BLOG & Scenic Moments
November 2018: Yikes! A year has gone by.
Again, another great year, with kudos to the early spring weather that allowed the berries to bloom in proliferation -- strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and tree fruits were plentiful! The flowers were amazing this year too, and generally good produce all around. We've had good feedback from our customers. We are always grateful for the trust our CSA customers put in us and we do everything we can to uphold our end. A few photos from the year.
Also a special thanks this year to some kind friends who supported a GoFundMe campaign to assist us in procuring some ground cover. This was a great benefit to cut back on some painful weeding, even though there's some work that goes into putting it down, and a lot of work in cleaning it off at the end of the season. We are greatful for the support on that!
A few photos from the year's efforts.
November 2017: Wonderful Season
It's sad that I haven't updated anything here since July, but that's how it sometimes goes on a busy small farm. We are now working on our high tunnel -- kind of like a greenhouse, but no benches, all farmed in the ground. It is 30 feet wide by 95 feet long, more than 2000 screws and bolts, lots of hard work right now. Hope to get it framed before winter hits hard.
July 2017: Off and running!
Again the season has burst upon me without time to do much annotation here. The growing season started in March with seeds in the greenhouse, eventually transplanted outside. And all the outdoor seeding as well. Then the weeds, oh so many millions of weeds! Endless battle.
But the harvest is coming grand. Flowers are at their height. Strawberries and raspberries are coming on strong. New potatoes and peas. Carrots and cabbage. Such a wonderful thing to see it all bear so abundantly.
And our chickens have started to lay!
Why You Should Consider Joining a CSA Farm this Season
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a personal relationship between a farmer and eater. You join the farm as a member and you get a box of food – and a bouquet of flowers -- from the farm throughout the growing season.
As our culture and economy becomes more homogenized and centralized, CSA is the opposite. It is about a personal relationship between a farmer and the CSA members. It is an intimate connection between local farmland and your dinner table.
You get the freshest possible ingredients from a farmer that you know and the farm gets advance knowledge of demand to focus on growing healthy food for you.
In world of intractable problems, joining a CSA is a positive act that you can take today that has profound impacts on your health, your local economy, and the environment.
As a CSA farmer, I spend money with other local businesses that circulates money in our local economies. As a CSA farmer I take very personal care of my land in a sustainable operation. You can know all this because you can visit our CSA farm (or another) and see for yourself. CSA keeps small scale, local farms in business so they can continue producing food for you.
A CSA membership enriches your life with high quality food as you spend your food dollars in a way that you will feel good about.
Even if you don’t make it out to the farm itself, but participate in our CSA through deliveries, we are connected to you and your family in a highly creative and concrete way -- the cells in your body were nourished by food from our farm. How cool is that?!
We want you to feel appreciated, included and connected to your food. I hope that with each pickup/delivery, and with most every meal, you feel more than the weight of your box and taste more than food. We intend to send you our very best and hope you can sense our intention, efforts and care -- and are indeed healthier for it.
The investment you make in your CSA farm is modest. The average U.S. CSA share costs $25/week during the season, about $100/month. Our CSA is less: $19.50/medium and $23/large box. And you can even get an additional 15% discount off these prices by signing up before the end of February! This helps us plan for the season. https://shelleysproduce.wufoo.com/forms/x18q413016tl5ia/
Thank you for supporting local farms and making the commitment to a CSA share. Your support makes all the difference and keeps our farms running.
Please follow our facebook page to keep updated on new photos, events, and signups.
WINDING UP THE SEASON
Well, it's been almost the entire season since I've had time to post something here. And now, the season has come to a close. It was a great season, with wonderful subscription customers and a pretty good year on produce and flowers. Hoping to expand next year.
One of my favorite end-of-season surprises was when three kids of one of our customers (who always accompany their mom to pick up the produce box) presented me with an envelope. Each one contained a drawing from them with the "farmer" and them and family members at the farm stand. It was so endearing and thoughtful. Thanks Isaiah, Sedona, and Elias!
