Resharing a post from last year

I was looking for something in an old post recently. Remember, this blog is my record book. What cow was born when, did we process number 23, how much hay did we buy last year? That kind of stuff. While scrolling back through the archives, I came across a post about the girls and what they do on a slow day in the store.

Kathy Bates with knife
This isn’t actually my darling Mrs. But….

I giggled reading the post, remembering that day. The girls are crazy, and they were kind enough to document their craziness for me this time. Maybe it is funnier to me because I get to see them when customers aren’t around but I thought it was worth reposting for those of you who don’t get to see them off duty.

Here is the original post. 

The end of winter feeding

We have two seasons here on the farm. Grazing season, and winter feeding. The goal on a cattle farm is to make grazing season last as long as possible, thereby shortening winter feeding to be as short as possible. Winter feeding involves purchased hay, which is a large expense on a cattle farm.

Part of achieving that goal is completely counterintuitive though. Step one is to keep the cows off of our pastures as long as possible in the spring. This lets our grass get a good jump on growth, establish plenty of leaf material, and be more than ready to graze. That means grass that is at least 12″ tall before we turn the cows on it. The cows then graze off about 4-5″ of grass in their one day grazing rotation, leaving 7-8″ of grass soaking up the sun and steady making new grass to eat. By leaving grass behind, we actually grow more grass long term because the grass is a much more efficient solar collector when we leave some leaf material. Basically we have more grass on the second grazing than if we turned them in early and/or let them eat more of the grass.

before grazing, with grazing marker in view.
Before grazing, the grass is full and lush. 100% ground coverage and averaging 12″ tall.

Back in February, when it was 80 degrees and it seemed that summer was nearly here, we had grass that was already 6″ tall and looking great. I had a wall of hay left and we were discussing how long till our momma cows went to our leased farm, and what we were going to do with all the leftover hay.

Enter March. Which was colder than February on the East coast. Argh! March is supposed to be when spring has sprung. Instead it snowed, it has frozen all the buds off of my fruit trees, and as I sit here on April 10th, typing away, I’m still wearing long pants, shoes, an overshirt, a vest, and I’m cold. Basically my winter apparel. I should be in shorts and flip flops in April, in NC.

Yesterday we fed our last bale of hay. We ran out. Today our cows go onto grass that is basically the same height as it was in February. The sun hasn’t been out, except on cold clear days, and I cannot recall an 80 degree day although we are supposed to finally get to 80 degrees by Friday. Instead of being well ahead of the curve, this cold weather has us behind. No hay, not enough grass, and cows that need some fattening up asap. We’ll be fine, once the heat shows up the grass will explode and we’ll be playing catchup. We have so much organic matter in our soil that the grass really responds once it has some spring weather to work with. But I don’t like running up against the edge of things.

The good news is we’ll be able to start our tours going back out to the herd in their daily paddocks. And the sacrificial paddock will finally be able to start recovering. I flew over the farm a few weeks ago with a cadet while on an O flight. It looked green, except for where the grass hasn’t recovered yet, which was a fairly large area. It kinds looked like the farm had been bombed. I’m looking forward to my next flight and seeing everything green everywhere!

Our CSA has started!

Jen delivering her first load of produce for our CSA program
Jen delivering her first load of produce for our CSA program

I had a surprise visit on Wednesday from our CSA farmer. She’d apparently lost her phone and couldn’t text me she was coming, but that was ok. I was just glad I saw her and all her fresh produce!

With this never ending winter, even a few warm days didn’t have me feeling like spring yet. Isn’t there still snow in the forecast for Saturday night?!

But seeing boxes of fresh produce unloading from the car, and seeing all the customers come swarming in to pick them up, made me feel like for just a few hours it was indeed spring.

We are super excited to finally have a produce CSA. Thank you to the customers who stepped up and committed for this spring season. We’ll have signups for more CSA positions later in the year for those who missed out this time.

The CFSA farm tour is coming this month

Lynn and daughters from Lee's produce
Lynn and her daughters at our event.

When we first decided to be part of the farm tour, we wanted to be part of the spring tour because that was the big one. However they had implemented a fall tour and we ended up on that one instead. We enjoy the fall tour, and we’ve had good weather, but I always wanted to be on the spring tour to kick off our warm season rather than winding it up with the fall tour. Plus the spring tour is the original one, it is where all the cool kids hang out.

Guess who is on the spring tour this year?! Actually, everyone is. They have consolidated the fall tour into the spring tour making for one gigantic tour this April 28th-29th. You can see all about the tour  and purchase tickets here.

We’ll have brochures showing up this week so you can grab one when you are in the store but mark your calendars. This will be the biggest farm tour I’ve ever seen with many, many farms that you can go and visit. The cost is per carload, not per person, so designate a driver and grab some friends for a fun weekend. And make sure you come and visit us. We’ll have on our Sunday best.

