Friday, July 29, 2005

Starting Small and Crawling Out of The Box

I get a lot of questions on starting a farm these days. One thing I have tryed to stress is starting small. Think small. Modern industrial agriculture requires debt, lots of debt. It promises returns that barely pay down the debt and creates an ugly cycle that ends with tears and bankruptcy. Starting small does not mean a small version of the ugly system but a totaly different system. This is one reason I think Joel Salatin's books and articles are so valuable. He offers a system that requires little capital investment with higher returns than commodity farming. If I was starting out today, I would do things much different than I did when we started out. There are some things about how we started that I wouldn't change though. We started small. Our 50 cow dairy is the result of a couple of heifer calves. My dad worked for years as a farm manager/herdsman and put all his money into calves that we raised. He did this for me, so that I would have a farm of my own. We started in a 9 cow barn and used our milk to feed humanely raised veal calves. We didn't have cows enouph to ship milk but added value to it by turning into veal. Later we had 15 cows or so and moved them to barn owned by a man who only milked half a barn full of cows for fun. He had a full time job and a farm. We traded labor (all the milking and feeding) for boarding. We paid him for the feed and we got the money from our milk. With our profits we bought more cows and eventually rented a 30 cow barn of our own. Latter we rented a 45 cow barn and we now have moved to our present location we a herd of cows we own free and clear. We never spent a lot of money on tractors. We have just recently bought our 2nd tractor after farming here with one for many years. The point I'm trying to get across is this, there are ways to get into farming without a lot of debt. It takes time and creativity but it is possible. That said, if I was starting today I would not be getting into the business of selling a commodity product like milk. Mabey cheese or something but not "just milk" and not through normal marketing channels. We are presently working toward implimenting some of Joel's poultry systems into our dairy farm. The milk sales supplemented with broilers and eggs seems like a workable option for us. There is a great market out there that is growing every day for products that are local, natural, environmentally friendly, and unique. This is the future for small scale farming not the commodity model. Perhaps the first step for you is just growing a garden or raising a small group of broilers, the point is you need start somewhere. Don't put your eggs all in one basket and pay as go, when at all possible. The future is bright once you get the courage to push the lid off of the boxes that have been built around us and let some sunlight and fresh ideas in.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Thursday Thoughts

We started canning beans yesterday. I love the sight of the jars full of fresh picked and canned beans piling up on the counter. Beans are in my opinoin the most important crop for the homestead. They will grow in any soil and seem to always yeild a good crop. For the space they take up nothing will produce more food for the pantry than beans. Just as everyone else I imagine, we are eating a lot of summer squash fried in butter. Suplemented with meat a couple a squash plants can keep a family filled up for a good part of the summer. The meat chicks are growing up fast. We finaly got some cooler weather, for which I'm thankful. I'll wait for the nights to warm up a little before I turn them out on the grass. We still could use some rain.

Gene Logsdon writes about the joy of eating well....

The question I am most often asked by urbanites goes like this: “But what do you do out there all the time?” And the answer I most often give, sort of facetiously, because that is such a culturally-illiterate question, is: “Eat.” They look puzzled of course. Modern society, irrationally scared to death by fat, calories and cholesterol, doesn’t know how to eat any more, and families rarely sit down together for a meal. It really is a shame. Enjoying a feast of homegrown food is surely my family’s favorite pastime, and Carol’s (my wife’s) family has practically made a sacrament out of it.

Some timeless advice from Andrew Nelson Lytle, from an essay "The Hind Tit"

He must close his ears to these heresies that accumulate about his head, for they roll from the tongues of false prophets. He should know that prophets do not come from cities, promising riches and store clothes. They have always come from the wilderness, stinking of goats and running with lice and telling of a different sort of treasure, one a corporation head would not understand.

If you haven't already stopped by, be sure to check out A Bit of Earth Farm . A journal of the life of a 19 year old girl living and learning on a farm in Ohio.

