GROW THE BEST HEIRLOOM TOMATOES, P. 31 Celebrating Rural America Since 1882 SP SECTECIAL I TIL ON:
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Circle #27; see card pg 65
YT2 Series 35 HP platform & cab.
In This Issue
80 TOOLS & TIPS SPECIAL SECTION 34 Seasonal Know-How: Tillers 35 Digging in the Dirt Whether you need to break new ground or prepare a proper seed bed, there’s a tilling tool perfect for the job.
39 Big Tillers Top tiller options for larger gardens, food plots, landscaping jobs, and other larger scale needs.
34 48 Keep a Breeding Pair of Pigs Considering the cost breakdown of raising a pair of pigs, it’s possible to more than break even while supplying your family with a year’s worth of farm-fresh pork.
58 A History of American Barns Shaping the landscape of the American farm, barns of all designs have a fascinating past.
67 In the Wild: Pronghorn Pilgrims Quick and agile, pronghorns are one of the fastest animals in the world, and they can be found roaming the grasslands of the West.
70 Panorama of the Llama What you never knew about the versatile and useful homestead barnyard camelid.
73 In the Shop: Here’s Your Sign Highlight your farm-raised produce and the personality of your homestead with a homemade sign for the farmers market or farm stand.
80 What to Expect When Animals Are Expecting Meddle as little as possible on delivery day, but be prepared to assist in case of surprises.
MARCH/APRIL 2017 VOLUME 135 NO. 2
6 Our View
20 Comfort Foods: Spring-Fresh Menu
Use the irst tender vegetables of the season, from the farmers market or your garden, and create a delicious meal everyone will love.
7 Your View Tiller Time
9 Facts & Folklore Wit and Wisdom From The Old Farmer’s Almanac
10 Mail Call ■ 75, and Still Going Strong ■ Decades of Wood Heat ■ Breaking Bread ■ Bread and Soap Memories ■ Hefty Cookware ■ Early Farm ‘Internships’ ■ Young Farmer ■ What’s a Girl to Do?
26 Recipe Box: Easter Brunch Menu A simple yet delicious Easter menu means less time in the kitchen, and more time with friends and family.
ON THE COVER 31 34 58 20 52 63 26 73
Heirloom Tomatoes Tiller Know-How Rustic Barns Spring Recipes Growing Watermelons Gourd Birdhouses Easter Brunch Menu DIY Farmers Market Sign
44 Home Brew 101 You can save a buck and produce your very own craft beers — it’s easier than you think!
Photograph: Londie Garcia Padelsky Cover Design: Matthew Stallbaumer
14 Friends & Neighbors ■ Looking
for dairy goats, a cream separator valve, recipes, and new and old country friends. ■ Deer Deterrent for the Garden and a DIY Lift for the Shop or Barn
GARDEN KNOW-HOW 31 American Heirlooms: Historic American Tomatoes Try a variety that harkens back to the days of the early frontier vegetable garden.
16 Gazette ■ Hometown Buzz ■ When Barnyard Becomes Classroom
24 Seeds of Spring The annual seed catalog provided welcome entertainment during the inal days of long winters.
52 Slice of Summer Grow your most flavorful watermelon yet, and behold a taste like no other when the hot months hit.
63 Grow a Gourd, Build a Birdhouse A fulilling project for gardeners who might want to use a piece of their bounty to attract some feathered, crooning critters.
96 Roodoodles Till and Grill
52 MARCH/APRIL 2017
.COM Celebrating Rural America 24 Hours a Day…
67% own a tiller
regularly go to farmers markets
56% grow both heirloom and hybrid tomatoes
Featured Comment “Suzanne, wow what difference in the before and after hog cleaning pictures. Our hogs were always semi-free range, in that we had a good-size pen for them to roam around, but never pasture. Our hog yard was always clean, but I just thought it was because of them walking around in it and not their eating and rooting habits. It truly is amazing how much they can clean up in such a short time.” — Nebraska Dave on “Plowing With Pigs: Woodland Edition”
Join the Conversation! Follow us on Potbelly pigs, like other breeds, can be butchered for meat.
@GritMagazine @grit1882 Sign up for newsletter www.Grit.com Become a GRIT blogger! Email email@example.com.
We raise potbelly pigs for food. My breeders are around 200 to 250 pounds, and the ones that size we part up. The smaller ones, 75 pounds and under, we keep whole. We have a 20-pounder smoking on the grill now.
Reader Blog: How Your Roof Affects Your Energy Consumption
— Tabatha McCool
— from Living Life Green by Bobbi Peterson
Inner Circle Look at our top trending posts from our ofice!
We have talked about raising pigs for meat, and I want something smaller than the pasture-raised feeder pig we had. These would be the right size for us. — Tashia Lund
They’re much more practical than hogs for people with less land. — Anjanette Hantz
“One of the keys to being energy-conscious is in the details around your home. This includes the type of roof you choose when building or replacing an old one. One of the best ways to have a green roof is to look into a ‘cool roof’ when planning your next home improvement project. “This particular type of roof is designed to absorb much less heat than a standard roof. It reflects the sunlight from the surface, which can be done several different ways — from reflective paint to reflective shingles to tiles. It might not seem extremely signiicant, but the installation of a cool roof can reduce the temperature of the surface by more than 50 degrees.”
Building an In-Ground Cooler
(2)/KABVISIO, BIGJOKER; FOTOLIA/NIKITA; KAREN K. WILL; CYNDA LETULLIER; FOTOLIA/STIEBER; MIXED VEGETABLES, ISTOCKPHOTO.COM/PEOPLEIMAGES; TOMATOES, ISTOCKPHOTO.COM/CINOBY
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: ISTOCKPHOTO.COM
How to Grow Truffles “European white truffles (Tuber magnatum) can cost as much as $3,600 a pound — making them ounce for ounce the most expensive food in the world. Since most folks can’t afford to buy truffles by the pound, they buy Black Diamonds, a small packet of shavings from French Black Perigord Truffles (Tuber melanosporum) that sell for a few hundred dollars. The native truffles that grow in the Paciic Northwest of the U.S. are not the same as European truffles, nor do they command the same high price.” Learn to grow truffles (www.Grit.com/trufles).
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Circle #23; see card pg 65
CALEB REGAN (2); GWEN REGAN
educated guess), and to this day, there is a main road in Esbon, Kansas, named Regan Street. Martin’s daughter Elizabeth donated land for the irst Catholic church in the area, and Martin built a sod home and then later a two-story framed home. I’ve always wanted to take the plat maps of the original homestead and walk that property near Esbon. By all indications, Martin possessed grit, as did so many in those days, and he might knock me upside the head if he heard me say I think of him while I plant potatoes. But I do, as well as his son, Frank, my great-grandfather, a man of considerable inluence who eventually settled somewhere around Valley Falls, Kansas, which is not far from where I live. I like to think that we both found the best area of Kansas to settle. If we don’t get the potatoes planted on St. Patrick’s Day, they go into the ground sometime right around then. And then everything else in the garden follows, and we look forward to longer spring and summer days with warmer weather. I love it. What about you? What are your springtime rituals, or your St. Patrick’s Day traditions? Do you have any knowledge of homesteading ancestors? Working for a publication like Grit, we’re always interested to hear about traditions and heritage. Send me a note (firstname.lastname@example.org), with a photo (JPEG, at least 300 dpi) if you have one, and we’ll try and feature a few of them in a future issue of the magazine. Until next time,
LEFT TO RIGHT: COURTESY
TOP TO BOTTOM: Martin and Margaret Cashel Regan, and son Frank Regan, Kansas homesteaders making a go of it in the New World with plenty of grit and determination.
TO ME, ST. PATRICK’S DAY is a special holiday. First of all, it’s my Grandma Mary’s birthday. Every year while she was alive — unless I screwed up and forgot, which I’m happy to say was rare — I would call her around midday to wish her happy birthday. Grandma was the most selless person I’ve ever known, and after telling me she was ine and all she was doing was sleeping and eating, we’d talk about how all the different cousins were getting along, and then about baseball, spring training, and my cousins playing professionally. I always looked forward to making that call, hearing her voice, and getting to tell her I loved her — and hearing her return the sentiment. Secondly, the holiday serves as a harbinger of spring. I think of the date as a benchmark when I can inally stop worrying so much about irewood, since spring is coming around the bend. It marks a time in the year when we can start thinking about when the crappie spawn will happen, make sure all of our mowing and property maintenance equipment is ready to go, and we can begin to look forward to hunting morel mushrooms. And the days are inally getting longer. And lastly, it’s a holiday when I celebrate my Irish heritage by planting potatoes and eating the delicious traditional meal of corned beef and cabbage. Every year when I’m planting potatoes, I think of my Great-Great-Grandfather Martin, who came over from Tipperary County, Ireland, to the New York state and Quebec area, and homesteaded a piece of Kansas ground by way of Illinois. At some point, our name was shortened from O’Regan to Regan (at least that’s my
Lisa Tarpley supervises the garden tilling.
Janel Gressett’s pups pose next to the farm’s trusty tiller.
Tiller Time Share your visual perspective with the Grit community. Post your photos at Facebook. com/GritMagazine, Facebook.com/CappersFarmer, or tag us on Instagram (GritMag). We chose several images you see here from those platforms, and you can ind more within the blogging community on our websites. Share your best shots, and we just might select one of your photos for a future issue of the magazine. To admire even more readers’ photos, visit Grit.com and CappersFarmer.com.
Freshly tilled garlic plot on Jeff Bolduc’s homestead.
Angie Chase bought her Troy-Bilt, used, 30 years ago.
Jason Skipper pauses to snap a photo while preparing an onion bed.
Kevin Martin has some help while turning ground.
Getting the spring garden ready, by Nancie Martin DeMellia.
