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Agrarian Harvest

Wholesome, Organic, Experience. Our small farm, food, and simple life.

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Spring

Harmful or Helpful?

At planting time last year, we were amazed at all the earthworms and had to do a little research on them. We still a lot of earthworms; large, medium, and many babies. This Spring we have been seeing Armadillidida or commonly known as roly polys or pill bugs everywhere on our farm and lots of them. These “bugs” (they really aren’t bugs; keep reading and I’ll go further in-depth on that) have always been fun to find for the kids. They love seeing roly polys roll up when touched, which is a defense mechanism, then wait for them to unroll so they can touch them again and sometimes roll them around the palm of their hand.

 

We are seeing a whole lot more roly polys than we have in the past. So, of course, this lead to a little research project. Part because we love learning and part because we were wondering if they were beneficial or are they going to be pest. We were quite happy to learn that they are beneficial and help with the decomposing process. They eat decaying plant and animal material. We provided the organic matter and now they have moved in to help with the breaking down of the organic matter, to increase our soil fertility. Hurrah! We read that they could feed on seedlings and plant roots, but tend to eat decaying material when it is available. We have a lot of decaying plant material available and have not had any problems with them feeding on plant roots or seedlings. There are thousands in the cold frame where we have greens growing and started all of our seedlings. They haven’t kill any seedlings.

 

It was also quite interesting to learn that they are actually not a bug, they are a land crustacean and are related to shrimp. They like dark moist places and have gill-like structures used to breath, but can’t live underwater. They don’t urinate, but instead release an ammonia gas through their exoskeleton. And they shed their exoskeleton as they grow. The back half sheds first, then the front half. The females carry their eggs and newly hatched babies in a special pouch before they start crawling out to walk on their own. Huh. . . . the things we learn through hand-on activities and work with curious minds questioning everything! This little organic piece of Earth we live on just amazes us! 

The Anticipated Season is Upon Us

It feels like all we do this time of year is plant, plant, plant . . . . .  and there is still more to plant. We are nowhere near done planting. This week has thrown other events into our schedule and has interrupted our planting rhythm. We are entering into our market season. So our weekly schedule and rhythm will be changing from a spring planting routine to our summer plant, weed, harvest, market routine. It may sound like a lot and, honestly, some days it feels like a lot. And then other days there is not enough to do, but that has not been the case this week. 

 

It has been a very busy week or at least it feels busy compared to our spring planting routine. We had our organic inspection, which started a day before it was scheduled and lasted into the next day. That was a ridiculously long and drawn out process for the small acres and production that we do. In the middle of our inspection, we had our broiler chicks and ducklings arrive a day early. And now we are getting ready for the first Twin Falls Farmers’ market on Saturday, and then there is more planting. Please nobody call and tell us the market is going to be on Friday instead of Saturday. Everything has been happening a day early this week and it feels a bit like a nightmare. As long as today is actually Friday and not Saturday, then we are pretty excited about this first farmers’ market. We planned better this year and have more produce ready for the market. We will have a lot of kale, lettuce, spinach, arugula, along with rhubarb, green garlic, green onions, radishes, herbs, eggs, salad dressings,  handmade soap, and laundry detergent.

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In the previous paragraph, I mentioned ducklings. Yes, we now have ducklings! Ducks are our experiment for this year. We are going to try to raise khaki cambell ducks, they are suppose to be good layers. We are all very happy and excited, especially me. Beside the fact that they are the cutest little poultry critters ever! They don’t scratch like chickens (yes!!!) and are excellent foragers. I think the ducks are going to go over very well with the family and become a permanent part of our farm. I will keep you updated on the ducks throughout the summer.  I’m confident this duck project will be much more successful than our garlic and sweet potato projects were last year.  

Low Tunnels

We are getting the low tunnels up and cool weather produce transplanted in the field. We decided to use low tunnels this year to extend our growing season, being able to plant earlier and then to allow our produce to grow later into the fall. Although, this spring has been warmer than usual and so far have not needed the low tunnels covered. We only have one row covered, thinking we would not need to cover them this spring since the temperature has been warm and staying about normal. Then last night it freezes. But so far all the plants have tolerated the frost and are doing fine.

The low tunnel technique seems to work well and we are very excited to be using them. This will allow us to be way more productive, which makes life a whole lot less stressful and allows us to laugh more often. We have started thousands of cool weather tolerant plants like broccoli, cabbage and kale in the cold frame several months ago and are now able to plant them outside. This frees up space in the cold frame for thousands of more seeds to be started of our later season plants like tomatoes and peppers. This has allowed us to start thousands of more seeds than in previous years. We are getting them planted in a timely manner and in stages. This makes us feel so much more efficient. We are so excited about this growing season.

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Spring Greens

The salad greens are thriving in the cold frame. We are very excited to be eating salad on a regular basis again! (Pictured is a mix of spring mix lettuce, arugula, and spinach.)

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The curly kale overwintered in the field and is growing. I love putting this kale in our smoothies. The kids even drink the smoothies. These green smoothies are becoming our go-to afternoon snack once again. We absolutely love this time of year when everything is greening up and starting to grow! We’ve even been going out into the yard and harvesting dandelion leaves to eat and for tea. It is simply that time of year when all greens are appealing!

