Friday, July 3, 2015

A Giveaway! West Michigan Co-op Membership

Tomorrow begins the buying cycle for the West Michigan Co-op. I have a one-year membership to give away to the Co-op. It covers your annual membership fee, and allows you to purchase locally grown and produced foods and other items. 

Please comment here or email me at shadysidefarmmichigan (at) gmail (dot) com if you'd like to have a chance at receiving this membership. Please only enter if you are local, and would actually use this. I'll pick a lucky person at random about noon on Wednesday, July 8. That will still give you plenty of time to shop the cycle before it closes on Saturday the 11th. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Planting Update

All of the corn has been planted, and has come up. The Farmer is busy cultivating, in between rain showers.

Most of the dry beans have been planted. Some needed replanting. We tell people that these are endangered species beans because they are hard to grow. We sometime forget the truth of what we tell people.

We have three or four more varieties to plant, but we can't catch a break with the rain (and we are waiting for some seed to be shipped to us). It is getting late to plant them, and I confess to worrying a bit.

Because I know that worrying doesn't actually accomplish anything, I will try to be grateful for what is up and doing well.

Farming gives us lots of good practice in trusting God.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A Trip to the Windmill

Several weeks ago we brought more corn to the nearby windmill. It's a working windmill, and we have had several batches of corn ground into cornmeal. It's a nice addition to our farmers market tables. 

First we clean and bag the corn. No pictures of the process this time, but we run it over the fanning mill (or screener) much the same way we do with beans. 

Here's an up close and personal picture of the windmill. The wind drives the blades, which turn the giant stones. They also have a smaller set of stones which I think are powered by electricity.

Here's the bottom half of the windmill, so that you can get an idea of the size. The Farmer had to take a phone call while we were there. What did we do before cell phones?

We carried the bags of corn up a flight of stairs. The stones are actually on the top floor, but we didn't have to carry them that far. It's hard to remember to take pictures when we are there, as the miller is so interesting that we lose ourselves in talking with her.

Today I picked up the finished product, and we will have it available at our markets again this Saturday.

Monday, June 8, 2015

First Cutting of Hay

Last week was a dry one, and we were able to cut and bale the first cutting of hay. We choose to hire someone with a large baler to make big round bales of the first cutting hay, which goes in the sheep barn. There is still a lot of work involved in haying this way, but it is machine work, and not back-breaking manual labor. 

The crew spent the better part of two days preparing the hay storage area (which recently held lambing pens), hauling the hay in from the field and carefully positioning it in the storage area. 

We place each bale (weighing over 1,000 pounds) on a wooden skid or pallet. Hay that comes in contact with concrete will mold and rot. The pallets allow air circulation underneath the bales.

Each bale is labeled with the field information. The hay has been chopped and netwrapped, making it easier for The Farmer to feed by hand come wintertime.

More first-cutting hay is being cut right now. The weather forecast is for scattered showers off and on all week, unlike last week's completely dry forecast. We will see if we can get this batch of hay in without it being rained on. Always a gamble.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Grass Waterways for Erosion Control

It's been a fairly wet May, and some of the fields with heavier soil have been wet. The other day The Farmer decided to add some grass waterways in two soggy spots.

In the photo below, you can see the sogginess near the back of the photo. He worked with the bobcat to carve a very shallow ditch leading to another field ditch, which leads to a county drain, which leads to a creek, which leads to a river, which leads to a lake, which leads to Lake Michigan. See why it's important what we do in our fields? Anyway, he added the soil from the ditch-making to the low, soggy spot.

Here's the same grass waterway/ditch, but facing the other direction.

We will seed this grass waterway/ditch with grass seed. The point of having a low, slow waterway like this is that the water will slowly drain off the field here, and the grass will catch much of the soil that would normally erode into the ditches.

Just doing our part to keep the earth and the water separated.

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