VOLUME 135, ISSUE 2 EDITORIAL CALEB REGAN, Editor-in-Chief KELLSEY TRIMBLE, Managing Editor TRACI SMITH, Senior Associate Editor ILENE REID, Editorial Assistant ART/PREPRESS MICHELLE GALINS, Art Director KAREN ROOMAN, KIRSTEN MARTINEZ, Prepress Staff WEBSITE CAITLIN WILSON, Digital Content Manager DISPLAY ADVERTISING (800) 678-5779; email@example.com CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING (866) 848-5416; firstname.lastname@example.org NEWSSTAND Bob Cucciniello, (785) 274-4401 CUSTOMER CARE • (866) 803-7096 email@example.com
BILL UHLER, Publisher OSCAR H. WILL III, Editorial Director CHERILYN OLMSTED, Circulation & Marketing Director BOB CUCCINIELLO, Newsstand & Production Director BOB LEGAULT, Sales Director CAROLYN LANG, Group Art Director ANDREW PERKINS, Merchandise & Event Director KRISTIN DEAN, Digital Strategy Director TIM SWIETEK, Information Technology Director ROSS HAMMOND, Finance & Accounting Director GRIT Magazine (ISSN 0017-4289) March/April 2017, Vol. 135, Issue #2 is published bimonthly by Ogden Publications, Inc., 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609-1265. Periodicals Postage Paid at Topeka, KS and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Ogden Publications, Inc., 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609-1265. For subscription inquiries call: (866) 803-7096 Outside the U.S. and Canada, call 1-785-274-4361 Fax: (785) 274-4305
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Circle #10; see card pg 65
Facts & Folklore
Wit and Wisdom from The Old Farmer’s Almanac, always ‘useful, with a pleasant degree of humor’ THE FOUR EASIEST VEGETABLES TO GROW
Anyone who has spent hours picking beetles off potato plants or grieving over the devastation of blossom end rot on tomatoes may well wonder: What are the four easiest vegetables to grow? For those who would prefer to do practically no work between planting and harvest, we suggest the four following vegetables.
Radishes are among the irst crops harvested from the garden, some varieties maturing in less than three weeks. Since they grow so quickly, radishes need no fertilizer other than what is scratched into the soil at planting time. When seedlings emerge, thin them to 2 inches apart. Beets are another easy-care root crop. Both greens and roots are loaded with nutrition. Thin the young beets to allow room for the root to develop. If you prefer the greens to the roots, try growing Swiss chard, a leafy cousin that will out-produce beet greens. Growing beans is a snap, especially the bush varieties, which require no thinning or staking. Besides green varieties such as Kentucky Wonder and Derby, try Golden Wax, a yellow variety, or Purple Pod, which turns green when cooked. Zucchini plants are so productive that even rabbits look on with awe. During the growing season, your neighbors will be locking their cars and porch doors so you can’t “give away” excess gourds. Fortunately, zucchini squash is delicious. Serve it raw with a dip, fried, steamed, and made into breads, pickles, and relishes.
And time remembered is grief forgotten, And frosts are slain and lowers begotten, And in green underwood and cover Blossom by blossom the spring begins.
Planting aboveground crops: March 6, 7; April 3, 4, 30 ■ Planting belowground crops: March 15-17, 25; April 12, 13, 22, 23 ■ Setting eggs: March 12-14; April 9, 10, 18, 19 ■ Fishing: March 1-12, 27-31; April 1-11, 26-30
MARCH 9: Hummingbirds migrate north now. 12: Full Worm Moon; Daylight Saving Time begins, 2 a.m. 15: Beware the ides of March. 20: Vernal Equinox, 6:29 a.m. EDT
LEFT TO RIGHT: ISTOCKPHOTO.COM
Yields 6 servings. 3 pounds zucchini and yellow squash 1 ⁄2 cup butter, melted, divided 1 ⁄2 cup chopped onion 2 eggs, lightly beaten 1 tablespoon sugar 1 teaspoon salt 1 ⁄2 teaspoon pepper 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs 1 Preheat oven to 375 F. 2 Cut squash into large chunks. Boil or steam until tender. Drain, then mash. 3 In bowl, combine mashed squash with 1⁄4 cup butter, onions, eggs, sugar, salt, and pepper. Pour into 2-quart casserole dish. 4 Combine breadcrumbs with remaining butter and sprinkle over zucchini mixture in dish. Bake for 45 minutes. Serve hot.
SKY WATCH MARCH: The year’s highest and most dramatic moon for small telescopes can be seen at nightfall during the irst-quarter period of the 4th through the 6th. It nearly touches the orange star Aldebaran on the 4th. Jupiter now rises before 9 p.m. — the planet forms a lovely triangle with the moon and the star Spica on the 14th. ■ APRIL: Brilliant Jupiter comes closest to Earth on the 7th, still floating above the blue star Spica. The planet rises at sunset and is out all night. Venus begins its morning star apparition and sits to the left of the moon on the 23rd, before becoming its brightest on the 30th. ■
— Algernon Charles Swinburne, English poet (1837-1909)
BAKED ZUCCHINI & SUMMER SQUASH
APRIL 1: All Fools’ Day 11: Full Pink Moon 16: Easter Sunday, Orthodox Easter 29: Poplars leaf out about now.
For more content from The Old Farmer’s Almanac, visit www.Almanac.com.
I read your “Feeding the Fire” editorial. I have been cutting and splitting firewood since I became a teenager. I earned my spending money that way. I agree that there is nothing like wood heat. It warms the soul. There were times in my working career when I did not have the opportunity to do so because of working internationally. But I have always come back to heating with wood. I will turn 75 next month, and still look forward to the hum of a chainsaw and using a splitting maul. Yes, I don’t even use a hydraulic splitter. You learn to “read the wood” in all those years. We have enough dead standing wood on our property to last a thousand years. Mother Nature makes it faster than we can burn it. This small Harman (above) heats a 2,500-square-foot home with plenty of coals remaining when you wake up in the morning. My wife and I would not have it any other way. Electricity can go out, and we are self-sufficient. RICHARD GEY
We admire your love of the chore and the hard work you put in to heat your home, Richard. And we share your love for the hum of the saw. Wishing you safe cutting and splitting for years to come! – Editors
Decades of Wood Heat I have been heating with wood for several decades. The experience has been a whole family adventure. We bought 120 acres of heavy wooded land in the Ozarks. As soon as my boys were old enough to pick up sticks, they were part of our wood gathering chore. We never had to cut any live trees. Nature supplied us with enough blow downs, standing dead wood, and dropped limbs to fill the wood bin. Even though we all enjoyed the outside work, if the house and the stove are not energy efficient, you are working to heat the great outdoors; the gasoline burnt, calories used, with little gain — not much different than a campfire. Our experience also taught us to work
smarter. I now drag the whole tree to where we will split and stack the firewood. This reduces the “touch time” handling the wood by half. I have a tractor with a loader and 3-point splitter. I cut the trunk down to a log about 10 to 20 feet long. Then I lay the loader bucket perpendicular on top of one end of the log, loop a chain around the log, and then hook it over the front bucket. I lift the entire log up to waist level with the loader, and then cut the log to firewood length. It’s much easier on the back, and no more getting the saw chain into the gravel. Just a half-second nick on a stone trashes a chainsaw blade. By the way … filing a chain?! Who has time for that? I bought a nifty chainsaw sharpener that looks like the sharpener
75, and Still Going Strong
that the guy at the hardware store uses to sharpen chainsaws, except it clamps to the chainsaw bar so you don’t have to take the chain off. It’s 12-volt so I can do the sharpening out in the back 40. It has all the cut angle adjustments for different species of wood, cutting frozen, or ripping wood. Thirty years ago we started heating with wood with a woodstove bought at an antique sale. It was for an addition put on a travel trailer in the woods. We were so young and naive. That old woodstove was so full of air leaks there was no control over the combustion. The heat would force us to open windows, and then as the fire died down, we were cold. Getting a full night’s sleep without continuously tending the stove just wasn’t in the cards. The next level of our adventure was to build a 30-by-40-foot shop that was walled off for living quarters while we built the house. I found a used glass-front stove that was many times as efficient as the stove in the trailer. It only required one trip during the night to throw in a log or two. The heat loss wasn’t so much the stove’s inefficiency as the windows of the shop. We had 10-inch-thick walls with two types of insulation. We should have paid attention to “real” details of the windows that came with the shop’s building package. Yeah, they were double-paned, but that was about it. Any below-freezing weather resulted in ice formation on the inside. We got tired of the mess in the house that a woodstove makes. It’s not just the ashes and bits of wood around the stove, it’s the layers of dust that coats everything. As we were drawing out the plans for the house, the mechanicals got some serious attention. The woodstove was out. Bye-bye to the mess. In its place is a highly efficient woodburning forced-air furnace with LP backup in the basement, with an outside door located at the furnace, and 99 percent of the mess stays outside. I’m really impressed with the furnace. It has an “afterburner” to consume any smoke produced by the combustion. It has a chamber after the firebox that remixes outside air to reburn the leftover vapors from combustion. This does two things: I get total value out of the work I did to get the wood to the
CURT TIMM COURTESY
firebox, and it leaves the smokestack clean. We have used it now for 10 years. I have yet to run a brush down the flue. Every year I do a fall inspection. The only remnant of the fire in the flue is a white powder. My 8-inch brush is still in the box. This is great, since the smokestack is on a two-story house with a basement. That’s a whole lot of flue to clean. The furnace has a thermostat and operates just like a gas or electric furnace. I set the temperature to heat, and a draft fan comes on. This kicks up the fire. A sensor turns on the blower fan when the furnace heats up. When the furnace is hot, another sensor turns the draft fan off. The blower and draft fan run as required to get the temperature set by the thermostat. When the house gets to the temperature as set, it shuts down the draft fan, the blower cools off the furnace and shuts down. The fire smolders until the thermostat calls for more heat, then just like a gas or electric furnace it starts the process again. The only thing I do is load the firebox once a day. It would hold enough for several days, but in the fall and spring seasons, we really don’t want the heat during the day. It’s just a waste of wood and all our woodcutting work. There is a hot water preheater around the firebox. The water temperature from the outside is usually cold when we are using the furnace. This option was money well spent, as it reduces the time the hot water heater runs. During the house construction, the insulation type and especially the installation got a lot of attention. All the windows are the highest grade — not necessarily the most expensive. You don’t have to spend gobs of money to get good quality and efficiency, just do the homework. This lifelong adventure has resulted in much less wood burned. I can heat my house for the winter season with less than a cord of wood. I like being outside, but I also like playing with my hobbies. This morning it was 8 degrees. When I went to bed the house was 70. I set the thermostat at 65. In the morning it was 67. A great day for indoor hobbies.
