Tuesday, July 24, 2012

On the Farm

It’s been one of those weeks where the farm just seems a little out of.  It started last Wednesday the 18th.  On Tuesday last week we purchased 13 piglets from some friends of ours.  By Wednesday morning they’d figured out they fit through their corral panels.  They also discovered that the very brushy woods were a great place to root and hide.  So after harvesting basil for the CSA, Victor (Marie’s younger brother) and I got to spend a fun filled two hours literally crawling through briars to catch piglets one by one.  The briars were so thick that the piglets were getting stuck.   From there on out for the week we were behind schedule.  Then, right when we thought we might get to catch up on some tractor work-more rain!

One of our good pigs inside its fence where it should be

You’ve probably been hearing about the national drought ruining crops all over the country.  Even much of North Carolina is experiencing some drought.  Farmers I sell next to at farmers market from as close as Catawba and Lincoln counties worry about no rain on their farms.  We are not looking forward to the upcoming animal feed bills.  However, at least in our little corner of Burke County, it has been raining plenty.  These days the most noticeable result of all the rain (besides constantly wet feet) are the weeds!  When its harvest day we wade through waist high weeds, push them aside like curtains, peer under and over and find that red tomato or cucumber or squash.  In spit of the rain we have finally made some progress getting ready to clean up the garden for fall.  Today we removed old irrigation tape so we can get the tractor back into the field.  As soon as it dries out some that is.

Squash Blossom with bumble bees

            We are now working with our family friend and farming mentor, Jace, to raise some grass based and organically fed beef.  Jace is a longtime family friend, helpful farmer, and the landowner where our main vegetable fields and sheep pastures are. We have helped to create a beef raising protocol with him to create healthy, lean, and tasty beef.  The meat we have available now is 100% grass fed.  Many cattle are raised on pasture, but finished out (grown to full size) using corn.  The addition of corn drastically alters the fat profile of the meat creating a more unhealthy mix of omega-3s and omega-6 fatty acids.  100% grass creates the healthiest balance available in meat (except fish). 
            Right now the heat has greatly reduced the quality of the grass.  So the animals we have out on the pasture right now are grazing but can’t get their full nutrition requirements for optimal growth and beef quality.  We have worked with our certified organic feed supplier to create a ration that is low in corn and 100% certified organic, so no GMOs or chemicals in the feed.  These animals are still always grazing on fresh grass, moving frequently, to ensure that the grain is a minimal part of their diet. 
            Right now we have Beef available on Wednesdays 10-3 at Hickory Farmers Market and by special order at the other markets.  You can always come by the farm on Wednesdays from 4-6 pm.

Your farmers,
William and Marie

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Farm photos

Pigs moving to a new pasture-a favorite activity

Thoughts on tomatoes and Eating the bounty:
Tomatoes, they are the queen of the summer vegetables.  There is simply no substitute for a juicy tomato straight from the vine, so red its purple, meaty like no store tomato can hope to be, and full of flavor.  We sure are glad they are so good, otherwise they might not be worth it.  Tomatoes are also the divas of the vegetable field and they are vocal in their complaints.  Subpar soil nutrients, too much water, too little water, or some insects will all dramatically reduce yields.  Each season we learn a little more about the tomato’s specific needs.  This year we experienced some early blossom end rot.  Several of our first harvests we nothing but several buckets of ruined tomatoes all half rotted (the pigs enjoyed them though!).  One of the main techniques we use to help ensure a harvest is to grow many different varieties.  This year we are growing about 25 different types.  One or two have not really recovered from their early problems.  But most of them, we are happy to report, have been doing well.    Enjoy the summer!

Pigs and chickens share a treat

Okra blossom, one of the beauties of the garden