Category Archives: Ozark Alternatives

Hoop House Hoopla

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We’ve been really busy here on the farm, our main project right now, on top of EVERYTHING else is re-erecting the Mothership.  If you aren’t a 2-greenthumbs superfan, let me fill you in.  Last march our hoop house, the Mothership, was blown down in what we later found out was a F1 tornado.  Look back into my archives, there were pictures and tears shed.  But NOW we are putting a new Mothership back up, better than ever.  There were lots of hands involved in this, there are some pictures on my other farm blog Ozark Alternatives and I will add some more here as well.

 

I would just like to add that we also pulled the roof up and over!  There are no pictures of that, because all hands were on deck.  FARM LIFE!

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Southern SAWG

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This past weekend, Paul, Jonathon and I attended the Southern SAWG conference in Little Rock.  I believe, without looking it up, that SAWG stands for Sustainable Agriculture Working Group.  The conference lasted Friday and Saturday with Wednesday and Thursday being pre-conference field trip days.  Our local food CO-OP Ozark Natural Foods provided us with a scholarship to attend the conference.  In exchange, we helped at their table at the trade show, marketing organic chicken and goat feed that they now sell.  The conference was very informative, offering many sessions of classes.  One in particular that I enjoyed was a class on flowers, taught by Mimo Davis.  She was born and raised in New York City, and moved to St. Joseph Missouri and started growing flowers.  She had no prior experience in growing anything before.  I love stories like hers, because she’s so pumped up to let everyone know that they can do it too.  It’s somewhat a leap of faith that few take.  Just think about it dear reader.  There was a strong Northwest Arkansas farming presence at the conference which was nice to see.  Everyone was so excited to see each other, because when you farm, you’re always on your farm FARMING…you rarely get out, and you like it that way.  There was also a large youth population at this conference, which was very encouraging.  Last year, when Paul and I went to the Arkansas/Oklahoma Horticulture conference, it was all old people.  Really old.  So to see young twenty-somethings, in their puffy vests and dark rimmed glasses, hipster chic was great.  These young farm folk identified with the 99%, they said so in a note that they left in an upstairs lounge.  Farm advocates, who put up a petition to “FREE THE DUCKS!” at the Peabody hotel where the conference was held.  It was eventually taken down…those rascals!  There was one woman who was there, her name was Severine, and she was promoting a documentary film she had made called The Greenhorns.  She had organized a “mixer” for young farmers in the hotel across the street.  When the hotel realized that more than 40 young farmers were going to attend, they cut off the line.  So a mass of young’uns came back to the hotel where the conference was and reassembled, and to tell you the truth, their party was probably  a lot more fun…but maybe Severine could tell me otherwise.  We also had the chance to meet Alice, from BROOKLYN, who was representing Certified Naturally Grown.  She organized a meeting of local farmers in our area who are Certified Naturally Grown, to get together for potlucks throughout the season to see each others farms and see what each other are up too.  It was a very informal and quick gathering, but everyone who sat down was more than happy to open up their space.  For those who lived far out in the sticks, those closer to Fayetteville were opening up their homes (to strangers more or less…does knowing someone’s name for 10 minutes count as acquaintances?)  Alice was very surprised, that kind of hospitality was being offered.  I just told her “Welcome to Arkansas” and a few people replied “Yep”.

It’s here!

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What’s here?  Where?  The frost dear reader, the pre-cursor to the dead of winter, it has finally made its frosty disposition known last night.  From an unknown source (weather.com), it said that it was only going to dip down to 36°F last night.  However, it dipped a few degrees lower than that.  Paul went out and cut basil by the bunches before it turned black.  We also built a fire.  At first it seemed a bit of a stretch at 8pm to be building a fire, but by 6:30 this morning it made sense.  Brrrrr!  I asked Pat, one of the Missouri angles less you forget how he slept in the RV.  He said it was pretty cold.  Jake was unavailable for questioning, for he just got a job in the produce section of Ozark Natural Foods, who by the way just installed 20 solar panels!

My camera is broken, and other randoms

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I feel like I haven’t been updating because I rely heavily on the images I post.  I don’t know why, my teachers in school always thought my writing held its weight on its own, but since my camera has been broken, I’ve been afraid I guess.  No excuse though.  So, I’m writing today to let everyone know what’s been going on round’ here, without pictures.

We had a wonderful volunteer come and go within the last two weeks, Sarah P.  She came to us all the way from the great land of Bentonville Arkansas, perhaps you’ve heard of it.  I don’t even have any pictures of Sarah, so I can tell you that she was blonde, had a lovely personality and smile, and was a hard worker.  I believe she had a nice time, she said it to my face, so I’d like to hope that it’s true.  Sarah, you are missed, thank you so much for your help!

