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feasting in august

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My memory of August is similar to July. Hot, sweaty, and a bit of a blur. And eating a lot of amazing fruit. Amazing to see these photos now—especially photos of the brassica field—most of those plants are a slimy pile of foul goop after we hit 0F earlier this month with little snow to protect the plants. (more…)

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On my recent trip to France, Leila and I got to visit the Ecomusée d’Alsace, a historical village in southern Alsace where employees dress and work in traditional Alsatian style. They cook, bake, knit, sew, garden, work in wood and metal shops, distill eaux de vie, grow wine grapes, milk cows and goats, and use draft animals for growing potatoes, corn, grains and loose hay. They have three Comtois horses and two Vosges oxen that they were using around the property the whole day we were there. More photos below.

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first hilling of spuds

A quick post to share a few photos of potato hilling. Here is Emily on the first hilling, May 16th. Second hilling was a week later, May 23rd. Our third and final hilling was a week later, May 30th. At that point, all the dirt that could be hilled was, and we had our first new potato harvest mid-June, two weeks earlier than last year’s fourht of July red/white/blue new potato harvest. Happy that we have managed to move that date up! Now if only we could figure out how to get rid of the potato beetles…

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Since getting the straddle row cultivator this spring, I have been excited to experiment with different tools mounted under the versatile machine. Like the famed Allis Chalmers G or Farmall Cub my peers of the internal combustion persuasion utilize, this tool can help maximize efficiency in many ways on the small farm. My primary inspiration for getting to know my new machine has been and continues to be the excellent, thorough, innovative Small Farmer’s Journal articles written by Eric & Anne Nordell of Beech Grove Farm. Oh, and by the way–if you’re not a subscriber yet, I highly recommend it.

What follows is a collection of thoughts and photos surrounding our experiments using the straddle row cultivator so far this year at the farm. (more…)

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Every April, the misfits and weirdos into the whole draft horse craze gather to party wildly in the desert. It is kind of like burning man, without all the trippy drugs, and different kinds of costumes. And maybe a few other differences.

This year, many good friends and lots of interesting strangers all met at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds of Madras, Oregon to buy and sell a lot of antique and some newly manufactured equipment all related to driving horses. Joel & I stayed through the whole auction this time, lending some time volunteering in the blacksmithing sale and on the arena floor on Saturday. We came for the plow match and equipment demos on Wednesday, and on Friday’s farm equipment sale I ended up buying a couple of items.

One of the other activities during the week was an open meeting thrown by the WA Young Farmers Coalition and Oregon’s Friends of Family Farmers. Lynn Miller from SFJ came and spoke to us about the future of the journal–subscriptions are down, and it might not be around much longer if things don’t change. How can we, as young and beginning farmer/teamsters help? Subscribe. Get your friends to subscribe. Participate. And spread the word. So…

For those of you who haven’t signed up with a subscription to the Small Farmer’s Journal yet, you can read Andrew’s well-written essay on why you should, and go sign up now.

And hopefully I’ll see you there next year, too.

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spreading manure

We’re back in action here at WTF, with Joel and I returning for our second year and Liz joining us for her first full season farming. We’re busy doing lots of horse work this time of year, so everyone is getting time with Dandy & Avi. On our to-do lists are seeding a new pasture, and mowing, spreading manure, plowing and discing in the lush cover crops on the fields that will grow our summer crops like tomatoes, peppers, sunflowers and squash.

In my spare time, I’ve been spending hours in the shop. I am cleaning and painting an old planet junior seeder I purchased over a year ago, after John helped me fix it up and build a tongue. I’ve also been playing with my straddle row cultivator, working on a set-up for a furrower attachment to dig potato trenches, and putting on new cultivating sweeps that run under the soil surface, called “southern peanut sweeps” (more on that in a future post). And last weekend, I spent a day building a stone boat, or sled. Heavy, sturdy and basic, it can serve many purposes and will last a long time. It runs on two railroad tie runners, and can carry everything from hay to heavy tools or …stones. It is a good, hard pull for one or two horses, so it can be a useful exercise tool as well. I copied the one at John’s, which we use frequently there for feeding in the winter, and keeping the horses in shape.

Next week we’re all heading off to the Small Farmers Journal Horsedrawn Auction in Madras. It is a wonderful time and a good opportunity for learning, networking, and buying equipment, and we’re all looking very forward to it.

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My good island buddies Andrew and Rita came to visit us at WTF last week on their way to Pendleton and took some photos.

You can find Andrew’s awesome website & blog, Farmrun, here.

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