HW GORDON Huntsville, Arkansas
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Circle #6; see card pg 65
Breaking Bread Just opened the November/December 2016 issue of Grit. I don’t often write in, but recently I’ve taken up the Timm family tradition of making our bread. My Grandmother Alma and Dad, Thomas, both from Appleton, Minnesota, made their own bread for years. While both have passed on, I think of them each time I’m mixing and kneading. Thanks for a great resource!
CURT TIMM Pace, Florida
Bread and Soap Memories You are so right on your article about Karen Keb Will’s breadmaking skills. I
had the pleasure of eating her bread and having her as a friend. She also was very proud of learning how to make soap, and I enjoyed teaching her to do so. My friend Heather and I loved meeting Karen and becoming friends. She came to Baldwin many times to visit and make soap. I talked to her two years ago today, her birthday, as she was getting ready for an upcoming trip to California. We made plans for when she returned to Kansas and all the things we wanted to do. Near the top of the list was a bow hunting trip on her farm in Osage County for spring gobblers. Our plans changed, but I am still hoping to sit in a blind with her and watch for that big tom to come out. She will always be in my heart. If you want to read about our soapmaking, there is an article in Grit magazine and online. Also a page is included in the Wills’ book Plowing with Pigs.
SANDRA JOHNSON Baldwin, Kansas Thanks for the note and for jogging our own memories, Sandra. Karen’s enthusiasm for the homesteader lifestyle MARCH/APRIL 2017
The article about cast-iron cookware was an enjoyable read and brought back many memories from the time I used it. But one drawback was not mentioned: weight. The heavy weight, which helps make it so durable, causes considerable difficulty for folks with arthritis and similar problems in shoulders, arms, wrists, and hands. Sadly for me, my castiron pans have been passed down to more able-bodied family members. Love your magazine!
DONNA SHELBY Rural Comanche, Oklahoma
Early Farm ‘Internships’ Your November/December 2016 article on the value of farm internships for young
people is spot on (“Farm Apprenticeships: Find the Perfect Mentor,” www.Grit. com/farm-apprenticeships). Having been involved in internships and placements at the college level for 20 years, it is clear to me that it is not “what you know” that counts in today’s economy, but rather “what you have done.” Regarding farm internships, the idea, however, is not new. Two hundred years ago, they called them “indentures.” In 1831, my great-great-grandfather David Hughson was indentured in New York to a farmer named Hiram Church. A picture of
Circle #4; see card pg 65
WILLIAM DWYER Somerville, Tennessee
Young Farmer I have subscribed to your magazine for a year now, and love it. I am 16 and live and work on our family’s 100-cow dairy farm. I have raised chickens for many years, and since subscribing to your magazine have put in a large garden. I have used many of the ideas from your articles, including the
the original indenture agreement between Church and David’s father, William J. Hughson, is shown (at left). The indenture called for 17-year-old David to work for three years while learning the farming trade, in return for which Church was to take care of the young man’s board, room, clothing, education, and medical needs. At the end of the indenture, David was to receive a horse, saddle, and bridle worth $100; a new suit of clothes; $50 in cash; and a Bible. He went on to become a life-long farmer in Genesee County, New York.
early on during her time in Kansas, as well as her awesome contributions to our pages, will forever be remembered fondly. – Editors
hoop house, growing pumpkins with hullless seeds, and winter sowing. I especially wanted to thank you for the peanut butter chocolate mud pie recipe in the November/ December 2015 issue. I won a state merit award at the county fair with it, and it has been a huge hit at holiday gatherings. I would love to see an article about homemade herbicides and garden insect repellents, and which ones actually work. Looking forward to future issues!
HEATHER KUHNAU Sauk City, Wisconsin
What’s a Girl to Do? There have been times when I knew life was going to change, and change drastically.
can the produce we grow, and even how to cook it. Now when people ask me what I do, I say, “I homestead.” Thank you, Grit!
My husband was recovering nicely from an accident that left him unable to work for eight months. During those long months, my income was our sole support, and I was grateful when he began searching for employment. The work he found required we leave a large city and move deep into the pine forests of Escambia, Alabama. I was happy for my husband. However, I found myself not only in culture shock, but there was no place for me to work. No one needed a book buyer in a pine forest in a rural area! After a few months of feeling very sorry for myself, I found your magazine, and I began to devour each article. A new dream began to take shape, and the 4 acres I live on suddenly became a diamond in the rough. It has been several years now, and with the help of your writers, I have a thriving chicken population, a vegetable garden, and many fruit trees. I have learned to
MARGARET MORGAN SILBERNAGEL Via Email
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Friends & Neighbors
Looking for… Dairy goats, a cream separator valve, recipes, and new and old country friends. DAIRY GOAT. I’m searching for and would like to purchase a 2- to 5-year-old Toggenburg dairy goat, preferably without horns. I’d also like to buy two Toggenburg bottlefed babies. Gerald Waddell 5490 Horseshoe Trail Drive Stover, MO 65078-1594 CREAM SEPARATOR VALVE. Somehow we lost our 1929-1931 #3 McCormick Deering Cream separator valve and spout. If anyone has one or knows where I can get one, please contact me. I am willing to pay a small fee and postage. Linda Brown 14020 25 Mesa Road Delta, CO 81416-7809
ADVICE. I have a small orchard, and I’m looking for suggestions on how to keep the birds, groundhogs, and deer from eating my apples. I’ve tried fencing the trees in, covering them with netting, and all types of scare tactics, such as relective strips, posted owls, and more, and nothing has worked. Kathryn Schanck 623 Windy Gap Road Aleppo, PA 15310-1411 POLICE GAZETTE. I’m a direct descendant of Isaac Singer, inventor of the Singer sewing machine. I’m looking for the Police Gazette ive-part series about him that was printed in the 1840s or ’50s. Dawn Shaw 43248 Charles Lane Leesburg, VA 20176-5280
HOMESTEADING MENTOR. I’m looking to move into a rural area and start a small homestead within the next two years. I’m looking for a mentor and pen pal interested in mentoring me through the process, and hopefully we can build a great friendship. I currently live in the city of Portland, Oregon, and have nine backyard chickens and a small garden. Kerry Proctor 2007 S.E. 114th Place Portland, OR 97216-3670
RECIPE. I’m requesting a recipe for cornmeal mush. My grandmother used to make it by frying it in oil or butter, and served it with syrup for breakfast. Charles Cryder 20 Spruce Court Stockbridge, GA 30281-5839 MUSIC AND LYRICS. My mother-in-law is 96 years old and would like to have the sheet music and lyrics to the song “Rank Strangers” by Ralph Stanley. Judy Krueth 38981 Fireweed Lane NE Kelliher, MN 56650-9416
INFORMATION. I’m in need of information regarding cold-packing, also known as hot water bath. I especially want to learn more about canning meat. I don’t want anything using a pressure cooker, though. I’m willing to pay postage. Pauline Birkhofer 1160 N. Isett Ave. Moscow, IA 52760-9739 RECIPE. I am trying to ind a recipe my grandmother made when I was a child. It was an angel food cake that included the addition of both maraschino cherries and chopped nuts. Gina Ottem P.O. Box 1195 Douglas, WY 82633-1195 MILKWEED SEEDS. I’m requesting seeds
PEN PALS. I am looking for pen pals. My interests are draft horse activities, collies, chickens, gardening, and small farms. My family lives in a repurposed hog barn (no, it no longer smells like one). Does anyone else live in a repurposed building? Sarah Wickstrom P.O. Box 362 Worthington, MN 56187-0362
Email your requests to email@example.com, or send them via the Postal Service to Friends & Neighbors, c/o GRIT Magazine, 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609-1265. Please print or write legibly and include a daytime phone number (it won’t be published) for fact checking. Letters may be edited or shortened and will be printed at our discretion as space allows – not every letter is published. GRIT magazine is not responsible for any correspondence you may receive because your name and address appear in print.
for milkweed plants. I am willing to purchase them at a reasonable price and will also reimburse postage. Jean Nichol 26376 Taft St. Hayward, CA 94544-3315
YARN NEEDED. I am asking for yarn donations. I crochet blankets, hats, and booties for newborn and premature babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at many hospitals in my surrounding area. This is strictly nonproit and everything is donated. I will accept any and all yarn donations. JoAnne Wallace 84 Church St. Ext. Smithield, PA 15478-9601
PEN PALS. I am a full-time ireighter for my local ire department, and I would like to correspond with others who share my interests. I’m married with two grown children, and I enjoy horses, gardening, and volunteering in my community. Michele Talley 806 K St. S.W. Quincy, WA 98848-1696
Friends & Neighbors
Deer Deterrent for the Garden & a DIY Lift for the Shop or Barn from our friends at FARM SHOW ®
Fishing Line Used to Stop Deer
FARM SHOW (3)
“We live back in the hills of Vermont, where deer are a real problem for gardeners,” says Gerry Hawkes, Woodstock, Vermont. “For the past 15 years or so, we’ve had excellent success keeping deer out of our garden by simply stringing a single strand of 30-pound-test monoilament ish line around the perimeter at midthigh height. Deer can’t see the line to jump it, so when they unexpectedly bump into it, they are spooked away. The 30-pound line is strong enough to keep from breaking, yet still hard for deer to see. “Each spring, before we plant and put up the line, we see lots of deer tracks through the tilled soil of the garden. As soon as we put the line up, there are no more tracks. When we take the line down after harvest, the tracks start appearing again right away.”
A single strand of ishing line keeps deer out of the garden.
Larry built a platform onto the mast where the forks once were.
Forklift Mast Used to Build Shop Elevator Larry Wood turned an old Clark forklift mast into a heavy-duty shop elevator by mounting it along one wall and building a platform onto the mast in place of the forks. He uses it to ride up to the upper level of his shop. The elevator is controlled by electrically powered hydraulics, so a simple electric switch is used to move it up or down. This makes it easy to retrieve parts or other equipment from the upper storage area. “Now I can ride up to the balcony with
whatever I want to store,” says Wood. “The 2-stage mast will lift 2 tons about 12 feet high, although the barn’s second loor is only 9 feet above the loor. The platform is big enough that I can load lots of stuff on it.” He attached the mast to a 2-by-6-foot steel tube located between two of the posts on his shop wall. He welded a steel frame to the mast forks and bolted a 4-by6-feet-long, 3⁄4-inch-thick plywood loor onto the frame. He made an electric-hydraulic power pack for the elevator by combining a 12-volt hydraulic power unit and a 12-volt battery that’s attached to a trickle charger. Electricoperated elevator buttons are mounted on the forklift and on the wall. “The elevator only uses power on the way up, so when I push the button, it coasts down. I store the elevator at the second loor level just to keep it out of the way,” says Wood. He bought the hydraulic power unit used at a yard sale for $125. He paid $100 for the forklift mast and spent about $200 to rebuild it, adding new rollers and repacking the hydraulic cylinders. For more information, contact Larry at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reprinted with permission from FARM SHOW Magazine, www.FarmShow.com.
