August 29, 2007 – Fowl Brooding

We’ve got three separate batches of poultry brooding now – 50 more broilers in the old hog barn, and in one half of the chicken coop, we’ve got the fancy chickens and guineas.  The broilers can’t be with any others since they are too pushy and the fancy chickens and guineas can’t be together since they require food of differing protien levels.

So our solution was to stick an old piece of paneling in the ring to divide it up.  The paneling has come into many uses – we ripped all the sheets of the dark paneling off the walls of the house shortly after we moved in and I just stuck it in a shed and slowly have been finding uses for it in unexpected ways.

one year ago…

August 27, 2007 – Passport Ready?

I earlier wrote that Linda was selected to go on an ag trip to Mexico this fall.  Now, she’s going on ANOTHER trip, this time, a bit further south - to Costa Rica in the winter (winter here, not there).  A group from Iowa State periodically sponsors trips for ag professionals and growers to experience a different kind of agriculture.  Linda was invited to go on this trip to Costa Rica – here’s a bit about the tour from the organizer:

“We will tour farms, co-ops, processing facilities, and research centers for a wide range of crops, including coffee, banana, pineapple, papaya, flowering ornamentals, sugar cane, diverse vegetables, mango, citrus, etc.  We will be based in a hotel in the capital city, San Jose, and take day trips out to destinations in a comfortable, air-conditioned bus, returning each evening to the same hotel.  We will get to see these sites up close, and talk to the growers and managers.

Aside from its marvelous agricultural diversity, Costa Rica is an incredibly beautiful place.  Elevations range from sea level (Pacific and Atlantic Oceans) to over 12,000 ft at the top of volcanoes.  Although the focus of the trip is agriculture, we will get to be tourists, too, seeing volcanoes, beaches, and even rainforest.”

It was kind of weird since we were just talking last Friday about some people who had traveled to Costa Rica and loved it. We added it to the “Love to go there someday” (when we had money, time, and a reason) - when a few days later, it drops in her lap.  Linda can’t decide if she’s more excited to go as a farmer or a biologist!

one year ago…

August 26, 2007 – One BIG Local Meal Arrives

Finally, the meal begins!  We’re not sure exactly how many people ate, but it may have been around 110.
The first people move through the local food line.  We used up all the plates and forks! The dishes all had notecards explaining what the dish is and the source of the food.

This is one dish that Iowans can eat locally year-round – salsa and corn tortilla chips.  I enjoyed eating from the mobile salsa tray!

Finally, the meal is over and the event grand organizer can breathe a sigh of satisfaction following a first-time event pulled off successfully.

one year ago…

August 25, 2007 – One BIG Local Meal Prep

Today the preparations started for the all-Iowa lunch after church tomorrow. As part of the focus on sustainability this month in church, we helped plan a local meal for the congregation – so they could taste what local cooking can be and be mindful of where their food comes from.

When you start out with fresh, local ingredients, it’s hard to go wrong.

This meal was from scratch – we even picked up flour from Paul’s Grains in Laurel and the crew made pasta from scratch.

It was an afternoon of cooking, fun (and even some impromptu dancing) to get ready for the meal the next day. The woman Claire is dancing with is a good person to know – she was born in Venezuala and then moved to Italy before ending up here. Now there’s some cuisine! Linda decided that being this kind of church lady is a good thing!

one year ago…

August 24, 2007 – Fancy Fowl

Claire and Emma pooled some of their money to buy some fancy and rare breeds of guinea hens and chickens. They ordered them from Sandhill Preservation Center, a place devoted to the continuation of rare breeds of fowl and heirloom seeds.

This is a Partridge Silkie. This will be a small, fancy chicken with feathered feet (you can already see the feathers on the feet!)

Now, I know some of the skeptics out there may think this may be a copycat attempt to cash in on the good fortune of the folks at Sugar Creek Farm who won a trip to Hollywood and Disneyland with the Chicken Little crew, all just for having a picture of a silkie on their blog! It’s a fun story and you can see part of the story at their site. The girls just liked this chicken and we can only hope that Chicken Little 2 gives us a call!

We think this is a Coral Blue Guinea keat. They ordered about 12 of each – so now there is be even more diversity on the farm!

one year ago…

August 22, 2007 – Dog Agility

Emma loves her dog – Maizie.

Here she is working with Maizie on some dog agility maneuvers.  For a little dog, she can really jump – she can regularly clear the top level of the jump.  She’s now about two and starting to settle down a bit and learning what it takes to be a good dog here.  A couple of rounds of dog obedience lessons, some videos from “dog whisperer” Cesar Millan, and she’s on her way – not there yet, but much closer than a year ago. 

one year ago…

August 21, 2007 – Garden Spider

Here’s a nice shot from the garden today. 