RESURRECTING A 1940ish POTATO PLANTER
My father helps me get this old relic ready to plant potatoes. Fun!
JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015 -- PRUNING fruit trees
DECEMBER 2015 -- HAPPY HOLIDAYS & MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Lots to be greatful for and lots to do to help those in need. Love the example of this young lady.
NOVEMBER 2015 -- GREAT SEASON.
Thanks to all our customers this year. It was busy, as is evident that I haven't written in a while. Looking forward to 2016 and another wonderful year with wonderful CSA customers!
JUNE 29, 2015 -- HOT.
It is presently 98 degrees as I'm writing this. Everything is drying out fast and keeping up with the watering is critical. The weeds seem to grow faster than anything wherever water touches. So even with drip, the 8" either side of the drip line are filled with weeds and require constant attention. Weeds, water, harvest, and do it all again, and again, and again.
JUNE, 2015 -- FARM FLOWERS
MAY 9, 2015 -- THINGS ARE GROWING...
This is Mountain Spinach. It has a beautiful purple leaf, is a bit "stiffer" than regular spinach, and is very healthy! We love it mixed with other greens in a salad, on pizza, in stir fry, or in soups. This will be in the subscription baskets this year.
We also had to put coverings and plastic over all the new starts because it's forecast to be down below 34 this weekend. Ah, Spring in Eastern Idaho!
MARCH 12, 2015 -- PLANTING HAS BEGUN...
We've planted snap peas, carrots, chard, lettuce, kale, and some other goodies outside. We've started lots of things indoors, including peppers, tomatoes, celery, and some flowers. Some of it has been moved out to the greenhouse. We're excited for the season!
MARCH 3, 2015 -- PERSPECTIVE ON GLYPHOSATE...
There is a lot of buzz and negative publicity about certain chemicals used in agriculture production. My own view is to minimize use of any chemical (even those approved in organic production) when possible and to use only as a last resort. I take an approached called IPM or Integrated Pest Management that relies on scouting (continual inspection of plants), disease prevention by crop rotation, use of drip irrigation to minimize molds and spread of disease, and use of natural products. But sometimes nature throws more at you than this will control. That is sometimes the case with weeds.
On our place we have a couple weeds that are serious competitors with our plants and would overrun the entire place if left unchecked for any time. We do lots of hand hoeing and pulling weeds. But morning glory, or field-bind weed as it is officially called, is relentless. It's rhyzome-rooted tentacles go down 6-8 feet in the ground, look like spaghetti, and regrow from any root left in the ground. It is an ongoing battle of enormous proportion! So I use products that are taken into the plant to kill the root. Vinegar and those types of solutions only burn leaves. For some annual weeds that will do. For morning glory it will not.
So, yes, we do periodic SPOT-spraying of weeds. We do not spray it on our crops because glyphosate would kill our crop. So we are very careful. We don't spray wide areas and we don't spray on windy days and we don't spray close to crops. As previously stated, that would be stupid because our crops are non-GMO and it would kill them.
If anyone has questions about our approach to weed, pest, and disease control, please ask! We're happy to talk about what we believe to be a sustainable, real-world approach to healthy, local food production.
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FEBRUARY 11, 2015 -- I FARM BECAUSE...
I farm because……(responses to survey):
- “I enjoy being involved in agriculture. It is a passion my spouse and I share.”
- “it is the most rewarding and self-gratifying job I have ever had (became a farmer after 22 years of working in a factory).”
- “I enjoy watching the circle of life.”
- “my family has farmed for over 100 years. I enjoy being a steward of the land and I enjoy watching animals and crops grow.”
- “of the glory….of producing a wholesome, nutritious product.”
- “I love the challenge & satisfaction I get when the harvest is in.”
- “it is what I love to do.”