Hometown Buzz classroom presentation, along with the opportunity to get your hands dirty and try some hands-on grafting. All participants will get to leave with two grafted tomato plants and instructions on how to care for their plants. Register at www.RodaleInstitute.org.
National Organic Standards Board Meeting
Learn more about where to watch these beautiful birds on visitors’ sites, including VisitKearny.org, VisitNorthPlatte.com, and NebraskaFlyway.com, and learn more about the sandhill crane species at Audubon.org.
Mountain West Seed Summit SANTA FE, New Mexico — Spend two days at the Mountain West Seed Summit learning all about seed saving, storing, and promoting for a fruitful future. The Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance, along with the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union and the McCune Foundation, will present plenty of seed knowledge through demonstrations, hands-on activities, group discussions, and seed exchanging. There will be live music and art on display, as well as locally grown and prepared food. Go to www.RockyMountainSeeds.org to see the lineup of seed speakers and visitor information.
Sandhill Crane Migration Tomato Grafting KUTZTOWN, Pennsylvania — Learn all about the ancient art of grafting. Join the Rodale Institute for their workshop on grafting tomatoes April 8. Great for beginners and those more experienced in gardening, this workshop will be part
Across the Midwest from late February through early April, sandhill cranes can be seen migrating north on their return trip to their summer habitat. Locations along the Platte and Republican River areas through central Nebraska are popular destinations for tourists and birdwatchers wanting to witness the great annual
Planning Your Perfect Homestead ATLANTA, Georgia — Planning your dream homestead can be overwhelming, with so many choices to be made and a lot to take on. The Homestead Atlanta provides a workshop for folks planning their hopeful homestead. Join local homesteader Joey Zeigler of Zeigler Homestead Services March 19 to begin goal setting and developing a design for your small farm. Topics to be discussed include irrigation, livestock care, gardening, soil testing, and more. For more details, and to sign up, visit www.TheHomesteadAtl.com.
(5)/TECNOFOTOCR, MARKIEANN, MARTHA MARKS, BARBARA HELGASON, SAN_TA
Find more information about the meeting, including the venue location and start times, and learn how to submit your request to comment at http://bit.ly/2jwuvQ3.
migration, where large numbers will make stopovers.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: FOTOLIA
DENVER, Colorado — Have a comment you’d like to share about the current climate of the organic food production industry? Submit your proposal to share a written or oral comment for the upcoming National Organic Standards Board meeting by March 30 for your opportunity to have your voice heard. The meeting is also open for the public to sit in on Wednesday, April 19 through Friday, April 21.
When Barnyard Becomes Classroom Agriculture-based schools provide students with farm know-how that complements their more general academic education. By Diana West
GOING TO SCHOOL may feel like a chore for some children, but not for the students of the Walton Rural Life Center in Walton, Kansas. Each morning they come bouncing off the bus, don rubber boots and work gloves, and head to the barnyard behind the school’s building. Students work in teams as they feed, water, and clean up after chickens, calves, pigs, goats, and sheep, all the while utilizing their math, science, and reading skills in the process. Rotating weekly, one grade performs barnyard tasks each morning. The children may not realize it, but this program has helped to keep the school open.
Back from the brink Nine years ago, the school had less than 90 students and was facing closure. Since becoming an agricultural-themed charter school in 2007 — one of the irst in the nation — enrollment has more than doubled with two classes of each grade, kindergarten through 4th grade. Wyatt Monaghen, 10, who attended the school for ive years, says his favorite chore was collecting eggs. He says some kids are afraid to reach under the hen to retrieve eggs. “I
GRIT.COM Learn how to develop a business plan for your farm (www.Grit.com/farm-school).
LEFT TO RIGHT: COURTESY THE FARM
Students attending an ag-based school enjoy the coursework and completing daily chores together.
just went up and did it,” he says, adding that his family has chickens at home. His sister, Gillian, 7, also enjoys gathering eggs and cleaning the cow pen. Their father, Sean, a high school teacher, says, “Even after school was out for the summer, both kids were excited to attend a morning ag camp there for two weeks.” Agriculture doesn’t just stay in the barnyard. It’s presented in every classroom and activity. In science class, irst-grade students watch a video called “The Needs of Animals” and sing along as they learn that every animal needs water, food, and shelter. Principal Jason Chalashtari says, “We have sheep ewes that had baby lambs, and through that process fourth-graders learned about what it takes for a young animal to survive the cold, be fed and watered, and have clean bedding.” Local farm families adopt classrooms, too. Carrie Budde provides eggs for the kindergarten classes in the spring, and students incubate and watch them hatch in the classroom. She keeps the chickens over the summer and returns them in the fall to lay eggs. Students also plant and harvest a variety of vegetables, including potatoes, carrots, corn, lettuce, and radishes that are served for lunch and snacks. They go on farm tours, read rural-themed books, design and sew quilts, and pull, clean, and card wool from the sheep they care for. Chalashtari says, “When you go outside and get your hands dirty and talk about what you studied in class, it becomes applicable to real life. The connection between
SCHOOL, ERIK JACOBS; DIANA WEST
Students at the Walton Rural Life Center learn how to utilize compost for gardening.
what they’re taught in the classroom and the real world application is the most important thing we teach here. I’m excited about the future and what we can accomplish here.” And so are the students.
TOP TO BOTTOM: COURTESY THE FARM
SCHOOL, ERIK JACOBS (2)
Not cooped up The Farm School in Athol, Massachusetts, has similar goals in mind. The Chicken Coop is a full-time home school cooperative for local middle school students. Instructors Wendy Davenport and Molly St. Clair teach the group of 14 seventh- and eighth-graders at the one-room Chicken Coop, which is a renovated chicken coop and a working organic farm. Several local farmers teach courses in farm life, music, and art, but Davenport and St. Clair teach the regular course work, including math, social studies, and physical education. Davenport has taught English and writing at the Farm School since it opened in 2002. Aside from basic subjects, students spend two days a week learning about different aspects of farm life from local farmers. She says, “They do farm work, such as stacking wood, harvesting and washing vegetables, weeding, and making jam, depending on the season.” They also bring in irewood and clean the classroom on school days. In addition, about 2,000 students from other area schools come for three-day visits throughout the school year to perform hands-on tasks and help out on the farm. St. Clair was irst exposed to the farm as a visiting ifth-grader. She returned each summer for a weeklong summer camp where students milked cows, cared for animals, sawed timber, built fence, cooked, gardened, and harvested hay. “I’ve always been into nature, outdoors, and the environment,” she says. She says what kept her coming back were, “the friendly adults who treat children the same as anyone else and believe that they can do the work of the farm just as hard.” She later worked at the summer camp during college. After college, she spent a year teaching visiting students before becoming a teacher at the Chicken Coop in 2014, where she teaches social studies, math, science, and the weekly essay. She loves all aspects of the Chicken
Local farmers come to the Chicken Coop to teach students about livestock care and more.
Coop. “We have a more lexible schedule, kids can be out on the farm, and it’s a unique thing for them to feed the animals, see the plants develop, and follow that whole process along.”
Second to none Extending ag education into secondary school, the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences (CHSAS) opened in 1985 to prepare urban students for professions and careers in agriculture. Any high school student in the city may apply, and selection is by lottery. More than 700 students — half boys, half girls — attend grades nine through 12. Sheila Fowler, the Agriculture Department Chair and FFA advisor, says, “We not only train students in production agriculture, but in all the careers that are out there after products leave the farm.” Juniors and seniors choose from six pathways: agricultural mechanics and technology; agriculture inance and economics; horticulture food science and technology;
The Farm School also hosts students from other schools for extended visits.
animal science; agriculture education; and biotechnology in agriculture. “The last pathway is to train agriculture teachers, because nationwide there is a shortage,” Fowler says. After graduation, about 35 percent major in agriculture in college. Opportunities for students to get their hands dirty include two greenhouses, livestock, and 50 acres of pasture where sweet corn, pumpkins, vegetables, fruit trees, oats, and hay are grown. Maggie Neeson, 15, says that aside from basic classes for her freshman year, she also took Ag History and Ag Career Leadership. “In Ag History, we focused on world history, making the connection to agriculture and how it played a role in whether there was a positive outcome, why that occurred, and how that affects today’s society.” In her Ag Career class, she worked on public speaking, problem-solving, and event planning. Although as a freshman she didn’t spend hands-on time with animals or plants, this past summer she enrolled in the Supervised Agriculture Experience, where students build fences, pick corn, feed animals, and clean the barn. “Attending that high school opened my eyes to how important ag is,” she says. She plans to become an architect, perhaps specializing in landscape architecture. Emmanuel Mitchell, 18, who graduated last spring, attended CHSAS all four years following the horticulture pathway. He explains why he wanted to attend there. “I would be getting an education and having experiences I couldn’t get anywhere else.” He says the hands-on experience in the greenhouses was invaluable, such as learning about standard temperatures that plants require and exposure to sunlight. Although he plans to pursue computer science in college, he says he deinitely will continue horticulture as a hobby. Principal William E. Hook sums up the goal of CHSAS, “Our school provides both academic and real world training for our students,” — and it seems other ag-focused schools would agree. Diana West is a freelance writer from Joplin, Missouri, who writes features, travel articles, and historical pieces. MARCH/APRIL 2017
Spring-Fresh Menu Use the first tender vegetables of the season, from the farmers market or your garden, and create a delicious meal everyone will love. By Gretchen Roberts berries picked early and shipped in from another country, depending on how high of a priority buying organic is for you. These recipes showcase the best of early spring produce. Delicate, sweet onions are caramelized into a quiche. Tender greens are tossed lightly with a shallot dressing. A succulent leg of lamb is paired with roasted new potatoes for a hearty main dish. And a creamy, tart rhubarb cake crowns the meal. SPRING GREEN SALAD WITH SHALLOT VINAIGRETTE This simple salad complements and offsets the richness of the quiche. Look for fresh greens, such as spinach, lettuces, dandelion, watercress, and arugula. Use a gentle hand when drizzling the vinaigrette, as a light coating allows the taste of the fresh greens to shine through. Yields 6 servings. 2 small bunches fresh spring greens, washed and torn into bite-size pieces (about 8 cups) 3 tablespoons olive oil 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar 1 tablespoon honey 1 shallot, inely chopped 1 ⁄4 teaspoon salt 1 ⁄4 teaspoon pepper 1 Place greens in large salad bowl; set aside. 2 In small bowl, whisk together olive oil,
fresh produce — from fragrant herbs to tender greens — and nowhere is spring produce fresher than straight out of your garden or at your local farmers market. If you’re purchasing from a farmers market, look for stands that sell organic produce. However, don’t forfeit fresh, local food for imported organics from the grocery store. Those juicy, ripe strawberries grown by the farmer whose name you know might make a much better pie than the organic straw-
SWEET ONION QUICHE Give it a shot, and you’ll ind this hearty quiche with bacon and sweet, caramelized onions up
GRIT.COM Whip up delectable springtime fare with wild ingredients after you take the family foraging (www.Grit.com/foraging).
