Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bring on the light

Happy solstice! Always a good feeling to know we're on the "right" side when the days are turning longer. As with most farmer types I know, we generally acknowledge this to be mid-winter even though ofiicially it has only just begun. In about six weeks, we'll be back full force seeding in the prop house and getting ground ready to plant as it dries out enough to work.

Time to kick back now and rest if you can. I'm working on chores around the farm right now. Flood damage repair and lots of clean up and organizing. One project always leads to another. Feels good. I guess getting more organized will be one of my resolutions. Regardless it gives me something to do right now during the down time. Too much time sett'n round taint no good.

Thinking about farm plans and cruising seed catalogs. Always looking for something new and fun to grow. We'll be placing orders soon. This is a good time to reserve your potato seed and strawberry slips. We have a pretty good reserve of seed on hand. Probably don't need to order too much. That's a good thing for sure. First order will be for tomatoes. I promise I'll cut back my selection every year but I never seem to be able to. I know my favorites though. We do sell plant starts in the spring so I have a nice selection for that but there's really about 12 varieties that work for me. I do want to grow more romas this year as I have been using them to make my own tomato paste. It's the most wonderful stuff I've ever tasted. Tomatoes are my totem vegetable. I like to wait til late Feb and into early March to start mine. You get a happier, better timed plant. We normally can't put toms out until the end of May and having a big ol leggy plant by then is not really what you're looking for. I do know of one farm in Skagit that plants toms the day after Christmas. They normally have ripe toms on the vine in May! Very impressive and very high input operation. I prefer to grow within the natural season. It just makes more sense to me. I only eat them when the're in season except for the ones I put up. There is no going back to crappy store bought toms after you've had the best.

Sometimes I do sow salad greens at christmas if I have the space. You can wait and sow later and still wind up with the same harvest date. We shoot for March 1st but normally it's not till mid March before our first cut.

Still have some bulbs to get in the ground. Daffodils, garlic and shallots. It's getting later than optimal but probably OK. This is the first time I've done daffs so I'm not really sure.

Happy Holidays to all,

Farmer John

Thursday, December 16, 2010


What's a farmer do in the winter? Well, these days we're dealing with flood damage. Not as one would expect from the torrential rains we have recently experienced but rather from a faulty plumbing installation on a bathtub. Extensive damage upstairs and down but we have a handle on it. Call it a forced remodel. At this point the plumber is denying any responsibility, we'll see if he comes around. From the sounds of it, I doubt it. Other islanders have been awesome. Thank you's to Joe Goodrich of Rainbow Carpet and Upholstery care for the Gratis inspection, assesment and reccomendations and to John and Katie Curlett of Northstar Drywall for their generous offer to put us back together. This is perfect example of islanders helping islanders. This is not really what I was hoping to be dealing with right now and certainly not in my financial best interest. The joy's of home ownership.

What we should be doing, besides resting, is putting together next years plan. I have most of it in my head but need to transfer some solid plans to paper. I'll be the first one to admit I'm not always the best at this. It's an important step even though plans often change mid stream due to uncontrollable situations. Having a map to start from is always a good thing. I've been thinking alot about varieties, "what are we going to grow?" We'll add some things that did well and drop a few that didn't work out so good. In particular, I'm thinking about our shoulder seasons, especially fall/winter. This is the time of year to think. I think about everything that will make us better. I'm not afraid to implement change or try new techniques as long as they have been well thought out. There's always more than one way to skin a cat and getting stuck in your ways can set you back in the long run.

Despite our flooding set back, I'm still excited for next year. Basically the plan is simple; Grow more food!

Keep well,

Farmer John

Monday, December 6, 2010

Another New Acre

I was fortunate to take advantage of the relatively dry conditions we've been experiencing and was able to break ground on another acre of land. This is at our Stonebridge site where we already have one acre in production. This site has very nice sandy loam compared to most of the other sites we farm which tend to be more on the clay side. I plowed the new layout with a mold board plow and will let it set for the winter and partially decompose the inverted sod. I'll come back when conditions allow and knock it down and level it out with a rotovator, then chisel it and re-till as neccessary to fully incorporate and decompose the sod. This proccess takes awhile. This particular site is being prepped for our fall and overwintering crops next year. We'll begin planting it out in late July through September. It should just be ready by then. We'll probably get a round of summer cover crop in first, something like buckwheat. While the time goes by we'll be getting ready to build a fence to enclose the area from deer. Unfortutnately we can't grow anything without deer fencing. It's an expensive proposistion. Fortunate for us, the land owner buys the material in exchange for us putting up the fence. It's a workable solution. The owner gets a capital improvement and we get a fence. We'll also pull a soil sample and see what kind of ammendment might be neccessary. My assumption is we'll be adding lime and of course our "Perfect Blend" natural fertilizer.

Speaking of soil tests, I'll be pulling samples from all of our fields to see where we're at. I have a pretty good feeling we're on the right track just by the way the crops have been looking but as plants grow they use nutrients and we want to keep up on our fertility management We'll most likley continue with our current program but it's important to know as much as you can about your soils and trends. We definately have some improvements to make. One of those being the making and addition of more compost. It's forefront on my agenda and I'm hoping to do a better job. We need some equipment to do this. As usual money is tight and it' a challenge to purchase all of the equipment we need. That's one thing about farming, it is an equipment intensive operation. I wish I had about $20,000 to spend on equipment. Some folks would scoff at this notion and say you could do it by hand. True, if we had enough people who had the know how and gumption to get it done. But the reality is that farming is labor intensive. Labor is expensive and anything you can do to mechanize your operation makes for a more efficient operation. Personally for me, effienciency = sustainability. I can't do everything by hand and would work myself to death or burn out trying to do so and then where would we be. Certainly not sustainable. God am I'm sick of that word! Nothing is sustainable if it's not financially viable and is overly laborious for the people running it. Don't get me wrong. What we do can be sustainable in a manner. It's just an over-used word that's thoughtlesly used.

Time to roll,

Take care,

Farmer John

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Wrappin er up

The weekend prior to Thanksgiving gave us an unusually cold spell that really put a damper on the end of our season. We recorded a low temprature of 9 degrees and had wind gusts as high as 50 mph. Not the most favorable conditions for surving if you're a broccoli plant. All of our beautiful salad greens perished as well as all of our remaining rootcrops. Fall sown fava beans... gone. Beautiful rainbow chard... toast. Interestingly many things did survive. Crops that were still quite small made it through OK. Chervil, cilantro, parsley, spinach, lettuce all made it with minimal damage. Most of the kale came through OK. some varieties proved to be more hardy than others. The most hardy being White Russian and Dwarf Siberian. The least hardy being Fizz, Lacinato and Red Russian. The're alive but will take some time to recover. Over-winter sprouting broccoli came through without a blemish and most of the cabbage looks OK.

