Friday, July 16, 2010

Quack-tails on the Prairie

Our first event on the farm followed severe thunderstorms. We received nearly five inches or rain overnight. To say I was moderately concerned about loading forty guest onto a wagon and driving out into the middle of restored prairie would be an understatement. Weeding early that morning was a sticky situation. I hadn't counted on was the ability of Wisconsin to follow severe weather with some of the most beautiful weather you could ask for. As if some divine power was looking out for us the sky was cloudless and the breeze was dry and steady. By the time Tyson and I had done all we could to in the garden and started to focus on the elegant diner that was to take place in a mere three hours the landscape had already improved. The puddles were dry, the cattle were in the pasture and the lawn had firmed and leveled itself. After brief cleansing rituals Tyson and I were refreshed, dressed and ready to set up for the event. The tables were prepped and the silver was polished. Chef Fox and Chef Veal arrived with a well armed staff and dinner preparations were underway. I'd like to send thanks to Chef Erin and Chef Jon and a special thanks To Chef Traci who can turn our beets into the worlds best chocolate cake. The evening was spectacular. Even the ducks pitched in with mosquito maintenance.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Unexpected Rooster

It seems fate has decided that we are to have a rooster on the farm. Only one of the original 30 chicks ended up being a male. We're taking it as a sign and keeping him. Plucky little fellow too! First one out and the last one in. You have no idea how hard it was to snap a photo. He's very fast!
We've decided to call him "Jack". The name comes from episode XXVII of Samurai Jack, the one where Jack is transformed into a chicken. There is a strange resemblance.....

The Beet Grows On....

Water water every where, but when is there time to weed. To say that things on the farm are farm are growing right along might be an understatement. We've received four inches of rain in the the last two weeks and it's all we can do the keep up with the weeds. Some how the farm had a four day spell of sunshine ending with Monday nights fierce thunderstorms. That gave us all of Sunday and Monday to wage war on the ever encroaching weed population of By George Farm. We started with the peas and swiftly moved to the summer squash bed. From there we just moved down the line, corn, potatoes, winter squash.....

It wasn't until the onions and carrots that we faltered. Maybe it was the heat of the late Monday after noon. Maybe it was the delivery before dinner service Monday night, or the 7:am alarm that morning but we halted our advance just past the cucumber bed. Tyson, being the master strategist, made one final move to plant a new bed of carrots just past the forgotten arugula bed. (It's not really forgotten, we just let it bolt so we could harvest the blooms as garnish) Also, our reinforcements came today. Three of the most beautiful hoe's I have ever seen! Self sharpening and long handled, the weeds don't stand a chance.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

South African Boar Goats

Chef Daniel Fox and Jason Veal have been raising South African Boar goats for the past month or so. The goats were purchased in Columbus from Rich Fotes of Greek Acres Farms. Rich has become the goat mentor for the farm. Jason built a small home for the goats to get out of the elements.
The goats will mainly eat grass from the Fountain Prairie Farms pasture. They will be fed a small amount of corn and barley to aid the animals in producing fat. Their pen is fairly mobile; we move them every other day or so and they are effictively mowing down the grass in all the areas around the other areas of the project. We are going to start bringing the goats to a processor in a couple of weeks and are working on some ideas now for our summer menus.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Moving right along....

Wow! A lot has happened since the last time I got a chance to post. We are one week away from our first CSA day and I am incredibly pleased with what we will be able to offer so early in the season. I'm not going to ruin the surprise just yet and I don't want to jinx myself with locust plague either so you'll just have to wait a bit longer.
It's been almost 3 weeks since the chicks and ducklings arrived (pictures) and the Dorking laying hens are producing a steady half dozen eggs a day. (For on-farm sales only of course...) We have actually moved both the ducklings and the chicks outside. The breed of duckling Tyson choose are called "Indian Runner Ducks" and they are ridiculous to watch. To help maintain the proper posture for this particular breed it is recommended to place their food and water further and further away from each other in order to make them "run" back and forth. And run they do. I'd say they spend about 30 seconds and either their food or water before deciding to run to the other. I could easily spend hours watching this if we didn't have so much else to do. Three different heritage varieties of chicks are being raised to join the Dorkings chickens:
Wyandotte, these chickens are raised for their meat and eggs. These chickens lay tan to brown eggs.
Golden Campine, this variety are a smaller breed originating in Belgium. They will provide us with rich white eggs. Easter Egger or Araucana, these birds will provide a variety of colorful eggs rainging from blue, green, and light blue. This chicken breed originated in chili known for tuffs of feathers coming off the sides of their faces.
The strawberry beds look great but Tyson and I have been discussing the benefits of pinching the blossoms the first year to allow better production and a longer lifespan of the plant, so no berries this year but next year look out! Irrigation should be in this week and I hope to have it all installed before the harvest this sunday. We've been pretty lucky with rain so far but i don't want to press me luck any further. Plus this way we can produce bigger better yields on more of a controlled system. All this heat allowed us to move all the warm weather germinators out of the apartment and into the green house. Not a moment to soon either, I think I saw one of the summer squash blooming....