AMONG THE SEASON’S many other tantalizing attributes, spring is a herald to long-awaited
vinegar, honey, shallot, salt, and pepper. Drizzle sparingly over greens, and toss to coat. Serve immediately. 3 Cover and refrigerate leftover vinaigrette, and use within a week.
6 cloves garlic, peeled, divided 1 teaspoon sea salt 1 ⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 1 ⁄2 cup fresh mint 21⁄2 pounds grassfed leg of lamb 2 pounds new potatoes, scrubbed, unpeeled 1 Preheat oven to 450 F. 2 Place 3 cloves garlic, salt, pepper, 1 table-
to par. This dish involves several steps, but you can make it ahead of time and serve it at room temperature if you wish. Use fresh cheese from your farmers market if you can ind it. Yields 6 to 8 servings. 9-inch pie crust 1 medium sweet onion, thinly sliced 2 tablespoons butter 1 tablespoon sugar 4 eggs 11⁄2 cups milk or half-and-half 2 cups grated Swiss or white cheddar cheese 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt 1 ⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 ⁄8 teaspoon ground nutmeg 6 strips bacon, fried crisp and crumbled
ROAST HERBED LEG OF LAMB WITH NEW POTATOES Grassfed lamb doesn’t taste anything like the lamb from the grocery meat counter. It’s mild and tender, with an ideal amount of marbling, and it is best served medium-rare, so make sure you don’t overcook it. — Karen K. Will. Yields 6 to 8 servings.
spoon olive oil, mustard, and mint in food processor. Process until coarse-textured paste forms. 3 Rub paste over lamb, coating well; let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. 4 Place potatoes, remaining oil, remaining garlic, and an additional pinch of salt and pepper in medium bowl; toss well. 5 Put potatoes in bottom of large roasting pan. Place lamb on top of potatoes. 6 Position rack in lower third of oven. Roast lamb and potatoes for 1 to 11⁄2 hours, or until instant-read meat thermometer registers 140 F (medium-rare). 7 Transfer meat to plate, and tent with foil. Allow to rest for 15 to 20 minutes. 8 Arrange potatoes and lamb on serving platter. Garnish with additional fresh mint, if desired, and serve.
1 Preheat oven to 400 F. 2 Line 9-inch pie pan with pie crust; trim and
crimp edges of pastry. Set aside.
TOP TO BOTTOM: ISTOCKPHOTO.COM/TRAVELLINGLIGHT;
KAREN K. WILL
3 In large skillet over medium heat, cook
onion, butter, and sugar, stirring occasionally, until onions are tender and golden brown, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool. 4 In medium bowl, whisk eggs. Stir in milk, cheese, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. 5 Layer onions in pie crust, and pour egg mixture evenly over top. Sprinkle with bacon. 6 Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until center is just set. Cut into wedges, and serve warm or at room temperature. MARCH/APRIL 2017
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RHUBARB UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE This cake tastes best when it is fresh from the oven, while the rhubarb is still warm. If available, throw in sliced fresh strawberries with the rhubarb. Yields 8 to 9 servings. 2 cups sliced rhubarb (about 5 medium stalks) 11⁄2 cups sugar, divided 1 ⁄2 cup heavy cream 2 cups flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 1 ⁄2 teaspoon salt 1 ⁄4 cup butter, softened 1 egg 1 cup milk 1 teaspoon vanilla 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Circle #22; see card pg 65
toss rhubarb with 1⁄2 cup sugar. Spread mixture evenly in pan, then drizzle with cream. 3 In medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. 4 In large bowl, blend butter and remaining sugar. Add egg, milk, vanilla, and lemon zest, and cream until light and fluffy. Stir in flour mixture until just combined. 5 Pour cake batter over rhubarb mixture in pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted through cake (but not rhubarb) comes out clean. 6 Cool in pan for 10 minutes on wire rack before turning onto serving plate so rhubarb is on top. Serve warm.
1 Preheat oven to 350 F. 2 In 8-inch square or 9-inch round cake pan,
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The annual seed catalog provided welcome entertainment during the final days of long winters. By Jerry Nelson
Illustrations by Dennis Auth Winter is a mean season. It shoves us around with its icy winds, and when we retreat to the warmth of our homes, it taunts us by implying that we have let ourselves go soft. Winter is the season thatâ€™s most likely to bully us. It seems winters lasted a lot longer when I was a kid compared to nowadays. In fact, I once endured a winter that lingered for nearly two years. Then again, time passes at a glacial pace when youâ€™re a hyperactive boy trapped in a snowbound farmhouse. In the old days, before the internet made everything instant, our rural mail carrier was a crucial link to the outside world. One of the most important things the mailman brought us when winter pounded on our windows was the annual garden seed catalog. The seed catalog we received always landed in our mailbox at precisely the right moment. It would arrive late in the winter, when we had been besieged by the
cold for so long that we forgot what live vegetation looked like. My seven siblings and I would crowd around the glossy brochure, marveling over the shimmering ears of golden sweet corn and the shockingly scarlet strawberries. We secretly wondered if these things were even real. After months of nothing but stark whiteness, it was hard to believe that anything so luscious and colorful actually existed. The catalog quickly became the center of our collective attention, and we began to voice opinions regarding which seeds we should order. We had loud discussions regarding the virtues of particular vegeta-
GRIT.COM Get a head start on spring planting by sowing before the snow is gone (www.Grit.com/winter-sowing).
ble varieties and began to quote promotional material to make our points. “I think that the Danvers Half Long has the perfect blend of lavor and tenderness!” one of my siblings might shout in the heat of such a discussion. “Shows what you know!” another of my siblings would retort. “Everyone knows that the Tendersweet is easy to grow and is considered the tastiest on the market!” “You kids be quiet!” Mom would interject. “Neither of you even likes carrots!” The seed catalog became dog-eared and marked with smudged ingerprints. Its Technicolor photos of astonishingly perfect produce — cucumbers the size of a man’s arm and dewy tomatoes that were an impossible-to-resist shade of crimson — were our window to the exotic, far-away world of summertime. Hoping to stop the vociferous debates amongst us kids, our parents would call a family meeting to decide what to order from the catalog. Its order form and the correct amount of cash and coin (counted several times by each of us) were carefully placed in an envelope and reverently placed in the mailbox. Some weeks later, the mailman would bring us a package from the seed company. We would feverishly tear the box open and revel in its contents. “Look at the packets of seed for these astoundingly round radishes!” “You can almost taste this yummy, delicious summer squash!” “Now if spring would just hurry up and get here!” Winter would gradually retreat to its lair in the North. The soil would begin to warm, releasing the earthy aroma of trillions of bacteria feasting on dead organic matter. Dad would pick out a spot near the farmstead for our garden. He would then “volunteer” my two brothers and me into illing our manure spreader with the pungent dung from one of our calf pens. He would spread the smelly calf manure across our garden spot, then stand back and appraise the results with a critical eye. “I think the garden could also use a dab of chicken manure,” Dad might pronounce. We boys would groan. Chicken manure was the worst of the worst, stink-wise. But Dad, our family’s maestro of manure, insisted that we scoop the coop so we could spread at least one load of super-smelly chicken manure onto the patch of land that would grow our food. Once the garden was fertilized to his satisfaction, Dad would hook our John Deere A tractor onto his two-bottom plow and meticulously turn the soil of our plot. Hardly a speck of manure could be seen when he had inished plowing.
It was then up to us youngsters to rake the garden of the clods the moldboard had left behind. Some of these clods, we discovered, were just the right size to serve as dirt grenades. We might lob them in the general direction of a passing barn cat, making the requisite whistle and “kaboom” noises with our mouths as the startled feline scampered for cover. When all was inally ready, the sacred seeds were ceremoniously brought out to the garden and planted in the rows we had laid out with sticks and baling twine. We would stand beside the garden and admire our handiwork, wondering how it would turn out, wishing that we were looking at fresh produce instead of a bare patch of dirt. Sadly, our garden lacked a fastforward button. Spring melted into summer, and we gradually lost interest in the garden. Watching vegetables grow became a low priority when more exciting options presented themselves. These included such things as illing jelly jars with June bugs captured by the porch light, or creating intricate water diversion projects in our driveway after a summer thunderstorm. On the rare days we spent indoors, the parental admonishment, “You should burn up some of that energy by hoeing the garden!” sounded like punishment. Just a few months earlier, those same words would have been cause for jubilation. As we whacked at the weeds, we might be heard grumbling, “Who ordered all these stupid cucumbers?” or “I know darn well what these carrots are growing in! Yuck!” Autumn would arrive, and we would trade our unstructured farm life for the rigid regimen of school. A few lakes of snow would lutter from the sky, and we would know that our old tormenter had returned. As winter snarled outside our windows, we took great comfort in the jars full of crimson tomatoes and golden sweet corn that had somehow made their way onto our pantry shelves.