So although it's a bummer, you have to remind yourself that these kind of things can and do happen. We had had a very mild fall and we mostly capitalized on that. It's a learning experience. The only thing I would have done over is simply to have harvested more before the storm hit. Oh well, Easier said than done. At this point it's "there's always next year"

We will be harvesting some kale today and we have a few hundred pounds of french fingerling potatoes in storage. Not too bad but there's always the feeling in the back of your mind that you could have done better. And that's exactly what I think about this time of year. What can we do next year to make it better? When your doing this you have to recognize and live up to your short comings and weakness. Not always the easiest thing to do but an exorcise well worth the time. We all like to think that just because we did it, it's great. So not true, unless you're a tunnel visioned narccisist. There's always room for improvement.

The only thing with this is to not beat yourself up so bad that you go into a state of depression. Which is hard anyway when you go from having a busy harvest/work schedule to being cooped up inside for a few days watching all of you hard work die in the wind. It's good to remind yourself of all of the things you done that did work. Look back on your success and all that you have to be thankful for (which is alot). Healthy, happy, in love and surronded by general awesomeness. It's all good baby.

Keep well friends,

Farmer John

Friday, November 12, 2010

Down To Two

Just two more markets left for the 2010 season. We still have a nice selection of produce left and my only concern now is that people come out and shop. We could use a couple of good weeks here to stay on top of things and maximize our sales for the year. Bills still continue to come due even when we're not making money. ( I hate that ) Feeling pretty good about how things went this year and already excited to start next year. We have our crew lined up already and we're going to hit the ground running. I have big ideas ( as usual ) for the new year. Lots of variety, more eclectic items, and more successions on some of our key items.

For all that is good I am trying to address our problem areas as well. The big one is continuous availability on salad greens. We always fall short right in the heat of the season and it seriously costs us thousands of dollars in lost sales. It's more of a planning issue than anything. There are other issues at hand, but planning to have the space available at the right time and planning the plantings out at about every seven days is a major part of it. Heat, water, pests, appropriate varieties, weed pressure and allergy season are other important factors to consider as well. Making this work is my main priority. We have other issues to address but this is the biggest and that's where we'll start.

I think part of being successful is being able to look at your short comings in an authentic manner. We all like to think that just because we did it, it's great. That's not always the case and being able to see, acknowledge and correct your short-comings although sometimes difficult is a neccessary skill to have.

Our experience in selling to the grocery store is turning out to be quite positive. In my opinion the exposure we are getting far outways the lower price we are receiving for the product. So many people are commenting on it. It's something I'd like to pursue more in the future.

That'l do for today. I have a busy day. Market harvest in the morning and an off island journey starting at noon. Crazy. Come see us at the market!

Farmer John

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Killer Weather

And I mean that in a good way. It's the first week in November and we're still working in the fields in our shirt sleeves. It was a balmy 59 degrees and sunny yesterday. Awesome, I love it. espescially when I was late getting our fall and over-winter crops in. Most of it is looking good right now and at least has a chance to make, although we have just entered the "12 week no grow zone" This is the period six weeks on each side of the winter solstice that not alot of growth happens. The Sun is riding lower in the sky each day and even when it is sunny the intensity of the suns ray are waning. So you can't expect too much right now. Just wait though, as soon as February comes around and we start getting some nice days, life will begin to return. Pay attention to what is happening in your garden. This is a good time to observe mother nature and learn by mimicking her. We'll take this nice weather any day of the week. Winter is coming and everyones all chatsy about how this is going to be a rough one. Only time will tell. I think we're ready for anything. Bring it.

Although we get a break from the farmers market this week it will return for the next two weeks after that and then we're done. We are still making restaurant deliveries but this is rapidly slowing down too. We are still making deliveries to the grocery store though. This is something new for us and so far it's working great. We've been delivering kale, swiss chard and parsley. It's great advertising for us and more people are getting our product because it's more convienient.

That's a pretty good topic you know; Convienence. It's a weak link for us. You have to make it easy for the consumer to buy your product if you have any hope in succeeding. There are more people that don't go to the farmers market than those who do. Reach those people and then you have a whole new market to sell to. We all talk about competition amongst ourselves and how the island can only support so many farmers. All I can say is head down to the ferry landing any given morning and you'll see about ten semis a day come off from America loaded with fuel, food and other supplies. That's our competition. Well that and our own brains and boxes we put ourselves into. Our number one job on the marketing side of things should be figuring out and implementing ways to make it easier for our potential customers to become our steady customers. Selling to the grocery store is a pretty good start.

I've been thinking alot about our operation here and how we can improve. There are alot of areas we can do better at and I'll be thinking about that this winter but the bottom line is we need to grow more food. We can't expand if we don't have the product to offer. I'm confident we could sell what we grow even if we added another five acres. We are missing sales every day due to fact that we don't have the product. It all sounds real easy on paper, implementing is a whole other story.

I'm headed off island today. hoping to get in a cou quick farm visits. My favorite!

Kepp well,


Friday, October 22, 2010

Progress Made

Colder mornings, shorter days and tired farmers are making it a little more difficult to get all the things done that need to be done. We are getting there though. We got a good chunk of our garlic in this week. Four 220ft beds of garlic, Each bed has three rows, so that's about 2600 row feet and we still have about that much to put in. We basically ran out of space. I'll have more beds prepped by Monday if the weather holds through the weekend. We're planting Susanville, Nootka Rose and Red inchelium which are softnecks and then Spanish Roja which is a hardneck.
Obviously hoping for a good garlic year. We had a nice crop this year despite loosing about a third of our planting to rot due to excessive spring rains.

Most of our open space has been cover cropped and now put to bed for winter. We'll be finishing our potato harvest soon and geeting that ground tilled and cover cropped too. The best potatoes for us this year turned out to be the Russian Banana Fingerlings. Nice yield and good quality.

Today is a market/restaraunt harvest day. It'll be a long one and the forecast is calling for showers through out the day.

Kids and fam are up. gotta roll,

Keep well,



Thursday, October 14, 2010

Well Now

A nice change in the weather forecast for the pacific northwest. Mild and dry conditions prevail into the forseeable future (another three days at least right?). Regardless, yesterday was brilliantly brillant. Our fall and winter crops are very much appreciating the sun, Maybe my late planting of broccoli will work after all.

Things are looking pretty good. We made our first delivery of Kale and Chard to the grocery store (Island Market) this week. I don't know for sure, but this is the first time to my knowledge that the mainstream grocery has stocked local produce. We are also delivered to Orcas Homegrown Market. This is a good thing for us. It helps keep us busy as things are trending towards slowing down. It also keeps our name in front of people; marketing 101. My goal is to make at least one delivery per day. Does'nt matter how big or small, just one a day.

