Tag Archives: organic gardening

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I delivered the last round for our fall CSA.  It was sad, for me…that was a great route.  Everyone, although I didn’t see you very much, it was a pleasure.  In case you were wondering, our CSA starts up again in April.  Tomorrow is a new day.  A day to do nothing…but the dishes, and the laundry and cook, and….and….

 

Here is a picture of me on day 1 of delivery…for the fall

Me

 

I was thinking about this moment right now!  It will be a nice break!  See you in April Fayetteville!

Here it is

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It took me a week to get these photos up, but good things come to those who wait.  If you don’t see yourself here, it’s not because I didn’t care…Thank you too!

It’s been a long season, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the generosity of strangers, who turn into friends.  Thank you to WWOOFUSA, as well as WWOOF, for helping farmers and volunteers connect!

 

Penguin Peppers

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You know it has been a long season, when your plants start producing magical, yet comical fruits.  They must be saying to us, sit down and have a laugh, it’s almost over.

Not only are there penguin peppers, but peppers with funny noses:

These peppers are doing their job, showing us that plants can have a sense of humor too!

 

 

A little here a little there, and all of the in between

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Lots has been going on lately.  So much so in fact, that I’ve been distracted, but fear not dear reader, here’s your update!

Everyone, meet Carolina Proudfoot, yes that’s her real name.  She’s a student at the University of Arkansas, who is doing a chicken project on the farm to earn a minor in sustainability.  The sustainability minor is a new thing on campus.  Our farm is on a list serve for volunteer opportunities for students, and I think that’s how Carolina came our way.  She’s a wealth of chicken knowledge and we’re looking forward to gleaning lots from her.  In this picture, she’s standing next to one of two mobile chicken coops she and her friend are building.

This is Carolina’s friend.  Sorry dude, I never caught your name.  You look pretty tough though, wielding that power tool.

WOOF-pack  planted peas.

The crew also helped Carolina and her chicken coop mission.

This one makes me laugh.  John’s face is so intense.

In other news, Paul has brewed a batch of beer, after talking about it for years.  Here is his inspiration for starting his first batch, Roy Emerson.  He’s about to syphon the beer out of the fermenter and into the keg.  Fun times, and great beer!  It was one of those why didn’t we do this earlier moments.

There was a peanut gallery waiting for the spoils.

Here we are hunting for carrots and weeding in the process.  It’s fun to work inside the new high tunnel….WINK* (ahem, potential WOOF’ers).  The roof of the structure totally changes the mood, like you’re in a room outside, I don’t know, but you can help any time you want.

We were trying to accrue 60 pounds of carrots for some farm to school meal thing.  For two days we were pulling out babies, the tiniest of tiny.  We definitely met our quota of weeds.  After the first day of picking we had only ended up with 7 or 8 pounds.  It didn’t look like we were going to make the goal, but we kept at it…for the kids.

This awkward photo of me bending over, is meant to accompany the good news that we eventually did pick 60 pounds of carrots.  Paul led the team to a different bed entirely where they were able to pick carrot after carrot, with Damian picking the monster of all monsters that weighed a half a pound.

 

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”.

Small world

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Today we had some volunteers come out from the great state of Missouri.  Jeff, Rachel and Jessica are their names and the adventures of growing food and life in general is their game.  Funny thing about this group, Rachel works at the food co-op in Ava Missouri…yeah, I’ve never heard of it either.  Ava, is where Patrick and Jake are from.  In fact, they went to highschool with Rachel and Jessica and just happened to go into the food co-op in Ava the last time they left to go and see their folks.  They talked about the farm and one thing led to another and about a month later these peeps are eating breakfast this morning in my kitchen.  Jeff, who is the husband of Rachel among other things found my blog some how through the interactions between Missouri brethren and read the whole thing.  He said he started from the beginning…and read the WHOLE THING!  Thank you Jeff, I’m humbled by your tenacity to read my blog, in its entirety…that’s 289 posts people!  Good on you Jeff.  Thanks for your participation today.  It was really nice to meet you. Orion also came today.  He’s a student at the University of Arkansas and found us through their volunteer list serve.  So if you’re reading this right now, University of Arkansas student, and you need volunteer time…we’re here, for you.