Jerry Nelson is a former dairy farmer from Volga, South Dakota. He and his wife, Julie, live on the farm that Jerry’s great-grandfather homesteaded in 1887. They have two grown sons. He enjoys gardening, traveling, and putting around on his 1949 John Deere A. Jerry’s new book, Dear County Agent Guy, is available at Workman. com and at booksellers everywhere. MARCH/APRIL 2017
Easter Brunch Menu A simple yet delicious Easter menu means less time in the kitchen, and more time with friends and family. By Diane Hawkes Now our children are grown with their own children, and we have Easter brunch at my house. We have found that we prefer this over an Easter dinner, because we eat sometime in the late morning, which gives us more time to sit around and socialize. Afterward, we have an Easter egg hunt for the grandchildren. Everyone heads home sometime in the afternoon, and there’s not a mad rush to clean up dinner so everyone can get home to get the kids ready for bed for school on Monday. This menu works great for a lot of occasions. My son and his wife host a birthday brunch for their son’s birthday with a slightly different menu. We have also done Mother’s Day brunch, or you could do a spring or fall brunch. If you have a lot of people to feed, you can add bacon and sausage to the menu, along with bagels or mufins. And there’s always a pot of coffee on. Enjoy! SPIRAL HAM WITH HONEY-MUSTARD GLAZE Yields 6 to 8 servings. 1
⁄2 cup honey ⁄2 cup spicy mustard 10- to 12-pound spiral ham Water
WHEN I WAS A CHILD in the 1950s, we got dressed up every Easter Sunday and went to my
until hot. Remove from heat.
paternal grandparents’ for dinner. Dressing up meant matching Easter dresses for my sister and me, along with bobby socks and patent leather shoes. We wore a dressy little jacket, called a topper, and an Easter hat. We even carried a little purse and wore gloves. My brother wore a suit and tie, and my parents dressed up as well. Dinner was always served later in the day, and the spread consisted of turkey with kielbasa and sauerkraut. As we grew up, got married, and had children of our own, we started going to my parents’ house to celebrate Easter dinner and continue with the tradition.
3 Place ham, sliced side down, in 9-by-13-inch
roasting pan. Spread glaze over ham, covering all sides. Add an inch or so of water. Cover pan with foil. 4 Bake for 2 hours, or until center reaches an internal temperature of 145 F. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.
GRIT.COM Fill these delicious bread baskets with tomatoes, cheese, herbs, and other goodies (www.Grit.com/bread-basket).
1 Preheat oven to 400 F. 2 In small saucepan, heat honey and mustard
2 Divide dough in half. On lightly floured sur-
ALIDA’S BROCCOLI & SWISS QUICHE Yields two 9-inch quiches. CRUST: 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour 2 ⁄3 cup shortening or lard Ice water FILLING: 2 tablespoons butter 1 medium onion, chopped 2 cups broccoli, cooked and drained 2 cups grated Swiss cheese 1 pound bacon, diced and cooked crisp 4 eggs, lightly beaten 1 cup heavy cream Salt and pepper, to taste 1 To make Crust: Place flour in bowl. Cut in
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shortening with fork until mixture resembles crumbs. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until mixture just holds together. Do not knead.
face, roll out each half into circle slightly larger than 9 inches. Carefully place each pie crust in 9-inch pie pan. 3 Crimp edges of pastry, and prick bottom and sides of crust with fork. Set crusts aside. 4 To make Filling: Preheat oven to 350 F. 5 In medium saucepan, melt butter. Add and sauté onion until soft and translucent. Remove from heat and let cool. 6 In mixing bowl, combine onion, broccoli, cheese, and bacon. Set aside. 7 In separate bowl, whisk together eggs, cream, salt, and pepper. Pour over onion mixture, and mix until combined. 8 Divide mixture evenly between unbaked pie crusts. Bake for 45 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
FRENCH TOAST CASSEROLE Yields 6 to 8 servings. 1 loaf French bread 8 large eggs 2 cups half-and-half 1 cup milk 2 tablespoons sugar 2 teaspoons vanilla 3 teaspoons cinnamon, divided 2 teaspoons nutmeg, divided 2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar 2 tablespoons light corn syrup 1 Generously butter 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
Slice bread into 1-inch-thick slices, and arrange in rows in baking dish. Set aside. 2 In large bowl, combine eggs, half-and-half, milk, sugar, vanilla, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon nutmeg. Whisk until blended but not bubbly. 3 Pour egg mixture over bread slices and spoon some between slices. Be sure all bread slices are covered with mixture. 4 Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight. 5 The next day, about an hour before you plan to eat, preheat oven to 350 F. 6 In small bowl, mix butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, remaining cinnamon, and remaining nutmeg until well-combined. 7 Remove casserole from refrigerator. Allow to come to room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes. Spread brown sugar mixture evenly over bread and egg mixture. 8 Bake for 45 minutes, or until puffed and lightly golden. Cool before serving.
PERFECT SCRAMBLED EGGS Yields 6 to 8 servings. 4 tablespoons butter, divided 1 ⁄2 onion, inely chopped 10 to 12 eggs 1 ⁄4 cup milk Salt and pepper, to taste 1 In large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter.
Add and sauté onion until soft and translucent. Remove from heat. Set aside. 2 In large bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. Add onion, and mix well. MARCH/APRIL 2017
3 In same skillet, over low heat, melt remain-
ing butter. Pour in egg mixture. Using wooden spoon or spatula, slowly stir eggs in skillet. Continue to cook and stir until eggs are just set. Remove skillet from heat. Eggs will continue to cook slightly. 4 Season with salt and pepper, and serve hot.
SIMPLE FRUIT SALAD 2 Just before serving, drizzle with honey and
top with nuts, if desired. NOTE: Use any mix of fruits desired.
MIMOSAS Orange juice Champagne or sparkling white grape juice Orange wedges and strawberry slices, optional 1 Fill champagne glasses half full with orange
1 About 30 minutes before brunch, combine
juice. Top with equal amounts of champagne.
fruit in large bowl. Add yogurt, if using, and toss lightly. Cover and refrigerate until ready to eat.
2 Garnish with orange wedges and sliced straw-
berries, if desired.
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1 cup sliced strawberries 1 cup blueberries 1 cup peeled, sliced kiwi 1 cup cubed cantaloupe 1 cup cubed pineapple 1 cup cubed watermelon 1 cup yogurt, plain or flavored, optional Honey and chopped nuts, optional
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Yields 6 to 8 servings.
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Historic American Tomatoes Try a variety that harkens back to the days of the early frontier vegetable garden. By Lawrence Davis-Hollander
Photography courtesy RareSeeds.com like, and how it was used are clues that tell us about our farm, garden, and culinary history, and allow us to get an accurate comparison between the original variety and the modern. Fortunately, there are numerous historical tomato varieties that still exist and remain relatively true to their original form. Many taste wonderful, while some perform better in “ideal” years and soil types.
Give ’em a whirl
Livingston’s Golden Queen is a uniquely sweet yellow tomato.
HEIRLOOM TOMATOES come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and lavors. Some are mysteries, with little known about their origin, while others are distinctly heirloom, handed down within a family over a couple or more generations with a story attached. We tend to know the most about those historical varieties. What sets historical varieties apart is that they can be placed in a fairly speciic point in time. We ind them mentioned in an old seed catalog, a state agricultural report, gardening book, journal, cookbook, or other source, and discover their release date, parentage, an old photo, and learn how they fared when compared to other varieties. While taste is important, it is thrilling and interesting to know the entire story behind a plant. This past year, I grew President Garield, a fairly rare rufled tomato that originated in Denmark in 1884, three years after the assassination of the respective President of the United States. This rufled tomato was already a “throwback” in the world of tomatoes when rounder, more consistent American varieties had been produced for more than a decade, yet nevertheless it is a great conversation piece. These varieties are living history. The hand that created a variety stretches right through the centuries to deliver that tomato to our own gardens today. Knowing what company or individual developed it, how old it is, what part of the country it came from, what it looked
One of the irst named varieties still available today is Early Large Red, which was popularized in the United States in the early 19th century. It was one of the most widely grown varieties in its heyday. This tomato is “rufled” like most other larger tomatoes from this time period. The more round and oblate “modern” tomatoes were not available until after the Civil War. Fruits are 3 inches across on small vines and relatively early. Flavor is good, and it is best suited for cooking. Tomatoes did not typically make their way into salads at this time. Trophy is one of the irst round tomato varieties. It was developed by Dr. T.J. Hand of Baltimore starting around 1850 by
GRIT.COM Find seeds for your favorite heirloom varieties with these tips (www.Grit.com/heirloom-seeds).
Atlantic Prize is great for stewing and canning.
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crossing round cherry tomatoes with the rufled types. This was a breeding breakthrough and produced a tomato of fresh eating quality. This tomato was superior to any previous variety. It was not widely circulated until it was introduced and promoted by Colonel Waring of Ogden Farm near Newport, Rhode Island, in 1870. Seeds were pricey, at 25 cents apiece or $5 for a packet of 20 seeds. The fruits are red, relatively round, with good mild taste. Paragon was also introduced in 1870 by Alexander Livingston of Reynoldsburg, Ohio, who selected one distinctive plant in a ield as his subject from which to develop his tomato through selective breeding. Livingston was a seedsman and entrepreneur who started the Buckeye Garden Seed Co., which later went bankrupt, but he also founded the Livingston Seed Co. that still operates today. Livingston considered Paragon to be the irst perfectly round and smooth tomato. The fruits are classic red and about 8 to 10 ounces, with very good lavor. Livingston and his sons developed more than a dozen varieties into the early 20th century, some of which are parents of many important varieties. Notable Livingston tomatoes include the pink Livingston’s Beauty, which was so popular that trainloads of them were grown in the South and shipped north. Livingston’s Favorite was released in 1883, selected from a ield of Paragon explicitly for canning. Favorite is red, ranging from rounded to oblate, with very good taste perfectly suitable for fresh eating. One of my favorites is Livingston’s Golden Queen. While released by Livingston in 1882, it was by his own admission “discovered” at a county fair at a farmer’s stand. It is medium yellow with a red blush at the base, and is of very good eating quality, with a distinct balance of acidity and sweetness not often found in yellow tomatoes. Earliana, or Spark’s Earliana, was introduced by Johnson & Stokes seed company of Philadelphia in 1910 and selected from a unique tomato plant growing in a ield of tomatoes by George Spark from Salem, New Jersey. This plant has particularly early yields, with red oblate fruit between 4 and
True Black Brandywine makes great salsas.
