Work Season and Worry Season

This was last year's starts set up. This year, we have a fancy new (to us) little greenhouse in our backyard. One problem fixed... or so we thought.

For farmers, there are really only two seasons: work season and worry season.

This new piece up on The Daily Yonder explains why right now, our lives feel like one big story problem.

Prairie Heritage Farm 2011 CSA Programs

Prairie Heritage Farm is largely what is called "Community Supported Agriculture," meaning we sell "shares" of the products we produce to members. Here is some information on our three programs.




Pioneer



I'm not one to toot my own horn, but I just wanted to let everybody know I'm a Planet Whizbang Pioneer. Yes, that's right, a Planet Whizbang Pioneer (note I was only 13 away from being something not as noteworthy).

The reason for my crowning is a recent purchase of a wheel hoe kit. This wonderful website tells you just how to build one of your own, but my decision to purchase the pieces came down to a simple calculation of how much time it would take me to source the metal, build a jig to bend some pieces, bend some pieces, be unsatisfied with how the jig bent the pieces, build another jig to bend some pieces, again be unsatisfied, give up and crawl around on my hands and knees and pull every single stinking weed by hand. I don't think I'll regret it.

As an aside, I first stumbled across Mr. Kimball about 4 years ago when I was searching for resources on how to butcher a chicken. His is one of the best websites, with great photos. It's been viewed nearly a million times. Now that's a lot of butchered chickens.

Withering Wind

Well dear readers, there just weren't enough of you to reign in the wind (see a previous post to get the reference). I started out optimistic, loading the entire greenhouse structure onto the trailer. That took about 2 hours. Then I headed north and watched the west wind bow in the side of the structure. After about 20 miles of this, I headed west and the wind shoved the entire greenhouse about 2 feet off the back of the trailer. I drove about 20 miles at 35 miles per hour watching the greenhouse shimmy and shake in my rear view mirror and realized that at this rate, it would take me over 8 hours to get home. Plus, my stress levels were off the charts and after 8 hours I would no doubt melt into a nervous breakdown.


Loaded and battered.

So, I pulled over next to a storage facility and began to dismantle the whole thing, something I should have done at the very beginning. This took about 3 1/2 hours. I then hit the road and got home after dark without incident. Never, never, never underestimate the wind.


Flattened.

Need More


Don't we all.

Playing Catch-up Already


A Case as white as snow.

Though the "season" hasn't actually started, I feel as though we're playing catch-up already. I also feel that all we ever write about is the weather or our lack of time. Well, file this post under "lack of time."

We have most of our seed ordered, but have yet to come up with a solution to our lack of a greenhouse. As we've previously mentioned, there is a rather nice, solid greenhouse on the property we're leasing, but it has no heat and it would be a serious investment to get heat to it, one which we're not willing to make since we don't own the building or the property. The first year, we were able to get away with starting our seedlings in a germination chamber under fluorescent lights at the farm, and since I was farming full-time, I could monitor them easily. The second year, when we increased our production and I found an off-farm job, we set up two metal racks in the sun room of our rental house in town. The seedlings again sat under fluorescent lights. The problem with that set up was our sun room didn't have very good ventilation nor very good sunlight, and besides, we ran out of room quickly. This year, we're considering purchasing a small 8'x16' greenhouse to plop in the back yard. That would hopefully solve the high humidity issue, the lack of sunlight issue, and it would still be close by for daily management. I'm driving the pickup and trailer a few hundred miles today to check out a used greenhouse I saw on craigslist. Oh, our convoluted decision-making process.

Why the photo of the tractor, you ask? Well, we are simultaneously looking into upgrading our equipment for the field crops as well as in anticipation of increasing our acreage in 2012. This little beauty is a Case 4490, about a 150 horsepower 4 wheel drive tractor. It would be the appropriate size for 260 acres. The reason we're looking now is 1) so we're ready come spring 2012, and 2) so we can possibly help out the farmer currently leasing the rest of the acreage (the acreage we would farm in 2012). I'm not sure how much sense that makes given that it will take time away from our operation and this post is all about lack of time. Again, farming, at least beginning a farm, warps the brain.

We are also in the midst of trying to figure out a way to successfully transfer the farm ownership over to us. The land is the current farmer's retirement, so there are no deals to be made (nor would we expect that), but we think there may be creative ways to make the transfer. At least we hope so since employing creativity will be the only way we will be able to pull it off. Stay tuned.

I just got our organic certification application in the mail today. It seems like I just finished the paperwork for last year's application. The NRCS and FSA are calling out to me to get going on their required paperwork. Taxes are due soon and we haven't even set up an appointment with our accountant. We have grain to clean for some additional Grain and Seed CSA members, turkeys to order, grants to apply for, Vegetable CSA members to sign up, aaaaaaaaaaah!

Wish me luck today: if this greenhouse pans out, it'll be sitting about 7' tall on top of the trailer, strapped down tight, with strong west winds wanting to send it flying. I'd ask all those readers west of us to take a collective breath in while all those readers east of us to simultaneously blow out when I drive through Judith Gap, one of the windiest spots in the state.
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