- “it is a way of life and a wonderful place to raise a family.”
- “I am able to be my own boss and do what I enjoy.”
- “I feel called to be a steward of the land and to help feed the world.”
So, whether it is a sense of independence or a desire to be connected to the land and life on that land, the participating farmers expressed passion for what they do, day in and day out. Farmers work hard to produce safe, wholesome food and whether they are raising cattle, producing milk or growing crops they are united in their commitment to a quality of life and to the consumers they feed.
FEBRUARY 10, 2015 -- BUT IT IS A CHALLENGE
Nobody told me I couldn't make a living at this...interesting article.
Well, I knew it was rough; I grew up on a farm. But the hours are long, and when you calculate that out for the income, it's a pretty low wage. Not that I don't love it!
FEBRUARY 9, 2015 --WAKING UP AGAIN
Oh, that fickle Mother Nature! The warmest February in Idaho ever -- average high is supposed to be around 34 (it's still winter!), but we're having weather in the 60's... it's going to tease out the blossoms on the fruit trees and raspberries, and then She is going to change Her mind and whack them with the freeze. Yes, I'm worried. But, since She is giving mild weather, I planted kale, spinach, Japanese Daikons, and parsnips. They can handle this weather.
SEPTEMBER 29, 2014 -- LAST WEEK OF 2014 SEASON
Hail, lots of rain, and cooler weather mark the end of the season. Here's the last harvest layed out before it was prepped, and after prepping for the baskets.
SEPTEMBER 12, 2014 -- KILLING FROST
But we still have a full farm stand! Come by and get lots of yummy winter squash, pumpkins, onions, decorative gourds, melons, and more!
SEPTEMBER 2, 2014 -- Wow Summer is Flying by!
Can't believe it's September. Hope we have another month without frost so the tomatoes will have a chance to ripen!
I'm excited by the new postage stamp -- check it out:
AUGUST 7, 2014 -- Hard to find time to write in the summer!
Beautiful sunrise this morning.
A rare foggy morning in Idaho, with the calf curious about the 4-wheeler.
Darn magpies. Peck at everything! We've had to net the tomatoes to keep them from pecking every one that turns ripe.
JUNE 27, 2014 -- Hate the Hail.
Some damage. Hopefully the plants will recover OK.
JUNE 20, 2014 -- Netting out the birds
So many birds around here! We've had to net the strawberries to keep them off.
JUNE 18, 2014 -- Scary Night
Just when you think things are starting to progress, a frost warning is issued by the National Weather Service. Ugh! Covering the tomatoes. Not nearly enough plastic and containers to cover 300 tomato plants. But we tried! Fortunately, blessedly, it didn't freeze. Everything is OK. But the weather is cool, wet, and windy, high of 50 today. Three days from now we're supposed to be back in the 80-90 degree range. Tough on those plants!
MAY 30, 2014 --Things are finally growing.
It has been a slow and difficult Spring with late freezes and even a light frost this morning. But the warmer weather is finally getting things growing. Garlic is going well. Potatoes are growing. Peas are starting to blossom. Strawberries are forming and bees are at work.
APRIL 22, 2014 -- The Day of the Range Cow Adventure: True Story.
While meat is not something we sell with our produce operation, we do have 2 acres of pasture and have kept a couple of my father's cows there during the summer months.
A few weeks ago my dad purchased 6 "range cows." A range cow is an interesting beast. Somewhat thinner than your usual cow. And, oh, so much more cunning. My belief is they have to chase after grass and run from coyotes, so their instinct is to run from anything. I think they run all the time. On with the story.
On Tuesday, dad and I loaded two of these range critters into his cattle trailer and brought them over to our pasture. It was fenced with a very hot electric fence. The grass was getting lush and they seemed happy to be there.
We headed back to dad's to move some other cattle to another pasture and do a few other chores. Then I headed home, and along the way I see two cows galloping across a field, headed West. Yup, the two we just dropped off at our place. They are no respecter of fences.
