Tuesday, November 27, 2012

12th Week (November 12, 2012)


Sunrise at Seven Pines Farm
We had another week with a ton of stuff packed into it.  Fortunately for you readers I took a lot of pictures, that I will use to tell about what we did, and keep my boring written explanations to a minimum.  The farms we spend time at continued to get things changed over to winter operation.  I started the week on at Seven Pines Farm on Tuesday and Wednesday.  In addition to the typical chores and milking we worked on fencing in the new winter pasture.  This pasture has trees on three sides to keep the cows out of the wind which is the main thing they need to be be happy in winter.

Nesting boxes in high tunnel.  Egg
production drops off in the winter
but they still produce enough eggs
to eat and sell.






























The laying hens have been moved into the high tunnel for winter.  Fresh wood chips are placed on floor for bedding to keep the chickens dry.  They have room for about 170 birds in here and their body heat keeps it nice and toasty  in the high tunnel.  The sound of the chickens in the video below is kind of cool.

video


The little pigs at Seven Pines Farm have tripled in size.  Note in the background of the photo,
 how the have tilled up the soil while eating quack grass roots.  It looks freshly plowed.

A PTO driven wire winder was used to unroll the high tensile fence wire.
The video show it in action
video

Electric fence energizer with lightening arrester 


















As you can see Thursday's agenda included making feta cheese. We also spent time putting final touches on the greenhouse to get ready to plant next Friday.

Tom Sawyer white-washing the greenhouse with homemade white-wash made from goats milk.  The temperature in the greenhouse was pushing 80 and it was over 100 at the ceiling.










Friday at Bluebird Gardens we raised the rafters on two more new high tunnels they are constructing and then started putting up the Purloins.  Prior to starting on the greenhouse we checked on the status of the cover crops we planted a couple weeks ago in High Tunnel #1.
High Tunnel Cover Crop
Close-up of Cover Crop

New High Tunnel construction

Installing purloins.  I am now ready to try out for the high wire act at the circus.
Most of you probably do not know this but I did spend part of one summer working
in a carnival side show in Zamora the Gorilla Girl so I have circus experience. 

















After finishing the high wire work we headed for Farm Skills class.  There we took a field trip to Roers Equipment by Brandon Minnesota see website at http://www.roersequipment.com/ .  They specialize in red tractors (International Harvester / Farmall)

 We are a family owned business in operation since 1946. We are located between Alexandria and Fergus Falls in west central Minnesota. We specialize in new and used farm equipment.  We also have an extensive selection of both new and used parts for tractors, combines and all types of farm machinery from our huge salvage lot.  We invite you check out our large inventory on our website.


We learned more about different farm equipment.  There is a lot of used farm equipment that a small scale beginning farmer can obtain at a reasonable price.
The wheels on this tractor are able to be adjusted to a wider stance while operator is sitting on tractor.

This running gear is basically a wagon, you can add different boxes, like a hay wagon.
Note the Minnesota Brand on the wagon.  They were made by inmates at the State Pen.

Hay mower

Hay Rake
After Roers we headed to the Farm of Pat Creps (sp?) who is a former graduate of the Sustainable Food Production Program.  Pat and his Wife live on his in-laws farm and have started their own sustainable farm on some of the property.  They grow vegetables and raise broilers, eggs, meat goats and pigs what he learned in the program.
Pat's egg mobile, outside.

Inside of egg mobile.
Pat's movable pasture pen for broiler chickens

Pat's movable pasture pen for turkeys

Pat modified an existing shed that was not being used into a greenhouse.
 We finished up Friday in the classroom with a crops and forages lecture on cover crops / green manure crops and started on crop rotations for building soil health.  These techniques of cover cropping are the best hope for farming practices that can work with nature and protect receiving waters from erosion and runoff, non point pollution.  They can also reduce fertilizer and herbicide needs and can be profitiable if done properly including grazing animals.  The Burleigh Co. Soil Conservation District website www.bcscd.com has the most current information on this subject.

Winter Greenhouse with white pine paneling. 
Saturday we put a few finishing touches on the greenhouse paneling, had a short Farm Ecology lecture and then started planting the greenhouse.  To do the planting we were fortunate to have a guest instructor the "Garden Goddess" Carol Ford http://www.gardengoddessenterprises.com/  Carol along with her husband Chuck Waibel wrote the "Northlands Winter Greenhouse Manual" on which our passive solar greenhouse is based.  Carol and Chuck run a winter CSA using their greenhouse to provide winter greens and storage crops from their summer garden to their members.  Carol shared her recipe for making greenhouse garden soil as well as planting techniques and some life philosophy.  After the planting we finished the day with a potluck lunch which included sampling our Fetta Cheese.
The Garden Goddess imparting her gardening wisdom on the class. 
Rain-gutters re-purposed for use as planters which will be hung in the green house.
Here the seeds have been planted, additional soil sprinkled on top, and patted down.

The right side shows the proper seed density for planting the winter garden.


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