..

Our WWoofer’s (interns) have been a tremendous helping hand. Nicole and I have felt that if we were to bring in WWoofers, that they come in as part of the family and that we make this a true learning and working experience. Not everyone fits that model. We are blessed to have two really wonderful folks now.

• Caleb has a passion for growing and has really immersed himself in the farm. He has learned what the priorities are on the farm and has really begun to hone his skill set. He is also growing out our Shiitake/Oyster mushrooms for CSA’s and market. I’m very proud of the progress he has made. With more experience under his belt, I’m sure that Caleb will be running his own farm in the near future.
Nicole, Caleb, Rachel and Mason gathering eggs.

• Rachel comes here with no farming or gardening experience. She has really got a taste of life on the farm and has had learned a lot in her first 12 days here. She has developed a love for harvesting and packing vegetables for the CSA. She has never chickened out of a chore or learning experience, though weeding is on the bottom of her “like to do” list on the farm. We are excited about her future – maybe as a farmer.

We are blessed to have several volunteers come out on a weekly basis and that has provided us with a much needed helping hand.

• Mel, one of our CSA customers, comes out once or twice a week. She doesn't mind helping my wife with whatever task is needed. We are very thankful for her hard work and a much needed donation of a water purifier.

• Nicole Coleman, a friend of ours that shares our passion for healthy food, comes out Monday afternoons, with her husband Tim, and works till dark. She also doesn’t mind working on whatever is on the “to do” list.

• Nicole's parents have helped us this past summer and we certainly couldn't have been as productive without them.

Hosea 4:6  - "My people will perish for lack of knowledge"

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