Saturday, March 28, 2015, 9:00-9:30AM Central – what does an farmer look like? How many acres add up to a real farm?

Tune in!
What: According to USDA stats: Who is farming, and how many acres equals a farm. Deep Roots Radio takes a look. Taking a look at the 2012 USDA’s Agricultural Census
When: Saturday, March 28, 2015, 9:00-9:30AM Central
Where: WPCA Radio, 93.1FM and stream live at www.wpcaradio.org

Deep Roots Radio, 91.3FM and www.wpcaradio.org

Deep Roots Radio, 91.3FM and www.wpcaradio.org

Multi-species grazing

Multi-species grazing

A dusting of snow

Like so many in Wisconsin and Minnesota, I woke to snow this morning and quickly bundled up for morning chores. I pulled up thermals and pulled on my purple balaclava, and braced myself for the cold. What a wonderful surprise it was to open the door to a gentle daybreak. It was calm and felt absolutely balmy.
There was barely a quarter inch of snow on the ground as I headed up the short hill to the tractor. The snow was already dripping down the windshield facing into the sun, and the diesel started right up. The dogs played tug-of-war with a stick as I speared bales and slowly moved them to a distant pasture, and i could hear the rooster crowing from within the coop. I’ve already fed and watered them, but I’ll wait until a few hens have laid eggs in the nest boxes before letting the small flock range the farm for the day.
Now to bake bread.

Chickens and apples. Not a recipe.

Our free-range chickens are built to forage for themselves

Our free-range chickens are built to forage for themselves

No, this isn’t a recipe for chickens stewed with sautéed apples. (Though that does sound like something I’ll try.) It’s a very short video demonstrating just how hardy free-range chickens can be. Because our chickens are breeds that forage for themselves, and are well suited to our cold winters, they happily leave their coop in the mornings and begin searching for any blade of grass or dried fruit that might be exposed in the snow. These happy hens get lots of natural sugars and fiber from apples I pull out of storage. These are wild apples grown without any type of chemical. (When just picked in the fall, I make cauldrons of applesauce and rich apple butter.)
Our small flock get sun and exercise every day (as well as fresh grain every morning). Dave and I enjoy their antics (I had no idea chickens could be so entertaining), and lots of nutrient-rich eggs.

Sylvia

A day in the life

6:00 AM – As always, MPR’s Cathy Wurzer’s bright voice from the bedside radio let’s me know the world has survived another night and Minnesota is involved in all kinds of activity. Although I now farm in Western Wisconsin, I pulled many of my Minnesota habits with me when I crossed the river. In an hour the radio will automatically switch to Wisconsin Public Radio – new alliances. 6:45 AM – Doing some laundry. In the heat of summer, and when you’re dealing with livestock, sweat, dirt and manure build up on everything. Dave and I often go through two … Continue reading

Update: Plowing with my keyboard

Grrr, and Happy Anniversary It’s part of farming – a part that cramps my neck and makes my eyes water from fatigue: computer work. I’ve been rebuilding this website – From the Bronx to the Barn – for several weeks now. Why so long? Because a website that includes podcasts, automated feeds to iTunes, videos to YouTube and photos to galleries isn’t the easiest thing to construct. At least not for this farmer. I’m migrating my website to a new service provider and I’m doing it with unfamiliar software. Yes, I’ve a few bald patches to show for the effort. … Continue reading

The reluctant lover

Spring 2014 Farm Update He called to say he’d be an hour late. A tiny inconvenience, but unavoidable. He’d had to drive to Eau Clare earlier in the day. Fortunately, the breeze was gentle. I didn’t mind standing in the bright sunshine. When he arrived, he pulled the long trailer up close to the milking parlor and disappeared inside the barn. Five minutes. Not a sound. Ten minutes. Birds sang over the alfalfa field. Fifteen minutes and nothing coming from the barn. What was going on? I paced, but made sure I stayed away from the barn windows. I didn’t … Continue reading