The traitors in Washington passed CAFTA last night. The nightmare of Globalism marches on. Another example of why the two party system is a fraud. As CAFTA works its magic on our economy, expect the Agrarain Movement to grow by leaps and bounds.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Notes From Polyface

There are a few things that one notices right off the bat when exploring Polyface Farm. First, the lack of machinery. No plows, disk, drags, planters, silage wagons or any of the other contraptions that make farming so expensive to get into. They do have machinery for haying but not much else. Second, almost every form of animal housing is on wheels or skids. The whole system revolves around mobility. The cornerstone philosophy that guides all facets of the system is a simple one. Animals are healthiest when they are happy. An animal is happiest when they can act in the way that God created them to act. Joels says, "We want a chicken to be able to fully express its chickeness, a cow its cowness and a pig its pigness". Using this basic idea the Salatin's have created farming enterprise that supports 3 generations while not using antibiotics, chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Another thing that makes them unique is the idea of complimentary enterprises. All the different kinds of animals work together instead of competing for resources. The shelters were very simple and not very fancy. The folks who were out with tape measures and note pads tring to make plans for the assorted movable shelters missed the point, I think. I didn't take long to see that these things were made with available resources in an inexpensive manner. What you make your eggmobile or shadmobile out of should depend on your available materials. If you paid attention you also noticed that they were always updating and changing and improving the shelters. The take home message here was simple, use your imagination and build it from the most affordable materials in your area. The part of the day I enjoyed most was Joel's talk on "relationship marketing". He said we don't want just loyal costumers, we want them to be evangelists. According to Joel we want, "Pastured Poultry Carismatics!" He talked about the pros and cons of farmgate, farmers market, restraurnt, and metropolitan buying clubs as ways to sell products. He touched on pricing a little. He said we need to make a profit and not try to compete with Walmarts artificially low prices. But he also said that he doesn't sell things for whatever the market will bare either. Just because you may be able to get $5 a dozen for eggs doesn't make it ethical. He stressed the fact that we should be able to sleep well at night knowing we didn't take advantage of others. The food was great. Its always nice to munch on chicken that didn't soak up a lot "fecal soup". One thing I really liked was the way he makes compost out of the beefers bedded pack before they spread it on the pastures. They use a lot of carbon (bedding) in the pack and also spread shell corn in it. The shell corn ferments in the manure and when the cows go out to grass the pigs come in and dig for corn turning and aerating the pack. The resulting compost is applied to the land instead of raw manure. There were many vendors such as Acres USA and Premier Fence there to visit. The people were all wonderful and we got to chat with a lot of folks from all over the US. I heard there were even some people from across the ocean there as well. It was well worth the trip and we learned some things and were encouraged by the number of people there. Its hard to write down everything we saw and learned, so if anyone has questions feel free to ask.

Monday, July 25, 2005

I Have Returned......even more radical then when I left.

We made it home today about 2 o'clock in the afternoon. We had a great time, although I'm glad to be home and don't want to sit in a car again for some time. We stopped at "Endless caverns" on the way down. There are a lot of caves in the Shenandoah Valley. It was a cool 55 degrees in that hole, and I think if I ever live in the south I want to live in a cave. The Polyface Field Day was well worth the trip. There were 1300 people there, and thats because they cut off ticket sales when it hit 1300. Alternative Agriculture is coming of age, can you imagine that many people attending something like this 10 or even 5 years ago. It pleased me to no end to see a lot of young families with lots of kids, lots of "conservative christians", and a lot of regular folks who want to learn in attendance. Alternative agriculture is not just for hippies anymore! I don't have time right now to go into detail about polyface, but I will hit the highlights and tell you what I saw and heard in future posts. I did meet up with Keith while I was there. A real nice guy with a beautiful family. We also went down to ST Peter on Sunday. We enjoyed the service and I had a chance to chat with Rick and some other fine folks while we we're there. Tonight I have beans to pick and I'm a little bit tired, so I'll tell you more on Tuesday.