So I started across the bottom of the field in the van, trying to keep them in sight so we didn't loose them. They headed west at a steady run across wheat fields and hay fields. Mind you, most cows would have stopped and grazed on these young, luscious plants until they couldn't eat any more. Not these cows. They ran. About a mile later they came to a canal. That will stop them I thought. Ha! They actually jumped right in and out they popped on the other side. Didn't even slow them down. The stopped momentarily, looked around, and decided they didn't want to be on that side of the canal. So they immediately jumped back in the canal and swam back to the side I was on and ran around the van and headed South. I was stunned to see such "wildness."
So I pursued them south. About 1/4 mile later we came to a road and the nicest lady who lived there had been watching. She had corrals and waved for me to help herd them into her yard. So we tried to herd them. They ran around and around her yard, and finally into the gate of the corral. And immediately through the corral and through the fence on other other side. Didn't even phase them. And they were off again to the South. I apologized to the lady and asked if she wanted help fixing her fence. She kindly said no and so I got back into the van and tried to pick up the trail.
In the mean time I called dad and Cody, my step-son. They brought 4-wheelers so we could go across the fields after them.
By the time they arrived 10 minutes later the cows had split up. The wilder one headed north and dad tried to pursue it. Cody and I headed South after the other. Dad finally gave up on the Northern cow and came to help us. We followed her another 2 miles south through fields of wheat and hay. The fact that the wind was blowing 45 miles per hour and dust was whacking our faces and filling our ears added to the excitement. The cow jumped several more fences, through ditches, over wheel lines (about 3 feet hight), and on she ran.
Eventually the cow was finally starting to slow down a bit, walking here and there. Dad went looking for corrals and we kept with the cow. There were no corrals to the south in close proximity. So we decided to try to turn the cow back to the North and see what we could find that direction. It took some serious pushing at close quarters on the 4-wheelers to convince her to go North. Why she wanted to go South? Who knows. But we finally turned her and kept her going that direction. We kept her moving to wear her down.
Finally we came upon a dilapidated corral and got her into it, hurriedly putting up fallen down wire and boards to kind of keep her there. If she hadn't have been so tired, she would have easily escaped. But she wanted to rest. She was panting and thirsty and just stood there. Dad went back after the trailer and I stood vigilantly talking to the cow and asking her why she was so crazy.
After 30 minutes of partial reconstruction (moving boards and panels around), we were able to maneuver the cow into the trailer. Whew! One down. We took her back to dad's corrals to be with a few cows that were still there.
We needed more help with the other, wilder ranger cow. So we called Talon, my nephew -- and expert horseman and roper. He saddled his horse, put on his chaps and spurs, got his lariat, loaded the horse in the trailer, and we were off.
We looked near the Butte where we thought she was headed and found her laying down in a field. The plan was to get behind her, trying to head her to the north where there were some corrals. Talon on his horse, and me on the 4-wheeler, started out.
When we were within about 100 yards of her, up she sprang and off she went. Not to the North, of course. We got ahead of her and tried to circle her in the field so Talon could rope her. The wind was blowing so hard that with every attempt the wind would catch the rope and move it off target, making it difficult to get it over her head. But after several tries, Talon was successful. He started to cinch it around his saddle horn. The horse dug in and the cow swung around and bellered. Not a happy cow. Talon started to lead her North, and I was encouraging her from behind. And then the rope broke. And off she went heading West.
I tried to stop her. You've seen those scenes in movies where cars are speeding along side each other and smashing into the side to push the other off the road. Well, it was kind of like that. I was crusing along side the cow, bumping into her to try to turn her. She bumbed back. I thought she might jump into my lap. It was surreal crazy. I bumped. She bumped. And then she stopped suddenly and out maneuvered me and was off again.