Sales at the Saturday indoor farmers market at the Oddfellows Hall have been robust as well. Lots of folks showing up with the sole intent of buying local food. It's awesome and the variety has been stunning. Lots of goodness! If you hav'nt been, do check it out, It's worthy.

Lots of field work happening. Mowing, tilling, ripping and cover cropping mainly. This nice weather sure makes it pleasant work. I was able to collect a large pile of leaves yesterday and formed up a new compost pile. I love making compost heaps with the tractor. It's always time well spent.

We'll be making a final tomato harvest here real soon. I would like to get the green houses cleaned out and planted with our winter lettuce transplants. Perhaps I am too late but it's hard to take out the toms after putting so much effort into them. Obviously we want to maximize the harvest, especially in a lack luster tomato year like this one. I say lack luster somewaht with jest. Although they were late, the harvest actually turned out to be quite substantial. We still have very nice tomatoes on hand and have more than we can sell at market which is quite perplexing. We sell our heirlooms at $4.00 lb. This is about $2.00 less per lb than the market and we still bring boxes of them home. That works for me though, I turn them into the most delicious tomato paste you have ever tasted. (Yes paste, not sauce) I guess it's not that big of a surprise we don't sell out. Honestly (and I will definately take crap from the other growers on this point) I think tomatoes are over-priced. In my world they would all be $3.00 lb and people would stand in line to buy them and we would sell twice as many and everyone would be happy happy.

Oh well, I'm still happy anyway. Are you?

Keep well,

Farmer John

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Keepin On

October is here. Things are slowing down now for sure. Still tons of product coming out of the field, just fewer customers. A tad bitter sweet. I'm tired and looking forward to a slower pace but I still want things to keep rockin. Honestly I like it when things are chaotic and cranking. It keeps the energy up.

Our Saturday markets are now indoors at the Oddfellows hall from 11:00 til 2:00. I love the Odds. Oh sure it's harder to set up because we have to haul evrything in by hand but it' got a good feel to it and people do come out to buy. I also like the shorter time frame. In, do our business, and out.

No shortage of farm projects either. Still harvesting three times a week and doing lots of field/tractor work. Getting cover crop in and setting beds for garlic. At our driest site, I am ripping/tilling and setting dry fallow beds that are essentially non cover cropped so we can get a jump on early re-tillage and sowing of our early crops in February such as peas, favas and greens.

Loving the new tractor. It's opened the doors to a whole new system. Dammit, I should have stepped up along time ago. The John Deere just runs circles around the Cub Cadet and having the wider stance with the R1 ag tires is the only way to go. Of course now I'm looking at some new implement purchases. One being a mechanical transplanter and the other being a potato digger. It's non stop but those two implements would help us out tremendously.

Time to go. i gotta finish the market harvest and load the truck.

Keep well,


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Harvest Moon

It's Fall and I cannot believe how fast this year has gone. It was and continues to be a very busy year. This weekend marks the last outdoor farmers market of the season for us. It's the last of 22 weeks. Next week we move inside to the Odd Fellows hall. A welcome move but one that signals transistion into the season close. We stay there until Thanksgiving. I'm having mixed emotions. I'm tired and looking forward to a slower pace but I'm excited that things are going well and want to keep the flow going.

We're still pretty busy keeping up on things here. We've been prepping beds and direct sowing the last crops of the year. Things like arugula, and other assorted Asian type hearty mustards that we use for salad greens throughout the remainder of the year. Also a little spinach, turnips, both hakurei and purple tops and French breakfast radishes as well as a bed of ciopolini onions for next summer. I'll continue setting and sowing beds for another couple of weeks as long as the weather holds. Some of these act as an edible cover crop but we have also begun sowing our tradtional cover crops as well. I normally use the "soil builder" but it has alot of rye in it and I find that the rye is really tough to get rid of in the spring. This year I am using oats and Austrian field peas with some common vetch mixed in. I'm hoping that will work out better.
I also use fava beans as a cover. They don't always make it through the winter but if they do I do let them go to make pods for harvest which is a debatable practice. I also direct sow fava's again in February, the same time we sow peas and our first successions of hearty salad greens.

It's been quite rainy here, in fact so rainy that our pond has already re-filled. This is the earliest year I have ever seen that happen. The plants are responding nicely. The leafy greens like kale and chard are especially loving it. Simply put, they are spectacular. Our little island is quite verdant at the moment. What's not liking the rain is the strawberries. Between the yellow jackets and the rain they are all but goners. Our July 1st sown peas have come and gone. I'd call it a success. Not a huge harvest but a job well done. Deer broke through the gate this week and finished off what was there but failed to touch the other crops. (note to self: peas are an effective trap crop for deer) The pole beans sown at the same time will be harvested for the first time tomorrow. Could have sown those way earlier. Bush beans would have been a much better choice. The winter squash is looking good. Better than expected frankly and I'll be watching them closely for signs of rot with all this rain. It won't be much longer. Second succession of corn is just coming on right on schedule. Soon we'll be saying goodbye to our old friends squash and cukes. It's been bountiful and we will miss you. And of course lets not forget TOMATOES. You know, those funny gangly things in the hoop houses we've been doting over since Friggin February. It's not been spectacular by any means until this week. They are on. I have a feeling we'll peak this week and then they'll begin to wane faster than normal. Get em while there hot peeps.

There's lots more to tell about but this is getting long. I'll save it for another day.

Kepp well,

Farmer John

Thursday, September 16, 2010

What Happens in September?

I stopped in my favorite coffee joint (Enzo's) yesterday for refill and an aquantince says to me "well I guess your happy to be over the hump" At first I thought he was talking about the recession but quickly realized he was talking about the season. Ironically I had just come in from an early morning planting session. Most folks don't realize That we pretty much operate on a year round schedule. Of course things are slowing down but we still have lots of good weather left and late summer/early fall is a wonderful time of year to grow many things and of course harvest much of the later maturing and holding crops like potatoes and winter squash.

Yesterdays direct field sowing included mixed Asian salad greens, lettuce, chervil, cilantro and several beds of assorted mustard greens. I still have a few open beds and will put in spinach, spring onions, radish, turnips and more mustards.

We also still have lots of starts in flats that need to get in the ground and hopefully be sowing more flats of things that will wind up in the greenhouses's as the tomatoes come out. Speaking of tomatoes, they are actually coming on pretty strong at the moment. It might be a better harvest than I expected.

Trying some new cover crops this year. Tritacale, vetch and Austrian field peas. Nixing most of the rye as it is tennacious and hard to get rid of in the spring when we are trying to expedite field work to have beds ready to plant ASAP.

Time to get going.