And Keith, tell you daughter I loved her realtree skirt. I wanted to get a picture of you all for the blog, but I didn't catch you in time. She was the best dressed lady there!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Gone to Polyface Field Days

We are in the process of packing the car. I spent the day tying up loose ends around here, making sure everything is ready for my departure. My cousin got here tonight to help out the folks while I'm gone. My brother has said he'll come out and lend a hand, so I suppose they've got it covered. I still feel a little funny leaving all this work for other people to do. Leah and the boys are extremely exited. We'll be leaving in the morning, after I get one more milking done. I'll probably milk early so we can get a good start on the trip. Good Lord willin' and the creek don't rise, I'll be back Monday with all the news from Polyface and some pictures. Have a good weekend my friends.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

A Break From the Heat

It was a lot cooler this morning than its been in some time. I didn't even start the floor fan up in the cow barn. I am thankful for a break from this heat. I'm going to pick beans today. Last night I skidded out some firewood with my brother-in-law. We used the old Ford 601 Workmaster. They are a handy little tractor to use in the woods. When I was a boy we used to plant corn with an 801 Powermaster and a JD 494a planter. I love those little Fords. Nothing sounds prettier than those little gas engines. To bad gas is so expensive, you can't afford to do much "real" work with them anymore. I was thinking last night that the 601 would be a great tractor for the small time homesteader. They have power to spare and have 3 point hitch. They can have remote hydraulics added on pretty easy. That tractor could do every job on the homestead. Well, I better scoot. I need to go get the girls some hay, pastures about all used up now. Praying for rain.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

What We're Doin' on The Hill

Things are pretty busy around here this week. Leah and her sister have been making a mess of jam. They got the black caps done and yesterday they picked blueberries. While they picked blueberries I dug a grave for Katie. It was hot and the ground is dry and hard. Took forever getting a hole dug. Shes in the ground now, I sure miss our morning time together. Last night we went and bought supplies for our trip to Polyface and delivered some eggs on the way. We will be leaving on Friday. I'm getting exited, I haven't left the farm over night in several years. I'm also felling kind of nervous and jerky about it as well. I'm a creature of habit, always have been. I can't remember the last time I missed a milking around here. Heck, I broke my foot a few years back 2 hours before milking and didn't miss that milking or any after for that matter. I'll be up bright and early looking for something to do. Thankfully Joel has invited everyone over for morning chores! The girls made jam late into the night with their fresh blueberries. This morning I'll have a bowl of them with sugar and heavy cream. Agrarian rocket fuel. Some of our early apples are starting to get ready. Seems early, don't have a clue what they are. We have a few ripe tomatoes already. I grew the tomatoes on the layered compost garden I'm experimenting with. I can't believe the yields! I've never seen so many tomatoes. The first beans were ready yesterday, just a few. In a few days we'll have beans coming out our ears. I hope they aren't waiting for me to leave. We grew the broccoli on the layered compost as well. We have had 5 cuttings worth of side shoots on the oldest ones. I have been surprised by the yields on them as well. We had a calf born this morning. She is sired by This Bull. We have a few and they are all pretty nice.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Sad News

We have some sad news. Our dog Katie was hit by a truck last nite and was killed. She never has gone in the road before, but it only takes once. It was a pretty sad time for all of us, she was a good dog and my little buddy. I miss you, Kate.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Richest Man on Earth