Through fences and ditches and more fields. Nothing seemed to phase her. We followed. Suddenly, she made a 90 degree turn directly south, crossing a deep ditch. Fortunately there was a wooden bridge there and I followed on the 4-wheeler. I looked where we where, and it was my neighbor's field! We were headed back to our place. Of all the ironies. In fact she went through my electric fence, again, and ran up the pasture toward the house. Through the fence, again, and back to the neighbor's house.
Talon had repaired his rope and was attempting another lasso. Dad was there with the truck and trailer. We were trying to slow her down and get a rope on her. She made a run to the West and dad drove in front of her with the pickup and actually knocked her over. She rolled and back up again and off she went!
Talon turned her back and around we went through the neighbor's yards. I was nearly clothes lined by a clothes line I didn't see as I cut through a yard on the 4-wheeler. My guardian angel helped more than once this day.
Talon tossed his rope again and success! He had the beast; started to cinch the rope, but she took off through my fence, again. Not wanting to take his horse through the fence he dropped the rope, but it was still around her neck and she was dragging it. So I gave chase. She headed across my garden and up to the pasture. Of all ironies, she stopped, momentarily, at the exact spot we had dropped her off in the pasture some 7 hours earlier. Yes, it was a long day, for all of us.
She stopped just long enough for me to jump off the 4-wheeler, grab the rope, and wrap it around a steel post and metal panel. I cinched it up. She started to move, realized she was tied, and headed off the opposite direction, pulling the panel over on top of me. Fortunately, the panel landed on the 4-wheeler, preventing it from fully landing on top of me. Thank you guardian angel. But unfortunately, it broke dad's toolbox he had on the front of the 4-wheeler. Tools went everywhere. But I still had the cow.
I crawled out from under the panel and tried to extract the 4-wheeler, but the cow kept the line taught. I tried to move her back the other way some to take pressure off the panel. After some maneuvering I extracted the 4-wheeler. By this time, Talon showed up and shortly after, dad with the trailer.
It was another 45 minutes of carefully shifting the rope from the panel to inside the trailer and drawing her into the trailer. Then off we went to deposit her at Talon's Grandpa Peterson's place, where she will await sale in the immediate future. Can't keep a cow like that. No respecter of fences, persons, things, places, or good forage.
And that is the true tale of the range cow adventures that where more than we bargained for. The moral of the story is: Range cows is range cows, not pasture cows. Most of them don't mix.
Sorry to say through all of this I didn't have the sense to take out my phone and shoot a couple of photos. :-( but this is what I think the cows looked like.
APRIL 8, 2014 -- Idaho ranks no. 12 in supporting local farmers. Not bad, but a fall from no. 10 the previous year.
APRIL 7, 2014 -- Lots of tomato starts; nearly 300 going in the windows.
MARCH 17, 2014 -- And here I thought Spring had almost arrived...
MARCH 7, 2014 -- Onion seedlings started! Along with tomatoes, squash, melons, peppers, cabbage, and other seeds. Will move them out to the greenhouse next week.
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JANUARY 23, 2014 -- If you're a senior in High School and considering college study in an agriculture-related field, take a look at this scholarship:
The CHS Foundation will award 50 $1,000 high school scholarships to students planning to study an agricultural field at a two or four-year college and 25 $1,000 two-year college scholarships to first-year agricultural students attending a two-year college.
The application deadline for scholarships is March 15, 2014. An independent, external committee will select scholarship recipients based on essays, transcripts and reference letters. For eligibility information and application forms, click here: www.chsinc.com/stewardship/leadership-development.
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JANUARY 18, 2014 -- Another foggy night and frost covered trees in the morning. There are no thorns on this little tree; it's simply frozen ice crystals from the night's fog. Beautiful in the daytime.
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Ladybugs -- My parents have a walnut tree, and we've been busy cracking and shelling. I'm using the half shells to hand paint little ladybugs. We'll have these at the farm stand this spring for sale.
