If you’ve ever grown fruit in this part of the world, you already know it’s not as easy as putting trees in the ground and waiting a few years to harvest perfect, supermarket-quality fruit. But still this myth of easy orcharding persists. The comedian Jim Gaffigan does a skit about u-pick orchards, saying what a … More Just Plant a Tree and Wait for Fruit?
My pig-headedness (I prefer to call it persistence) has been a useful life trait in some ways: it supplies me with energy to carry on when all signs suggest I should have stopped miles ago. But it can also get me into trouble, as when I set my sights on something that is not actually … More From Pie-in-the-Sky to Pragmatic
It’s the time of year when our lambs are coming off pasture and heading to “freezer camp.” It’s a terrible euphemism, I know. But farmers–like cops, coroners, and other professionals who deal with the nastier parts of life–have our own brand of gallows humor. We’ve been raising animals for meat for 12 years now, starting … More Little Packages of Meat
It’s been a bountiful berry season, with an unceasing flow from strawberries and honeyberries to rasp- and blueberries, followed by blackberries, with mulberries somewhere in the mix too. Mid-August means elderberry picking season, of which we put up gallons of honey-sweetened juice as a Winter tonic. But all these berries we grow at a homestead … More Amazing Aronia
There are a lot of factors that have contributed to the death of the family farm—most of them financial—but I believe a lack of social sustainability played a role too. By “social sustainability” I mean working conditions that can be sustained in the long term for a farmer. It’s common knowledge that farm work is … More Getting Away from the Farm
“Plant beans and squash when the lilacs are in full bloom,” or “plant peas when you hear the Spring peepers” are based on animal and plant behavior related to the accumulated warmth of the season. In the era when everyone farmed, at least on a subsistence level, such observations were once commonplace and widely used, … More Wisdom From Nature
What do you picture when you hear the word “farmer”? The image we are presented with in commercials and children’s books is of an older white male, perhaps wearing a plaid shirt and a mesh cap, often perched atop an old John Deere or Case tractor. And for the past 6 decades or so, this … More Farming While Female
Our culture has always had a fascination with group performances. There is synergy—even magic—in the collective movement of a dance troupe, or an orchestra playing music together. When it’s done well, it is a visual and auditory feast. But if someone is having a bad day and gets off rhythm or misses a cue, the … More Farm Choreography
If you have a desire to put your food dollars toward products that are good for the planet and also for your health, you are not alone. The organic, natural, and “clean” food industries have been growing explosively. The problem with such rapid growth is that the sophisticated marketing departments at major corporations have noticed, … More Natural, Grass-fed, Organic…Label Confusion!
Loving Animals, Eating Animals Recently at Shelterbelt Farm, we harvested our first beef. The two steers were shot on-farm, which avoided all the stresses of transport. They lived the high life until the very last minute, content to graze with their herd, free to do as they pleased. But I have had several people express … More Loving Animals, Eating Animals