The old birds have been moved to a new coop out in the orchard, to make way for the new birds to go into their old coop…that sounds funny when you say it out loud.  The new birds have out grown their apartment in the greenhouse.  I for one am glad to see them move, and get the greenhouse back.  I just went out to the orchard to see the new digs.  The chickens seem to be really happy, they have a lot of space to roam, and they are doing a great service to those trees by fertilizing them.  My main reason for going was to see my little angel Spaz.  I had heard from one of the brothers that he was a little escape artist.  Hard to believe with 8ft. fences.  I get out there and watch as all of the chickens run to the fence looking for a hand-out.  Hmmmm, no Spaz.  Maybe he’s in the coop I thought, then I look down and see him standing right next to me!  You ARE an escape artist!  I was so happy to see him.  I’m still not sure if he is a him, but nonetheless, he has feather…

UPDATE:  I had to quit writing just then, Paul had just come home and asked if I had tended to the birds in the greenhouse today.  “No” was my reply, usually the door has been opened by Paul.  Well, at that time i was just past three p.m.  I walk over to the greenhouse and walk in as Paul was walking out to a death scene.  There were a lot of birds dead, some almost dead and some very much alive.  It was horrible.  At first I felt very defensive saying that it wasn’t my fault.  I said “you didn’t tell me to open the doors”.  One might ask, Amanda, do you have to be told everything?  Well dear reader, I guess I do.  You see, I hardly ever tend to those birds.  I tend to things like my kids and the WOOF-pack.  I went back into the greenhouse to wrangle the birds that had escaped their enclosure.  I struggled putting them back in their pen.  I went to Paul and asked for help, but none was given.  Oliver said he would help me catch them.  He put on gloves, but I couldn’t let him, it was pretty bad.  I grabbed a big container and started to pull out the dead ones.  I stopped counting at around 15, at that time Paul came and helped me.  I would say at least thirty perished today due to my negligence.  It was absolutely awful, I was traumatized.  I hauled the container to the driveway and asked Paul if I should dig a hole.  He told me to leave them, I had to go to the nursing home to sit with a friend of ours, Ms. Barbara.  When I got to her place, she told me about her day and asked how I was doing.  I told her not so good, and let her know about the birds.  She said “Oh, that’s awful!” and then asked “Did you get crabbed at?”  I said sort of, if you consider the cold silence similar to being crabbed at.  And she said “Well, that’s just like a man.”  Dear reader, Ms. Barbara is 90, has dementia, but in my humble opinion is still sharp.  Then she proceeded to make me feel better, saying that these kinds of things happen, and could happen to anyone.  I told her I understood, but it had just happened, and my defensive feelings had turned to feelings of guilt and shame.  And being a Christian she said “well, just throw it out there to God then”, and she began to pray:”Dear God, bless Amanda and her family and those birds that are with you now Lord…”  I have no idea if birds go to heaven, or if God greeted them today, but when she was finished she looked at me and smiled and said “there, now the only thing to do is go forward with your life”.  I wouldn’t consider myself a religious person, spiritual, maybe, but by no means religious, however what Barbara did for me today was awesome.  I couldn’t have asked for a better friend to get me through what I was feeling.  At that moment, her cell phone rang.  She answered it and said “Oh, is this Paul?”  She looked at me and winked.  “Yes, she’s right here”, she handed me the phone and Paul said to me “Amanda, I just wanted to tell you that I love you, and that every things all right.”  Barbara had brought me up from 10% to about 95%  and Paul calling made me feel absolutely great.  As soon as I hung up the phone with him, Barbara clapped her hands together and said “See!  There’s your happy ending!”  I love that woman.  I still feel terrible for those birds who didn’t have to die, and the ones who remain have now been relocated to their new home in the old coop…whatever that riddle means.

The WWOOF-Pack

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I feel like I won an award and am giving a speech, so just hang with me everybody, I only have a few moments before they usher me off stage.  Ahem.  Dearest WWOOF-pack, you have been so very generous donating your time, for time is what all of you had to give.  I along with the rest that is Ozark Alternatives thanks each and every one of you…HOPEFULLY I have not forgotten anyone…so here it goes:

To Francky, the first WWOOF’er ever, you said you’d come back, we’re still here, thanks for calling.  Thanks for your help.

Christy and Conner, thank you, hope all is well.

E-Town (Eric), hope to see you soon, thanks for all the help you have given.

Jason, hope you found what you were looking for in the south, thanks for your help.

Shiori, you were awesome!  Thanks for your help.

Keyohei, I hope all is going well in Toronto!  Thanks for coming!

Hailey, where are you these days?  Thanks for keeping it real!

BROOKLYN!  Thanks for coming out you two, this is Will and Nora by the way.

David and Marine, you two were troopers.  It was so hot when you were here!  Hope all is well, thanks for your help.

McKenna, we didn’t say goodbye because we thought you were coming back, but glad to hear all is well in California!  Your picture is still on the fridge.  Thanks for coming.

Alex and Shannon, they stayed one day while traveling through, thanks you two!

Sam and Sally, we didn’t even get to meet, but I heard so many great things about you two.  Thanks for helping out!

