Results for category "soil"

Spring tornado & all the updates

  

Last week a tornado came very close to the farm. It was the most surreal experience, my sister and I watched from inside the house as two enormous pine trees came toppling down, right into the driveway. Somehow, amazingly, the trees fell in the perfect spot, right between the two vehicles. After the storm passed (we didn’t know it was a tornado whipping by, just saw the insane straight line winds happening) we went outside. The barn was ok, the ducks were ok, the cows were terrified but ok, the hoophouse miraculously still had it’s plastic on. Then I saw that the monster maple in the front yard had succumbed to the wind. This tree is ENORMOUS….and it fell RIGHT NEXT TO THE HOUSE, just hitting the very corner of the roof on the rather janky sunporch. What a blessing to not have that tree land in the middle of my house!!!! What a relief that all the animals were unharmed. What a shock. Neighbors from the region were instantly out driving around to survey the damage and check in on everyone and make sure no one was in major trouble. Sadly, the tornado did touch down north east of here and caused many injuries and one casualty. So much heartache and damage, and a completely unpreventable situation makes this tragedy even more frustrating. Feeling totally powerless as a human is humbling to say the least.

Otherwise, spring has been trucking along here at LTD Farm. The lady ducks have been totally joyous rabblerousers taking advantage of the wetness to find spots to sneak out of the pasture rotations! I have been enlarging their pastures and monitoring their fences, but ducks are sneaky sneaksters and they will always find a way to get their way! They are laying eggs like maniacs and this is the most lovely time of year for eggs with all their foraging of spring greens and bugs and worms. I have a special price going on at all 3 Mississippi Market Co-op locations through the end of May as a “Thank you” to all  my St. Paul customers!! You can find my duck eggs for sale all over the Twin Cities, click here for a list of all my locations!  Somedays I wish I could just let them all be out on the entirity of the farm land, but there are just too many predators around to allow that and keep them safe. I just saw an actual wolverine crossing the road just a mile away last week!!

Lola’s calf is due in the next week, she and the two boy calves (Mr. Flash and Shorty) are growing well and flourishing on the lush pasture. How I love cows, my friends! I can’t wait to see if Lola has a girl calf, she is bred to a jersey, so if she has a girl I could have a half scottish highland/half jersey milk cow in a few years. Lola won’t give much more milk than what her baby needs, as highlands are primarily a beef breed nowdays, although they used to be more dual purpose in Scotland where they originated. Someof you who have been following the saga know Lola lost her calf last year and I am happy to report that I am much better prepared this year to raise her baby safely.

I also got two sweet little piggies for my birthday, they are American Guinea Hogs and are helping out enlarging and fertilizing the garden for next year, as well as eating all my extra cracked eggs and surplus kitchen snacks. I named them Tom Tom & Muffin Butt. They are hilarious and gentle, and being heritage hogs, Guineas are known for their excellent fat and flavor. I like their size too, I think this might be the first year I am able to handle the entire processing of my hogs myself. I urge you to find a farmer who raises and harvests meat ethically and then go support the crap out of them! You will feel so good & the meat tastes so much better when you know it’s entire story and have a connection with the people who put in the work and love to raise it right. I am still considering raising pastured broilers and turkeys this summer for fall harvest, so let me know if you are interested.

Happy New Year!!!

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Happy New Year everyone! So- I just got LTD Farm up and running on INSTAGRAM!!! Click on the icon below to find the farm account- I’ll be sharing pictures there much more frequently now, yay! Isn’t it amazing to see how quickly technology is developing, and for small scale farmers, this one in particular is so fun and gratifying.

Instagram

After one of the warmest starts to winter I’ve ever experienced, the snow season has finally arrived. This is a bit of a relief, as the “Autumnal Mud Season” was lasting a bit too long in my opinion! Now the bedding in the duck barn will stay drier and more comfy for the duckies, and the ladies have clean fresh fluffy snow to run out on during the day. They even take snow-baths like little penguins! I can trek out to the hayfield to visit with the cows in my winter boots and snowpants and stay clean now too. Ruby and Lola are figuring out the best way to tackle the enormous round hay bales is to begin in the center! I know they will end of “wasting” a lot of hay by not surrounding the bales with a hay feeder, but this is actually part of the plan, I want them to help add as much organic matter to the soil up there as possible. Along with their manure, I just bet that the hay yield next summer is going to go up significantly. I can use all the hay I can get for so many things on the farm- the ducks’ bedding, mulching the gardens, feeding the goats and the cows too. Feeding the soil and the microbial life naturally like this is what is so important about natural and regenerative farming. Sure it’d be cheaper and easier to spray on some petroleum based fertilizer, but that is just not good for anything! The last picture is of some young Muscovy ducks that I’m raising as a trial. They are really cute now, but soon their faces will fill up with what are called Caruncles, kind of a bumpy warty mask. Muscovy meat is supposed to be some of the best duck, more dark and lean like goose, which they are actually more related to than to ducks.