Farmer John

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Big Bad Son Of A Bitch

Good news / bad news; Bad news is my Cub Cadet tractor broke down big time. I think the tranny went. Dealer quoted me $4,000 to fix so you know that means at least $5,000. I mean really have you ever paid what they quoted? The tractor only had 1500 hours on it and I had already had to do a clutch job at the tune of $2700.00. Long story short, I'm done with Cub Cadet/Yanmar.

Good news; I just took delivery of my new John Deere 4320 48 horsepower turbo diesel mfwd tractor. It is one bad ass machine. It was time to step up to a bigger/better tractor anyway. The new setup is going to change my whole operation to a more efficient platform. I'll now have the horse power to more easily break new ground and with the edition of a new 42 inch bed shaper, we'll be changing our layout scheme which will allow us to improve on what we've been doing. So it hurts to spend money, but in the end I feel like it's a wise business move.

Everything else is cruising along just fine. Sales volume has remained steady and production although is slowing is keeping up with demand. I'm still planting for fall and spring and have begun to cover crop a few areas. We have just two more outdoor markets and then we move inside the Oddfellows hall for the remaining markets up to Thanksgiving. So I'm planning to make sure we have product to sell. I have my fingers crossed on the winter squash and pole beans. Both could use a couple more weeks of summer. I' d say it's a 50/50 chance. They'll either make it or not.

Time to roll out, take care all,

Farmer John

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Please note we are making a change on our phone system. Due to the excessive cost of keeping this line I have made a decesion to cancel it. Please contact us at 376-5994 or my cell at 622-6433 or contact us by e mail or facebook.


We are having a good year here on the farm but we are paying too much in expenses. My main tractor just went down and I am having to buy a new one so I'm super concsious about cutting back on excess expenditures. Although business has been good it is normal that we experience a gradual slowdown starting about now. The more we streamline, the more it enables us to keep our prices competitive.

Take care,


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Hell Yeah!

July has come and gone and we are celebrating the best month we've ever had by a long shot. It's been an interesting year from a growers viewpoint. We grew lot of specialty items this year and they have really set us apart. This has been a great year in the kitchen too. Lots of new recipes and can I just say how much fresh herbs can change your cooking! All in all, it's been an eye opener of a year. I'm seeing and hearing about alot of growers in our region having a challenging season. Feeling very thankful we are having a good year.

That's not to say we hav'nt had our challenges here though. Germination has been a constant stuggle this year. I've lost the last two sowings of beets. Hmmpf! We're going to have a big gap there and time is quickly eroding to plant again. Greens too have been hard this summer ( as always) and of course everyone wants whatever you don't have. It's all part of the game. So we're trying to keep the momentum and catch up on a couple of things. Some of the later stuff is coming on and replacing things that are on ther're way out. Bye bye favas, you've been real good to us this year and hello squash, cukes, tomatoes and potatoes!

Time to scoot. Keep it real peeps,

Farmer John

Friday, July 30, 2010

Foggy Valley Breakdown

Fog in July? Unusual? probably not but I'm not sure if I recall ever seeing it. I'm sure I have but don't remember. Whatever.

Just heading out to harvest. Big day here and as always this time of year things are in tight demand. We have a little of a lot of things. Except Fava beans which we are entirely loaded to the gills with.

Oh tomato dear tomato, where art thou tomato. Lots of greenies just starting to turn. Two weeks from know we'll be in the schwing.

Lots of starts in flats ready to go and more on the way. Running a little late. Don't ye tarry, the sun is shining now is not the time to delay.

Off to the fields.

Farmer John

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Whirlwind Of Weeding

If you run out of things to do on a small farm there is always weeding to be done. We've been able to stay on top of most things. It's pretty much like the Golden Gate Bridge or owing a wooden boat. By the time you finish on section it's time to pick up where you started an re-weed from the beginning. Working v ery hard to not let things go to seed and to keep our crops growing un-checked from weed pressure. It's amazing just how fast they can grow. Especially challenging is keep the newley emerging beds cultivated so the crops don't just get smotherd in weed. I tried to flame weed a new block of beets last night but I think I missed it by a day. Eventually I chickened out and did not flame. (sorry boys I had you pull those drip tapes in vain) Now I'll have to resort to hoeing.

Some of our fall starts are ready for transplant and we are still sowing in flats to have crops ready to go in as bed space becomes available. Lots of direct sowing as well. This is the time to get in your beets, turnips and the like. We're planning for crops that will be ready for our indoor markets beginning in October. Sales can be strong if you have the product so we're trying not to drop the ball here. The hardest part about starting things in flats this time of year is to keep them properly hydrated. We have to water three times a day or else the cells dry out and checks growth.

All the while we must be keeping up on our market and wholesale account harvests. It's tricky at times to keep everything roling without having gaps in production. We're doing OK. As always and ironically, we seem to have a lull in the action this time of year. With the odd weather we've had, tomato and other heat loving crops like squash, cucumbers and such are behind a bit. Hopefully these things will kick in here real soon.

What we do have is alot of fava bean and sugar snap peas! It's been a very interesting year for me from a variety stand point.. We have a very eclectic mix of produce. As someone who enjoys cooking I'm pretty exited about things like radicchio, arrowhead cabbage, bulb fennel, fava beans and all of the culinary herbs. There have been some great dishes coming out of the kitchen. I don't care what anyone says, Grilled radicchio kicks ass! It also is a lovely addition to risotto.

All of this said, life is good. I feel like we're having a great year.

Take care peeps.

Farmer John

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Holy bajole

Farm sites are all looking pretty good. We've been weeding, weeding weeding. It's a constant battle. We're looking good for now, give it a couple of weeks. We had one spot that I had sown about six beds of beets into that just got swamped in weeds. There was no way to save them. I opted for the till, re-sow method. It's alot easier. I'll have to be more on the emerging weeds this time. Good call for the flamer. Some times the weeds seem to be more apt to germinate. If you believe in working within the astrological wings, perhaps timing your sowings to the times when weed pressure is lower would be a good thing. I actually am a believer. there have been times when I have worked soil and there was very little weed pressure. Life is all in the timing.

Speaking of timing, that means not screwing up the timing to make us run out of salad greens. I don't think I've ever had a year we did'nt have a gap and it looks like we're headed for one this week. I'm hoping to get the account orders filled but am afraid we won't have greens for market. Bummer. It won't be a long gap though and hopefully the only one we have.

I'm a little bleary eyed at the moment but all is well and we are having a great year. Lovi'n it!