Brandywine is a favorite heirloom tomato.
5 ounces, and of good eating quality. Earliana was widely grown commercially in the irst half of the 20th century and formed the breeding stock for many subsequent early bearing varieties. Lambert’s General Grant is an excellent tomato. It is large, a meaty 12 ounces or greater, crimson-pink, and oblate. It is ribbed around the shoulders, with consistently excellent lavor. Not much is known about its precise origin. The variety was developed by a gardener in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, who had been working with the plants for about ive years and had begun circulating the seeds in 1867. It was released in 1869, and can be considered one of the irst beefsteak tomatoes. Chalk’s Early Jewel originated in Norristown, Pennsylvania, in 1889 by James Chalk and formally released in 1899. Plants are relatively small with red fruits borne in clusters and fairly early. Bonny Best is an improvement upon Chalk’s, introduced in 1908 by Walter P. Stokes Seed company of Philadelphia. Both varieties are relatively round, red,
KEEP IT THAT WAY! Bonny Best are top-notch canning tomatoes.
Abraham Lincoln has thick, delicious flesh.
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Yellow Brandywines produce large, rich-flavored fruit.
Livingston’s Favorite is a favorite among chefs.
productive, and make a good fresh-eating and processing fruit, 6 to 8 ounces, with good acidity. While not as early as Chalk’s, they are more vigorous and productive. The Ponderosa tomatoes are another group of wonderful beefsteak tomatoes. Pink Ponderosa, or Henderson’s Ponderosa, was introduced in 1891 by the Peter Henderson & Company in New York City as “Tomato Number 400.” Customers were offered $250 to come up with the best name, and in 1892 it became known as Ponderosa. These tomatoes are large, pink, and oblate, about 12 ounces to a pound or more. They are meaty, borne in clusters, and fairly good yielding. Their taste is excellent. No inventory of historical tomatoes would be complete without mentioning Brandywine, probably the most famous American historical tomato. Sometime before 1886 in Ohio, a customer of Johnson & Stokes in Philadelphia sent them seeds, which became Number 45 in their trial garden and the last in the row. The tomato was released as Brandywine and only had a small
nonillustrated mention in the 1889 catalog out of concern that there would be insuficient seed because of the perceived demand. The following year, it got an interior illustration of a 3-pound-plus fruit and color version on the back cover. Brandywine is deep pink, with great rich favor, meaty, relatively few seeds, and large oblate fruit often weighing more than a pound. The plants are large, with distinct “potato” leaves. It is one of the best. There are many more historic varieties worthy of any garden, including Cardinal, Mikado, Abraham Lincoln, and the recently recovered Atlantic Prize, to name a few. When you are growing tomatoes, be sure to add a couple of these classic historic varieties to your garden plans, and impress your neighbors with a taste of history and a lesson from the past. Ethnobotanist and former director of the Eastern Native Seed Conservancy, Lawrence Davis-Hollander enjoys gardening and cooking, as well as admiring bald eagles and seasonal wildlowers at a nearby preserve.
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L A N O S A SE : W O H K N OW
Whether in the Dir t break ne you need to prepare w ground or a bed, the proper seed r perfect f eâ€™s a tilling tool or the jo b. 39 Big T iller s Top tiller larger ga options for landsca rdens, food plot p s other lar ing jobs, and , ger scal e needs .
IN THE Whether you need to break new ground or prepare a proper seed bed, thereâ€™s a tilling tool perfect for the job.
By Oscar H. Will Gardeners have been stirring the soil ahead of planting for as long as gardens have been around. In some cases, the tilling was little more than a scraping away of existing vegetation and loosening the soil with a rock or stick. In others, bone or rock hoes and antler-tine cultivators accomplished the same work. Still later, animals were employed to do the digging directly, or to provide the draft for pulling larger wooden and then iron and wood plows and cultivators through the ground. Fast-forward to the 21st century, and you can still do all of the above, and you can also add purpose-built mechanized tillers to the mix. Read on for some hints at how to navigate the choices. GRIT.COM Looking for a no-till method or want to save some money? Broadforks are an effective soil-churning tool (www.Grit.com/broadfork). MARCH/APRIL 2017
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Hand tools When many gardeners think about tilling, their minds turn irst to the labor-saving rotary tiller — but you may not need that much power or investment. If your garden plot is less than a tenth of an acre, and your soils are well-developed and friable, you can easily spade-dig the plot in the course of an hour or two. Spade digging involves systematically turning the soil with the spade — or a shovel works, too. Chop the clumps with a hoe and rake them out with a soil rake, and you are ready to plant. When your garden grows larger, you can accomplish much of the same soil preparation and weeding tasks with a wheel hoe. This device allows you to cover more ground, with small moldboard plow, hoe, and cultivator attachments. The wheel hoe isn’t the best tool for incorporating mulch or clumpy manure, but it is wonderful for loosening up a seed bed, cultivating, and hilling. You can manage most of the early and inseason tillage work for a garden up to a half acre or more with a wheel hoe — but as your patch progresses ever larger, you may want to bring on the power tools.
Mini tillers Rotary tillers come in a number of sizes and capabilities. At the small end of the scale are the 2-cycle or 4-cycle mini tillers (sometimes called cultivators) that were put on the map by Mantis. A number of manufacturers sell them now — they all consist of a lightweight engine mounted above and coupled to a gear-driven transmission that turns a set of spring steel tines at relatively high speeds. These tillers are operated through a set of controls mounted to lightweight handlebars. Expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $600, depending on the make, model, and accessories. Mini tillers have tines that rotate away from the operator — the end result is that they pull the tiller forward. With a little experience, the mini tiller can
be used to dig trenches, pulverize soil to good depth, cultivate weeds, incorporate amendments, and even till down cover crops, corn stalks, and other garden debris. Corded electric mini tillers are also available, which pretty much do the same work of their fueldrinking cousins, but the cord is a tether. Rechargeable cordless electric units have also become available — these are great for cultivating small weeds and working in raised beds. Look for gas models from Mantis, DR Power, Troy-Bilt, and Cub Cadet; corded electric models from Mantis, DR Power, Earthwise, Greenworks, and Sun Joe; and cordless electric models from Troy-Bilt, Greenworks, and Black & Decker. If you need more capacity or simply wish for a machine that won’t be pulling on you so dramatically as you use it, you might want to consider something a little larger and heavier.
The mid-tine tiller can offer better handling and weight balance than front-tine options, but at a cost.
TOP TO BOTTOM: COURTESY
MACKISSIC; LORI FONTANES
Front-tine tillers Useful for preparing the seed bed in a larger garden, front-tine tillers — the engine is located above and slightly behind the tines — really shine when the hard work of breaking new ground is complete and when the amount of garden trash or cover crop residue is moderate and not particularly ibrous. Like the mini tillers, these units have forward-rotating tines and tend to need to be held back — by the operator as well as a depth stake. The harder the going, the tougher the workout for the operator. Front-tine tillers tend to be more expensive than mini tillers but less than rear-tine
Various versions of the broadfork achieve the same work as the tiller only by more manual means.
tillers, and most make use of chain or belt drives, or a combination of chains or belts and gears. The fronttine tiller excels where gardens are not too large and the soil structure is good. Most front-tine models are also equipped with a pair of transport wheels that can also improve maneuverability in the garden. Look for products from makers such as Husqvarna, Earthquake, Ariens, Troy-Bilt, and others, and expect to spend up to around $600 for a good model.
Larger two-wheeled tractors are capable of accepting a number of additional attachments like mowers and grader blades.
The heavy workhorses in the rotary tiller realm are designed with powerful petroleum-powered engines out front that are coupled with transmissions of various designs that send power to the drive wheels and then on back to the tines. These machines are among the most versatile of tillers and, because of their wheeled power units, many (such as the BCS models) are capable of accepting a number of additional attachments such as mowers or grader blades. Some can even be itted with mini hay balers! Plan to pay anywhere from $400 to more than $2,000 for various models and sizes from makers
such as DR Power, BCS, Husqvarna, Cub Cadet, Troy-Bilt, Earthquake, MacKissic (they also make a “mid-tine”), and others. Small rear-tine tillers like the Troy-Bilt Pony models make sense for smaller gardens where part of the program includes residue management or working in plenty of straw, leaves and other organic matter, or cover crops. Larger rear-tine tillers are great for largerscale garden prep, but they can also be used to stir and condition large mulch piles or mix custom potting mixes in large batches, and they positively excel at breaking new ground and plowing down cover crops and crop residues. These machines can also be itted with hilling and furrowing attachments to facilitate potato planting and corn cultivating. Rear-tine tillers are available with tines that rotate forward (standard rotating tines), backward or reverse (counter rotating tines), or both (dual rotating tines), but not at the same time. The dual-rotating-tine models allow you to make a transmission selection to rotate the tines as required. Forward-rotating tines will tend to push the reartine tiller along, however, the drive wheels will tend to keep the tiller’s progress under control. These units, while ideal for preparing soil, plowing down green manures, and working in amendments, do their best work at relatively shallow depths, since the action of the rotating tines has a tendency to lift them out of the ground. The operator needs to apply controlled downward pressure in tough soils, but too much downward pressure can cause the tines to dig in and literally force the drive wheels out of the ground, which will make the tiller lurch forward. If your soils are tougher or you want to prepare a deep, luffy seed bed in a single pass, you might choose the rear-tine tiller with counter-rotating tines. These machines tend to bite into the soil and the tine action pulls the tines deeper — pulling against the drive wheels, which generally win the tug-of-war. The result is that the tiller moves forward more slowly and the soil is pulverized nicely. Hard clay soils and breaking new ground are the forte of the counter-rotatingtine tiller, although it can also be used to handle crop residue, cover crop management, and the like. When you are faced with a mixture of soils and tasks, the dual-rotating-tine tiller is a great option. Use the standard setting for routine work and the counter setting for tougher going. Choosing this option will offer added versatility, but at a inancial cost. Hank Will uses a Hoss Tools wheel hoe as well as multiple other tilling machines to help coax a yield from his garden in rural Osage County, Kansas.