Stay tuned for the release of the 2016 calendar and my CSA offerings, I’ll be offering pastured meats and hosting a number of Open Farm days next summer and fall. Have a Happy New Year!

february

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Winter has been quite a doozey this season, huh? Everything is well here for us on the farm, but we’ve had some close calls with roofs and hoophouses nearly caving in with all the ice and snow. Restlessness and cabin-fever are hitting hard, but having all this snow to shovel helps keep us distracted. Won’t we all appreciate spring’s arrival so much more this year!

The piglets are growing very well inside their sunny and comfy side of the hoophouse, snarfing down their organic grain feed, eating bales and bales of our own organic grass hay, and the last of the 2013 garden’s daikon radish and carrots that we saved for them. We’ve already received deposits on 8 of our Pastured Pork Shares, so let us know ASAP if you’d like to reserve yours!

The lady ducks are not yet laying eggs for 2014, we joke that they are better at predicting spring than that dang woodchuck- if they aren’t laying eggs in February, we know spring will be late. They seem to really enjoy themselves on winter vacation- they trim down and run around like the crazy little sassy ladies they are, quacking in their chorus which echoes down the road. It’s quite hilarious how differently they behave when they are on break! We’ll be bringing fresh duck eggs to the co-ops as soon as they decide they are ready. We love our ducks and are very grateful to them, so they can take their time! (But we really hope they start soon, we miss our duck eggs!)

Our flock of adult geese is entering breeding season. Did you know geese only lay eggs for about 3 months of the year? Their eggs are very precious, and this is why you don’t typically see goose eggs for sale, or if you do it is only in the spring. We will be selling some goose eggs at a couple co-ops when the geese start laying. Then, as the weather warms in late spring, we’ll be encouraging the mothers to start sitting on nests in order to hatch out goslings. Check out Khaiti’s article just published in the March edition of ACRES USA Magazine, called “The Gorgeous Grass-fed Goose.”

What else is going on at LTD?

2014 CSA signups are coming from our members in the mail, we still have shares available at this point. Our first seeds have been started, these are the early crops which will transplanted for our first CSA boxes in May- Kale, Swiss Chard, Parsley, Buttercrunch lettuce, Red Giant Mustard and China Choy. We are very happy to be working with our local neighbors at Hay River Worm Castings for our early seed starting fertility- our compost pile froze up before we could get some in buckets for February seed starting. We didn’t want to buy the factory farm compost that is most commonly used for seed starting- even the certified organic “cowsmo” is coming from a massive factory dairy farm. We don’t want to eat veggies grown in that, or support factory farming in any way.P1080938

We also just brought home a “new” delivery vehicle which will hold more CSA boxes than our Subaru, and our house is being converted into a “Market on the Farm” greeting center with a walk-in cooler inside, where we’ll have seasonal foods from our farm for sale (details coming soon.) We’re planning to build a small and more energy efficient cabin/house to live in starting this fall.

Winter and cooking go hand in hand, we’re eating our way through our pantry and freezer cache. We just made a delicious batch of LTD Farm-style Tom Kha Gai Soup with poached heritage chicken and roasted winter squash.  Here’s how: A still- frozen 2.5 lb chicken was poached in a covered medium/large pot with about 1.5 quarts of water and a quart of chicken stock, at a gentle simmer for 2 hours. The bird was lifted out to cool off, then the meat was  picked off the bones, so tender and succulent and delicious! P1080932About 1/2 of the meaty bits went back to the broth, the rest was saved for sandwiches (as well as the skin and the  bones for stock- they are incredibly rich in flavor!). 1 chopped onion & several cloves of minced garlic, 2 TBL lemon grass and 1 TBL ginger all added to the pot and let simmer to merge flavors for another half hour. Right before serving, 2 cups of roasted mashed squash, a small head of shredded napa cabbage, a couple good glugs of fish sauce, and a can of coconut milk, with a little chopped cilantro and spicy sriracha swirled in too.  It was simply delicious and you could add almost any vegetable to this soup.P1080935

getting ready!

