The Heat is On

The Heat is on. That phrase seems appropriate to describe our transition from spring to summer. The water in the ground and in the rivers has added a new meaning to humidity. We went from a very long wet spring into a very hot and humid summer. Sure, it is July and we are due for some heat but it just seems like in a perfect world we would go from 70’s to 80’s and then to 90’s with several weeks of transition in between right? Oh yeah, this is Missouri – it doesn’t work that way.

Since my last blog post, we have had 6.5 inches of rain, but then when the heat returned, the rain stopped. What amazes me is how little time it takes before you have to start watering. I have watered every night this past week, just to keep things alive. That seems crazy. We need straw but haven’t had time to get any yet. We also need to run our irrigation lines and drip tubes. Other things have taken our attention. We seemed to be ruled by the urgent. On a day to day basis, we ask ourselves, what do we have to do to keep this alive or that alive. And when you have animals, that complicates the matters even more.

We are two months into the market and when we look back at this time 2 years ago we had sold 44 pounds of tomatoes on our first weekend at the market. This year, our tomatoes are struggling just to survive the transition from the greenhouse to the field. At this point, one row is looking decent and the last two rows we planted are struggling to survive. We still have at least another row to plant. Our lettuce did very well, we had planted it in our caterpillar tunnel. We just didn’t plant enough. We’ve already sold out of it. We have much to learn about succession planting. The broccoli didn’t do well, and the cabbage is struggling. So, what is doing well? Cucumbers are doing well, we just wish we had more planted. We have more seed to get in the ground as I write this. Squash is trying, but it needs more seeds in the ground too. Peppers seem to be liking the hot temps now, if we can just keep them watered. The onions seem to be doing okay but boy has it been hard on them with all the wet conditions. Same thing for our garlic. We did cut the scapes this last week and have been selling them. We got the okra planted.  
We were able to get our ground tilled this past week when we had all the dry temps and heat. 

We have also been making progress on our high tunnel poles. We FINALLY got the remaining 2 corner posts set and as I write this we have set 6 more poles in concrete. We had to re-dig the holes due to the water runoff and mud. We need an extension on our building permit as it expires this month. We had all 34 holes dug and inspected in October of last year and then the rains started. We only have 9 more poles to do. To say this high tunnel has been a labor of love is an understatement. However, if we are going to succeed at the market, we know just how important this high tunnel is. The two vendors at the market with high tunnels have a definite advantage and growing under cover is it. 

We finally got our second batch of broiler chickens to the processor. That couldn’t have come quick enough for us. We have several storms to contend with in their last 2 weeks. Because the chicken tractors can become like sail boats in the wind due to the tarps that cover them, we would anchor them down with rebar type hooks and concrete blocks and then we brought both of our trucks up and put them in an L shaped formation to shield them from the North/West winds. In one of the storms we lost one of our huge oak trees. We just couldn’t lose the chickens, after all, we had several weeks of labor and feed in them and getting them to the processor was a must. We had a much better success rate with our second batch due to warmer weather and less losses. 

We got our Bourbon Red turkeys out of the brooder and into the turkey tractor. We had to repair it first, but we were sure excited to get them out on pasture. The white turkeys are enjoying their time now on pasture. We move them every two days (the turkey tractor) because of how messy they are and how the flies are drawn to them. We also move the Bourbon Red turkey tractor about every 3 days to fresh grass. At least the white turkeys get to free range behind an electric netting fence. Once the Bourbon Red turkeys are big enough, we will clip their wings and put them in a paddock as well. At the time of this writing, we have 1 more week to go on the white turkeys. They go to the processor on July 15th. They will become ground turkey. We should get a lot based on their weights. 

I was able to get more flower beds done in the back yard as I prepared for the garden tour we hosted for the Kress Farm Garden Preserve. We had probably 25 people come and tour the farm and our gardens. It was very wet and muddy so some of them didn’t stay long because they didn’t bring the appropriate footwear. Overall, I think it was a success. I was happy to do it but I was also happy it was over. I had already spent enough time trying to beautify the farm and that took my attention away from other things. 

We got our farm sign. We had ordered it from one of the vendors at the DeSoto Farmer’s Market that does chainsaw art. He is very good. His name is Tim Gagnon, highly recommend him! We haven’t had time to mount it yet but we have an idea of where we want to put it. One of our freezers went out in our farmer’s market trailer. We will have to have it serviced. But we do have another one just like it to put into the trailer. We also had to purchase another refrigerator. The produce from the garden needs its own space other than our main refrigerator. Ultimately, we will need to build a cold room, but not today. Everything takes time or money and we never seem to have both at the same time. 

We were excited to get our electric fence installed around the garden. We hope to keep the deer from eating what we have been able to grow so far. We got the idea on the fence from a farm we visited. She used step in posts and electric tape and did a double row so that the deer will think twice about jumping it. We sure hope it works. 

We were able to get a pallet (80 bags) of organic pelletized chicken manure. I learned the hard way not to put it directly on a plant, it will burn the foliage. It will be great as a side dressing fertilizer. It is working well on our cucumbers and it works very well when you work it into the soil ahead of time. 

We lost 2 guineas and I didn’t even know we lost them. Never found the piles of feathers so not sure if it was a fox or a coyote or a hawk. I hate it when we lose animals to predation. I know I’m sounding very negative with this blog post and I certainly don’t mean to. It is just that farming is hard, you are at the mercy of the weather and it hasn’t been in our favor. 

Some people wonder why I post so many pictures of sunsets. It reminds me of why we got into this in the first place. You work hard all your life for a dream and it is fun to see it come to pass. It takes a lot of hard work and that is something we’ve never been afraid of. At times it seems age is catching up to us, but we won’t give up. We know anything worth having is worth working hard for. So, for all our fellow farmer friends, keep working toward your dream. For all our non-farm followers, thanks for reading and buying local products from the farmers. We work hard to give you a great product. All the hard work is so worth it when you hear a customer say how wonderful your product is. Makes all the sweat, muscle spasms, late nights and early mornings worth it. Thank you for following our farm and reading these updates.

Paul Trusty