Farmer John

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Staying On Top

Being a good farmer / gardner is alot about staying on top of the weeds. It's a non stop task. We've been on it pretty good this year. Using the tractor is a big help, espescially in the paths where in years past things have turned into a jungle. We try not to hand weed too much but last night I did get on my knees for about three hours clearing out a couple of beds of beets and fennel. A pain yes, but very much an instant gratification job. Weeding always make me feel better about me. We use hoes too. Especially in-row and between delicate seedlings. Hitting them early before you can even see them is a big benefit and helps us from losing things. If there's one thing I've learned it's to get the weeds before they get you. I'ts just a few minutes per bed with a hoe VS. hours on your hands and knees if you let hem go. Morale buster for sure. The quality of your crops is much higher with proper weeding as well. Obviously less competition for sunlight, water and nutrient. Plants will be leggy and weak at best if there is too much weed pressure. We try not to let weeds go to seed. We fail sometimes and pay a dear price. "one year seed, seven year weed" is very much a true statement. We hve a couple of weed ridden beds that we are trying to get a hold back onto by using buckwheat cover crop. My intent is to roll it down just prior to flowering and plant some fall crops into it. I'll keep you updated on how that does or does not work.

Fall gardners? Today is your day. This is the cutoff for sowing fall peas, beans, summer squash, cukes and corn. We will be putting in sugar snap peas and green beans today. Along with yes, you guessed it, more weeding! Also harvesting a ton of peas, Well, not a ton but hopefully a couple hundred pounds. Tomorrow we'll be harvesting strawberries for market and another couple hundred pounds of fava beans plus all the other stuff. Time to roll.

Keep well,

Farmer John

Friday, June 25, 2010

Water Works

Yep, Time to irrigate. Yesterday was all about the water. Most of the morning was spent on dialing in our greenhouse setups. We still have alot of work to install our new drip emitters on our grow bag set ups but it will be time well spent. We also pulled t-tapes on a couple of new sections we just direct sowed. As warm and dry as it's been, Ill go ahead and give an overhead watering just to ensure good germination. Overhead watering all of our beds at the home farm as well, except for the garlic which has already received too much water from all of the rain and is suffering from basal plate rot. Bummer. It was looking so good. It's not a total loss but we won't know till harvest, which actually wont be too long. Time is flying. not enough hours in the day.

Today is harvest/ delivery day for our commercial accounts and market harvest as well. I'm out at first light.


Farmer John

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Growing Local

Well now look what we have here, my god man, is that the sun? We actually broke a sweat yesterday. Hallelujah! Everything in the field is loving it. Yesterday we noticed the first baby summer squash's on the plant. It wont be long for zucchini! Strawberries will be on next week they are loaded. Some tomatoes on the vine but mostly flowers. Corn and beans are growing fast and everything is looking good. I can honestly say our quality this year is about as good as I've ever seen. Feeling very proud of what we are taking to market. Despite being slighty off schedule from the weather we ar having a great year.

It's funny how one year can vary from another. Each year seems to have it's challanges and pay offs. One big change this year is that we are seeing a substantial increase in our commercial accounts. More restaraunts and our current accounts are ordering more produce. I think its safe to say it's a pretty clear indication of the economy which from my view does appear to be improving slightly. Traffic on the island appears to be brisk. Ironically, our market sales are down. Go fiqure. It's hard to tell what's happening for sure. Is it that we don't have strawberries and some of our higher volume crops on yet? Are people tiring of the market? It's hard to say. It feels like to me, we have less traffic coming through. I hope this is just a glitch. There are great deals at the market and a vibrant, fun atmosphere. Come on down!

With the sun comes respnsibility. Watering is a big issue and takes up alot of our time. We use mostly drip irrigation. Works great and uses less water. The benefits of being able to turn on a valve and water your beds far outways the hassle of laying drip tapes. It can take several hours to set up a field but this is generally a one time deal per crop issue. We do overhead water some things but then you become a slave to moving the hose. We're on the go most of the time and this becomes a more difficult issue. Easy is good. We like easy.

speaking of which, take er easy.

farmer John

Sunday, June 6, 2010


It's been a whirl wind around here so no blog posts lately. It's kind of like the hush that comes to the table as folks begin to eat. Busy chewin, not flappin their jaws.

Market was dismal yesterday. Not for sure what happened. Beautiful day, lots of produce but not too many people. Things will improve as more product comes on. We had baby arrowhead cabbage yesterday and next week will be the first broccoli and fava beans. One thing I'm seeing and need to keep in perspective is that since our CSA members shop off our table at the market and we have increased our membership we need to bring more to market to satisfy the demand and still have enough product to keep an appealing display and have enough product on hand to allow us to maximize our cash sales. I've found that once your display starts to look depleted sales decrease. We can sell a hundred bunches of radishes but those last six never seem to leave the table. Marketing is a bigger deal for a small farmer than most of us realize.

We've been trying to stay ahead of the weeds. Good weather for pulling thistle but not as good for hoeing and tractor cultivating. Just a little too wet. We've been planting out about as fast as we can. The wet weather has slowed the field prep down so once again (as always) we are short on space. I will say that even though the weather has set us back a bit it has also helped us. I like the rain and so do the crops. Everything is just beautiful, so verdant and full of flavor. Water truly is the vehicle that delivers the nutrient to the plant. It's obvoius after a period like we've had that we probably don't water enough during our normal conditions.

Sunday morning is over, time to work a little.


Farmer John

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Ass Whooped

Yeah Daddy's all round for the Opalco crew!. Their bucket truck and skilled staff saved the day. What an amazing vehicle. Big thanks to Pat Plaister from Clearview tree service too and Mr. Ted Emery, and also to the Maple Rock Farm crew for covering for me for the market harvest. You guys all rock! Could'nt have gotten the job done without all the help. Thank you. Actually we did not finish the job but at least we got all the branches off and chipped and now we just have to knock down the stubs. Feelin like I had a little kharma in the bank on this one. If i had had to cover the cost on this one it would have been close to $3000.00. Seriously, Thank you to everyone.

Today is market day. Lots of great produce and beautiful plant starts. It's looking like you could put your toms out now. It's a liitle cool yet but we'll be going for it here next week. Classic case of tough love farming. Live or die. We've brought you this far, now your on your own. Don't baby your plants too much, they'll never make it in the real world. Hmmm just like kids.

I'm outta here peeps, se you at the market!


Friday, May 21, 2010

What's The Haps

Today we are having to clean up a big mess that the windstorm left us. Three good size (50 footers) cottonwood trees toppled and are precariously perched in a group of smaller trees. This mess is all hanging over my walk-in cooler and power transformer and meter box. Not a project I'm looking forward too. But a Huge thank you to our power co-op OPALCO for sending out their crew and bucket truck. We'll make short work of it and not die in the process.

On top of that it's market harvest day. The variety is slowly increasing. We'll have salad greens, braising greens, rads, turnips, spinach, kale, chard, arugula and some beautiful adolescent head lettuce.

Hopefully we can get in a little field work too. There is lots of ground prep happening and transplanting and sowing continues. We mostly have the tomatoes installed in the hoop house's and hopefully the weather will settle down this next week and we can put in the outdoor toms. We'll be transplanting summer squash this week and we are sowing winter squash in pots now for transplant. We could sow direct but we simply are out of space at the moment. I've just tilled under a good bit of ground but it needs another 30 days before its ready to go.