Yesterday was a pretty productive day. By sunset I had a bulk tank half full of jersey milk, my barn chores done, a big mixing bowl full of snap peas harvested and froze, 8 summer squash and 5 zuccinies picked, a big mess of broccoli put up, some more pasture clipped and I was standing in a patch of blackcaps just picking away. I like to pick berries at dusk. Its a good way to cap off the day. Today the women folk will be making the berries into jam, I'll probably even pick some for wine latter. Anyway, I'm standing there picking berries and watching another beautiful MT Hunger sunset and I'll I could say was "Thank God I'm a Countryboy". I reached in my pocket and pulled out 63 cents, all I've got to my name at the present moment, and thought "Today I'm the richest man on earth". The Lord has provided me with a wonderful family, honest work, and a bountifull harvest that will feed us through the winter. Modern industrialist-capitalist culture trys to put a dollar value on everything. They even have the gull to declare "Time is money". Bull, time is a gift from God best spent glorifying Him and enjoying Him. I always laugh when pencil pushers tell me to be sure I figure in my time when judging somethings profit. Averaged out over the years I reckon my times worth about 5 cents an hour......don't bother me at all. The moderns never get agrarainism because they fail to realize that some things don't have a monetary value. Whats it worth to you, say.... watching a little boy feed a calf or catch a frog. Having a bucket full of blackberries that were free for the picking. The taste of that jam on some homeade bread. If one chooses this kind of lifestyle they must learn to recognize these blessings for there real value. At the end of the day we must to enjoy the smell of fresh cut hay or manure, a true gift of increase, just as much as our neighbor enjoys "new car smell" or french perfume. We must learn to be content with the gifts that God gives us and not lust after mammon.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

What I'm Doing

I got up late this morning. By the time I finished morning milking the post office had called and said that the baby chicks were in. So I skipped breakfast and the whole family went to town to get the chicks. We dipped the beaks and got them settled into their new home. We have some kin folk visiting for a week or so. Leah was with them today, me and little John did chores. It was a hot one today and chores seemed to drag on forever. I just got done with the night milking and stopped in for a cold beer and a snack. Then its off to hook up the brush hog and clip some pasture, there is some golden rod that needs to be wacked off. After I eat supper I hope to get caught up on some emails and see what my other agrarain brothers and sisters have been up to today.


Got the pasture clipped. I took John and Noah out to move the hens ahead and give them a refill of water. Thats when I saw that the first blackberry patch was ripe! There are few things in life better than watching 2 young boys picking and eating blackberries until their little bellies can't hold anymore. Tomorrow we will pick some more for jam. The sour pie cherries are almost ready. We found a one of them golden raspberry bushes in the woods the other day, I figure a bird planted it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Faith and Farming

We got quite a bit of rain this morning. We sure do need it. The pastures are short and we had to start feeding the cows hay again. We don't have a lot of hay this year and every bale we feed now will be one we can't feed this winter. Try not to worry though, the Lord has always seen us through. We have been through some pretty lean years and we always seem to find a way to get by. I always take comfort in the fact that if God makes sure the sparrows are fed, He will surely feed his people. I remember years back we had a field that we grew rye straw on with the plan to seed it back to hay in the fall. We ran out of money and couldn't plant it. Now we had 50 acres of good land that we wouldn't get anything off of. Spring came and I didn't even bother to look at it. My dad asked if I'd been up to see the 50 acre lot. I told him I hadn't. He told me to go up and look it over. I pulled in and couldn't believe my eyes. It looked as if we spent a fortune seeding down. No weeds, and the lushest stand of timothy, ellsac and clover you ever saw. We had a hard time getting it all baled up there was so much. I've seen times when we were low on cash and all looked hopeless. Someone would stop in and want to buy a good cow or a bull. All of the sudden we had plenty again. Farming without prayer is like farming without rain or sun, it will never work. When the chips are down, have faith.

I close with the words of C.H. Spurgeon......

Moreover, the farmer is in a very special sense made to see his dependence upon God from season to season. He has never done; his labour is never ending, still beginning; and his hopes are never all fulfilled. From the time he sows the seed to the day when he sees the corn in the ear he is every hour dependent upon the Lord for sunshine and shower; and even when the grain is ready for the garner a stretch of rainy weather will take his harvest from him and leave him mourning at the last. He can never count his profits till he has them in his pocket, and hardly then. This manifest, absolute, and daily dependence should help the good farmer to learn the lesson of faith right thoroughly. He must look up, for where else can he look? He must leave his business in the Lord's hands, for who else can be his helper? Faith which is daily tried, and tried all the day long, has a fair opportunity of becoming unusually strong, and hence our agricultural Christians ought to be the strongest believers in the land. They have not of late been indulged with much temporal prosperity, but our hope is that a succession of adversities may have driven them to set less store by the world, to look more eagerly for the better portion, and to leave all things more believingly in the Lord's hands. This will be good out of evil beyond all question, and such good we ought to look for. Sharp discipline should by this time have made good soldiers of our yeomanry. If it be so, the failing purse is more than recompensed by the enlarged heart: if our farmers are wiser men through their bad seasons, that will be better than being richer men.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Make Your Own Low Cost Evaporator-- part two