JANUARY 14, 2014 -- The wind finally settled some, and today was dormant pruning and fruit tree spraying day! Beautiful Idaho skies. Anticipation of harvest is always the farmer's dream...about 9 months from now (yeah, about the time it takes to hatch a kid). Maybe we'll see a few apples, peaches, cherries, apricots, or plums from our new orchard.
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Isn't this cool? Not my invention, but very creative and fun.
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JAN. 11, 2013 -- It's warmed up to nearly 45 degrees, melted the snow, the wind is blowing about 60 mph out there and it's raining. We need the moisture, but wow, what a wind!
For all you that work in an office and need a boost, plants will do the trick (and cut flower bouquets as well):
"It’s well known that having plants in a room can make it more highly oxygenated and more pleasant to work in. But research teams from Norway and America believe that plants are even more beneficial than that. Two separate studies found that plants in the workplace provide not only aesthetic and visual benefits, but they also improve worker concentration and productivity.
Read more: Studies Prove That Desk Plants Can Improve Worker Concentration And Productivity | Inhabitat - Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building
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GARDEN QUOTES on our Pinterest page: http://www.pinterest.com/shelleysproduce/garden-quotes/
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Happy New Years Day, 2013 -- The birds seem to be finding something in the lawn and yard they like. Starlings, pheasants, and more.
December 31, 2013 -- Ring out the old, ring in the new! A good time to work on those projects that don't happen during production season. Painting rocks to look like strawberries to hopefully discourage those darn birds from raiding the patches this spring! This is a good site with step-by-step instructions:
December 2013 -- It's winter wonderland out there, about 0 degree F! Spending lots of time looking through seed catalogs. Finally finished ripening off the end of the green tomato harvest from the garden. We have processed them and put them in the freezer. Lots of goodies for winter!
October/November 2013 -- Also been busy with an experiment of putting our little greenhouse about 4 feet in the ground and using a solar panel for lighting and to run a small water circulation pump through the pvc piping for gaining some heat. It was 20 degrees over night and stayed above 35 in the greenhouse.
Presently we are trying to ripen about 150 lbs. of green tomatoes inside the greenhouse. With any sunshine at all, it heats up pretty fast inside, usually a 15-30 degree heat gain over whatever it is outside.
November 2013 -- Putting everything to bed: mulching and putting straw around all the perrenials to help protecting them for the winter.
November 5, 2013 -- We dug 100 pounds of carrots and donated them today to the Shelley Food Bank.
October 11, 2013 -- Frosts have killed most annuals and flowers. I've been busy putting the plants into a compost pile in the field where it will be incorporated into the soil next spring.
Kind of sad to see it all come to an end this season, but that's the cycle of life. There's still lots to do around here! Gathering up drip line and storing in the shed, cutting back all the plants and putting into the compost, repairing tools and tomato cages, gearing up the green house for winter production. More to come on this.
Another of the strange developments of nature... this is a carrot, really.
A bit of fun with photoshopping... Shelley & Brent.
August 24, 2013 -- Significant rain and hail storm today. Did damage to crops -- cracked watermelon, bruised tomatoes, put holes in peppers, stripped leaves off of most plants. We hope some recover and we can still get harvest.
Some of our summer help... My son Jacob with fresh onions just before heading back to Oregon today, August 12, 2013 (we'll miss him!)
Sons Bridger and Jeremy picking beans:
Sometimes Mother Nature does some weird things... crazy carrots...
It was a great moment when the sign went up!! June 24, 2013.
June 25th we got some kittens from my parents. We picked the "runt" of the litter (the black and yellow one), and a sibbling. They are cute! We hope they are as good at catching mice as their mom. She's amazing! Catches several every day at my folk's homestead.
How's this for a great picture moment!
Our daughter-in-law, Kelly, took a few fun photos while visiting us with our son Paul.
The windbreak next to our home:
Shelley and Brent enjoying the flowers and the moment.
The farm on July 31, 2013: