Monday, July 2, 2012

Farm Sunday - All weekend!

Last weekend was highly productive and it ended just as well as it started. this weekend should be just as good as the last one. Or so I hope.

Earlier in the week, after looking at finances and deciding to take a leap of faith we finally had a small farm loan approved, a small farm line of credit in place and had another small amount drawn from a safe keeping account. All total was several thousand, enough to pay off some minor debt and get us into a tractor and possibly a disker with a small operating capitol account.

It took a lot of work, a lot of bugging lenders, a lot of last minute faxing over paperwork and some near sleepless nights but we now have a fully restored 1947 Ford 2n and she is proving to be a workhorse.

We also re-decked the trailer with new treated boards, a chore I don't want to assist with for a very long time. That was very hard work.

The shredder has been repaired too although a bit country works just fine.

Now we are looking for implements with 3 pt hitches. First on the list is a small disker or plow, not that we could plow now as the ground is very hard and cracked but the rains will surely return and soften it back up.

We will be posting through out the weekend too...until then, keep smiling!

Rural Living - Why community is so important

We live in a county that during a good year might have 14,000 residents. The town that John and I live in or just south of have about 5000 residents. And while that may sound like a lot it isn't. We are typical of Rural America.

What makes our county and thousands of others like ours is the sense of community. We know our neighbors and their families and we care about one another. It's not unusual for a trip to the local grocer or Wal-Mart to take longer than expected because we ran into someone we knew, again, and had to discuss local news or to receive a health update. We have well attended churches and a little league that seems to have less politics than the inner-city leagues.

And we give back. We give back with fund raisers for the kids or to raise money to help defray medical expenses for a family. We rally when a home burns and a family needs shelter. We give time, belongings and donations of our money to a local food bank and clothing bank. We share our harvests with our neighbors. And grieve as a community when there is a loss.

Why is it so important and, what makes our community special? We are no more special than any other place in Rural America yet our community makes your feel like we are. You can bet on Friday night that most of the town will be at the local football game cheering on the team whether they have a child in high school or not. That's community support.

It's knowing that if you need a helping hand or a shoulder someone will be there. It's those extra eyes to tell you if someone unexpected during the day was at your home or if your teen was driving a little too fast. It's a community united to right a wrong. It's something we never got when we lived in the city and the reason we are glad we are .. home.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Life on the Farm - We grow as organic as we can

I am a big advocate of organically grown food. I am a bigger advocate of locally grown food either grown using organic methods or pest controlled using basic IPM rules.

As much as we try in South Texas, bugs are a part of our lives all year long. Our first approach to insect control will always be to use a natural method or organic formulation to control or eliminate those nasty pests. We do not try to stick to the standards of a certified organic farm but we do try to keep our gardens as chemical free as we possibly can.

Having said that, our mindset when developing and utilizing food plots is that we are trying to provide ourselves with as much food as we can produce on our own that is physically possible. Sometimes that means, after all organic or natural remedies have been exhausted, we will use chemicals to control insects.

Now, before you stop reading and cancel your subscription give me a chance to explain.

Our number one reason for having ever growing (size) food plots is to have locally grown food at my disposal 365 days out of the year. In abundance. Or else I am forced to buy not so locally grown food at the local grocer at outrageous prices  not knowing what kinds of pesticides or other foreign materials it may have come in contact with. If I grow it myself, I know where it came from and how it was produced. 

If I am forced to use chemicals on my gardens, and I must be at the end of my last nerve to do so, we follow safe IPM practices. IPM stands for Integrated Pest Management. Essentially it's purpose is to encourage an environment that encourages plant growth and discourages pests and if all else fails, then to use a safe application of chemical pesticides. That is, follow the instructions to the letter. And yes, I know we can debate the "safe" piece all day long. Keep reading.

Most chemical pesticides, herbacides, and other 'cides have received criticism because they are not used properly and are over used. It's their overuse that has resulted in trace deposits found in our rivers and lakes and in some extreme cases our ground water. Several studies have shown that the trace deposits have not come from agriculture but have come from consumer overuse. That is - homeowners.

The best example is in turf grass. Every year, in the late winter and early spring thousands of homeowners weed and feed their turf grass or lawns. Most buy bags of the chemical compounds widely advertised on television, pour in their little broadcaster on wheels and get after it on a weekend without reading the label. These studies have found that the average consumer broadcasts much more than what the manufacturer suggests. After a good rain or many days of deep watering the excess then runs off into the drainage systems and then ends up in a lake, stream or river. Common sense will tell you that all those pretty lawns in all the nice subdivisions times hundreds of thousands in the United States could easily create a problem. Search for yourself online. There are plenty of case studies for you to read before you start debating.

So, the bug is out of the bag pardon the pun. I will, in an extreme case, carefully mix and deliver a chemical pesticide on my garden as a last result. I will read the directions and mix accordingly and in some cases I mix it thinner that directed. And I will only spray when needed and usually that is a light spray, one time and the task is complete.

So what is worse? Occasional using chemical pesticides on your food plots or purchasing produce that was originally produced thousands of miles away and flown into your local grocer? On the Earths carbon footprint producing your own food, even if you use chemicals is less harmful to the environment than purchasing foreign produced fresh food. I vote to reduce the carbon footprint and if I need to, again on rare occasions, use a little chemical pesticides on my garden.

That's my 2cents. What's your take ??