This is a strawflower being used as an anchor for a garden spider to weave it web. I’ll claim arachnid ignorance on knowing what this spider is really called – we just call them garden spiders. They usually first appear this time of year and are striking additions to the flowers and raspberries.  I’m glad to see them, because it means fall is finally on the way.

one year ago…

August 20, 2007 – 1st Day of School for 2

Today is the first day of school for Martin and Emma!  It’s time for a different schedule around the farm now, although with Claire not starting until next week, it will not be all at once shock.  Now, I need to think of what the most pressing jobs around the farm will be.

It was much easier putting Martin on the bus this year with a year under his belt.

Martin and Emma pose for the traditional first day of school photo.

one year ago…

August 19, 2007 – Local Food Resources

I thought I’d post the list of local food resources (many, but not all are specific to Iowa) for those of you asking – where do I find good local food?


Local Harvest

Iowa Farmer’s Market Finder

Des Moines Metro Buy Fresh/Buy Local

Iowa Vineyards/Wineries

Iowa Apple Growers Directory

Iowa Asparagus Growers Directory

Iowa CSA Directory (CSA)

National CSA Finder

Iowa Fruit and Vegetable Growers Directory

Iowa Family Farms Meat Producers Directory

Iowa Honey Producers Directory

Iowa Organic Producers Directory

Iowa Pumpkin Growers Directory

Iowa Strawberry Producers Directory

Do it Yourself

Guide to Home Canning, Freezing and Drying Foods

Path to Freedom (city garden)

Yard Permaculture Examples


Social Networks

One Local Summer


Slow Food Iowa

Eat Local Challenge (and other challenges)

General Information

Food Routes

Iowa Network for Community Agriculture

Practical Farmers of Iowa

Edible Iowa River Valley

Reading List

Omnivore’s Dilemma

Michael Pollan

“One of the ten best books of 2006” – the New York Times. Pollan delves deeply into the natural history of four meals and traces the source of the food back to the source, whether in an Iowa cornfield with UUFA member George Naylor or hunting a wild pig in Northern California.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Barbara Kingsolver

Kingsolver says “This is the story of a year in which we made every attempt to feed ourselves animals and vegetables whose provenance we really knew . . . and of how our family was changed by our first year of deliberately eating food produced from the same place where we worked, went to school, loved our neighbors, drank the water, and breathed the air.”

Coming Home to Eat

Gary Nabhan

In this intriguing yet unsatisfying volume, the author chronicles a year of striving for a diet consisting of 90% native flora and fauna, found within 250 miles of his Arizona home. Nabhan is an ethnobotanist with an interest in seed preservation and director of the Center for Sustainable Environments at Northern Arizona University.

The 100 Mile Diet

Alisa Smith

The authors of this charmingly eccentric memoir decide to embark on a year of eating food grown within 100 miles of their Vancouver apartment. Thus begins an exploration of the foodways of the Pacific northwest, along which the authors, both professional writers, learn to can their own vegetables, grow their own herbs, search out local wheat silos and brew jars of blueberry jam. They also lose weight, bicker and down hefty quantities of white wine from local vineyards.

Fast Food Nation

Eric Schossler

Schlosser’s incisive history of the development of American fast food indicts the industry for some shocking crimes against humanity, including systematically destroying the American diet and landscape, and undermining our values and our economy.

Chew on This

Eric Schossler

A version of Fast Food Nation for underage readers.

The End of Food

Thomas Pawlick

Canadian journalist and part-time farmer Thomas F. Pawlick documents the impending food crisis and traces its direct cause to the harmful methods of food production and processing currently used by the so-called agri-food industries to the detriment of everyone’s health and well-being. It’s a bleak picture, backed by hard-hitting evidence and true stories, but Pawlick makes it abundantly clear that it is not too late and devotes the latter part of the book to the many ways that ordinary citizens can take back control of the food supply by becoming active on a local level

Slow Food Nation

Carlo Petrini

The charismatic leader of the Slow Food movement, Carlo Petrini, outlines many different routes by which we may take back control of our food. The three central principles of the Slow Food plan are these: food must be sustainably produced in ways that are sensitive to the environment, those who produce the food must be fairly treated, and the food must be healthful and delicious.

one year ago…

August 18, 2007 – First Big Canning Day of the Year

Today was the first big canning day of the season. Â  We had made a few batches of jam earlier, but this is the first time we rolled out the stainless steel counter and old cooktop from the house and set up in the shed, since there was a chance of rain and it was hot out in the sun.

All the “stuff” ready to go. It beats making the big mess in the kitchen.

Martin got the jars ready for tomatoes – he measured out the lemon juice (for acidification to allow boiling water canning instead of pressure canning).  He also measured out the salt for the jars as well – stylistically decked out in his “Bob the Builder” apron! Can we can it, yes we can!

Emma’s job is to help blanch the tomatoes to get the skins off before making the crushed tomatoes.

Finally, the afternoon’s haul – 24 quarts of tomatoes, a few jars of blackberries and raspberries, along with the frozen beans.

one year ago…