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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

An Important Lesson

April has been an interesting month weather wise. The first 3 weeks were dry, not a speck of rain and the snow cover long gone. I was having images of parched, cracked earth and wells going dry. Last weekend the clouds finally opened and we received approx 3 inches of rain. And there is more on the way. Hurray!

My garden is planned out, the composted manure and rotten leaves are ready to be tilled into the garden. We are at the magic 4 weeks before the anticipated last frost. I want to till and rake and layout the walkways and get ready to plant potatoes. I am free tomorrow to work but apparently the world does not revolve around me! It is far too soupy in the garden.

I am so impatient. My whole life-if I wanted something, I could figure out a way to make it work. There is no way to get around Mother Nature. She is a solid immutable presence and I cannot push, cajole or sweet-talk her. I must accept the weather and work around it. So tomorrow I will rejoice in whatever weather we have. I WILL be patient, I will, I will.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Livestock in the Yardstead

We have some new 'livestock' at our place.

The worms are settled into a bin in our basement.

We had a litter of 4 Florida White bunnies on Monday.

I have unloaded 4 yards of composted manure into the garden at the farm.

Things have been moving forward but I am feeling strangely in limbo. In between.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I Need Chicken Help!

There is a story behind this request that I will not go into completely here. DH and the chicks (all 3 of us) will be taking over ArkWork Farms egg flock for the summer. The coop and yard they currently use will be given over to the Cornish cross meat birds in May. Currently about 30 hens and 4 (?) roosters (correct me if I'm wrong Stoney), approx 1/3 of the group are leghorns and the remaining are banties. I am looking for an 'Eggmobile' type portable chicken coop. I believe they cannot be allowed free range due to the hawks, family of fox and neighborhood dog around the farm. But I'm just a green horn-what do I know?! I am finding lots of very cute little backyard tractors for 4-6 birds. Any suggestion from the homestead crowd for a movable coop for 30 birds? that we can build in next 2 weeks? We can thin the flock if needed and some predator loss is acceptable -the alternative is the entire flock ( and the source of my egg supply! ) finds a new home.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Wonderful Worms and Earth Day

The past 4(?) years my family has gotten together to celebrate Earth Day at ArkWorks Farm. I do not kid myself into thinking that the things we do are really making a difference for the earth, anymore than turning the lights off for an evening will slow climate change. I see globalization, capitalism and our species living well beyond our means as a raging wildfire sweeping across a tinderbox forest, Earth Day is me stepping on a single live ember of this fire; grinding it out under my heel and feeling self righteous for doing a good deed. If we grind out enough embers, as a society we may be able to effect change. Or maybe we just enjoy a day with our family doing some work outside and eating grilled home grown chicken!

For my family: on our agenda this weekend is wonderful worms! I will help you set up a worm compost bin and you can let the worms eat your garbage! Bring a medium sized plastic storage bin with a good lid to the Farm this weekend as a temporary bin.
First thing-how much garbage do you have? Plan for the permanent worm bin to have 1 sq ft surface for each lb of compost-able garbage per week. 5# of coffee grounds, egg shells or veggie scraps each week = bin foot print of at least 5 sq feet.
The bin can be as easy as a large plastic storage bin with some holes drilled in the side or wooden or the more expensive commercial bins like 'Can-O-Worms'. I have a book with lots of different plans and options for your viewing pleasure this weekend.
The bin should stay in a cool place like a basement or garage-they prefer temps 59-77 but will still work (but more slowly) at 50. They really do not like temps in the high 80's and up. Basement works best if you do not want them to freeze out over the winter.
I should be receiving the redworms in the next day or so and Saturday we can set up your temporary bins. The weather looks cooperative and there was NO mud last weekend, in fact it was much, much too dry. We are going to attempt our first overnight in the camper saturday night (IF I can get organized enough). Have a great week! Kris

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tomato Transplants

Hurray for Thursdays! My day off of work and children! Today I transplanted my tomato seedling. Way past due -many had 2 sets of real leaves. I used peat pots and a mixture of approx 1/3 mature worm compost and 2/3 used up potting mixture ( the stuff left over from last years potted annual flowers). I'm kinda winging it right now but that's how I work best! I'm not sure how much sunlight to allow these new babies because they do not fit under my grow lights anymore. We are having a nice run of weather so I will find a partially shaded spot outside for the day and bring in for the nights.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Sustainable Food Pyramid

I heard an interesting hour of discussion on Wisconsin Public Radio today. Featured was Paul Roberts author of the books The End of Oil and The End of Food, and most recently an article for Mother Jones Magazine Spoiled: Organic and Local Is So 2008. His main point is that our current models of a sustainable food economy will not work on a much larger scale-as in billions of people. There are parts of the article I can agree with, but Sky Vegetables and vertical farming? The future of sustainable food is not so 'pie in the sky'. It is dirty and plain and unglamorous and lies in our OWN hands (and does not create controversial magazine articles). I believe food will become more and more expensive and this will force changes, just as the high gasoline prices hit people where it hurt the most-the pocketbook. This is the only way mainstream America will change.

Back to the sustainable food pyramid. According to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation sustainable Good Food has 4 qualities: Affordable, Fair, Healthy and Green. I don't think we can create an industrial food economy which is all of these things. If you think of all these qualities as points of a pyramid; the closer you get to affordable the further you are from fair, etc. You can't have it all. The only way I see all of these coming in one package is to produce my own and eat local. No more coconut shrimp for me, its cranberries, maple syrup and Point Beer!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The View From Here

My distance vision is very poor in the left and below average for the right, I believe the optometrist used words which sounded alot like, um, legally blind... Never the less I rarely use my glasses for anything except driving, or as an accessory if I wish to look more intellectual. In town this has not been an issue for me, as things which affect me happen close by. Visiting the Farm, my narrow zone of vision becomes glaringly obvious. Distant objects, animals, and cloud patterns are vital (not to mention beautiful!) and I am missing them because I am so near-sighted. The zone of interaction/field of view is so much larger out there.

I thought this was an interesting analogy to near-sightedness in the non visual sense. Some people go through life legally blind, oblivious to events which effect them even from a far off distance. If only it were as easy as pulling out the old eyeglasses to see things more clearly.

I would be much happier if my eyes could see the far away things more clearly, but lately I wish that my other 'vision' was a little near sighted. I see so many things out there that are frightening. But at least I can see them coming.

These are the views of and from my house as of today:

I love this yard, it is on a hill with many mature trees, but I have alot of different 'zones' to work with. Good neighbors, low crime and only three miles to work for both of us.

South East corner, slopes toward road, full sun, we cut down cedar bushes as old as the house last fall from the front of the house-this spring we will get the roots!

View from deck towards North East corner-big maple throws shade from noon onward, sloping away from house. We have two baby Mulberry trees planted out here.

View from South West of back yard. swing set, sand box and our best (almost) flat ground. Baseball and kickball field for now.

View from deck to North West corner -two bunny cages, compost pile, tin shed and a fire pit! Also partially shaded, stays wet since it is at the bottom of a hill. The apple tree is down to the right along with rhubarb planted by previous owner along the alley.