Anyway, It's all good. Things are pretty much on schedule. Trying not to forget to keep on schedule is sometimes harder than it sounds. Always, there is so much to do. Along with harvesting, maitenance and field prep there is sowing, fertilizing, weeding, cultivating and keeping all of the tools, tractors and vehicles running not to mention paper work and keeping the cash flow on the positive side. I love it. Definately I have the best job in the world!

See you at market.

Farmer John

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


The crew and I attended a Farm walk this week at Hedlin Farms in LaConner WA. It's always a pleasure to see what other folks are doing out there. Over the years I can honestly say I have learned more from observing other farmers operations than any other activivity. Basically I walked away from this last farmwalk with mixed emotions. One, I realized that I have so much to learn. Two, I have learned alot.

I especially enjoy seeing larger operations. Size is subjective I suppose, the Hedlin's are farming about 400 acres. Much larger than us but not what I would call a big farm. Anyway, theres always something to learn from the bigger operations, especially in the tool dept. I was watching their crew transplant with a mechanical transplanter. uuhhhh, I will be buying one of these. No brainer, kinda makes me feel stupid for not already having one.

Very interesting greenhouse operation and racking systems. Tomatoes especially. They already have ripe tomatoes! So I don't have an inkling to do what they are doing there but definately saw a couple of tricks of the trade that we can apply to our operation.

Back at the grind here. We have have alot to catch up on, especially field work now that things are finally drying out a bit. We're getting the water flowing everywhere too. It's still cool out there but it's season on!

Take care,


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Thank You

Thank you to all of those who came out to our open house and plant sale. Despite the fickle spring weather we had quite a good turnout. The music was great and the pizza's were hot out of the oven all day. The bisquits & gravy did not suck.

The weather's been quite a bit cooler this year and I don't think folks are working in their gardens as much as they were trhis time last year. Sales were off just a bit from last year. Maybe we'll do another one soon? I don't know, It's an awful lot a work. I went to bed at 7:00 PM that night and did'nt get up til 7:00 AM the next morning! Thats a lot of sleep for me as those of you who follow my blog regularly will know.

Farmes market starts this Saturday. We will be having starts at the market. For produce we'll have greens, radishes, turnips, bok choi, onions, broccoli and brasing mix. Hopefully the weather's going to get sunny and warm one of these days. Things are just kind of sitting there right now. Come on sunnnn!

I;m not sure what we're doing here today? we still hav'nt put those strawberries in so that just may be our project d'jour.

Time to get to work.

Farmer John

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Things That Run

Alright! All four tractors are running. This is a rare moment around here folks. Hold your breath and count to ten. If nothing breaks it should be OK for a least a couple of weeks. Im moving equipment and tractors to my satelite farm plots. this week. Trying to at least have some implementation at each site so I dont have to haul as much stuff around. Brilliant if I can keep them running, thankfully my mechanic Cap'n Barb loves to work on old equipment. We've also been busy re-setting up water pumps and laying drip tapes. It's hard to believe we are already irrigating. Thats the way it goes, wet wet wet then the palnts need the moisture. Water is key. I say it every year but this has been a tough spring. I'm looking around and wondering what we are going to have for market. I'm hoping things kick in here real quick and have a major growth spurt. before the first of May. I can tell you everyone I know who is a grower is ready for some warmer weather.


Saturday, 4/24 we will be hosting our annual plant sale and open house. We have a beautiful selection of veggie and flower starts ready to be planted. I'll have the pizza oven fired up and be offering a few other baked goods, maybe even some good 'ol bisquits & gravy for the early comers. Doors open at 9:00 and we'll go till 5:00 I'm hoping we'll have a little live music this year too. Hope to see you here. This is the kick off to our selling season. Come celebrate with us and get us off to a good start.

This was a big week for transplanting. Our new field at Stonebridge dried enough to prep and we have been busy seeding and transplanting. So far we have in cabbage, broccoli, onions, chard and kale. Strawberry starts are here and we may have them in by monday. Three 225' beds, three rows per bed at 8" spacing should be about 3,000 plants. We also have 10 beds direct sown to various greens, beets, carrots, radishes and turnips. We 'll have a couple more beds for transplants and then the remainder of this one acre field will be planted into potatoes. perhaps next week. It looks beautiful.

We are in the greenhouses alot this time of year. Basically potting up starts into bigger pots that are destined for market or transplant. It's just about time for us to sow winter and summer squash and cucumbers. We start ours in 4" pots and they get transplanted around mid to late May. Going big on winter squash this year. Look for us in the fall for a harvest fest.

That's all for now, I'm going to slip outside for dawn patrol.

Keep well,


Friday, April 9, 2010

A seriously kick ass day

Alright so things havn't been exactly ideal in the weather dept but despite that, we are getting some things in the ground. Our friends from Doe Bay Resort came over yesterday and layed down a steady beat of transplanting, sowing and potting up. We got more down in one day that we would have done in a week and had a great time to boot. Awesome! Thank you friends.

We transplanted two beds of sugar snap peas and direct sowed another four beds as well as four beds of favas. We also transplanted a 150 ft bed of salad greens and potted up several flats of tomatoes and a few artichokes. Nice, It feels so great to get things in the ground. It's still cold and windy and we even had a hail storm yesterday but these are all hardy plants and should do fine. We'll be putting in more just as soon as space comes up.

We'll also keep sowing in flats in the prop house. It's time for more lettuce, broccoli. artichokes, basil, onions, peppers and a few other things that I'm sure have slipped my mind. We could start sunflowers now and very soon we'll be sowing winter and summer squash and corn. I normally sow corn in flats even though they say you cant. It works fine and gives us a good jump. I also sow it direct in the field as the soil temp comes up. We grow Hookers Black or at least thats what I think it is. We got the seeds from sydney Coffelt of Coffelts farm. She's been growing it for many years. Great corn. Short stalk and always produces. Pretty colors too. Starts out yellow, turns purple, then black.

I have not looked at the forecast yet but hopefully it's calling for warm and dry? We'll be seriously busy very soon .

All the best.

Farmer John

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Spring Has Yet To Sproing

It's 39 degrees and raining sideways. The forecast is calling for mixed snow and rain with ice pellets. That's a new one for me. We've been flumoxed for weeks now with getting into the fields. Finally, yesterday, in the frigid driving rain I was able to at least make a few passes on one of our new field and shape a few beds at the home farm. I still need to lime and fertilze though and now it's wet again so I just have to wait a bit longer. We have been able to get a few things in he ground and I did direct sow a few beds a couple of weeks ago but Theres just not much happening. The ground is cold and dank and just not condusive to growing. It'll turn soon though and we'll be on our way. First market is in a month.

