Poo Power

While reviewing his news sources recently, The Farmer saw a reference to a comparison of fertilizers on soil health.

In a study that spanned more than a decade, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison used varying levels of manure on one field and varying levels of inorganic fertilizers on another. Yet another plot received no amendments, acting as the control.

Fresh Cow Pile

Soil samples were taken in 2015 to assess how the soil fared with the different protocols used. And in September of this year the results were published by the American Society of Agronomy (ASA). The executive summary states:

Core Ideas:

*Long-term annual application of manure maintained the soil pH but inorganic fertilizer decreased it.

*Manure application increased soil organic carbon (SOC) and total nitrogen (TN).

*Higher manure rate helps in improving the water stable aggregates compared to inorganic fertilizer at 0- to 10-cm depth.

Fresh Chicken Droppings

There was also a warning that higher electrical conductivity readings in the manure-fertilized fields could indicate salt levels being too high.  But since The Farmer is not a member of the  ASA, he cannot get the report details to read the specifics.

As someone whose farm includes animals, and whose animals provide much of the fertility for garden, this is a heartening study.

This post’s bottom line: using what comes out of your animal’s bottom will help your farm’s bottom line…or, the power of poo keeps your soil from bottoming out.

Our well-aged compost pile

Awesome Administrator

The Farmer saw the above graph recently. As you can see, it shows that over the 39 year period 1970 – 2009, the number of doctors in the US increased by something like 100%.

They doubled.

During that same time, the number of administrators and support staff working in the health care field increased by over 3,000%.

Wow.

But guess what? Farming is no different. Administrative needs have ballooned.

Why? Well, step into The Farmer’s world and let him explain.

Continue reading “Awesome Administrator”

The Tall and the Short of It – Revisited

In an earlier post, we showed that our corn had met the “knee high by the Fourth of July” criteria.

We went out one month later, and it must be the weather is the right combination of warmth and water, as the stalks now tower over The Farmer.

And remember the short broom corn that was barely as big as the scissors?  Well, it is now taller than the regular corn!

It is the corn-like plant that is in the back.  Here is a close up of it.

What Gaia Saw

Gaia is our Great Pyrenees livestock guardian dog. Her job on the farm is to protect our livestock, and in particular, our meat chickens. On a recent morning, the young crew went out to do their chicken chores, and Gaia was at the end of her chain jumping and excitedly barking.  They let her go and she sped off to investigate a broken two-wheeled cart that is stored close by.

An older son was in the area and came to investigate. As Gaia ran around the cart, our son pushed down on the back so that she could snoop around under the front.

Something flashed out from under the cart…

Continue reading “What Gaia Saw”

The Tall and Short of It

A few years back, The Farmer was able to pick some multicolored maize (translation: “Indian corn”)  from the field of fellow farmer Robert Perry.  The Farmer had been meaning to plant it for himself and finally had space and time this year.

On Saturday, May 26, The Farmer planted the corn in hasty rows just to get it done. On July 6, we took a picture,  because your corn should be “knee high by the fourth of July.”

Multicolored maize

Continue reading “The Tall and Short of It”

Stray Livestock

From Jewish literature – If a man lets a field or vineyard be grazed bare and lets his animal loose so that it grazes in another man’s field, he shall make restitution from the best of his own field and the best of his own vineyard.  (Exodus 22:5 NASB)

Every so often we raise what we term a “naughty” cow. And our naughty cow recently went on a field trip to our neighbor’s house.

A naughty cow often develops when the calf is out with Mom, and she is in a non-electrified fence. The curious calf naturally wanders to and then through the fence.  The calf never learns that fences exist as boundary markers. Most of our calves eventually learn what a fence is, but need one hot wire to remind them. Naughty cows only respect fences with multiple strands of electrified wire.

Generally speaking though, cows are quite content to lounge in the area they are given. Sure, the grass is always greener elsewhere, but as long as they are not super-hungry, they will not cross a fence line to get it.

We currently have a naughty cow, and it changes the pasturing dynamic.

Continue reading “Stray Livestock”

Generational Agriculture

When The Farmer’s father was growing up, their family house burned down while they were out of town. Eventually the family landed on a 100+ acre former farm. The Farmer’s grandfather raised beef and had a garden to help feed his seven children. This was the property that The Farmer knew as “Grandma & Grandpa’s house.”

Of those seven children, several stayed involved in agricultural pursuits.

Child 1 (The Farmer’s father) ended up on his own small farm doing part-time agricultural stuff. His first career was teaching agricultural mechanics, and his last career was performing testing at farms as part of the New York State Mastitis Control Program. He now helps us with various projects on our farm.

Child 3 ended up with part of the “old homestead” and built his own small farm (the one pictured here, at an annual Memorial Day Picnic) where his part-time pursuits include raising beef, hay, and eggs, and working in his retirement at a nearby farm.

Child 5 married a man who was the owner/operator of a milk trucking company.

Child 6 married and ended up on a small farm of her own raising beef part-time and having a family milk cow.

Child 7 bought the remainder of the “old homestead” and while he does not farm per se, he does breed and raise Newfoundlands as a part-time venture.

The Farmer does not expect 70% of his offspring to maintain an intimate connection with agriculture, but it has been nice to give them that exposure as they are growing up.

Farm Technology?

When The Farmer graduated from the Cortland Enlarged School District, back last century, his parents bought him a Vic-20 computer. That was back in the days when you hooked your computing device up to your TV as a monitor.

The Farmer spent the summer between high school and college teaching himself the BASIC programming language.

He has dabbled with computer technology ever since.

Continue reading “Farm Technology?”