Weekly Farm Update: 05.07.22



Fortunately, we did not have any trespassers this week. The target practicing must have sent a clear message not to bother us. We are adapting to situations like this and going over ways to improve our health and safety dealing with criminally inclined neighbors. Hopefully, our experiences can help those reading to learn and adapt as well. Higher prices for food, gas, and other necessities will encourage the crime rate to increase so it is important we are all taking steps to protect our property and loved ones.


Food Production:


Our state is experiencing drought conditions and so the thunderstorms that passed have brought much-needed moisture to the landscape. Our pea seeds have started to germinate as well as the 70 pounds of potatoes have begun to emerge. Hallelujah! In order to expand our garden beds, CM and I went down to our stream and filled our utility cart with soil to be turned into salad, radish, and dill beds. We managed to make 4 new beds that are 4 foot wide by 6 feet long. These are close to the house so they fall under Zone 1 kitchen garden beds in Permaculture design. The beds are lined with stream stone to add some character. All beds are mulched after planting to cut down on weed germination and retain moisture for the vegetable seeds to germinate. This makes it hard to see the beds in the picture but trust me they are there. We transplanted 4 (5-gallon buckets) of Ozark everbearing strawberries again and are making a huge bed full of them to grow under the cane fruit and berry bushes below the veggie garden beds.


Sadly, most of the fruit trees that I said had bloomed, are not going to turn into fruit for whatever reason. We did have a few frosts but I thought most evaded the worst of it. Perhaps lack of pollination was our problem? The pie cherries will be producing fruit- Montmorency and Balaton have small cherries forming (so exciting!) and even the bush cherry Romeo and Juliet have cherries forming too. The latter two surprised me because they endured the 23-degree night we had back in mid-April and are still producing so these plants will be closely studied to see if they should be planted more in our frost pocket.

I published an article asking when will Americans get serious about food production and in the post I talked about an invasive edible plant called Chinese yam.

Tilling around sycamore saplings

This amazing edible is shaping up to be our staple crop for us as I see tremendous opportunity working with it. Our property is located in bottomland and we have a lot of native Sycamore saplings coming up. I am letting these saplings grow in order to enable their deep root systems to break up the compacted soil and add beneficial soil organisms to our abused land. Chinese yams are annual growing vines that need some sort of support and these sycamores provide the perfect trellis on which to grow them. I was actually inspired to do this by stumbling on a naturally occurring Chinese yam growing up a sycamore along our stream. Unlike wild grapes, oriental bittersweet, or Japanese honeysuckle which does not die back to the ground each year, yams will not weigh the sycamores down over time and smother it. This enables the tree to grow unobstructed while providing a natural trellis to the yam vines. In order to prepare the bases of the sycamores for planting, I used the tiller to break up the sod around the base of the saplings and then planted 3 yam vines at the base.

Chinese yam sprouting

This will not overcrowd the tree or the other vines so I think this is a good amount to plant around each tree. So far I have tilled around 25 saplings which means I can plant 75 yams just in this small area behind the solar panels alone. It’s fun to be creative and work with nature to produce food in overlooked places. I think most people would cut down the trees and keep the field open but I know I can grow a greater diversity of food if I work with the natural world instead of constantly fighting it.


In the chicken pen, I had planted a wild mulberry for the sole purpose of providing chicken feed once the tree started to produce berries. Well, in its second year I am happy to inform you that this mulberry is indeed blooming. A testament to the nutrient-rich soil chickens produce. Mulberries are by far the most beneficial tree crop for chickens out there in a temperate climate. If you grow a variety of cultivars that produce over the summer months you save so much money on chicken feed and your birds will bless you for it!




Chickens:

The babies are growing up so fast. We are heading into their 4th week already and their adult feathers are coming in. They are also working out the pecking order. Wednesday was their first full day outside. We watched them closely for any signs of discontentment (they are very good at telling you what they want) but everyone was loving life popping in and out of the shade, drinking, eating bugs and scratching. The little baby that had a minor cut last week is all better too.


Babies enjoying their playground

Death:


When I buy fruit trees from nurseries, I rarely have issues getting them to grow. The one exception is grafted persimmons from Edible Landscaping.

Dead grafted persimmons from EL

This company has a wonderful diversity of edible plants for “reasonable” prices. The main problem I have repeatedly had with this business is keeping their persimmon trees alive. I have bought pears, apples, peaches, and cherries from them and they are growing great year after year. Their grafted persimmons however have continuously died every time I have tried them. This week I checked to see who survived and it looks like they are all dead. I bought them this time last year so they had a whole season to grow and acclimate to their new home. This sucks because they are not cheap and their plant policy does not go beyond 90 days so I am steering clear of buying these trees again. I will have to look elsewhere or try to graft my own going forward. Such as life when growing plants.


Whose Horse is That:


Thursday night, I swore I heard a horse at the end of our field along the road. I texted a neighbor and come to find out a guy was missing a pony that had escaped from its farm. CM and I helped with the search but we could not locate it anywhere. At the time of this writing, the pony is apparently still running at large. When we talked to the owner he seemed a bit odd and we were unable to understand much of what he was saying. When I asked questions he either did not hear me or ignored me lol. CM and I at least had a few good laughs about our interaction.


Tree Nursery:


I wanted to show some progress with some of the edible tree crops I have growing in the nursery. The Chinese chestnuts are growing strong and I cannot wait to get them big enough to plant out in larger food forests. In the winter, I took a lot of dormant wood cuttings of Marge elderberry, which is a hybrid between European and American elderberries. Every one of them has rooted so I am going to have a lot of Marge elderberry clones to plant out soon which is really awesome! Included in the pictures are my rootstocks in which I will be propagating more via stooling. This is simply mounding up soil around the base of the rootstock and as more shoots form them will root in the mounded soil. Come fall I can snip them off and I have new rootstock clones ready to plant! I added yellow buckeye seedlings because I think they are beautiful and wanted to include them.



Website:

As I mentioned earlier, I wrote a piece on how I do not see many Americans taking the food crisis seriously and gave some suggestions and examples of what we are doing to help give us an advantage. There is still plenty of time to cobble together a plan on what to grow and still seeds available from Baker creek and other gmo-free seed sources. I just hope enough people get their heads in the game while there is still time and take responsibility for their lives by growing some food. We do not have all the answers nor the funds to spend on elaborate systems but we do have the determination, creativity, work ethic, and adaptability to make it work with the resources at hand.


When CM and I take breaks we have some pretty awesome conversations about the world, mental health, and a lot more. One of those off-the-wall conversations centered around what is in store for people with limited to no skills in a de-industrial world. Think of those airplane pilots, police, women’s studies majors, and the like that might be book smart but have no meaningful life skills to contribute to the new society ahead of us. What is to become of people in these situations? We determined that indentured servitude would be the most ideal for folks due to the fact that they would be learning skills, have safety/structure, and purpose, and be a part of a community on some level. Most importantly, the 7-year contract of indentured servitude would provide an end goal to work towards as well as provide a level of dignity that all humans deserve. We believe that if we do not discuss uncomfortable topics such as this, we will run headfirst into repeating one of humanity's most unsavory acts: slavery. In order to send our society in a positive direction based on human dignity and respect, we must build parallel structures in an effort to avoid horrific choices based on improper planning.


Thanks for joining us for this week’s update. We hope you enjoyed a weekly walk through our lives and will be encouraged to build your own personal resilience with the time, skills, and resources at hand. Come check out our work at New Revenant Society. Till next time friends!


Aronia blooming for the first time

 

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