Sunday, January 23, 2011

Hard at work on the farm planning

We spent our vacation between Christmas and New Year's working - except this time our tools were laptops, spreadsheets, calendars and pencils. Bill put together a spreadsheet with all of the tasks that we need to accomplish prior to our planned move in March 2012. Each project has its own spreadsheet: our buildings in Chicago, our church/weekend home, an agriculture plan, a new shop building at the farm, and the farmhouse renovation. Each sheet has a goal (i.e. "all remaining improvements" (for the Chicago buildings) or "plant crops", or "remodel house to occupy"). From there each sheet has a list of the tasks to accomplish that goal (i.e. excavation of footings, or drywall back hall, or remodel 3rd floor apartment kitchen, or repair sunken fence post and water meter well, or finalize crop and site layout, etc.). We sat down and prioritized each task into timing (1Q11 or 2Q11 - what can I say? I work at a bank!) and then plotted each task onto a main calendar.

And we worked out the specifics on our crop layouts using measurements of the wheel distance of the tractor and laid out the fields, beds and rows. We've chosen varieties of garlic and begun plotting the actual planting on paper. I also rebuilt our website ( - check it out to see our garlic varieties). We've also made some equipment decisions on what we need to buy as well as cover crop varieties. Come spring, we'll break up about 1/2 acre and cover with a spring manure mix and innoculant from Johnny's and turn under mid-summer. We'll replant with buckwheat and turn under before the garlic gets planted in October.

Additionally, we contacted an organic certifying agency and have started working on the paperwork to obtain organic certification.

Also while we were on vacation, we spent a lot of time at the farm just walking the ground. I think that I never got to walk to the side pastures the whole summer because we were always so busy working on the barn. We also took advantage of the snowcover and sprayed out the footprint of the new construction and sprayed the interior of the old house to see where the commercial kitchen, garage, walk-in cooler, laundry, stairway up/down, etc., will go to make sure it flows effeciently and to our liking.

I feel like we have learned a lot about our farm plan in the past month. Additionally, having everything that we need to accomplish prior to the move written down on spreadsheet and calendar has really cemented the plan and we feel more organized and productive. We've restarted our weekly farm meetings with a to-do list and goals to accomplish from week to week. Managing this is easier if it is done one step at a time, week to week.