We have been harvesting a few things from the farm. We have some beautiful radishes on right now and the Japanese turnips will be on next week. Salad grren are gorgeous but in short supply as they are all coming from the greenhouse's. Actually the first round is done and we are flipping beds and transplanting with new greens on a rotating schedule. Tomatoes will soon be occupying that space but for now they are content in their own pots containers and enjoying the warmth of the grow lighs. They could go in the ground right now and we may pop in a few but it's pretty cold still, my intuition is to wait a bit longer.

Fortunately we have been able to make a little space by transplanting but generally speaking we are busting a the seams. The greenhouses are full with flats and as we begin potting things up into bigger pots, one flat turns into three so it can get out of hand quick. It seems I can never have enough table space.

Despite the cool weather things are looking great. In all honesty this weather pattern is completely normal and something we deal with every year. As farmers with deadlines we sometimes become impatient or frustrated when the weather does'nt cooperate. It is what it is, you can't fight it, better to just chill. In a couple of weeks it will be a faded memory.

Our annual plant sale is coming upon us quickly, Saturday April 24th 9:00 til 5:00 Good times, plants, pizza, music, it's all good.

Take care friends,

Farmer John

Friday, March 19, 2010

New chickies and Onions

Tomorrow will be a big day for our new chicks. They'll be headin out to their new diggs in the new chicken tractor. Hopefully all will be well; it's a tough world out there with eagles, hawks & coons and things. I hope we win.

Today we'll be planting out onion sets... about 5,000 of them. Sounds like more than it is. Two varieties, Ailsa craig and Mars red. We have lots of others that we have started here from seed that will be ready for transplant real soon.

It's looking like things will dry out this weekend. Hopefully I'll be able to get out and get some ground worked up. We've got starts that are ready to go out, just waiting for space.

Sending prayers and positive thoughts to Vern Coffelt.

Keep well,

Farmer John

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Pulled out and pulled over

Yesterday was a funny day. I had to pick up my trailer from a field that become wetter than I had anticipated and I pretty much stuck my truck in the mud up to axles. Thankfully I have triple A and within an hour I was back on the road only to be pulled over by the sheriff because of an un-readable licsene plate on my trailer. Please...... Do you think this is really the best use of of your time and my tax dollars guys? I guess if you can't catch Colton you gotta go for the easier targets.

Farmer John

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Cruise Control

All is well on the western front. Things are right on schedule as planned and there are thousands of happy plants in the hoop houses growing more and more everyday. The only problem at the moment is that we are rapidly running out of space to put flats. The green house tables are full and we are sowing more every day. Building tables seems to be a recurring and un-ending task for me. Hopefully the weather will ease a bit here in the next week or so and we'll be able to start transplanting outside. I don't use row covers any more so I tend to wait for better weather to start putting things in the ground. It works for me, We still manage to have the first greens each year and I don't waist time and money fiddling around with keeping remay on the field during our frequent wind storms and I'm not filling the dumpster with piles of old torn up petrloeum based spun polyester. Grandpa Gid never used it and thats good enough for me. That said it does work wonderfully, it cuts maturity time by a third and keeps out unwanted pests.

There is alot to be done right now but it is also a time of moderation. Human nature is to just plow forward. However this is a fickle season for a farmer and one must work within the confines of the hand mother nature deals. We try to space our sowings out not only for succession purposes but for prophouse management and insurance reasons. for example I like to space my tomato sowing out to at least three or four seperate sowings spread out over about a 45 to 60 day period. I start some early in mid February, another round about the first of March, another Mid March and again around early April. This insures I have a wide selection of plants at variuous maturities to select and sort as plants we keep for the field and plants that go to market as starts. It also spreads out our potting on workload so We don't have to scramble as hard. One also has to take into consideration inclimate weather. One year we lost several flats of tomatoes overnight due to an unexpected hard frost. Luckily I had back up flats already sown. Ironically, even with the spread, all of those tomatoes seem to begin ripening at the same time. You can't really fool mother nature, at least we can't. If we had lots of money to throw at it we could grow tomatoes all damn year if we wanted to. I happen to be a seaonal farmer who believes in growing and eating with the seasons and not using heat and lights to push things to grow beyond their means.

We're about six weeks out from the first farmers market. It'll be here before you know it and we'll be off on another seasons journey. This time of year I like to take a step back and evaluate the progress and to re check some of my earlier planning thoughts. We are off to a great start this year. Things are coming together better than they ever have. This has the potential to be an amazing growing year for us, not just the plants but the whole farm in general. I'm trying to be a better manager, farmer and leader. I'm hoping to add to the equipment arsenal this year so we can add to our effieciency and grow more produce using less hand labor. We also have some new competition this year and that inspires me to be a better farmer. We also may have the opportunity to buy a neighboring parcel that could really change our scene. All in all I'm pretty pumped up. This just feels like it's going to be a good year.

Take care all.

Farmer John

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Starting To Look Like Something

Things are taking shape around the farm. Definately looking like something is happening. Primarily in the hoop houses where we have at least a couple hundred flats growing. Nothing too major, lots of greens, herbs and aliums. No tomatoes or peppers yet, but soon. I like to hold off just a bit. If you plant them too soon then they just get leggy and in my experience you'll wind up harvesting at the same time whether you planted them in January or March. I suppose if you are using lights and heated greenhouses you could have them sooner but at what cost? It's not really what I'm into. There are plenty of other crops that fit the natural seasonality.

Deliveries have picked up and the over-wintering crops that made it through are looking good. I'm seeing things wanting to bolt sooner than normal and many of the plum trees are in full bloom right now. Our record warm February has us at least two weeks ahead. Even the grass needs to be mowed already! The weather for Early March is looking closer to normal ie. cool and wet. Still, I'm planning on a warm spring and hot, dry summer. This time of year can be difficult emotionally speaking. Mother nature teasing you with warm sunny days then the next, cold, windy and wet, as if the sun never did or never will shine again. You just have to be patient. Lots of talk on the streets between garders and farmers too. What are you planting? and so on. It's hard not to get too excited. Proof positive I still love my job.

There is also just a ton of work to be done. Firewood as always (next years) lots of clean up, fence building, repair, equipment maintenance, spring tillage and more. We have a new batch of baby chicks and so they'll need a new spot to reside. I'll need to move the coop soon and give them a new area. Might have a new round of piglets in soon as well. It's a busy life but good life.

CSA: Thank you to all of our returning members. renewals have been very consistent this year. In fact, almost daily. This is good not only for the money side of things but for the ego as well. (people actually lke what we do enough to pay for it?) All kidding aside, thank you. We really need cash flow this time of year. March and April are normally a very difficult months to cover and often there is a lag in CSA renewals and new sign ups at that time. I think because the people who really get it send their payments early and then for a majority of others it's not on their minds until spring is here in full force. So Thank you! I am grateful for your support. We are off to such a great start this year, I'm hopeful for an amazing season. Please do spread the word. If you like what we do, please tell your friends and neighbors and urge them to become a member.