OK, back to the evaporator. You will use the fuel tank to make a firebox. I used one thats vertical. Cut the top half or third off with a torch or a metal cutting blade for your circular saw. Pull it out away from the buildings and burn off any left over fuel oil that's in it. Now that the top of the tank is open you can weld the angle iron around the inside of the tank making a lip for the pan to sit on. Also weld angle iron across the little frame you just made. Put it flat side up and tack it to the bottom of the frame. This will give the pan extra support when full of sap. Cut a door in the front. Weld a frame around the hole with angle iron. You can weld hinges to the door and add a simple latch, if you want. Now flip the tank upside down and cut 3, 3 inch by 3 inch square holes in the bottom. Save the pieces you cut out. Weld a couple of short pipe pieces, an inch long or so, to both ends of the tank. Make sure the pipe is the right size to firmly hold the rebar you found and let it slide back and forth. Heat and bend a 90* angle at the end of the rebar for a handle. Slide it through the pipes. Now weld the pieces you cut out onto the refer. Weld them so that when the rebar is pushed all the way back the holes are covered up and when it is pulled out the holes are open. This will be your draft control. On the end opposite the door cut a hole for 6 inch stove pipe. We found a steel collar with a 6 inch inside diameter and welded it over the hole. Next find a fire grate. You can make one out of the left over angle stock if you have any. Then line the inside with fire bricks. The bottom row can sit on the edge of the grate and just stack them up. Now for the pan. You will need to buy the stainless steel sheet from a machine shop or something. I got mine from a friend who worked a machine shop. I think it cost about $150-200, but it was several years ago. Always make the pan LAST. You will need to make it to fit the frame you made on the top of the tank. Depending what you scrounged up, every one will be different. Measure what the pan needs to be. Take the steel to a metal fabrication shop. They will bend, cut and weld it up for $50 or so. Have them cut a hole in the front right corner towards the bottom and weld in a treaded collar. You will put a gas valve here to draw off the syrup. We also welded to steel handles at the back of the pan so it can be drained better. I think the pan will be 3x5 or so when your done. It should be 3 inches or so high. You want to remeber when making the frame that it sets on, that the pan should sit 3/4 to 1 inch down itnto the firebox. We have a gravity tank feeding our pan. It has a valve that we control the flow to equal the amount boiling off. The first year we let in the pan cold. The back third of the pan would never boil. We realized that we were losing a lot of heat up the stove pipe. We got some 3/4 inch copper tubing and coiled it around the stove pipe all the way down to the pan. We added a brass valve with a compression fitting near the pan and a threaded end at the top. Then we had the sap flowing through the hose into the copper and coming into the pan hot. Now the whole pan boils front to back and it saves a lot of time.

I'm sure I made this sound more confusing than it is. If you have any questions feel free to ask.

Make Your Own Low Cost Evaporator-- part one

I thought this might be a good summer project for folks that want to start making maple syrup. If you have a nice heated shop you could wait until winter, but I figure most folks don't. Making syrup is one of my favorite homestead projects. Its another great way to provide your family with a something good and healthy, plus its a good way to make extra spending money as well. We sell our syrup for $11 a quart. We had enough ahead that we didn't have to make any last season. I wanted to but we were busy and it looked like it would be a short run. We're all out now, so this coming spring we will have to make time for syrup. Syrup making is a family affair, there is a job for everyone. If you are just tapping a couple trees you can use your kitchen stove and a pan. However, if you want to really make enough to sell you will need an evaporator of some kind. As always store bought ones are priced to high for the average penny pinching homesteader. Years back we made one that is strong, cheap, and can make upwards of 25 to 30 gallons (if you don't sleep for a month). I'm running out of time, so for now I'll give you a list of things to start looking for. I'll give some more details and how to put it together in my next post.

