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Cheap Food?

The topic of cheap food has been on our minds lately. Many people value what we do, but there is the inevitable comparison with grocery store prices. We see it at the market. We overhear the talk as people walk away. We discuss it with other vendors.

These photos show the extra value that comes with the way we grow food. We are farming in a way that heals and sustains the land. When the soil is healthy, the plants, animals, and insects will thrive and be healthier themselves. When we eat this food, we will in turn be more healthy. We are working toward environmental sustainability.

But a farm that is ONLY environmentally sustainable will not last. It must also be emotionally and physically sustainable—farming can be a demanding job. (Not sure we’ve figured this one out yet.)


And there is also economic sustainability to consider. You can help with economic sustainability by buying what we grow and raise, even if it costs a little more. And you can buy from others who also pay attention to…
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Cover Crop Experiments

Over the past few weeks we have been working the field that we weren’t able to plant with corn due to spring rains. A lot of fields in our area were not planted this spring and are now full of weeds. It is the nature of soil to produce plants. And if we don’t cultivate and intentionally plant certain plants, others will come and fill in.

One of the things we can do for the soil on a year like this is to plant different species as cover crops. This both keeps the weeds at bay and allows us to experiment with crops and combinations of crops we haven’t grown before. This field was a pasture/hay field for many years, but next year it is slated to have beans planted. In an effort to get ready for that, we plowed and disced the field. We worked it several times, because established pasture does not go quietly.


Once we were satisfied with the seedbed, we planted sorghum and peas in part of the field. The rest is planted with oats, peas, clover and turnips. This will hopefully keep the weeds…

A $450 Service Manual

The $450 operators manual we recently purchased for the combine that we’ve owned for 8 years has paid off already. We were able to find the problem and get the grain head hydraulics to work again. The first of the small grains are in the bin.
This year we are harvesting four small grains--einkorn (an old variety of wheat), oats, barley, and rye. Much of the field drowned out in the Monsoon of Fall 2018 or the Monsoon of Spring 2019. But it looks like we will be able to harvest some of each of what we planted, and we're grateful for that. 


For more on our combine woes through the years, search “combine”. It’ll make you feel better about your life, I promise. 

Combine Troubles

The problem du jour is nothing new. If you can’t afford new farm equipment (and really, who can?!), you buy what you can afford. And fix it when it breaks.

Some of it is pretty specialized equipment which is only used once or twice a year. We try to maintain and care for the equipment after each use and before we fire it up for the next go-around. But we do have a saying for this part of farming: “Stuff only breaks when you use it.”

Equipment can look good, start well, and run smoothly, but when it’s time to actually do the work, some little thing will go wrong. Right now it’s the wiring on relay switches in the combine. Right at wheat harvest, of course. With oats and rye waiting their turn.

Yes, we have had our share of problems with this combine. The former owner used it hard, and it shows. Some have asked us why we don’t just buy a different combine. The answer is near the top of this post—go ahead, scroll up. I’ll wait.

YouTube is good, provided the person making the video actually k…

Moldboard Plowing

What great weather we’ve had this last week! We had rain over the weekend (and we didn’t lose power like half the people in West Michigan), and then cooler, drier air all week. We mowed more hay, and some small grain. More about that later, perhaps, if our experiment works.
Today, in addition to cultivating the beans, we continued plowing the field that was SUPPOSED to be planted to corn. We will plant cover crops instead, in an effort to nourish and rest the soil. Moldboard plowing has fallen out of favor in recent years, but there is a time and a place for it. It’s another tool in our toolbox. 
This time of year always includes a lot of tractor time. It’s even more intense this year, as everything is compressed into a shorter time frame by the Spring With Endless Rain.

A Hot Week

This has been a hot week! We put up 450 small square bales in the heat Monday night. There was a good breeze—check out the first photo closely to see the flying hay.

Wednesday afternoon, after a hot day at the markets, we brought the sheep in from the far pastures. In the relative coolness of the barn, we separated lambs from ewes. It was time to wean the lambs.
Today is our annual audit for our organic certification. Wish us well—the certification process involves a LOT of paperwork and good record keeping.
In between these main events, we’ve been plowing, cultivating bean fields, and caring for the animals.

Wednesdays and Fridays our on-farm shop is open from 1-4 pm. Feel free to stop by for the best selection of cuts of beef. Also, the “buy 10 ground beef, get 1 free” special is still available at the farm store.

A New Sink and an Update

We added a sink to the entryway of our house during a spring remodel. So handy for lambing season and watering plants right up by the house and washing up before heading in the house. Today, after my dentist appointment, I stopped by a little shop in a nearby small town. This vase called my name. Those who have seen our entryway will know I have a thing for red and white enamelware.

More later on the remodel, perhaps.

We continue to cut hay, ted hay, rake hay, bale hay, and bring the hay bales in. All with a side dish of fixing equipment. We run out of steam most nights about 9:00, which just leaves time for showers before we fall into bed exhausted. But we’re still grateful for all the work we can accomplish!