October 31, 2006 – Halloween

Happy Halloween, I guess. It’s a late at work night for me, so I missed the festivities. Martin was excited to be a fireman, complete with blue rain boots. Emma was her favorite witch, and Claire, too old to T & T was, if I recall, a “fairy queen, lumberjack” I fear she’s been watching too much Monty Python lately.

This “year ago entry” was particularly popular!

one year ago…

October 30 , 2006 – Getting Soil Ready for Hoophouse

We have a small plot where we’d like to experiment with a small hoop house. The one we are looking at is 20×36 and 12 feet tall in the center. This fall, we ran the chickens on the plot to do their thing killing some grass and leaving some deposits behind. The ground where this is located is badly eroded. When we moved in, it was previously used as a cattle yard and as it is on a slight slope, most of the topsoil washed off, leaving clay behind.

Here it is after a few passes with the middlebuster to break up the remaining sod. You can see the loader ready with a load of compost ready to dump.

Here’s what the clay looks like. Other places of the farm range from a few inches to about 18-24 inches of wonderful black loamy topsoil before hitting the clay layer.

This is what it looks like after 8-10 loaderfulls of compost. In the spring we’ll plant a cover crop for a year to get rid of grass and further enrich the soil. It’s still novel for me to have the tractor and to be able to do this in about 3/10 of a tractor hour instead of lots of shoveling and spreading.

one year ago…

October 29, 2006 – A Light in the Darkness2

Today finally warmed up over 60 so I was able to complete the last coat of finish on the current trim boards sitting on the hay rack in the shed. Now, they can be moved into the house and wait for their time to go up in the attic.

We also went to see candidate for Agriculture candidate Denise O’Brien. When I left the old Coliseum where the event took place, I thought this picture really represented Denise’s message – a light in the darkness.

As an organic farmer, she faces incredible odds to become the Secretary of Agriculture for the state of Iowa. She has already defeated the Democratic political machine as she ran against the current governor’s chief of staff who had endorsements form 90% of the current state democratic representatives and was outspend 3-1 and won with 60% of the vote. Now she is against the Republican political machine which I sense must feel as though they are behind as they have started going negative.

Denise’s vision for a diverse agriculture in sizes, crops, and economic opportunity is not limited to two crops (corn and soybeans) and two animals (hogs and cattle). Although those two are very important, there are many other crops that can yield even greater profits than those can.

one year ago…

October 28, 2006 – Planting Garlic

Today was supposed to be warm, but that never happened! It was the first time to get the middlebuster, or potato fork on the three-point of the tractor. I needed to do some monkeying around to get it mounted.

The biggest lesson was learning that the drawbar needs to be removed; otherwise, when you lift up the middlebuster on the three point, the shovel gets stuck on the drawbar! So I needed to unbolt the shovel and then retract the drawbar.

Once that was fixed, it was time to try to dig a trench for the first time.

It may not be exciting to look at, but what a relief not to have to dig all those trenches by hand 4-6 inches deep! It will sure speed up garlic, gladiola, and potato planting.

one year ago…