375 Gallon fuel oil tank
a bunch of small angle iron
start pricing sheets of stainless steel
3/4 inch rebar
fire bricks
stove pipe
3/4 inch copper tubing
brass gas valve

REMEMBER......this is a list of stuff to scavenge for. Don't buy anything for a while. You will be surprised how much of this stuff you can gather up at no cost.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Happy Birthday Little John

Image hosted by

Image hosted by

John got a packbasket and a Victor 1.5 Jump Trap for his birthday. He is reading the latest issue of Fur-Fish-Game. He told me, "I'm a trapper man, but I'm still a cow man too."

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Wise Counsel

In the rare case that you are not a regular reader of Chad Degenhart's Blog, I took the liberty of sniping this comment from this Post.

So where’s the best place to be for an agrarian community?

A place where believers will humble themselves and truly keep covenant together long enough to build it. Though good land is certainly important, it is by no means the first priority. Biblical agrarian community is a long-term project that will take multiple generations of tested, tried, and humbled, but persevering believers, especially in a culture whose chiefest goal is personal autonomy and comfort. Though it’s likely a prudent thing to do given the horrific state of our nation, moving to a small farm with good land in a rural area where a few other believers live does not constitute community. Biblical community occurs when a concentrated number of believers come together and through faithful, covenantal obedience become sufficient salt and light to take biblical dominion in stewarding the Lord’s earth according to His will. History has clearly proven that biblical community is far easier pontificated on then actually done. Even so, may we all, though we may be in fear and trembling, “cross the Atlantic” by faith in boldly taking those first and most difficult steps in building true Christian Community like those who signed the Mayflower Compact and sealed its success with their very lives.

Rev Thomas C. McConnell

Friday, July 08, 2005


When I was growing up I loved spending time in the woods. I would often get my morning chores done and grab my pack and head down the trail and not come back till evening. Looking back, the time spent in those woods really helped shape my life in a lot of ways. I was alone, and just a little guy. I remember the first time I got lost. Thought for sure I'd never find my way back. I finally had to stop panicking and sit down. I thought, "Scott-you've got to stop and think a little". That's been my game plan ever since, just stop and think. I learned a lot about wildlife and plants and such by simple observation. Those days of youth, learning and exploring, were days I will always remember. There are few things that stimulate the mind and spirit of a young lad then exploring a new country. Those woods weren't all that big, when I look at them now. To a 10 year old kid they were like a vast wilderness. I've never really outgrown it, as an adult I've made several trips to Alaska. The last time with my wife and we stayed for a year, quite a honeymoon. There is something about the wilderness, the real wilderness that I love. The beauty, the silence, the fact that one mistake could at any time be the death of you. I am happy that my boys love the woods just like their dad. Little John was exploring the woods when he was only 2. He could find and identify coon tracks at that age. Don't think I didn't brag on that just a little. His birthday is coming up. I got him his own 3 year old sized pack basket to use trapping this fall. I can't wait to see his face!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Diversity is Not Enough

