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Prevented Planting

Well, folks, we have zero acres of corn and dry beans planted so far this year. And no hay cut for the winter feed for our cattle and sheep. 
We still have a chance on the hay, but every day that passes means the quality goes down. We still have a chance at the dry beans. But there is the little detail of standing water in the fields.
The window for planting corn has closed. So there will be no corn crop this year.
We have had crop failures and catastrophes before. Usually one thing at a time, though. We are trying to stay hopeful while still thinking about what Plan B looks like. God is faithful.
Recent posts

Exploring Beyond the Traditional CSA Model

This is the time of year that many veggie farmers are offering sign-ups for CSAs. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture (read more here), and this membership structure offers a win-win situation for both the farmer and the member. The farmer receives income at a traditionally low-income time of year from membership fees—money that can be used to purchase seeds or pay a greenhouse heating bill, or just keep the lights on and everyone fed and clothed until the next paycheck comes. And the member is assured that all summer long he/she will eat well, usually at a lower cost than he/she would have paid to buy all those veggies individually. 

Our farm is quite different from most market farms. We don’t raise veggies, and what we do raise is available off and on for much of the year. We continue to go to the markets all winter, as weather and our energy levels allow. So we aren’t so much in need of a CSA model for timely income. But we look at our veggie farmer friends and wonder how…

Hibernation

Meet Liesl (a.k.a. "weasel"). She is our daughter's cat, and makes herself at home in our home. She is wild and full of weirdness. But she also knows how to relax. I need to learn about relaxing.
What do farmers do in the wintertime? Care for animals. Fill out applications for the upcoming market season. Order seed. Look back at the past year and plan for the next one. Struggle with the cold. Gather everything needed to have the taxes done. Catch up on website work. Relax.
And maybe blog. 

Book Review: An Everlasting Meal

A year (or more) ago a customer/friend from the Sweetwater Market eagerly thrust a book into my hands. She said, "You will like this book. Here, read this chapter on beans." So, while I should have been paying attention to my customers, I was surreptitiously devouring Chapter 9, titled "How to Live Well."

I was hooked both by the writing style and the author's approach to cooking. I have assembled meals (for better or worse) for most of my adult life. But you could hardly call it cooking. Growing up I spurned my mother's offers to teach me the ways of the kitchen. (Sorry, Mom. I really was a pain.) And that lack, along with my careful approach to most of life, has made me stay in the shallow part of the pool--the place with predictable results. 1 cup of this + 1 pinch of that = something that would fill bellies.

I came home from market that day and placed the book on my PaperBack Swap wish list. I use PaperBack Swap as a way to slow down my acquisition of b…

Lambing Season

Last weekend the lambing season of our larger group of ewes began. We breed a small group of ewes early so that we can have a few lambs available for our visitors at Shearing Day. But the bulk of the flock starts lambing in early April. Generally it's a bit warmer by then, although yesterday we had snow...
These are the ladies in waiting. (Note: It's hard to get good photos in our dark barn backlit by sunlight.) This is the group that The Farmer is scanning each time he goes out to check for lambs. He looks and he listens. There is a special "baaaa" that we only hear from the ewes during labor and delivery and for the first few days of the lambs' lives. When we hear that, we look harder. We look for a ewe standing or laying off by herself, or one who has her head turned back to look at her stomach. We look for lambs already born. If someone is in active delivery, we don't move her until she's finished and the lamb is cleaned off. 

The Farmer will pick up…

Inside the Shop

In preparation for Shearing Day, we set the shop up to house all our products and 3-5 demonstrators. This year we had people demonstrating needle felting, spinning and sock knitting. Most of the 500 visitors who came also took the time to walk down the driveway to the shop to see the demonstrators and the wool (and other farm) products we have for sale. 

This barn was the original chicken coop on the farm, and a few years ago we took the flat roof off and built a second story on top. You can read more about that process by clicking here for all the "barn renovation" posts. 

We sell roving and combed top for needle felters and spinners. Many spinners have not had the opportunity to spin the wool from Polypay sheep. They are pleasantly surprised at the loft and sheen in our wool.


Our unique wool socks are popular to give as gifts, and are a full-circle "Made in Michigan" product. We care for the sheep, send the wool to a Michigan mill to be made into yarn, dye the y…

Before, During and After -- Shearing Day

This year's Shearing Day was warmer than usual. And, thanks to a dry spell, there was no MUD! What a gift. Just over 500 people attended our Shearing Day this year, and I think most of them had a good time. 
Here are some of the ewes before shearing. Sometimes I ask the kids what it would feel like to wear the same clothes for a whole year without washing them. The outside of the fleece is fairly dirty, but the inside is very nice and clean!


Our shearer worked alone this year, and did a great job. Timothy has a strong back and his own shearing equipment. We hire him to do our shearing, and he travels all over the state of Michigan to shear on a regular basis. He is an award-winning shearer (did you know there are sheep-shearing competitions in many places in the world?) and has traveled internationally to compete and to shear sheep. Want to see the world? Become a sheep shearer.



Our capable skirting crew sorted off the wool that was extra dirty or full of hay, and the rest went i…