Mark your calendars for Sept 30th! Starting at 10am, we’re opening the doors to the farm! Bring a picnic blanket & some lunch and enjoy the a beautiful day in the country! This event is from 10am until 1pm. We’ll have some fun activities going on:

  • “Guess the Weight of the Ukranian Winter Squash” contest-win a Goodie Box of LTD Farmstead Foods!
  • “Acrobatic Puppy” performances by Belle
  • A Nature Walk
  • Ducklings to snuggle
  • lots of samples
  • Goats to hang out with
  • Hot beverages and a bonfire to warm up

Come pick up SUPER fresh Duck eggs, handmade goatmilk soaps, as well as delicious, fresh veggies and Andrew’s beautiful stone Mortar & Pestles. We’ll have a limited number of fresh rabbits available – Email to reserve your rabbits.

Andrew’s Mom makes this amazing doll furniture which she’ll have on display for you to check out, makes a GREAT GIFT for that little someone special! Check out her website here: http://arlettarueandco.com/

Our next door neighbors raise alpacas and we’re hoping to have some of their beautiful alpaca yarn, fleeces and roving here as well!

For directions out to the farm, email us:    Farmers (at) ltdfarm.com

Part of what we love about this region is the abundance of other awesome farmers, so we’ll be giving you a list of some great places near us to stop by on your way back home, a Wisconsin Food “Crawl”!  The Stillwater bridge is closed, so we’re directing everyone to come on 94 through Hudson, and drive home on Hwy 8 through Taylor’s Falls. All these great places are located right along Highway 8, heading back to the Cities:

  • Balsam Lake Brick Oven Breads -awesome organic breads!(http://www.balsamlakebreads.com/)
  • Tiny Planet Produce- organically grown pumpkins, winter squash, and more from Ben and Andrea (to be confirmed)
  • Maple Syrup at Glenna Farms (http://www.glennafarms.com/)
  • Apples at Deedon Lake Orchard http://www.deedonlake.com/) 715.986.2757 (to be confirmed)

We can’t wait to show you our farm and see you here!

Sign up for your Thanksgiving Turkey! $3/lb, $20 deposit required.

We had our first slight frost a couple nights ago, and so much of the summer garden is being cleared out now, tilled and cover-cropped to prevent erosion as well as adding organic material next spring. The basil is being dried, cabbages being krauted, peppers being sriracha-ed, eggplants waiting to go into the next CSA shares, and tomatoes being sauced (we have a whole new crop coming along in the frost-free hoophouse!)

As you can see, our fall crops are doing just fine with the cold, in fact, they thrive this time of year. October is the end of our CSA season, and the last boxes will be full of so much goodness…. baby pumpkins & winter squash, arugula, fresh tomatoes, potatoes, parsley, baby leeks, chard, spinach, cabbage, Napa cabbage, red & green meat winter radishes, daikon radish, carrots, scallions, beets/turnips, onions, garlic, & hopefully hoophouse cucumbers and peppers, as well as romanesco (it’s growing so slowly!)

the rains come a tumblin down

Here we are, March 12th, 2012, and the rains are a tumbling down. We’ve started our 2012 season of farming, but we are still waiting for the soil to thaw out. It’s interesting to realize that so much of our work depends on the soil and it’s conditions. In fact, you could say almost everything depends on the soil. Ideally, we would like to be raising only pasture fed animals on our land, and that will eventually happen, but in the meantime we have to observe and analyze our soil and take steps to improve it’s condition as well as begin to create a mosaic of the grasses and legumes we need to grow in order to provide a full and healthy diet for our pastured animals. This takes more time, energy, and thought then most people realize, but we are taking steps to achieve this goal.

But right now the rains pour, and the snow melts, creating rivulets that slowly wash away the silt. Without thick layer of humus in the topsoil, the nutrients in the compost can easily be leached and wash away into the gully the bisects our property from the NW to the SE. And some of  these nutrients end up in the ditch which flows under the road into our neighbor’s forty, fertilizing his scrub trees so that the deer have good browse in the winter, and finally the creeks that meander through our area making their way to the larger flows of riverwater that define the watershed.

The humus is decayed organic matter that acts as a sponge to soak up the water. It also has positively charged sites that attract and hold negatively charged atoms like potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Humus is essentially the battery that charges our plants. Sometimes your soil is not actually lacking in nutrients, it’s only lacking in it’s ability to hold  nutrients in a bioavailable form. So it is our job as gardeners to assist this process by adding as much organic matter to our soils as we can. With a field of 10 acres or so, this is a complicated process because we can use imported compost, but to facilitate a more sustainable and regenerative system we need to use cover crops that create a lot of biomass fast. One small step at a time.

So we have so many little chores and jobs to do. Make cheese, replace muffler, take care of duckling, get ready for building sheds, start plants, as well as the normal stuff humans do like eat lunch, nap, read a book, and take walks. Trying to find the balance in all this is our true task, and it’s a doozy.