October 5, 2017 • 0 comment(s)
That makes sense, when it is hot out. In like manner, when plumbing is leaking, we fix it; when livestock are on the road, we remove them; when a tire is flat, we repair it. These are significant matters calling for practical solutions, typical of life on the farm. They are no more complicated than matters particular to life in the city. Resolving them calls for measures of common sense.
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September 21, 2017 • 0 comment(s)
The forest of the hillsides provides ecological stability and serves as a protective mantel for the valley below. Its roots prevent erosion of soil and store water during times of plenty to be released during times of scarcity. Mature trees release several hundred gallons of water a day into the ecosystem, for the benefit of its community, including nearby pastures.
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September 14, 2017 • 0 comment(s)
The second of three cows to birth on Monday delivered twins. It took us about 24 hours to figure out the hiefer-calf was a twin and not a single. She appeared abandoned and gaunt, so we took her to the barn to begin feeding by hand. We debated what to do - whether to try to graft her onto one of Landis' dairy cows, as we have in the past, to feed her expensive milk formula for the next two months, or to put-her-down. Our experience with salvaging orphans has not been successful, all in all. We have tried numerous times with lambs, and they never thrive, and half of them die along the way. It is discouraging and expensive. Cattle don't have many twins fortunately, but we had two sets last year, both of which survived well. It took a day or so to figure out this calf was the twin of a small brown calf, as they looked identical, and the mother had simply decided not to pay attention to it. It probably went 24 hours without nursing.
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August 24, 2017 • 0 comment(s)
It takes a lot of footsteps to install these nets around our sheep, and move them every three days. Doing so keeps the guard-dogs in and coyotes out. It prevents sheep from "backgrazing" and infecting themselves with parasites. It keeps the flock on a constantly high plane of nutrition. And it produces the cleanest lamb imaginable - the Midwest's version of wild-caught fish.
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August 16, 2017 • 0 comment(s)
And so are the roads on our farm which need to be maintained! We probably have 4 miles of laneways to keep operable. The most important variable to effective roadways is drainage. Our farm is low-lying in many places, so drainage doesn't come naturally. In spots such as this newly poured gravel, there is no drainage-ditch to access. Instead we put down "geotextile cloth" to support the gravel, which keeps it from continually disappearing into underlying mud.
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August 10, 2017 • 0 comment(s)
Jocko worked with steel and was able to impart to it an uncommon lightness of being. That fire pit weighs close to 100 lbs, but it looks like it weighs no more than five. What grace and perfection it displays, as it dances in the air. Jocko had an eye for aesthetic and practical possibilities within basic elements. He could turn logs, stones, and sheets of metal into sensual artifacts of beauty. In that sense, he saw himself within the world of nature, where he found his inspiration. His most commercially known product was his mailbox, of which we have four at our farm. It is perhaps the perfect mailbox - simple, strong, balanced, and beautiful... And we have two of his fire pits.
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August 3, 2017 • 0 comment(s)
This field hasn't been grazed since April, so chicory and Queen Anne's Lace are in full expression, four to five feet tall. These plants are pretty mature by now, so cows don't pay much attention to them, but they are interested in the fescue, orchard grass, and clover closer to the ground. In pursuing their feed, they trample mature plants, creating a mat of mulch. This keeps soil moist and cool, and brings plant-matter in contact with soil to feed microbes within - perhaps the most important species on the farm. An active population of microbes is at the heart of creating organic matter.
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July 28, 2017 • 0 comment(s)
a bouquet of: milkweed, Joe Pye weed, chicory, cattails, Queen Anne's Lace, and sunflowers. In addition, we pay homage to her adopted birthday-flower - wild hibiscus, in the wetlands, which begins to bloom just at this time.
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July 19, 2017 • 0 comment(s)
Within an hour of this picture being taken this morning, the cows headed for the trees. Everything heads for shade in weather like this. The cool of the dawn is rewarding during these dog days of summer...
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July 13, 2017 • 0 comment(s)
Our friends, Steve & Janet Roedde, manage a "sugar bush" on St. Joseph Island in central Ontario. Their business is complex, sophisticated, and sustainable, harvesting one of nature's sweetest and greatest offerings. In contrast to large-scale commercial operations, theirs is powered entirely by wood and solar energy. Extensive networks of blue tubing snake through the forest at waist height, transporting sap from tree to larger underground pipes and then to the processing barn, under pressure from vacuum pumps. Sap enters the barn at 2% sugar content, is subjected to "reverse osmosis to bring it to about 8%, and is then brought to a wood-fired boil. Once syrup reaches 67% sugar, it is filtered and bottled. A 40:1 ratio exits between sap and syrup, and each tree offers about 15 gallons of sap per year. It is not uncommon for 100-year-old trees to continue to give sap at this rate.
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June 22, 2017 • 0 comment(s)
The alignment of the head of Serpent Mound, in Adams County, points to the setting sun on June 21. Beautifully undulating coils of the serpent's body align with the winter solstice, the spring equinox, and the fall equinox. This fascinating earthen structure was built around 300 BC, by sophisticated native Americans, upon land thrust upwards by the strike of a meteorite, rendering it dense with astronomic power. Serpent Mound is over 1,300 feet long and three feet tall, and is the largest serpent-effigy in the world. It is a powerful site, full of concept, dignity, and magic, on par with the cathedrals of Europe and the pyramids of Egypt.
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June 16, 2017 • 0 comment(s)
Cole Hidy and Kathy Kipp bring strength and depth to our team. Kathy has served many roles for us over recent years, primarily as a good neighbor. She has also performed extensive work with Jacob Bartley in our wetlands, being quite a naturalist herself. This past winter, she provided invaluable assistance feeding animals and chasing down water-leaks. She is also handy with equipment and mechanical problems. There is not much she can't do.
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