Half-Time Zack.  Thanks for helping out when you could!

Alyssa Marie!  Hope all is well, thanks for coming when you did!

Annie G.  Hope school is treating you well, thankyou so much for coming out and helping!

Laura!  You swung a hammer like a champ!  Thanks for coming for the week!  You are forever on the wall at the CO-OP.

Pat and Jake, welcome back…again!  Thanks for the help!

Paul, thank you so much for all of the help, we miss you already!

To this guy on the right, a local Fayettevillian to whom I owe thanks, yet can’t remember your name, you too were a great help and thanks.

Beth Andrea!  Former intern, you were in there also, thanks so much.

Rose, volunteer extraordinaire!  Thanks for hanging out.

Jason B., also an awesome volunteer.  Thanks for your help and you need to come out again soon.

Emily, miss you already!  What a tremendous help you were.  And you’ll never know how much it meant to me that you were on time to breakfast!  Way to go champ!

Karen, thank you so much for coming to the farm to help!

Greg, he came for a day and helped out a bunch.  Thank you so much Greg!  Safe journeys.

Kyle, thankyou for coming to the farm.  Your help is much appreciated!

Now, I bet these girls were thinking as they were scrolling “Where’s our picture!”  Well, I put you at the end, because you know what they say.  Thankyou Courtney and Grace for coming to the farm to help out when you did.  Your help was very much appreciated!

Okay, okay, I think I thanked everyone I could in my alloted time, I’m getting the signal, the stage beauty is grabbing my arm.  If there’s anyone I skipped, please know I thank you too!

 

MORE BABIES!!!

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We got our new chicks yesterday.  I’m interested to see how this will play out.  Paul didn’t want new chickens six months ago when I said the hens were broody, now we have mucho.  I think the tally is a whopping 75 head of fluff.  I’m still in the dark as to what the variety of chickens these are, this being addressed to Tabby who is just dying to know…aren’t you.  Tabby, and every one else, they are being kept in the green house at present to keep them warm and such.  Here are some pictures of them arriving.

Everyone was excited.

Doesn’t Karen look happy to be holding a baby chick?!

I told you I’d get a better picture of you Emily!

Did you know chickens were born in a box?

A temporary home.

In other news, Emily, Kyle and I made cultured vegetables for the first time.  We were winging it.  I watched a few YouTube videos and we went for it, but dear reader, it seems to be working.  There are so few directions, so it seems to easy to be true.  I’ll let you know in a few days how they taste.

Here is a picture of them this morning doing their thing.  There is beet, cabbage, kale and collard greens in here.  We also added salt, ground coriander and cayenne pepper.  What a terrible picture!  Too much coffee.

The week in a nutshell

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So, I know I mentioned that Kyle and Karen came, well, Emily also came to join us.  She’s from Iowa, on her way to do an internship on the Heifer Ranch down in Perryville Arkansas, so naturally she came here first.  I think I might have a picture of her, sorry Emily, it may not be the best one, but I promise to get a better one of you before you leave.

Emily and Kyle prepping and planting carrots.

You need to watch out for this one!  She is as fierce as that side eye she’s giving us.  Try playing a strategy game with her, she’s got it on lock!

PAKI!  The Pak-man, who at 26 found out that he’s not Greek.  It’s a funny story, and if you come and volunteer I’ll tell it to you, unless Paul is still here…then he can tell you himself.

Carrot planting.

Here’s Karen.  She’s been hiding, but someone found her and snapped this picture.  The water drops look neat at the bottom of this shot.

Teamwork.  Look at them all bending at the hip.  Don’t they know they should bend from the knee!

Few of us have seen this.  Before this picture was taken, only Marine and I had seen this operation in action.  This is the law of nature at its finest, a hornet grasping a cicada, before it drags it into its hole in the ground.  It’s quite an amazing sight to behold.  Now you all know, you can share in the wonders and joys, heartbreaks and…I don’t know, MOTHER NATURE PEOPLE!

Hmm?  What’s going on here?  This is what I like to call Amish paradise!  Kyle here is running a trencher, digging a trench to my house for a water line.  It’s not going into my house…yet, but there is now a spigot in my yard!  When I saw the spigot finished, I wanted to cry.  That’s what love is.  Water.  In your yard.  All day long.

Paul P. is running the trencher through the garden for a grey water something or other.

The Missouri Angels are looking at these pictures, biting their lips because they missed it.  You’ll be back.  And here’s another tidbit fellas.  I beat Paul P. at Settlers of Catan.  I stole the red pieces.  I think that’s his weakness.

Chicken coop for the orchard in its beginning phase.

Aha!  I make an appearance.  Yes, I guess I’ll help for a minute, but not a second more!

Moving whatever piece that is into the chicken yard area.

Amanda, why are you wearing an apron?  Well dear reader, because I’m a domestic, it’s my uniform of sorts.  Also, Emily and I had just finished making 29 jars of wild plum jam for the CSA.  Go ahead.  I dare you to say something.