Several years ago I came to the conclusion that our farm needed to become more diversified. In my quest for a diversity I made a few mistakes that I would like to share. The first thing I did was put sheep up on the hill. My parents then added a meat goat herd down on the main farm. Both of these additions produced a marketable product. We sold lamb and wool and kid goats. The main problem was, and I didn't really realize it until I read Family Friendly Farming, was that these enterprises were competing against each other and the dairy. They all needed the same pastures, hay, and grain that the cows needed. When hay got short the sheep and goats were robbing the main income producers of the most important input. The goats were in a barn that could be used for calves and the sheep were testing my ability to do 3 things at once. What was ment to help our farm was really hurting it. The sheep left 2 years ago and the last of the meat goats left this year. When Herrick loaned me Salatins book(which I will be returning shortly) I finally started to realize the fact that they were competing enterprises. As I read Joel's thoughts on complimentary enterprises, I had to shut the book and take a deep breath followed by a hearty "why didn't I think of that". Now I have grand plans for incorporating chickens into our dairy operation. Chickens like the short grass that the cows have grazed down. They eat fly larvae and scratch out the cow pies for better fertilizer. They work with the cows and the cows benefit from them. What a concept! I am presently using chickens to prepare future garden spots for market produce. I was prepared to go full bore with meat birds this year. However, when I got the opportunity to go to Salatin's this year I decided to just raise some for ourselves this year. Part of the money we had to buy chickens will pay for our trip and I also want to see the Joel's system in action before I fly off half cocked into something new. We have raised pastured broilers in "chicken tractors" before but I'm more interested in what he has to say about marketing. I also have decided that I need to expand my egg sales before I start anything new. Right now we have more eggs than we are selling. This next week we will be getting some Cornish rock crosses, a smaller box than we had originally planned.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Simple Yet Complex - The agrarian Life

It may seem strange, but the simple life is an extremely complex life. The world of a family farmer is one almost unexplainable to the nonfarmer. I will do my best to explain though.

When city folk ask "what do you do for a living?" they usually all have the same look on there faces when I tell them I'm a farmer. They tend to view the world of agriculture as simplistic vocation, one that a person chooses because they are to dumb to do anything else. In my case, I could have done or been anything I wanted. I chose this way of life. If one is getting into agriculture with the idea that they will plant a few seeds, milk a cow and lay under a shade tree sippin' moonshine all day, they have a wake up call comming. Don't get me wrong, I lay under shade trees from time to time and have been known to tip back the jug. What I'm trying to get across here is that living the simple life means doing away with specialization and that makes you a busy man.The wanabe agrarian should consider this quote by Robert Heinlein.

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnett, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently and die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."

Here are a few things a family farmer has to be for example. My job description looks like this.......Plumber, welder, diesel mechanic, electrician, large and small animal vet, bookkeeper, horticulturist, tree surgeon, quality control inspector, and the list goes on and on. All the little details of farming are also complex. The way plants grow or the digestive system of a cow for example are very complex. We must understand all the intricate details to make a living with God's raw creation. These are things learned by experience. This is one good reason to start small. Don't overwhelm yourself with half a dozen projects that are new to you. Read, always read but also find people who have experience who can help you learn. This countryside of ours is full of old men and women that our generation ignores. They hold the knowledge of the land and how to work it well. We must unite those with knowledge with those who want so desperately to learn. I am amused ,to some extent, that a lot of what sustainable agriculture is coming up with is stuff my greatgrandfather knew many years ago. The older folks also had some bad practices as well. That is why we need to reclaim the good ideas from the past but never be afraid to adopt new ideas that make sense.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Post Without a Title

Leah and Noah are off to a wedding shower, so John and I went fishin' after milking. We caught some sunfish out of a pond and are fixin' to eat em. It just started raining. We need rain, so I'm happy. The milk tester is comming in the morning. Thats when the DHIA man comes and weighs all the milk and takes a sample for the fat and protein. These are the numbers that show up on our girls pedigrees. Its a pain in the neck, but something you have to do if you want to market cattle. I was attacked today by a R.I. Red rooster. He better watch his step cause I got a hankering for chicken and dumplings. Not much new or exiting on the old farm today. I finally sent out the soap to our lucky winner. She should get it soon. Tom (Northern Farmer) sent me an email picture of his OP corn. It looks great, mabey he'll put it up on his blog. Last night we watched fireworks from our 50 acre lot on top of the hill. When we pulled in there were already 3 generations of Johnsons, neighbors-inlaws, sitting on round bales enjoying the show. We could see fireworks from 5 different towns, some over 20 miles away. Its a big hill. HA HA, I just looked over at John and the little guys sleeping already, its only 7:30, I suppose a day full of farmin' and fishin' tuckered him out. Oh yeah, we got our invoice thingy today for the Salatin Feild Day. We paid before July first so we got the cheaper rate. I think there is still time to reserve a spot, so if you can go you better Click Here and pay up. Hope to meet some of you all out there.

City Girl Meets Countryboy

Presbyterianism is really at the bottom of this whole conspiracy

Joel Salatin is going to have a Newsletter

Remineralizating Soils for Optimum Elemental Balance

Monday, July 04, 2005

CAFTA Vote and another Blogger


If you hadn't heard, CAFTA passed the senate. That means it will be voted on in the house very soon. Find and email your representative Here. Let them know you want them to vote NO on this awfull thing. This is a great chance for us to strike a blow against the globalist elite.

Another Blog

Be sure to stop by and see the Kansas Milk Maid. A small scale family dairy that sells raw milk.

Morning on the Hill

It is a fine morning here in the hill country. The cows are milked and back outside grazing, there is a fresh cow and a little baby on the side hill waiting to be brought down to the barn. The birds are very chirpy today and have almost emptied out the feeders. I will have to harvest some more snap peas out of the garden today. The tomotoes are doing very well and are loaded with green fruit. I may still plant yet another patch of bush beans. We use a lot of beans. We like to spread out the harvest so we don't get overwelmed. My friend John stopped by last night and gave me a copy of Journal of a Trapper by Osborne Russell that he found at a used bookstore. It is the story and observations of a rocky mountian fur trapper from 1834-1843. I read the boys a great story out of it last night before bed. The story of the first grizzly bear that they shot. My boys both aspire to be bear killers, so they enjoyed it very much. We had a treat on the Lord's Day. The Rev Harrington preached. He is an elder in our church, the elderest elder. He is a short man with gray hair, a gray beard and a scottish accent. The first reformed sermon I ever heard was by the Rev Harrington. He is a gifted teacher and speaker and his sermons are always a pleasure to hear. Yesterdays sermon was on Christ's office of King. A much neglected doctrine of the church today, understanding the Kingship of Christ is very important to living the Christian life.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

A Lunch Time Post

Things were going along pretty well today. Milking went off without a hitch. Leah and the boys and I went to check out a new farmers market after breakfast. We are interested in going to sell there next year. I went back to the barn and got chores down, even fixed the manure spreader, all before noon. Then Leah pulled in with the truck and said the cows were all out and headed down the road. We went up and got them back in, after a little detour through the woods. We fixed the fence and came home for lunch. I'm hoping things go smoothly this afternoon becouse we are supposed to go to a cook out tonight.

The apple trees are loaded with fruit. I'm thinking about using most of them for cider this year. May even let some "Harden Up", who knows. Ate the first wild raspberries yaesterday. Thinking about brewin' up a batch of Nettle Wine, if I do I'll let everyone know how it turns out.

Homesteader Life and a few of our close blogger friends were mentioned at the Planet Raw Milk website. I hadn't seen their site before today, check it out and see what you think.

Tom has some chew and a banjo and doesn't plan on leaving the farm for another week and a half. I'm with you brother Tom!

Friday, July 01, 2005

Real Bread and a Solar Project

Real Bread

You've probably heard the saying "The whiter the bread, the quicker your dead". There are endless health reasons to grind your own flour and make "real bread". Today, I'm not going to go into all the "health reasons" why we do it. Health aside, its just plain better. First of all, there is a great sense of accomplishment in grinding your own flour. It is also far tastier than any mass produced stuff masquerading as bread at the store. Grinding flour is something anyone can do, in fact its a great step toward a more agrarian life. We like to grind it fresh every time we make bread. If we have any left over we put in the freezer and use it up on the next batch. If your thinking about getting a mill, I can endorse This One. This is the one we have and it works great. There may be others out there that work good too, this is the only one we have ever had. If anyone wants to plug their favorite mill, feel free to comment.

Solar Project

This is a neat article in the newest issue of Countryside. Its not going to wean you off the powerlines all together by any means, but it may be a neat way to start messing around with solar and learn the basics.