Thursday 1/15

15 01 2009

Right now there is other happenings brewing besides restarting the farm for this season. Gabrielle has a new job working at a vineyard/winery in the Applegate Valley. I am looking for a part-time job somewhere, anywhere for god sakes. Right now I am in the running to get a job at a personal chef, and it would be sweet if it worked out. Ben is now working full time as a sign language interpreter in Central Point. Together, we need outside income to support our serious farming addictions.
On top of all this, starting next week, for the next eight weeks we are catering a class at the OSU extensions. We are excited and apprehensive. We want to impress everyone.

Impressing people is all that Sadie seems to do.  Here she is with a bowl on her head.  She is a fire hydrant.

This is the view from where Gabrielle is now currently employed, Wooldridge Winery.

Farmers can eat with the best of them.  The cooler weather demands more calories and we all eat our share.  Here we concocted citrus, mushroom, and rice soup.  We grew the dried ancho chili pepper last year.

The rain gauge is finally up!  We bought it last year but never got around to finding a home for it.  Mark your calendar.  We will start counting how much rain we get this season starting today.



2 10 2008

We have a multitude of animals and a baby, but our hops seemed to be too much responsibility.
Our 22 hops rhizomes planted in May produced no flowers at all. They barely even became plants. A good number of the plants died, with some getting dug up by animals. The total number of plants that will be around next year is uncertain.
We were really excited about doing the hops thing, and the possibility of working with local brewers. We failed this year to the extent that are hop plants produced nothing. We now have more experience on what not to do, how to better integrate our hops into our farm, and we are coceiving new ideas for their perpetuation in the following years.
Trellising and watering seem to be the most persistant problem. And we will be working throughout the winter to properly solve these issues. Some ingenuity and imagination are going to be needed to properly adapt these to our land.
Next year without a doubt there will be hops for beer.
And apples for cider.

Sadie in a pond with goats and chickens

1 10 2008

So it turns out that animals are awesome.  Without delay we have added some sweet new additions to our farm. Animals are an integral part of a small farm.  Besides promoting biodiversity, adding to the closed cycle of land stewardship, they also provide heightened vitality to the entire farming experience and to the purposefulness of the land itself.  We combine animals with plants in a crop rotation to ensure that we are responsibly using our soil.  The feeding practices of our animals will provide nutrients through manure, and with keep the land from being overrun by unwanted plants and pests.

We already have chickens as you know.  They provide us and our customers eggs, and are now producing at about capacity.  Their manure, after composting, is the highest in nutrients and most beneficial for our vegetables.  If the are free ranged a little better, they will also consume bugs and weeds.

Well we just upgraded beyond chickens.  Getting meat rabbits and goats.  Their poop that the rabbits provide us are also extremely nutritious for our plants, and it can be added uncomposted.  It is not a hot manure like most others, and added fresh it will not burn our plants.  We just bred them with the help of some local rabbit fanciers, so we can start producing them for meat production.  These same fanciers will return to show us how to humanely process (kill) the rabbits for meat production.   Killing animals brings food consumption in a full circle.  We are no longer alienated from our food, we are the producers and the consumers.

Then we brought in the goats.  Their names are Blossom and Rodeo.  They are Nubian and Boer breed respectively.  We are using them as lawnmowers.  Damn goats eat anything.  So we are allowing them to do their work.  We are overrun by poison oak and blackberries on our property, and the goats are more than happy to clear these away for us.  Besides water and little shelter they do not need much else to happily co-exist with us.  They are actually very friendly and enjoy being petted.

I am also lining our now dry pond with bentonite clay.  This particular type of clay has properties which allow it seal pond bottoms to minimize water drainage.  Our pond is completely dry now, but the rainy season will be soon upon us.  I just got the clay free because it is  tailings left over from a local ceramic company.  Otherwise it would have cost me like 300 dollars.  Now that I have the clay it needs to go into the pond before it starts raining, otherwise it will be very difficult to work with when the pond begins filling again.

Lastly, Sadie continues to excel at living. Check it out.

City Mouse, Country Mouse

31 05 2008

(post by Ben)

There are countless versions of the fable: it’s either a cat-dog-mousetrap-maid that scares the mice cousins out of the pantry-cupboard-cellar-restaurant… but the moral is generally the same (this one being my favorite): “Better beans and bacon in peace than cakes and ale in fear.”

In case you forgot the story, a city mouse goes to visit his cousin in the country and helps him work on his farm. The city mouse is a little lazy, and complains a lot about the food and the work and how there’s not a lot of “people” around… then the country mouse goes to visit the city mouse and is amazed at how plentiful the food is, the “people” (human and rodent) only to be scared back to the country by the dog-cat-trap-maid which leads him to his moral.

Why is the country mouse judging so harshly his own food culture (what’s wrong with beans and bacon?) and saying that city food culture (where’d they get the ingredients for their cakes and ale anyway?) is almost worth dying for?


The inspiration for growing our own Mud Puddle Produce happened in Chicago, a city famous for cakes and ale (okay — famous for hot dogs, baseball, “Chicago-style” pizza, beer… and the “Best Restaurant” in the country, Alinea) and also “famous” for fear (okay, a lot of cities are… but Chicago has the most infamous gangters and gangstas; the first serial killer; and the most recent elevated train derailment).

Almost one year ago (20 June 2007, I saved the email), Gabrielle, Chad, Jason, and me were sitting outside eating some fancy food with some surprisingly un-fancy ingredients: grilled monk-fish (“poor man’s lobster”) with a tasty corn and pork-rind relish. It’s too perfect as a background to such an ostentatious first year of farming. I had just gotten back from a month couchsurfing in France and Ireland, Chad and Gabe were about to go to France and Italy for a month themselves; I became obsessed with French Breakfast Radishes (our first harvest!). Gabe’s old apartment overlooked a police station and also overlooked the WORST intersection in Chicago (while cat-sitting I saw/heard five accidents over one weekend). Here we were just wanting to grow stuff to eat and get out of the city.

And here we are doing it.

Take a group of city friends with unlimited culinary and business skills and throw them at the most beautiful county in Oregon and let them grow as great a variety of fruits and vegetables that the deer, the heat-waves, and the notorious Pea Leaf Weevil will allow, and see what happens. For the good of the earth and all of those on it, for our own sanity… and to make new friends and get acquainted with the ones we haven’t seen in awhile.

What I’m gettin’ at is this country x city mouse is gettin’ home while the gettin’ is good

(Also, it’s almost time for your first CSA box! You better get ready!!!)