Thursday, December 1, 2011

New slow zone on Buckwheat Ridge Road

Yep, Judy, we got a crane! Bill emailed me these photos and noted that traffic on our already very quiet rural road sure has slowed while he's been working.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

More Shop Photos

We continue to make progress on the shop. The end walls are framed out and is ready for the roof trusses, which get delivered this week. Bill plans to continue construction this upcoming week.

The black tube sticking up is the new electric that Bill trenched ~350 feet from the barn

The large opening on the right side is for the large windows

this is a mostly passive solar building

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Photos from straw mulching and repairing fences

These photos are delayed - they are from planting in October. 4 large bales from a farmer in Darlington.

Mulch is approximately 5 inches

We broke up the bales and brought large sections into the fields

Bill rigged up a fence fix-it kit for the back of the ATV - has fence poles, barbed wire, post driver and tools, Easy way to check the fences without having to carry the wire

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Garlic planting begins!

We are in Wisconsin. I've spent the past two days popping cloves (breaking open the bulbs into individual cloves). I clocked in 11 hours while Bill was tilling the fields, picking up the tractor and fixing fences since the neighbor's cattle have been discovering that the grass is indeed greener on our side of the fence.

Music - a Porcelain variety

Spanish Roja - a Rocambole

Simonetti - an Artichoke

Bai Pi Suan - an Marbled Purple Stripe

look at that beautiful toffee marbling!

Various varieties in netting

And then today, Thurs, 10/6/11, after 6 years of planning and 5 years of farm ownership, we finally planted a crop! (I'm not counting the farm garden which was for personal use.)

Field #1 - before planting

Varieties all organized by type

tools include clipboard, tapemeasure, scale

7 hole dibbler - homemade by Bill out of Black Locust

(even our lumber is local!)

Dibbler in Action!

3 rows / bed. 39" wide bed. 12" between rows. 8" between plants.

Planting on the grid - it makes life easier!

We each have carpenter's aprons to carry the cloves down the rows

Me putting garlic to bed

After Day #1. We have more garlic than will fit Field #1;

looks as if we'll be tilling up part or most of Field #2.

As we were leaving the farm, my cellphone rang and now we have an appointment with our organic certifier for Saturday!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Parade of Peppers III - Beaver Dam

The Beaver Dam peppers is a Hungarian heirloom which was grown and cultivated by a family in Beaver Dam WI.

This is a sweet pepper that is mildly hot. It is large and great for stuffing. It turns from green to yellow to red. Small plants with a few large peppers - not very prolific but worth it because the result is so tasty and beautiful.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Orange Thai Pepper

We had 3 Orange Thai pepper plants. It's a cayenne-type pepper that we plan on drying.

It needs 80 - 90 days for fruit to fully develop and since we were so late getting our plants in, the green fruit didn't ripen on the plant fully. There are hundreds of little peppers on these plants. I didn't have time to harvest all of the peppers so we just cut the plant at the base. Instead of picking off all of the green fruit, we hung it in our backyard in Chicago and the fruits are beginning to turn orange.

It is hanging on an antique tobacco dryer

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Growing paprika

We grew Alma Paprika (Capsicum annuum) at the farm this year and it is was gorgeous. A short plant with lush leaves and fruit that starts white and progresses to orange and then red. It is an heirloom and great for drying and grinding.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Field #1

The buckwheat cover crop in Field #1 was mown down on Mon, 9/19. We left it to decompose and will till it in on Tues, 10/4 before we begin planting that week.

Buckwheat stubble - it did a great job of smothering the seed bank

This gives a good idea of the bed size.

We will plant between the tractor tire marks.

We will plant in alternating beds within the field and in the fallow beds will plant clover which will suppress the weed seeds and allow a nice path for access to the plants.

Sparky the tractor went into our Mennonite farmer neighbors for a tune-up (they run a tractor repair and a roadside farm stand). They are nice folks and we enjoyed meeting them. They run tractors on steel wheels instead of rubber. Here is a photo of a Mennonite doing some haying - note the wheels.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Shop walls (aka Shipping Containers) in place

We rented a telescoping forklift last week and manipulated the two shipping containers into place on their concrete footings.

Towing chains hooked around the forks and the container

We have to drag it onto the stone area and rest it on the concrete edge

Bill used the forklift to lift up the corner and I slid a telephone pole underneath allowing the container to roll

The first one is in place

End of day 1 of the machine rental - they are both in place

The shop will be constructed between the two containers

The next day we used the forklift to fill up the 20 yard dumpster with the kitchen demolition of last summer.

In this photo, you can see the shute out of the upstairs window. This is what I use to scoop the lath, plaster and rubble by the shovelful easily into the dumpster.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Quick connects & farmhouse demo begins!

We weighed the pros and cons of quick connects for Sparky and came down on the safety side. Bill was spending lots of time trying to line each implement up correctly in order to attach and unattach. After reading an article in Growing for Market about the number of back and hand injuries that can be avoided by quick connects, we were convinced.

Several of our new implements have the quick on/off. We had to retro-fit the bucket and several of the older implements.

Bill had to cut and grind the old connections off - here he is using the concrete saw

Then welded on the new frame and it quickly connects to Sparky

During our last concrete pour, we made a counterweight

During the Labor Day week, I also started demo on the 2nd floor of the farmhouse.


We ordered a 20 yard dumpster and built a chute from the 2nd floor down to the dumpster. I spent all week in gloves, safety glasses and a dust face mask. The 2nd floor is a combination of drywall and lath and plaster. It is a dirty job.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Buckwheat on Buckwheat Ridge Road...

The buckwheat certainly came up! This is why it is known as a smother crop.

Field #1 in full bloom buckwheat - will be cut on Monday

For comparison, this is Field #2 in the green manure

We spent Labor Day laboring on the buttresses on the barn.

4 forms for the buttresses

After the concrete was poured, the pressure pushed out this 2x4 from the frame

this was our 3rd use of these forms - we retire them now and will use them to build a shelter to protect our tractor implements from the elements

This is the hopefully the last concrete pour that we do ourselves. For the record, it was our 3rd pour each of which was 6 yards.

The buttresses will also serve as animal pens or a footing on which to support shade structure.