For all of you home gardners out there. Keep up the good work and don't forget us when it comes time to buy your starts. We will be having our Spring fest/plant sale at the farm again this year probally around the third week in April. Last year was a blast and great success. This year will be even better.

Take care,

Farmer John

Sunday, February 14, 2010

What's happening at MRF?

Well, lots. The greenhouse is practically full of flats filled with starts. It's always so exciting when the first seedlings emerge signaling the start of a new season and another notch in the belt of the promise of a good farming year.

Focusing this year on streamling operations and keeping detailed records to determine the true cost per crop of what we grow. Increasing the bottom line by tightening the belt on expenses as opposed to continual growth. I would like to see an increase in sales but that will not be as important as cutting back on expenditures.

This year feels like it holds much promise. The weather has been mild an I'm going with the predictions of a warmer than normal summer. We'll perhaps grow more heat loving crops than in years past.

Seed orders are just arriving and things will be ramping up quickly in the next couple of weeks.

We still have openings for the next earth to plate dinner on the 27th. Give a shout if you would like to come. Cost is $50.00 per plate plus gratuity.

More to come later.

Take it easy,

Farmer John

Sunday, February 7, 2010

We Have A Date

The next Earth to plate experience will take place on Saturday February 27th at 6:30 PM. We're about half full right now and this event will sell out fast so please contact me ASAP for a spot.

Wow! Can y'all believe this weather? Beautiful... we are truly blessed. I just about have the propagation house filled with newly sown flat trays. Looks great. Just yesterday I noticed the first new seedlings of the year ( baby Chard ) One of the other greenhouses has been direct sown with spring greens and is just starting to germ as well. Also some of my overwintered salad greens out in the field that looked like had been killed from the December frost are actually recovering and looking like they'll make it. There's a decent amount of food in the field right now. I have just begun harvesting again after a few weeks off. It's good to be getting back into a groove. There is alot to do this time of year. Lov'n it!

Keep well,

Farmer John

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Secret supper # 1

Last night we held the first of a series of farm to fork dinners. We had about 20 guests and featured our farm raised Mangalitsa pork. It was truly a delightful evening and everyone had a great time and he food was delicious. heres the menu.

Appetizer: Crispy Mangalitsa bacon wrapped water chestnuts.

Starter: Maple Rock Farm winter foraged mixed greens served with hand crafted multi grain rolls.

Main Course: Roasted leg of Mangalitsa (fresh ham) served with garden fresh broccoli, braised cabbage, grits and red eye gravy.

For dessert we had kabocha sweet squash cheesecake with a bourbon sour cream topping.

I really had a fun time doing this and am happy that a long standing ambition has become a reality. My goal is to provide great food created from what we and our friends grow in a unique setting to create a food memory that will last a lifetime. We'll be doing more dinners soon. You can e mail us if you would like to be on the list.

Keep well,

Farmer John

Saturday, January 23, 2010

This little piggie goes to market

We slaughtered our last two hogs this past week. It all went pretty well. Those guys sure are wooly this time of year. Scraping them is no small task. It's about a four to five hour job to get one in the cooler ready to be cut and wrapped. Mostly done, I need to cure my bacon and grind a few pounds for sausage and I'll be done. I've been nibbling here and there. They sure are tasty.

It's been a busy January. Getting a few folks re-upping their CSA accounts for the season. Nice to see a little cash flow. The school lunch went well and all sights are now set on the first farm to fork dinner we are hosting on the 30th. We booked up in about two days. I will have another scheduled in a few days. I think we're onto something here. I'm very excited.

With the warm weather I should be out there planting some things. Just havn't worked up the gumption yet. Soon, I promise. Seed orders will start going in this week. I have some seed remaining from last year which will help keep my cost down. I also have three tons of fertilizer on hand and will not need to purchase any this year. Thats a fairly substantial cost for us that we don't have to worry about. Cost cutting is a big theme this year. We've got a few things to rein in on for sure.

Our internship posistions are filled and it looks like we have a great crew set for this year. I sometimes have returns from the previous year. This year it's a clean slate. Looking forward to the promise of a fresh start.

I have a feeling that this is going to be a great year.

Keep well and thanks for tuning in.

Farmer John

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Post #100

Seriously this is my 100th post. It seems with the coming of facebook, myspace, twitter and the like that blogs like this may fall behind. People are perhaps not nto a longer post. I'll keep them to the poignent.

There is seriously alot to do right now. Feeling those mini waves of anxieital rush. Seeds to order, seeds to sow, farm plan to write, farm clean up and organize, maintenance and getting equipment ready to go, pigs to slaughter, fences to build and mend. finalization of intenships This is supposed to be my down time isn't it. Ahhh no rest for the wicked. Don't forget to paint the bathroom dude.

CSA mailers just went out. Tha's always a good feeling. I hope those of you whom are existing members and or are becoming new members will realize the importance of sending in your payments as soon as you can. We've got alot on our plates this year that is going to require a continual flow of cash.

The first farm dinner is set for the 30th of this month. I need sixteen people to make it happen. We'll be featuring the Mangalitsa hog we raised. For those of you in the know, a rare treat indeed. This may well be the first and last time we have them. The breeder of the Wooly Pigs has moved to Iowa and it's unlikely it will be cost effective for us to get piglets from him in the future.

Also, next week I'm cooking at the school cafeteria. Beef stew, grandma's mac n' cheese, coleslaw and applesauce. Cost is just $5.00 and I'm hoping to serve 400 lunches. I need your help to hit that mark. It's happening on Thursday the 21st from 11:30 till 12:30ish.

Ok there we are short and sweet as promised. Take care all,

Farmer John

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Iron Chefs In The White House Garden

Did anyone see Iron Chef on Sunday? The secret ingredient was anything from the White House garden. They also were using naturally grown pork, chicken and turkey raised within a 100 mile radius of DC. Pretty cool. A marketing coup deluxe. Someone was very much thinking ahead of the game on this one. Hats off and my utmost respect to our first lady. Mrs. Obama... you rock and thank you for starting a garden.

The best part was seeing the garden. Now I've seen a lot of gardens and this might be the nicest first year one I have ever seen. Everything looked healthy and verdant. Beautiful fennel and the sweet potatoes looked perfect. Really nice!

I noticed online that the garden only cost $200.00 start. That's my only problem with it. No one starts a garden for that sum and how much were the care takers paid to maintain it? I wish they would just give the real dirt here. If I am wrong and the garden was tended by amatuers I'd be very surprised but happy.

Anyway, way cool in my book.

Farmer John