[farm update by Jim] Harry has been asking me to write a guest post and after accidentally cutting his hand last week, the opportunity was obvious. This week has been very busy and I have several things to share with you. July marks one year since we purchased the farm and we have learned so much. We sincerely appreciate all of the support from friends and family – we couldn’t do this without you!
This week started out in the ER. Harry was walking fast toward the house with worried look on his face and I knew something was wrong. 6 stitches later, we contemplated skipping a week at the farmer’s market. But we quickly realized that with my help harvesting, we could make up the difference and show up to market with enough produce. Luckily I had taken a week off from work so I had some extra time to help on the farm; however, my focus this week was supposed to be on purchasing a used tractor. I put in some intense hours harvesting vegetables and I finally appreciate all the work that goes into collecting all the ingredients for the Mudjoy salad mix and the braising mix. I didn’t realize that Harry just goes out into the field each week and decides what the mixes will contain and this week he instructed me to cut 15 different items for the salad mix. Each time I thought I was finished, he would add two or three more things! So I kept going out to the field to collect more salad ingredients…and keep in mind this is 5 in the morning.
One of my priorities since we purchased the farm last year was to find a tractor. I have been watching Craigslist religiously for months to find a good deal. I can’t really give you any advice on finding a used tractor, but I can tell you my approach. When I am looking for a car, truck or anything with an engine, my philosophy is to find something slightly used but well maintained since I am not mechanically inclined. Just like with our truck I got lucky with a tractor, but the catch was that I would have to drive 3 hours to Pe Ell, Washington to look at it. Through this process, I met Mike and Gail – a very nice couple from Bellingham, WA. They retired in Pe Ell, and after visiting the town twice I could see what Gail was talking about when she said everyone knows everybody and you will make enemies if you don’t invite everyone in town to your husband’s birthday party at the Elks Lodge.
Mike had a New Holland TC-30, which he had meticulously cared for over the years. As I said, I had been researching tractors for months and I can’t really explain what it was about the TC-30 that drew me to it, but in my heart I knew I wanted a one. The TC-30 offers us enough horsepower to grow, most of them are about 6 – 8 years old and it’s BLUE! I considered John Deere and Kubota tractors, but the New Holland TC-30 kept speaking to me. There is a huge nursery nearby that has a fleet of New Holland tractors that obviously stand up to heavy use by the staff. It also appears to me that TC-30′s hold their value based on the “blue book” price and they don’t seem to last very long on Craigslist – my takeaway is that seasoned farmers know something that I don’t about New Holland tractors. 400 miles of driving later, we now own a tractor and thanks to Mike, our TC-30 is in excellent condition and ready for years of service at Mudjoy farm. Mike gave me a good deal and he got some farm fresh eggs and veggies in return! He was awesome because he wouldn’t let me leave with the tractor until we went through every maintenance procedure in the manual including fluid changes and grease applications – let me just say that the pressure is on for me to take care of this baby. I drive a Honda Civic with 250,000 miles on it, so my confidence to meet this challenge is high *wink*.
We recently discovered a Great Horned owl on the property. We have been hearing his hoot for several weeks now. Normally this would be good news but this owl has decided to prey on our ducks which has reduced the flock by 3, and we can’t tolerate that. This owl has been managing some of our unwanted pests in the field such as voles, so his presence is necessary. Until we add geese to our flock for aerial predator prevention, we are keeping the ducks in the barn each night.
Harry’s college roommate, Andy and his fiancé Maria visited the farm yesterday. We are excited that they want to have their marriage ceremony and reception at our farm. We have a year to plan for the event, and ideas are spinning in my head. Many of their friends will be stepping in to put together pieces of the wedding, so we are excited to see how it all comes together!
As Harry may have mentioned before, we have several heritage breeds of chicken who have gone broody. We have at least three hens interested in hatching their own babies and it’s pretty amazing to watch it unfold. So far we only have two chicks born from the process, but we expect more. We also have a Muscovy duck sitting on a clutch of eggs, so we’ll see what comes from that. We value breeds that can still reproduce on their own, so we are encouraging of any hens that choose to do so.
My biggest accomplishment this week on the farm was my work on the 1/2 mile road that leads to our house. Our friends will be pleased to know that I have reduced the potholes by 50% now that I have the proper equipment to complete the road repair. Maybe now visitors can enjoy the view as they drive up to our place instead of starring at the road to avoid the potholes!
This week at market we will be adding cauliflower, cabbage, green onions and zucchini. We will also have basil, parsley, cilantro, fennel, beets, collards, erba stella, Swiss chard, kohlrabi, sorrel, cress, mustard greens, mizuna, spigariello, mesclun and braising mix.
I hope everyone was able to spend some time with family and friends for the 4th of July. Here’s to Summer finally reaching Oregon!