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We sell all greens individual,  request a mix or buy a CSA share or half share and you won’t miss out on any of our produce.

Produce                                                                       Produce CSA

 

Greens, Eggs, & CSA

It is so fitting that we ate our first greens (arugula) out of the cold frame on St Patrick’s Day. I have been craving the fresh, wholesome greens grown in our soil and this was the perfect day for our first taste!

We will have arugula available starting March 23th and the spinach should be close behind. Check our produce page for pricing. Produce

The days are longer and I’m not thrilled about losing sleep, but the chickens are loving it. Our egg production has increased, so we have plenty of eggs available, just in time for Easter. Try dying brown eggs this Easter or do some baking or just eat them. Eggs

Spring is almost here and so is the start of our Spring CSA and full season CSA. They start the second week of May, buy your share soon. Produce CSA

Email, call or text us. How To Buy From Us

Spring Fever

The warm sunny weather this week has made us very eager for summer.  Is this Spring fever or just plain craziness? We have spent our week planting more seeds. We have several flats planted in the cold frame, planning to put some in the house, and are even experimenting with direct seeding in the ground with cold weather plants. This beautiful weather at the beginning of March leaves me a little worried about what the weather will be like the end of March and April.

We had another litter of piglets born this week. That makes two litters so far this year. We have two more sows left farrow this Spring. The sow that farrowed this week had 10 live piglets and four born dead. That’s a large litter and they are all looking and doing good. Here is a picture of a few of the cuties.20160305_082308 (1)

It looks like the weather this coming week is going to be cooler and rainy. That will leave us looking out the window yearning for warm weather again. And making more plans for what to plant, when to plant, how much to plant, and wondering how soon can we get our hands back out in the soil. Just like how we spent our January.  Speaking of January, below is our blog post from January that I forgot to post. Sorry. I tend to get distracted with homeschool during the winter and that is what I focus on. Apparently, I wrote a post for January and then forgot to publish it. So here it is:

It is that time of year again. The time when the farmer gets restless and the itching to plant and grow things. Our highs were in the teens for over a week in January, so it’s hard to motivate yourself to spend the time outside to take care of the animals and no chance of getting anything to grow yet. That leaves the farmer with lots of time to plan. The farmer has been spending his days looking over seed lists, making plans and then spending time on the web reading and looking at pictures.

So, of course,  more ideas will pop into his head and he can make longer lists of things to grow, do, and change this year. This can be a scary time for the farmer’s wife. The unknown and new ideas scare her and she realizes that the longer the list is, the more work is involved.  It’s an amazing how we balance each other out. The farmer is the dreamer and idea person. The farmer’s wife keeps him in check, keeps things realistic and within reasonable means.

Speaking of new things for 2016, we are offering a produce CSA! We are very excited about expanding our CSA program. And now is the time to sign up for a share! Produce CSA

February Awakening

I like to do what I call human hibernating for the winter. I stay in the house, keep the fire stoked, homeschool, read several books, watch movies and go outside very little. The farmer on the other hand stays inside most the day too, but there are still chores to do and animals to care for.

. . . .  Then in February, it feels like there is a great awakening among plants, animals and people.  The weeds start to grow, the tulips and daffodils are peeking out of the ground, the fruit trees are pruned and developing buds; and we feel alive and full of energy again. It’s like the sun suddenly rose shining warmth and new hope for the first time in months.

 

Our seed orders start to arrive in February and the weather starts to break. A true change in weather takes place; the air is warmer and the precipitation changes from snow to rain, transforming into Spring. We started our February by working the ground in the cold frame getting it ready to plant. Then the exciting part, actually planting our first seeds of the year: arugula, spinach, lettuce, and onion. The arugula is up and the spinach should be soon behind it. Spinach has longer germination than arugula. The lettuce was planted a couple of weeks after the spinach and arugula so we are still waiting for it to come up too.

 

The first part of February also brought our first pig roast. We had a Super Bowl party/birthday party for the farmer and decided that was great time to e20160206_181331xperiment with roasting our first pig. Who doesn’t want to be invited to a party to eat an experiment?!!!  Be aware before you read on, how we cooked this pig may sound or actually be a little redneck-ish, but, hey, that’s just how we are. We started it the night before in a pit we lined with rock. We started wood pellets and 10 pounds of charcoal briquets on fire and got it hot and cooked down. We torched the hair off the pig with a weed burner and wrapped the pig in woven wire and put it in the pit. Then cover the pig and pit with a piece of tin roofing. It cooked and smoked all night. We checked it periodically and rotated it a couple of times. We thought it was done at noon the next day, but we didn’t take it out of the pit until 3:30. The Farmer put the whole thing in a large cooler and brought it in the house. When we were ready to eat, we started cutting it up and taking chunks off. It was good, although, I like my meat well seasoned. So I can’t say it is my favorite way to eat pork. But it was a fun experience and very neat to have a whole roasted pig for all the guest to see before we ate.

 

The sight and sound of new life really is in the air of our farm now. Our chicks have arrived and the brooder is full. This causes great excitement and happiness on our farm. Spring, hope, growth, energy and life are in the air and happening at Agrarian Harvest!DSCN7272

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