Friday, February 29, 2008


I like beer. Beer is good. So, a funny story about beer. I was tilling yesterday and came across a poker chip from the pub for a free beer. I was laughing and yelling BEER! BEER! yeah baby beer. Well, everyone else thought I was yelling DEER. It was'nt until late in the day when we all had discoverd what had happend. Funny, Well... ok, guess you had to have been there. It's always fun when something cool turns up in the soil. One day we found an arrowhead, another day a wedding ring. One day a buried homesteader was found ( not by us but at one of our sites) creepy.

Finding things in the soil has always been fascinating. I remember one day when I was about 10 years old I was at my grandpa Gids homestead out in western Oklahoma. Grandpa had passed long before I was born so I never had the chance to meet him. I'm always thinking about him though. He was a farmer and a blacksmith. Anyway, I remember finding and old metal snap one day out where his garden used to be. I remember thinking that must of been and snap off a pair of grandapas overalls. I 've long lost that snap but the memory of that and that of ol Gid still live on. I wonder if Grandpa liked beer?

Here on the farm I'm always coming across something, mostly old tools. Makes me wonder about ol man Pinneo. You know we have it so easy these days. Just think how different things were back at the turn of the century. Life was a lot harder back then. We bitch about everything. We have about six ferries a day. Hell, back then there might a been six ferries a year!

Things have changed alot and are continuing to do so. Looks like we're headed for some $5.00 gallon fuel prices this summer. Hang on to your chonies folks, prices is goin up! Good time to be thinking LOCAL.

Keep it real,


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Good Times

Times is good on the farm. We could'nt be much more on it. We are filling ordedrs and sowing everyday. Prop house is full to the brim. The first tomatoes are germinating and we have an entire 3rd succession sown right behind that. Yes, I've completely gone mad once again. By my calculation theres somewhere close to 4,000 tomato seeds sown. Maniacal!

We'll move outside today and direct sow more peas and greens. Just need to form up a few more beds.

Short ordered on favas but I'll order some up today. Fava beans are my new favorite veg. Definately food of the Gods. I used to not eat them much because I felt like I didn't have the time to deal with them. They are a little time consuming, especially if you take off the inner peel. I have a quicker way that works best for my busy schedule. Simply shuck and steam for about 5 minutes, then pop em into the food processor and spin with olive oil and salt to taste. I use mine for pizza but it's great anyway.

So here's a little fun background on fava's taken from Saveur magazine. March 3rd is Festes De Medir in Barcelona Spain. During this annual festival comemorating Saint Medir, the patron saint of favas, who was martyred in the fourth century while planting them, People riding on horseback through Barcelona's streets toss candies symbolizing favas to crowds of children below.

I feel so informed, I had absolutely no idea there was a patron saint of fava beans...... Crazy Spanards.

I'll certainly celebrate the day by planting them that day.

Anyway, good times.

Farmer John

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Last minute desicion to put in some garlic. It's late I know and I'm not for sure if will work but it's in. Six beds of it. I think the worst case scenario is that it comes up, grows but does'nt form bulbs. We'll just use it as green garlic then.

Started a few more flats of toms yesterday. Have a few more to go. We'll be seeding peppers and eggplants here real quick too. The greenhouse is ridiculously full. We've got flats everywhere. Hopefully we'll begin transplanting within the next week or so. First things out will be spinach and lettuce followed up by choi, broccoli raab and kale.

Today is a bit of a clean up/catch up/ organize kinda day. Dump run, burn pile, mowing/weed wacking, table building, seed sowing, firewood splittin, seed ordering, fence building, chicken coop cleaning, soil sifting, worm feeding, greenhouse cultivating etc, etc. Just another day at the office.

If I can get some beds made up we'll sow some outdoor peas. Who knows.

Keep those Csa sign ups coming in folks. We need 20 more members!

Take care,


Monday, February 25, 2008

A Great Start

This last week the weather has pretty much been perfect. Highs in the low 50's low's in the low 40's. Sunny and dry. I've been getting a little more field work done each day. We're off to a great start. The prop house is bursting and all of the beds I planted in the hoophouses are up and looking great. I hav'nt checked out the outdoor beds I sowed last week but I would'nt be surprised if some of them were already germinating.

We will be planting our garlic this week. Way later than normal. In fact I was'nt even planning on growing garlic this year, however so many of the the other farmers had trouble with mold last year due to the wet conditions, I am thinking there won't be as much as a havest this year so it should be in higher demand.

We might actually might be able to transplant out a few flats of spinach this week. We sowed it on the 31st of January, it's just put on it's true leaves and is looking great. I have some direct sown outdoors and another round of 20 flats in the greenhouse. We're going to be needing more space here real soon so transplanting season may start a little earlier than normal. Yeah!

I cranked out another 60 flats of assorted items yesterday like celery, parsley, lettuce, raab, choi, and fennel. We'll be sowing alot more this week. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, broccoli, gailan. It's here! It's going to be a kick ass year.

I'm very focused, directed and on task right now. I've got my blinders on and am trying to eliminate the minor annoyances and white noise in my world. It's hard. There is always so much to be done and so little time to do it. Lots of people wanting to take my time. I've got my head down and focused on farming and family right now. If you want in you're going to have to be pretty darn compelling. ( or have a check in your hand. lol ) It's an important growth year for the farm. We have some big hurdles to get over and it is my intent for this to be the most successful year ever. So far it looks like we are on track. I can't recall ever starting off this well.

Time to go.

Keep well, keep real.


Saturday, February 23, 2008

Weather Dodging

If you live in this part of the world you are high fivin. We have dodged so much of the wild weather this year. Very moderate well spaced rainy times, no floods, a little snow and mostly mild temps. We'll see sun again today for like the 7th day in row or smething crazy like that. As most of the northern US prepares for yet another arctic blast next week, we are tilling and planting our spring crops. This whole global climate change thing really seems to be working out well. (you know I'm kidding right?)

Rant for the day: Sustainable wannabes, Stay away and respect my privacy! Do not knock on my door. Do not enter my house. Don not leave me your conformist ideals of how you perceive the world should be.

And now a quote from Wendell Berry.

"the trick is to keep the talk intelligent. Sustainable is already virtually a useless term. We're going to do durable next or something like that. We'll be reduced to long-lasting or permanent or eternal. Terminology has to be specific and elaborate. And that simply means that you've got to have people who insist that thier food comes from good farms, and that means they've got to recognize what a good farm is."

Good day,


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Rock & Roll Farming

Yesterday I found myself with an unexpected absence of what to do. The weather turned out to be much nicer than called for and I found myself with a last minute plan change. What to do? I decided to go ahead and sow some outdoor crops. Peas, fava beans, radishes, arugula, and a few other beds of assorted cold tolerant greens. For the most part this is right on schedule. Perhaps a tad early but most likely not. It felt so good to be planting again. especially fun with the ipod cranked.

In the process I made a new discovery that seemed to work well. When I plant peas and favas I use a 36" raised strip and make two furrows about 18" apart with tool on the tractor. I normally go back and cover the seed by hand with a rake. This method takes a long time and I have been experiencing some tendinitus in my elbows for the last couple of years and the raking is painful. So I was thinking of an easier way to cover the seed using the tractor. Finally it dawned on me. I ran my furrows a little deeper than normal, sowed the seed then made a pass with the tractor using my small 36" tiller/bed shaper running it at a low rpm and very shallow. It worked great! The seed was covered and the bed was re-shaped and now looks like it did prior to planting which will make it easier to cultivate. I love it when I have an idea and it works:) Were talking a couple thousand row feet here. I did in ten minutes what would have taken two hours by hand and achey elbows for days. Body pain is the mother of invention.

So we continue, slow and steady. Not so much to do that I run around all confused but enough to keep me busy enough to stay at it all day. Hopefully this little dry spell will hold on. After planting yesterday I only have three beds left open and soon we'll need space for plants coming out of the grenhouse's. Where's it all gonna go? If it dries up a bit I can make more beds.

It's getting light, time to go

Keep well,


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Monday, February 18, 2008

A Fine Day

Well, do I ever feel smart. I was able to capitalize on a very short weather window: plow, till set beds and fertilize at one of our drier sites. I got in fourteen 3 x 175 ft beds. That'll get us started. The rest of our sites are still too wet to get on. Getting beds set early will allow me to transplant even if it's too wet to till due to a wet spring which I would'nt be surprised by. We've already got starts up in the greenhouse's and it wont be long before they will need a home. So for now at least the first succession is taken care of. Looks like we're off to a great season.

The weather the last three days has been great. We missed that window last year and it set us back for the rest of the season. Today is presidents day, time to plant peas. We have some that we sowed direct into one of the greenhouse beds and about 20 flats sown in the prop house. I'll hold off a bit longer for the outdoor ones, they always just seem to set there anyway. Starting them indoors works well if you can keep the mice out of them. We have three bad ass kitties on patrol. No mice here!

Direct sown greenhouse beds of greens have just started germing. They'll take right off as the weather improves. We started a few flats of tomatoes today. I like to spread it out a little. It's a tad early perhaps. Perhaps not. We'll put em under lights and a cloche inside the greenhouse and them transplant them into a wall o water. Those things work great.

Nice harvest today. Salad greens, mizuna tops, cabbage, turnips, beets, kale and broccoli. Purple sprouting broccoli is just starting to form heads, it'll be on in a couple of weeks.

CSA sign ups and payments are trickling in. Keep em rolling folks, We have a couple of big hits coming. Seed potatoes, strawberry starts and more seed orders.

Things are rolling fairly strong here. It's good to be back at it. Just makes me feel good.

Keep well,


Friday, February 15, 2008

Imsomnia... A Bloggers Best Friend

"Happens to me every season change" 3:00 Am Schpiiing! awake. Option 1; Lay there, think about all the shit I need to do and all the broken crap I need to fix and all the bills coming in. Toss, turn.

Option 2; Get up, make coffee or sometimes a whiskey (aye drinkin in the mornin don't ye scold, for that's the time she takes ahold...ARGH) Light the fire, read, surf, ponder, blog.

Option 2 normally prevails. It's my time, no one elses. Quiet, (except the rooster) contemplative, thought provoking. A bloggers paradise.

What's on my mind? Many things. I began replacing some old fencing yesterday. The deer have won. They've wreaked havok on my overwintering crops and reduced me to a deer loathing bastard. Money, infrastructure repairs, etc. etc. Theres alot to do but I'm finally excited about doing something.

We already have the prop house filled up with flats. That was quick! Makes me think maybe we need a bigger prop house eh. At the least I'll be erecting a few more feet of benching to go into one of the other greenhouses.

I listen to alot of talk radio. So lately theres been a lot of talk about the stimulus plan and what you should do with you're windfall. W wants you to be patriotic and go buy a new flat screen TV. Others say you should pay down you're personal finance debt. For me, I'm giving the money to the farm. How about you? Not sure? Well, One option would be to join a CSA. In my opinion That's a very reasonable solution. It's good for the economy. It's local and green. You get something good in return and you help counter the fiscally irresponsible actions of our leaders. Just an idea folks.

And lastly, I'm having a seroius problem with our council. Recently, the council budgeted $5,000 to go to the farmers market. Great! Maybe, maybe not. It's come to my attention that the council is strongly urging (so we can continue to receive funds in the future) that the money be used to benefit the farmers. Great! Maybe, maybe not. The market board, acting under pressure from the council finally said OK we'll give the farmers a 25% discount on the space rental. The farmers only and not the crafters or food vendors. Great! NO! Not at all! Listen, all of the vendors need each other for our market to be successful and cohesive. Diversity is what makes a market a vibrant center of community activity. SO my first question is why not just give everybody a 10% discount. Apparently our council is a little short sighted on this one. Whats good for the market is good for the farmers. What I would most like to see is for the rate to stay the same and have the council let us do with it as we see fit. If the council is going to impose stipulations well then I think we should kindly say no thank you to the $5,000.00 It's simply not enough money to jump through hoops for.

But there is one other issue that I personally feel is huge mistake. The market board is now requiring that we all pay our rent up front by April 1st. Ok, Not that uncommon nor is it an unrealistic request but... If the county really wants to help the farmers. Let them negotiate with the parks board a new lease date so we can all pay our fees a little later in the year when we are making money. It's a lot easier for me to pay $700.00 in July than it is $500.00 in April. Running a busines a small business is all about cash flow. It does'nt take a genious to figure out that farmers don't have money in April.

Regardless, I'm paying my $500.00 on April 1st and making a $200 donation to the market in July. I'm writing a letter to the council and market board to express my concerns and certainly Not attending the Market meeting. I'ts going to be whiny and I simply can 't give it any of my energy. I just want to grow food and have the best year ever.

nuf said


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Nice Weather Coming

Here it is. We have a nice high pressure ridge building that looks like it will allow us some really nice weather coming up later this week and holding for about 10 days. They are talking temps in the 60's Yahoo! This is typical and often allows us to get on our ground and do a little soil work. I'll be preping some of my drier areas in anticipation of planting the very earliest crops like peas, fava beans, lettuce, choi, arugula, mizuna, broccoli raab and a few others. If you you miss this window you'll be behind the rest of the year.

We'll be seeing greenhouse work continually increasing from here on out. Most of the flats we have sown over the last few weeks have have germinated and we'll be moving them off the heat table to make room for the second round. I like to start a few flats of tomatoes at this time and then sow a few more flats in about a month. I'm probabally early on a few things but I like to be prepared and have things ready to transplant if the weather turns nice. We can get a jump on the season if we have early production.

Perhaps the nice weather will spur people into thinking about farming /gardening and provoke them to join a CSA. We hav'nt had a sign up for weeks now. Bummer. March is gonna be Brutal.

So the pace will change dramatically from here on out. There is lots to do around the farm. Repair, spring clean up, field prep, sowing and equipment maintenance are the priority. I'm ready.

Take care,

Farmer John

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Patience youth

Howdy folks, Things are starting to swing towards work here. Just waiting to really get going. We have a few things in flats germing on the heat table and a few newly sown beds in the hundred foot greenhouse. Nothing out of the ordinary. Greens mostly. Still harvesting some beautiful lettuce from the fifty foot house and I have several outdoor beds that are trying to recover from many nights of sub freezing temps. We'll see if they make the cut.

I'ts like waiting for Christmas. Patience youth.

I'm trying to get some equipment maintenance done before I get swamped. Regular stuff, Change the oil & filters and lube the tractors and riding mower. Sharpen the blades on all of the mowers. Order and change out tiller blades etc. etc. and on and on. Also working on getting my cultivating tractor going and getting the tool bar all set up with the proper knives etc. I've been lagging on this one for too long. Going to be needing that one this year for sure. Can't get the damn thing started right now. Patience youth.

Still working on marketing, CSA sign ups and other behind the scenes stuff. We are experiencing a lull in CSA sign ups. Sure is a big dissapointment when I hit the mail box hoping I'll have at least one and there is none. Trying to keep my chin up. Patience youth.

There is a ton of property maintenance to be done. Some of I'm just turning a blind eye on until later. Too overwhelming to even think about it. Just trying to pick one project a day and complete that task. It starts to get easier when you start checking things off your list. Patience youth.

It will all happen soon enough. I'm excited about the season and prospects for the future and ready to roll for 2008. There are a couple of web sites I gaing some particular motivation from right now. One is and the other is Both of these sites have excellent blogs and some great farm pics and ideas. Farming can be a little lonely at times and it's cool to think about other people who are doing the exact same thing as you, just in another location. My hats off to you guy's. Keep it rollin.

Take care all.

Farmer John

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Ladies and Gentleman... Season Eight

Hah! I don't quite believe it. This is the beginnig of my eighth year. Seems like yesterday. I'm still standin. Must be livin right.

Well, the heated prop table is full with newly sown flats of assorted varieties once again. It's taken about a week for the first emergence to occur. Off to an earlier start this year. No particular reason other than just feeling like it's time. we've had some really nice spring like days intermixed with lots of plain old PNW dreariness. The sun's tracking higher in the sky each day and the days are a minute longer. I can really notice the difference in he greenhouse that sets at the southern border of the farm. It rarely see's full sun in the winter as it is shaded by the fir trees to the south. About this time of year it starts to get a little more sun each day. I just sowed a couple of the beds in there yesterday with an asian salad mix. Sure feels good. I say it every year, It's just magic to be in the greenhouse's at this time of year. It's almost like sacred space (geez) Rainy, cold and windy outside. Dry, balmy and calm on the inside.

I'l be in there again today sowing another round of flats. Lettuce, broccoli raab, choi, onions and maybe a few other things. Perhaps a litle groundwork as well. We'll see. I've got to make firewood first.

Life is good

Farmer John