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.

This is exciting!

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WE are finally up on the “Wall of Fame” in the produce section of Ozark Natural Foods!  Pauline Thissen, produce manager and neighbor, has been an advocate for bringing local foods to your table Fayetteville.  I think the pictures on the wall are a great visual to help connect the buyer of the produce with a face.  The farm names are posted by the local products that they have provided.  Now shoppers, you can look up at our pretty faces as well.  Also, check us out in the latest issue of The Nutshell, the CO-OP’s bi-monthly newsletter, where it talks about the farm, however my name is not mentioned (ahem) as one of the farmers (ahem)…but I guess that’s what this blog is for.

There we are!  One big happy family, staring down at you while you shop!

So much excitement and all before 8am!

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So much excitement and all before 8am!

This morning Paul comes in and tells the team over breakfast that plans have changed.  The original plans were to work on digging more row space or picking blackberries.  However some of the eggs under the rumps of our diligent chickens are starting to hatch, so plan B, make a new coop for the baby chicks.

Paul and Patrick are discussing plans for the new coop.

Finding materials to work with.

There are always usable pieces lying around.  Pat is putting the pieces to be used into a pile.

PS.  Don’t call it a come back!  The Missouri Angels were gone for about ten days visiting their family and such.  They made plans to go to New Mexico, but the farm there told them they were full at the moment, so they came BACK.  They couldn’t get enough, and I guess neither could we.  It feels really great to have their help once again.

Jake and Laura are stitching the holes in our deer fence.  So far so good on the security front, the sweet potatoes are still there.

Laura is going to LOVE this picture!  Sorry girl, I caught you blinking, but it’s funny.

So I’m in the house doing some activities with the kids, when Paul comes in and tells me about a problem with the chickens.  He mentioned how he had about four dozen eggs under four broody hens and that we have lost some to what he thought were other chickens.  That may be true, but within his next breath he mentions a SNAKE.  I gasp at the thought.  We were all excited about the possibility of babies, I don’t want to hear about a large rat snake entering the coop and eating them all.  For some reason it made me think of the book Rikki Tikki Tavi.  Then Paul tells me that it’s dead.  Dead?  Did you kill it?  I ask.  He explains that it somehow slithered  through the top that is covered with chicken wire, realized that it wouldn’t fit and came back out.  Mr. Rat snake must have been greedy and hungry, because it stitched itself back through the chicken wire one more time, only to meet its untimely death.  Chickens 1, snake 0.

It totally grossed me out getting this close to a dead snake.

An inside view.

Jake “Snake” Jones, sharing a moment with his brethren.

Crazy huh?  We don’t know what to do about it.  I personally don’t feel like cutting that snake out of there.  So if there are any volunteers, please raise your hand!  Maybe the snake can serve as a reminder to others to steer clear.

 

CO-OP Shots

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CO-OP Shots

Ozark Natural Foods, our local food CO-OP, sent out some representatives to take our picture to put above the produce section, along with other local farms and farmers who sell to their store.  Store Produce Manager, Pauline Thissen, has been a pioneer in publicising the importance of local foods to the area and is a steadfast supporter to many local farms.  It’s been a long time coming to get this picture taken, but it finally happened and should be up in the store by next week.

Something tells me Isaac had the camera, but I’m not so sure.

We’re all starting to congregate in front of the hoop house.

(L-R)Jake”Snake”Jones, David Dallago, Marine Champion, Patrick Jones, Paul Chapracki, Amanda Wunderlich; (Front) Jonathan “Disco” Bame, Isaac Chapracki (in lap), Oliver Chapracki (with fist raised), Pauline Thissen, and Laura (I don’t know her last name, she’s our latest WWOOF’er from Missouri.)

Things were starting to get a little out of hand.

I’m sure Paul took this picture.  He really wanted them to get some “Depth of feild” and gaze into the hoop house for the shot.

This shot is definitely one of Isaac’s.  He is notorious for butt shots.

He also took this picture of Marine.

It was so hot this particular morning, we were all a little batty.

We all had a great time though.