Sunday, September 9, 2012

Second Week (Sept. 3, 2012)

This week was very busy and we saw and learned a lot.  We started early and got home about 11:30 pm both nights.  Thursday started with learning hot water bath canning of acidic foods.  The purpose of learning about canning is two fold.  First you can can foods for your own consumption.  The second purpose is to learn how to add value to the produce you raise.  You can sell acid canned foods like tomatoes to make some income on top of what you could sell just the tomatoes for. (note the pH needs to be at least 4.6 or lower).  This was followed by a stop at Paradox Farms for demonstration on Bee keeping using High Bar bee hives by Andy ( a graduate of the program two years ago).  Next was some work with the new hair sheep they had just obtained.  Then we had the opportunity to help butcher a couple of those sheep that were purchased by some previous graduates of the program who live in the area and are working their way towards their farming goal.  See the pictures below.

Here I am working on removing the tomato skins and cores after blanching .  Not bad for a first time beginner

 This is the new flock of hair sheep at Paradox Farm.   They are in this pen to be trained to the electric fence (there is a 3-strand electric fence on the inside of the pen), get use to being handled and will also be taught to trailer.

 The rams at the right and below are being made into a whether's (sp?).  Since the one on the right was older they are using a tool that crimps/breaks the cord for each testicle.  The little ram below is being fixed with a tool that puts a rubber band around the testicles.  They then fall off in a few days.  The third option would be a surgery to remove the testicles.

Both of these guys were running around with the flock right after the procedure.

Dairy cow and dairy goat which are part of the flerd at Paradox Farm.  

Here some of my classmates are getting some experience in butchering sheep.  If you can process the animals you consume you can save a little money and you know exactly what you are getting.

Friday started with crops and forage at Bluebird Gardens (one of our instructors farms, refer to previous post).  We discussed the importance of Calcium in the soil.  This was part of our reading assignment from "The Biological Farmer by Gary Zimmer".  Then we were off to the fields planting spinach, lettuce and sampling some of the fresh produce.  After Bluebird Gardens we headed for the Reinke Ranch which raises grass fed beef, some hogs and chickens.  We also learned a little about a no-till drill seed planter, did a pasture walk to observe the native vegetation that is thriving in some of the pastures as well as observed how winter bale grazing was being used to improve pasture organic matter and fertility.  Next we went to Seven Pines Farm to finish our crop and forage class and our farm skills.  This farm is owned by our instructor Kent Solberg, so I will tell more about this farm in my future posts and just show some pictures.  I should mention that as you see pictures of this farm note the vegetation.  When they moved to this place it was just blow sand and pretty much only grew sand pickers as it had been farmed out and the s\oils had no organic matter left.  They currently have a small grass based dairy heard, pastured pigs, and pastured laying hens and probably some other stuff I am forgetting.

 At Bluebird Gardens 4-Row seed planter, pulled behind tractor
 At Bluebird Gardens, single row hand seeder

 At Bluebird Gardens transplanting lettuce after a 4-row water wheel planter prepared the beds for planting.  Note this is the 3rd or 4th  crop they will be growing from this portion of the field.  They never have bare soil sitting around very long.  It is either in crops or cover crops or being prepared for planting.

Reinke Ranch No till seed drill from local SWCD  office

 Reinke Ranch raising pastured broilers in portable pens the Joe Salatin way.  Chickens are moved twice a day.  Electric fence for predator control.
Reinke Ranch Angus graxing in native plants, Little Blue Steam,
Indian grass, Big Blue Steam, Switch grass etc.

Seven Pines Farm 3-day old calf.  She gets mothers milk bottle fed to her until  she is grazing .

High Tower used in the winter for the laying hens currently used in summer for storage and drying hay and wood.

Seven Pines Farm egg mobile

The egg mobile follows the cows or pigs in the pasture rotation.  The also graze and also eat bugs out of cow pies and grass.  It is moved each day.  We picked about 65 eggs from the nesting boxes on the side.  Bottom is wire mesh to allow manure to drop through.  Roost is in the trailer.

Yes that is me learning how to milk cows at Seven Pines Farm.

Saturday class was spent in the class room on Farm Ecology and  learning about permaculture  as well as reviewing everything we had done the last two week.s.

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