Tuesday, January 25, 2011

WARNING bragging is involved in this post...

My nephew Gideon made the paper this week and I couldn't be prouder of him!  He is a great kid, he works hard on the farm with his mom, dad, Uncle Chris and Grandpa T!  I have always loved how he has taken my son (Jackson) and showed him how to do things, helps him do chores and he takes him trap shooting (Gideon's passion), and now he is teaching Jackson it is important to make a difference...this was in the Cassopolis Vigilant this week:

Article taken from:  http://www.cassopolisvigilant.com/2011/01/20/student-gives-back-to-art-class/

Student gives back to art class

Published 4:57pm Thursday, January 20, 2011
The Cassopolis High school art room is ringing in 2011 with brand new tables.
Well not exactly — but it sure looks like it. Thanks to Gideon Hebron, a student at the school, the room looks rejuvenated.
Last spring Hebron told teacher Shelly Johnson that he wanted to fix the gouged and abused tables. The rough surfaces made it difficult for students to do artwork. Every divot and scratch came though onto the paper above.
Hebron wrote a proposal letter stating his desire to fix the tables. This fall he was given the go-ahead, and he spent the last three months sanding, filling and finishing. He worked many lunch hours and much of his own time (coming in even when school was closed) to bring the tabletops back to their original beauty.
Hebron comes by his talent for woodworking by watching and learning from his father, Richard Hebron, who owns a private saw mill in Cassopolis. Richard graduated from Cassopolis High School in 1983, and he too kept the art room tables in top form.
When Hebron was asked why he wanted to refinish the art room tabletops, he responded by saying that he wanted to make a difference before he left high school. Hebron is a senior this year and plans to pursue farming and Olympic Dreams Trap Shooting after he graduates.

Great job Gideon....

I highjacked the Farmers Blog by accident!

Friday, January 14, 2011

That education thing....

    I was going to post again this weekend but I just got inspired unexpectedly. We just got finished with our community food dinner at the Purple Porch Coop and I sat down  to check some e-mails. When clicking on PPC's weekly newsletter there was a link to listen to Krista Bailey's public radio address. Krista is a PPC member / founder and a silent voice behind our General Manager (his wife). Her words, so nicely written, was inspiring. It touched on a lot of topics that might point to the decline of American life that we once knew.
    There use to be a time when a kid (me) could go work for a local farmer putting up hay or do day labor for a few dollars of pocket change. Today I feel nervous just letting someone walk across an open field in fear they could step in some cattle dung, slip, fall and bring suit. How crazy? We would ride our bikes six or seven miles to one of our friends house, play all day, and then ride home (with NO helmet) and not even have a cell phone just in of an emergency. Heck you were lucky if you got through on the phone because if one of the neighbors was on the party line you got a busy signal. How crazy? This is getting a little off the subject of Krista's story. I feel there is a connection though and she brings up great points to think about.
     So give it a listen and pass it along. I would much rather receive this link in an e-mail than something I have to forward to ten of my closest friends or else an end to life as we know it will come. Well maybe that would be a good thing as long as we could go back to life as we use to know it.
Later Chris

Friday, January 7, 2011

I ate the whole thing or How do I always find myself in these situations

    Walked out to look for some fencing tools that someone had left out in the field after fixing the fence. Well, here sat this young steer that had found himself in a bit of a pickle. This is a ring we fill with a large round hay bales. We use the rings so the cattle don't lay on the pile and waste it. Well this bale was all gone and in its place this guy. He was easily let out and no harm no foul, except now his picture has made it to the Internet. 

    The title of this post could also be describing me. Michelle has been creating some really good meals as of late. The kids are always leery of something new but that just means leftovers or "I ATE THE WHOLE THING".  As for finding myself in these situations, there just seems not enough time in the day to get everything done. Which explains the time past from the last post. I'll try harder.

    We are getting ready to farrow a couple sows in the next week. Getting the girls moved around from a group setting to their own farrowing hut can be quite a challenge. Have you ever tried to move a 425 pound object that in no way wants to be moved. First we will try food as a persuasion, and if that does not work. Well let us just hope that works. The girl we have to move tomorrow is a real sweetie, just as long as she gets her way and she does not miss a meal. Otherwise the sweetie turns into a real bi$#*.  Hopefully I can get Jack out there and whisper to her.

    The ladies had been stuck between 70-80 eggs a day for a while. Then wham! 91 eggs yesterday, and wham!, wham! 102 eggs today. The only bad part is somebody has to wash them. So off I go spending my Friday night washing eggs, but on a very full stomach thanks to Michelle's  Crunchy Chicken.

