Archive | August, 2012

Excited about a Hurricane

29 Aug


So there is a hurricane (or at least the remnants of one) making it’s way our direction. The forecast is calling for an 80% chance of rain this weekend.  They’re even saying that it’ll be 2-4 inches of the stuff, with even higher amounts in some areas.

This might help a bit with the historic drought we’ve been having.

Here’s hoping this natural disaster can help mitigate our bigger natural disaster.

One Fish, Two Fish

26 Aug

If you happen to remember all the way back at the beginning of this summer we installed 3 tire-tanks for the cattle. They’re still working great, but there is one problem that we discovered. Turns out these tanks are pretty good at growing a nice thick mat of algae on top of the water. The black tire must let it all heat up to a point that the algae love, cause it grows worse in the tire-tanks than in a normal galvanized stock tank.


Fortunately, there is a pretty simple cheap solution to the whole algae thing.
A few of these per tire and we ought to be alright. And at 38 cents each, they’re not going to put a dent in the bottom line. Here’s a big fella that’s been in there for a month or so.


There were 4 in this tank at first, but we could only find two in there today. We were wondering why they hadn’t put a bigger dent in the algae yet, so that’s a bit of an explanation. Still no explanation as to what happened to the other two fish. Oh well, $0.76 down the drain.

The plan was to release them into the tank in the barn lot, and then move them to the other tanks in the back as time allowed. This plan, however, requires catching the little buggers. Easier planned than done. Fast little fish in a great big tank and a tiny goldfish net; good luck with that one.


More goldfish are in order.

Oh, and in other news, we got rain today! A whole 3/16″ of the stuff! A pathetic amount, but rain nonetheless. We’ll take what we can get considering that we’ve been upgraded (downgraded?) once again to Exceptional drought, the most extreme drought classification there is. We’d better get used to it, because the USDA’s forecast has the drought persisting through at least the end of November!


Organic at what price?

22 Aug

Hey there folks, just a quick post today, It’s my last day at home with Callina and the new baby before I head back to work. On the plus side, I did get in a nice new-baby-photo-shoot that resulted in some of that extreme cuteness that I promised earlier.

Anyway, I ran across this article the other day, and couldn’t help but to hold it up as an example of what sustainable agriculture is not.

What’s not to like?

A guy growing 70 acres of organic, non-GMO corn that he sells directly to his consumers.  Sounds like everything that a small, sustainable farm should be right? But what, then, could this guy possibly be doing wrong?

“They don’t know what I spent growing the crop, it’s a question of how little or how much money I lose on it.”

But maybe this fella got hit by the drought too.  After all, everyone doesn’t have to turn a profit every year, you can make changes and try to return to profitability next season.

“It is a magnificent experience to be out there with the corn; As long as I can sustain the ongoing losses of growing it, I will keep doing it.”

Oh boy…

So there you have it, organic does not equal sustainable.  Go take a look at John Ikerd’s thoughts on what sustainable ag really is.

A sustainable agriculture must be ecologically sound, economically viable, and socially responsible. Furthermore, I contend that these three dimensions of sustainability are inseparable, and thus, are equally critical to long run sustainability.

Two outa three just ain’t gonna cut it.



Meet the new Farmhand

18 Aug

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So I’ve been at the Hospital for the last few days, and I picked up something while I was here.


Everyone, meet our new farmhand Ada Mae.
She’s quite a big girl at 10lbs 4.5oz.
Both Ada and her mother are doing quite well.
I’m sure more pictures of the extreme cuteness will follow.

But for now, I leave you with the newly expanded Green Machine Farm crew.


Young Farmers Potluck – August 2012

13 Aug

I headed out to Bill and Brittany Sullivan’s farm last Sunday afternoon for the August Young Farmers Potluck.

Bill and Brittany live about 10 miles outside of Fayette on a smidge over 20 acres.


Bill and Brittany’s farmhouse is a super-efficient straw-bale house that they built themselves just a few years back. Here’s the thing about the Sullivans: I’ve seen several farmers who don’t own a tractor, but the Sullivans put them to shame. They don’t have a tractor, truck, tiller or any other gas-powered equipment (at least that I saw).
But who needs all that equipment when you’ve got a guy like Bill around? My back hurts just listening to him talk about all the work he’s done by hand around his farm.

We all walked around and got a feel for the permaculture system that the Sullivans have developed on their farm. First up are the raised garden beds, which are build on contour.


Building on countour allows Bill to water the beds by placing a hose from the pond on the upper side of each bed, and letting the water slowly soak through the bed as it works it’s way downhill.


The Sullivans also don’t till their garden beds. They may look a bit weedy, but they say it helps keep in the soil moisture, which is quite a challenge this year.


It looked like they also spent quite a bit of time thinking about companion planting. This year they were experimenting with Sunflowers, Squash and Melons planted together. The Sunflowers keep the squash and melons from getting sunburnt, while the sunflowers provide a bit of extra feed for the goat, pigs and chickens at the end of the season.


In addition to the vegetables, the Sullivans have started a bit of a livestock habit. When we first came in we passed Ivory, the milk goat. Ivory has been tasked with the unenviable task of cleaning up the overgrown fence along the road.


She’s a natural.


Behind the house are the newest additions (to the farm, and to Bill’s fan-club). These 5 are Berkshire gilts that Bill bought as weaned piglets not too long ago.


Further back, are the bigger gals, a Berkshire and a spotted China who are just itching to get at the Berkshire boar Bill’s getting for them.


Bill showed off a lot of creative uses for EMT conduit on the tour. The pig shelters, hoop houses, tomato cages, and even the chicken run were made out of the stuff. Apparently there’s quite a lot you can do with just some conduit and a pipe-bender.


So there you have it. Sullivan Farms.
Having these kind of people here in Missouri is going to make it damn hard to move away to Minnesota.

Fledgling Barn Swallows

6 Aug

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I movd into my in-laws basement a few weeks ago after selling our house in Columbia.
Just outside the basement door, on one of the rafters supporting the deck, there is a barn swallow nest with three young barn swallows in it.

When I woke up this morning, there was quite a barn-swallow commotion going on outside. I peeked out the door, and the nest was empty.


Luckily, this was not a predator-commotion, it was a fledglings leaving the nest commotion. The whole family was perched atop a retaining wall a few feet away.


The parents quickly flew off when I appeared, but the little guys stuck around a while. Especially this one, I got within 2 feed of this fella before he wised up and flew off.