August 31, 2008 – Masanobu Fukuoka,

I can’t let it pass without noting the death of Masanobu Fukuoka at age 95.  Fukuoka might best be described as the most pre-eminent Buddhist farmer.  He advocated an approach to agriculture which some describe as permaculture, others might call natural farming.  His most widely circulated book is The One-Straw Revolution.  It’s on my winter reading list as I’m a bit sad to announce I haven’t yet read it myself.

Here’s a short summary (well, not so short) of Fukuoka’s perspective on farming.

one year ago…”Photo Friday “Insignificant””

August 30, 2008 – Honey Extraction

Today was honey extraction day.

Martin, GJ, and Linda donned their beekeeper’s suits and robbed the honey.  Here Martin helps smoke out the bees before GJ takes off a super.

A beautiful frame full of honey.

The newest addition to the honey extraction process is an electric uncapping knife – it worked spendidly removing the wax tops from the frames.

Emma shows off an uncapped frame, ready for the extractor.

We use a manual extractor, just put in four frames and turn the hand crank, wait for it to stop spinning, flip the frames around and repeat the spin.

Martin’s job is to run the honey gate at the bottom of the extractor to filter the honey through a couple of filters.  It’s always a hot job as the room should be 85-95 degrees to allow the honey to flow more freely through the extraction process.

one year ago…”Thingamajig Thursday #86″

August 29, 2008 – “Living the Country Life” Film Crew

Today a film crew from the cable TV show, “Living the Country Life” descended upon high hopes gardens.  Being one of the few households in America without cable or satellite TV, I’ve never seen the show on the RFD channel. They were working on an episode featuring things acreage owners could do to be more environmentally friendly.

We’re like poster children in that regard! They didn’t want us, just our farm as a backdrop for a few segments.  Although it might seem that we have been out pounding the bushes for media attention – each one we have been asked to do out of the blue.

The Screenscape Studios trucks roll into the farm.

The first stop was the chicken/turkey waterer that is filled from a gutter on the roof.  Shh, don’t let anybody know that the day before the crew arrived, the now old stand that holds the 55 gallon barrel up collapsed after our first substantial rain in many weeks.  I was able to cobble it together in time for the filming, but it needs a rebuild after this season.

The second stop was a 1100 gallon tank that we use to collect water for the gardens/berries/trees in dry times.  It was empty two days ago, but the .60 inches of rain filled it up.

The third stop was at the compost bin.

Showing the compost raw ingredients off.

The last stop was at the wind turbine where I didn’t get a photo.  The crew was here from about 9:00-3:30 without much of a lunch break for three one and a half minute segments.  Other segments on the show filmed elsewhere include drip irrigation, organic lawn care, rotational grazing, solar energy, and a few others I don’t remember.

So all you faithful blog readers take comfort in the fact that you had the inside scoop on all these things long, long, before the TV viewers.  I’ll let you know when the show will air, probably late in the fall.

one year ago…”Fowl Brooding”

August 27, 2008 – Onion Harvest

We’re in the harvest season.  Harvest brings great images, like the peaches last week, this week it’s the onion’s turn.

The onions were pulled a couple of weeks ago, sat in the sun to dry for about a week, then had their tops clipped and sat in the barn to cure for another week or so, before shuttling down to the basement.  This year I actually have a large mesh bag to store some of them in – we’ll eat the purple ones first since they don’t keep very well.

one year ago…”Passport Ready?”

August 25, 2008 – Good Old Small Town Life

There are some good things about small towns and knowing your neighbors.  This tiller exemplifies one such experience.

We share a small tiller with a colleauge of Linda’s at work.  He acquires the tillers and we store and maintain them and he comes out once a year to pick it up and use it.  He just got us an upgrade and it needed some work as the pull rope was broken and it hadn’t been run for a number of years.  I brought it to the neighborhood small engine man and he got it “back to good.”  I arranged to pick it up at a certain time, but when I arrived, he was not home.  So, I checked the shop, it was opened, the tiller was done and I poked around a bit and found the slip showing what I owed and left the money and took the tiller.

The car also needed new tires, so the neighbor down the road works at the goodyear shop in town and he just drove our car in to town in the morning, put the new tires on, and drove it home – saving us numerous jockeying back and forth with two cars and drivers and just leaves the bill on the front seat.  Likewise, we have the same trust with our customers – if we deliver when they are not home, like clockwork a check is in our mailbox within a few days.  It’s nice to have some relationships that are based on a handshake!

one year ago…”One BIG Local Meal Prep”

August 23, 2008 – Bioblitz

This weekend Claire’s Envirothon was comped a weekend at a “bioblitz” inventorying animal and plant species on a new parcel of land acquired by the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation in northeastern Iowa.

Here’s a good portion of the group.

One of Claire’s favorite tasks was mussel inventory in the river.  They were accompanied by experts in mussel, bird, plant, and others in completing a biological inventory of the land parcel.

one year ago…”Thingamajig Thursday #85″

August 22, 2008 – Late August Garden

The harvest, preserving, and selling season is in full swing and it is time for weeding to fall by the wayside.

This is our best looking garden – one weeding professional Linda has managed to keep in check. It’s hard to make the switch from tending to harvest, as it is hard to let go and there is only time to do so much, and it’s time to put food up

one year ago…”Dog Agility”

August 19, 2008 – Costa Rican Agaratum Folklore

When the Costa Ricans visited our farm a few weeks ago, one gentleman excitedly moved me over to one of the gardens to tell me something.

He pointed at the agaratum as said, “In Costa Rica, if you have an agaratum flower in your wallet, your wallet will not run out of money for a year!” I haven’t tried it yet, figuring a garden patch is good enough.

one year ago…”Local Food Resources”

August 18, 2008 – 1st Day of School for Emma & Martin

Today was the first day of school for Emma and Martin.

If you ask me, August 18, is too early to go back to school, especially with a school that has some buildings that are not air conditioned and we’ve been let out in August in the past for “heat days.”

We’ve lucked out lately as the weather has turned normal and dry..

one year ago…”First Big Canning Day of the Year”