A tractor trailer load of cantaloupes

Miguel sorta casually mentioned there was a truck coming. Not too unusual. Normally we go get the produce but sometimes we get a delivery. We like deliveries. They save us time, fuel, tires, brakes, etc.

Then he slipped in it was an 18 wheeler. Oh, now that is a little different. We usually get one or two of those a year. What are we getting this time?

Cantaloupes. Oh goody, those are almost as good as watermelons. Everyone on the farm eats cantaloupe and they are easy to unpack and get ready for the animals.

Food bank truck full of produce
Food bank truck full of produce

The truck was late, of course. The downside to deliveries is they are never on time. Apparently the driver had had a flat tire so that is understandable. Often it is just they didn’t come when they promised so at least this time it was legitimate.

Bringing the pallets to the edge so we can offload them
Bringing the pallets to the edge so we can offload them

The problem with something like a tractor trailer of produce is that we don’t normally have the setup for offloading them. Miguel borrowed this pallet jack so we could move the pallets from the front of the truck to the back where we could reach them with the tractor. We certainly aren’t complaining about all this goodness showing up, but it is different from what we are normally setup for. It just takes a bit of a different approach.

Pallets of cantaloupes
This isn’t even all of them

Everyone on the farm is munching on cantaloupes for the next few weeks, which is a God send. We have been doing well this winter on produce, but having something like this gives us a ton more flexibility. Almost as much as the truck driver needed to get out of the farm. He was too tall to get under our power lines so we had to back him up onto a side road. While good natured, it was obvious he was frustrated with our tight quarters. I felt bad for the guy, but he did a great job getting out.

Now if I could just talk Duke Power into raising out power lines up to where they are supposed to be. I’ve tried in the past. No luck.

What do you mean “build an airplane!?”

So you may have noticed that the blog has been quiet the past few weeks. Lucy has posted a few recipes, but other than that, nothing. That is because for the past two weeks straight, Spork and I have been out of town and out of communication (no internet). We’ve been in Grantsboro, NC building an airplane. No, not like this.

paper airplane
My previous airplane building experience

But like this.

Spork and Robbie, building the flaps
Spork and Robbie, building the flaps

Now, I know what you are thinking. An airplane?! Is it a million dollars? What kind of money are you making farming?!

First, let me assure you, we aren’t talking about something like this.

Cessna Jet in flight
Yeah, I wish.

It’s more like this. 

That’s a bit unfair.

This is actually what we are building.

Yellow and grey Just SuperSTOL
Just Aircraft SuperSTOL (Somebody elses)

If you didn’t know I was a pilot, here is the post that you missed.

This project has been about four years in the making. I’m not going to bore everyone here with my airplane talk, not today nor in the future. Suffice to say this is a father/son adventure, one that the Mrs. put us on. Spork and I are doing this massive project (1000 hours build time) together, and we will continue to work routinely on it for at least the next year. Spork will be both building the airplane beside me, and also posting on farmerflier.com his thoughts and feelings as we go through the process. Basically after we finish the plan, he should be an experienced airplane builder, a pilot, and a blogger. Not a bad skill set for what will then be a 16 year old kid.

Instead of posting the details here on our farm site, which would make no sense, over the past several months I’ve been building a new website dedicated to this airplane build. All the questions like why we decided to build an airplane, why we picked the airplane that we did, etc will be posted over there. The blog posts over there will be a running series of articles about the build. These will serve as both a journal of our experience as well as for the FAA when it comes time to certify our airplane. I also will be posting our general aviation related stuff there as well, because sometimes I get neat pictures I want to share.

There is a separate email subscription for the aviation site, as well as a Facebook page linked to the build if that is the way you prefer to follow what is going on. If all you want to know about is fuzzy critters, then there is nothing to do. If you would like to keep up with the build, and the aviation related shenanigans (flour bombing has already been discussed and tentatively planned) then head over to farmerflier.com and sign up, Like, or whatever is your choice of keeping informed.

I have a mountain of pictures and posts to get up from our first two weeks of building so expect more content over the next several weeks.

New hours start Monday

Starting Monday, our new Spring/Summer hours go into effect. We will be open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 2pm to 6pm. We will be open Saturday from 9am-5pm.

Being open Mondays is new for us and something we are excited to offer to our customers. It means that you won’t have such a long time between close of business on Saturday and Wednesday at 2pm. We know that big gap means you sometimes have to run to the grocery store because you just can’t make it till Wednesday without butter/milk/hamburger/etc. We hope the new hours will be more convenient for you.

I’m sure it will take everyone a bit to get used to the new days we are open, including me, but we look forward to being open longer to better serve you this season.