A Mountain of Dirt

A mountain of dirt!

This month has been all about the high tunnel. We had our meeting with the NRCS and received an extension until October 15 to have it finished. In my last update I had explained the trouble we had with our Bobcat. We thought it was a fuel line blockage but come to find out when we bought the gasoline for it from one of our local gas stations, they had put gasoline in their diesel tanks. We found out about it from a posting on Facebook. We were very thankful though that the supplier made good on his promise to reimburse us for the repairs to our Bobcat and the bad fuel we had purchased. That was a total of $748. We couldn’t, however, recoup the downtime it caused us.

So far, we have moved a total of 53 trailer loads (8 cubic yards per trailer load) for a total of 424 cubic yards. That is a lot of dirt! We aren’t done yet, but we are getting closer. We’ve also purchased the drainage rock and pipe to lay along the sides so that water can be carried away without eroding the soil. This past weekend we got the last 2 boughs (end boughs) put together along with the wind bracing attachments. We were thankful for the dry weather we had so that we could move that much dirt. As of this writing, we have and are incurring rain so we returned the rented dump trailer and will rent it again when it dries up. We were slowed down somewhat by the fact that our tractor’s front-end loader quit working. It is now in the shop and has been there 1 week already. I keep telling our NRCS representative that she probably thinks we are making this stuff up, but we aren’t. 

Our garden is still doing horribly. We went from all the rain to instant heat and dry conditions. We finally got irrigation ran, but by that time, we had lost several things even with me watering every night by hand. Honestly, the only thing doing well in our garden is okra and it is just starting to bloom. We have a tiny amount of tomatoes and the cucumbers are fading. We’ve already sold out of the onions we harvested and the garlic is so small we marked down the price just to get people to buy it. No way we will recoup our costs on the onion seed or the garlic seed. We planted 6 rows of beans and not 1 germinated. We think we planted the prior year seed but still you would think something would come up. We had thought about putting in a large fall garden but with the high tunnel deadline, there is no time to consider that. We keep saying, maybe next year will be different. Wondering now, if that isn’t the mantra of most farmers. 

We bit the bullet and decided to raise one more batch of chicks. When we had our farm meeting, we discussed expanding our product mix to include chicken brats. Swiss Meats produced very good brats. So, we’ve sampled about 6 or 7 varieties and are deciding what ones to choose. Right now, we really love the jalapeño/cheddar and the cheddar/bacon/ranch. We still want to try the tomato/basil/mozzarella, the BBQ and the jalapeño/swiss. We will narrow down to 4 and the options are many (far beyond what I mentioned). The catch is we need 50 pounds of meat per batch, so it really is quite a commitment (risk) and we want to be able to sell them for sure. 

Besides the 200 Cornish cross chicks, we also bought 50 more pullets. We got 10 brown leghorns, 10 black Australorps, 10 Easter Eggers, 10 Plymouth Barred Rocks and 10 Rhode Island Reds. We also bought 1 black Australorp cockerel. When Fred died, we knew we wanted to get a replacement and we loved him (black Australorp). That required getting the brooder cleaned out and ready for all the babies and required getting our smaller brooder ready to go for the laying flock. It had been so long since we bought baby chicks (other than Cornish cross) that I forgot how cute they were. I’ve missed the different colors. 

We celebrated my birthday and our anniversary (41st). We got our ground turkey picked up from the processor – the 30 broad breasted white turkeys processed at 16 weeks yielded 272 pounds of ground turkey and 30 pairs of drumsticks. They were huge (state fair size) and we’ve already sold out of them. We really liked raising the broad breasted whites and are already talking about expanding our quantity of these next year and including some turkey breasts in our product mix. 

We got our Bourbon Red turkeys moved out on pasture and they are enjoying having plenty of room to roam around. We will start taking deposits on these Thanksgiving turkeys next weekend at the market. Our customers love the rich, moist meat that these turkeys produce. We enjoy raising them, but they take a lot longer to get to the mature size – 26 weeks!

We got to take another farm tour – a repeat visit to one of our largest vendors at the DeSoto Farmer’s Market. She really knows what she is doing and raises so much food for the community. We are thankful she is willing to share her knowledge. 

We lost 2 of our older laying hens this past month and 1 guinea. We interrupted a dual fox attack. We are down to 7 guineas now, 2 males and 5 females. If we end up losing our remaining 2 males, we won’t be able to hatch our own eggs, so if that happens (I hope it doesn’t), we will take a break from guineas for a while. It defeats the purpose of keeping them in their coop all day. We want them outside enjoying free range and keeping our yard free from ticks and bugs. Our fox pressure and coyote pressure is so high though that unless you can keep the poultry behind electrified poultry netting, chances are they will get eaten. We have not been successful at live trapping foxes. About the only thing we can trap in our Have a Heart trap is skunks, raccoons and opossums. I think one thing that draws wildlife to our farm so much is our lake. They always have a plentiful source of water. 

That makes another update for another month. We hope by the time you read our next update we are almost finished with our high tunnel project. Time is ticking away that is for sure. We are having hints of fall (the shorter days, and some cooler temps and some of the leaves are starting to yellow and fall). Thanks for reading our updates, we sure appreciate each of you keeping up with our happenings.

Paul Trusty