Later Chris

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Word to the wise

    Well if you are going to start a new blog and try to post everyday, don't do it the week before Christmas. Things can get pretty tense this time of year, especially if you have a tendency to do all your shopping in the last two days. I'm glad that is behind us and we can start making plans for the new year. As in which way the farm should grow not which party to attend.
    There will a lot of things on the table this year. The farm is looking to expand in many ways. We want to increase our produce for the season. I feel this is the one area we really could make a great improvement in. So this means I must dust off my edition of FOUR SEASON HARVEST by Eliot Coleman and start putting into practice some of his great ideas. For the idea of eating local good food to work, there needs to be a supply of it either fresh, frozen or preserved. Yes we can all make hay when the sun is shining but we also need to save some of that harvest for later. I would rather eat home grown frozen green beans over all other options when it is below zero outside. We are also making plans to put out a larger specialized grain crop to increase our flour selections. Plans are being formed.
     I think marketing our products is going to get a good look at. How to expand our customer base without a lot more travel and idle sitting (Farmers' Markets). I'm going to have to enlist the use of others as this is not my area of expertise. 
    Dad and I walked out into the woods today with a couple chainsaws. We cut out some logs from trees that had blown over last summer. There were three aspen trees that will make good siding on one of the barns and a big red oak that at this point has no specific use. I would like to build a new grain storage barn that is a little more rodent proof. It is a pretty bad feeling when someone leaves the lid open on the feed barrel and half a bag is gone in the morning (@#$%^ing raccoons). The logs are cut out and now need to be pulled out so they can get cut up into boards. Michelle posted last week on her blog that we had gotten the sawmill running for the first time in two years which is really exciting. I'll post some pictures this week.
    I'll end here with some catch up on my egg counts.
             Wednesday 46 eggs
             Thursday 42 eggs
             Christmas Eve 43 eggs
             Christmas 50 eggs
             And today the ladies gave me 73 beautiful eggs

Hope everyone had a happy holiday, ours was pretty nice.

Later Chris


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A boring Tuesday

    Today thing just seemed to flow along with out much excitement. I did receive my latest issue of ACRES USA so this will be a quickie. Acres is a magazine that focuses on eco-friendly farming. Kind of like our source for continuing education.
    Our local Co-op (Purple Porch) is tomorrow and we have had a lot of last minute request for our customers holiday meals. We try to fill all requests but sometimes "oyyy" the questions we get. I'll try not to embarrass anyone here so mums the word.
    The shortest day of the year is over, winter is here and I can't wait for it to leave. I love SPRING.

STATUS QUO 43 eggs   

Later Chris 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Did you here about Bob in accounting?

This is farmings version of morning water cooler talk. Sometimes it take place during morning chores or at a break in what we might be doing, but there is always chatter.  This week we will have a few different voices as the kids are on winter break. So naturally the conversation has turned a little more light hearted and usually packed full of challenges. Today Jack was challenged to carry five gallons of water approximately 200 feet. I will have to give him a lot of credit he did a pretty good job but by the time he got there the bucket was only about half full and his pant leg was pretty wet. At eight and a half pounds per gallon a five gallon bucket is  pretty heavy even half full.  

Yesterday I mentioned a little thing about sheep. To expand on that, we are thinking about changing the breed of sheep we raise on the farm. We have been looking into a mule sheep. Before you get some silly image in your mind, let me tell you that they are a cross between two established breeds. This creates a really a good female sheep that is known for their mothering abilities and multiple births averaging 240% or better.
The bonus, they are excellent foragers, no grain necessary. Which fits our farm perfectly. We will be talking to a few farmers already raising them and start the transition with this springs lamb crops.

Daily egg count - 43

Later Chris

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Chores,Camp and a Conversation

    Sunday started off early as Dad and I met for chores and to load some pigs that were off to camp today. After chores I quickly helped Richard pull meat orders for Monday's deliveries.  We took eight pigs in today as we started running low on some of our sausages and a customer ordered a half hog. They take a two hour ride to Coopersville Mighigan to our butcher. Ken DeVrie and his team do a real nice job for us, and its been fun working with them for the past few years.
    After we dropped the pigs off we made a slight detour to talk to a local sheep farmer there in Coopersville. The folks at Beechtree Farms have been raising a breed of sheep that we think would work better for us than the current Suffolk we raise. They are a grass based breed that are excellent foragers and have great mothering abilities. After a little tour and a very informative conversation we left very impressed. There could be a big change coming to the farm as we look to expand the sheep operation.
    Earlier in week I got a call that someone had some poultry they were trying to get rid of. We decided to stop on the way home and take a look. Well we now have some new egg layers on the farm...... 

........Jackson is holding one of eight. We had a couple of ducks a few years ago but they never laid any eggs. When I saw these this afternoon, I had to give it another try. They are too cool ..... their walk, their quack and if I can get some eggs, well that's icing on the cake.  It might take a couple of weeks for them to adjust to their new home before they lay their first egg. Stay tuned.   
    The girls are getting a little better 57 eggs today.

Later Chris