BRAD ANDERSON ILLUSTRATION; COURTESY BCS
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L ONA S E A S - H OW : W KNO S
Top tiller options for larger gardens, food plots, landscaping jobs, and other larger scale needs.
By Tim Nephew
When my wife and I purchased our rural land, we had several plans to develop and enhance the property. We discussed gardens, food plots for wildlife, and even the possibility of planting a vineyard.
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Sitting around the dinner table, we drew maps with the locations for our projects on paper, and even laid out plot sizes. A 3-acre vineyard would allow us to plant a few hundred grape vines of different varieties, and we designated spots for a couple of 1-acre food plots for wildlife. We also wanted a garden — a big garden — for all sorts of vegetables that we never had room for in town. After staring at the layout of our upcoming projects, a sudden wave of reality set in. We had designed more than 5 acres of land to get ready for planting, and in its current state, it was overgrown with weeds and thick prairie grass. Its soil hadn’t seen a plow in 15 years. I planned to spray a broadspectrum herbicide in the spring to get rid of the unwanted weeds, and we owned an 8N Ford with a two-bottom plow that would break up soil. But to get ready for spring planting, it would take a lot more work and equipment. I couldn’t wait to start working the land in the spring, and after spraying and plowing the plots, I started using a small disc that could be pulled behind my ATV to break up the plowing. Frustration quickly set in, as even working the small garden plot required hours of passing over the plowing with the disc that still left many clods that would impede planting. I have a small walk-behind tiller that I used on my small garden in town, so I decided to start working the garden plot with the tiller. After spending another couple of hours with the small tiller, with less than desirable results, I knew I had to ind an alternative. I stopped by our local farm implement dealer and asked about renting a PTO-mounted tiller. Because my 8N does not have a “live” PTO, he suggested I rent a small tractor with a PTO-mounted tiller that would do most of the work I had in mind. I rented the tractor, tiller, and trailer for one day and was able to disc my garden and two food plots with ease. I also spread some fertilizer and lime to amend the soil, and incorporated the additives with the tiller. The rental wasn’t inexpensive — I paid $250 for one day of use — but I didn’t see any other alternative if I wanted to get my various projects planted in time. It has been 17 years since that irst year of breaking up the soil on our land, and since that time I have purchased a tractor and PTO-mounted tiller and have found both to be invaluable to me when working our property. If you ind yourself needing to till land in areas larger than a small garden, tow-behind tillers and tractor-mounted PTO-driven tillers may be a great option for you.
Tiller basics Tillers have a variety of uses and come in many shapes and sizes. Regardless of the size of tiller, they all share a basic design that uses spinning tines or blades that are mounted on a central shaft that is driven by a transmission powered by either its own mounted engine or an outside power source such as a tractor’s PTO. Besides breaking up soil for planting, tilling soil increases soil aeration, and the turning blades are great for incorporating not only fertilizer but organic material like compost or manure into the soil.
Tilling equipment exists for any size of tractor, be it subcompact, at top, or garden or lawn tractor.
Tow-behind tillers Tow-behind tillers were designed for people who need a powerful tiller but perhaps don’t have a tractor with a PTO, or those who need to use the tiller in tight, tough-to-get-at places. Tow-behind tillers have the distinct advantage of being able to be pulled by a MARCH/APRIL 2017
L ONA S E A S - H OW : W KNO S
OPPOSITE: From selfpowered tow-behind tillers to PTO-driven attachments and even tow-behind cultipackers, attachment options add versatility and utility to the equipment you already own. BELOW: One major beneit of tow-behind tillage and plow equipment is that it can be attached to a variety of pulling machinery.
variety of equipment such as garden tractors, ATVs, UTVs, and even small utility tractors. If you are not familiar with a pull- or tow-behind tiller, think of your walk-behind tiller but with a lot more power. You may ind walk-behind tillers in power ranging from as little as 1⁄2 horsepower all the way up to 12 horsepower. Most pull-behind tillers are going to be in the 12 horsepower range, but they have the distinct advantage of not having to use their power to also propel the tiller. Tow-behind tillers can devote all of their torque to the task of turning the tines, which equates to more power to break up hard, compacted soil. Tow-behind tillers also have the advantage of covering a lot more area per tilling pass. They come in tilling widths in the neighborhood of 36 to 48 inches, and most attach via a standard hitch-pin setup. Tow-behind tillers’ versatility really comes into play when you have hard-to-reach areas, such as food plots that are off the beaten path, and several models come with pneumatic tires that allow you to safely travel over uneven ground. Most have the ability to adjust the depth of till — though limited — by several inches.
Tow-behind considerations If you are considering purchasing or renting a towbehind tiller, you should carefully consider what your needs are. ■
How much horsepower do I need? Am I mainly using it to break up new soil, or will I be mostly doing maintenance on existing land? What are you going to be attaching the tiller to? ATV, UTV, or your garden or other small tractor? What kind of hitch system do I have or will I need? Can I get by with a 36-inch tilling width, or do I need a 48-inch? If you are doing remote plots, what type of tires are on the unit? Getting a lat tire a mile off the road can be a real pain. Match the tires to your usage. Should I rent or purchase the tiller? If you are going to be using the tiller on a consistent yearly basis, you may want to consider purchasing, as rental costs on tow-behinds can be expensive, and you could justify purchasing one if you rent too often.
PTO tractor-mounted tillers If you currently own or are thinking about purchasing a compact or mid-size tractor, you may want to consider adding a three-point hitch mounted rotary tiller. The beneit of using your tractor’s PTO power and hydraulic three-point hitch to get your tilling work done is that it’s fast and eficient. About the only disadvantage of a tractor-mounted tiller is that they require a fairly wide-open area to operate in, so tight spaces can be a hindrance. Tractor-mounted tillers are available in a variety of sizes to match tractor horsepower and category of hitch. From subcompact tractors with 16 horsepower to full-size 100 horsepower tractors, there is a tiller that is designed to it your needs. Most tillers can be purchased in width sizes to match the tractor’s wheel width for one pass tilling. The depth of the till can usually be set by adjusting the shoes on the tiller and with additional control with the tractor’s hydraulic system.
PTO-driven tiller considerations
If you have a tractor already and are looking to add a tiller, make sure you match the horsepower rating of the tiller to your tractor’s capability. Putting too big of a tiller in horsepower rating on a smaller tractor can create serious problems for both the tractor and tiller. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on tiller and tractor pairing.
When looking for a tractor-mounted PTO-driven tiller, there are some basic considerations.
DR POWER; COURTESY STEINER; COURTESY KUNZ ENGINEERING TOP TO BOTTOM: COURTESY
What type of work will you be using the tiller for, and how often? Tractor-mounted tillers come in many lavors and durability levels. You may pay more for a heavy-duty tiller but you may be able to get a lifetime out of a lighter-duty tiller based on use. Will you be breaking new soil every year and tilling heavy crop residue, or will your use be more moderate?
What type of drive system does the tiller have? Chain drives and gear and shaft drives are the standard options. While chain-driven systems function well, gear drives tend to be heavier built and stand up to more rugged use.
Does it have a slip clutch or use a shear pin? A slip clutch allows the tiller to disengage when it encounters a solid object such as a rock or large root. This saves excessive damage to the gear box of the tiller and mitigates the stress that can be placed on your tractor. Shear pins are a “bolt” that is designed to break if it encounters damaging torque. With a slip clutch, you can back up or lift the tiller with the hydraulics, and you are on your way. If you break a shear pin, you had better have a spare pin with you, or you’re done for the day.
As with a tow-behind tiller, determining if you should rent or purchase a PTO-driven tiller really depends on the amount of use. Renting a tiller can be expensive, plus you have to trailer your tractor to the rental shop, hook up the tiller, load up, and drive back to your location. It doesn’t take but one or two trips before your time and effort outweigh the cost of ownership. If it is truly a one-time project, then maybe renting is the way to go.
Tillers can be one of the most versatile tools that you will ever use on your farm or rural property. Regardless of the type of tiller you choose, your tiller will help you minimize the time and effort involved in soil preparation, readying seed beds, or providing non-chemical weed reduction. Tim Nephew is a freelance writer who lives in Minnesota, where he owns and maintains 80 acres for wildlife to enjoy. He contributes regularly to the pages of GRIT, as well as our sister publications, including MOTHER EARTH NEWS.
GRIT.COM Consider plowing with pigs — you don’t need a tractor to get the crops planted (www.Grit.com/plowing-with-pigs). MARCH/APRIL 2017
Home Brew You can save a buck and produce your very own craft beers — it’s easier than you think!
By Chris Colby There’s something about a cold brew that helps bring a hard day’s work to a close. Beer in the United States has come a long way in the last 40 years. As a young man in the 1970s, I remember seeing generic beer on the shelf. At that point, it was just a commodity — a pale, izzy beverage indistinguishable from others like it except for the labels. The equipment The most common batch size for home brewers is 5 gallons. This makes just over 48 standard 12-ounce bottles. You can easily brew beer at this scale in your kitchen with a minimal amount of equipment. Home brew shops sell kits that include everything you need to start, except a large brew pot and empty beer bottles. The price of starter kits is generally between $70 and $200, depending on what the kit includes. Starter kits including kegging equipment are typically more expensive.
GRIT.COM Use your newfound brewing skills and learn how to make hard cider (www.Grit.com/homemade-hard-cider).
These days, the beer aisle is overlowing with styles of beer from all different types of brewing traditions: British ales, German lagers, strong Belgian beers, and more. Brewers in the United States are taking classic styles from around the world and giving them their own twist. American-style IPAs, for example — all the rage right now — are descended from English India pale ales. This “beer renaissance” has been partly driven by home brewers, and you, too, can brew any beer you desire in your own home.
The main items in a brewing starter kit include: a food-grade plastic bucket or glass carboy in which to ferment the beer; a second bucket to hold the beer before bottling; tubing necessary to move the liquid from vessel to vessel; and a bottle capper. For beginning brewers, a 5-gallon stainless steel pot will work well as a brew kettle. At a minimum, you’ll need a pot that will hold 3 gallons of boiling liquid with at least a gallon of headspace for foaming.
The ingredients There are four basic ingredients in beer: malt, hops, yeast, and water. Malt is a cereal grain that has gone through the process of malting, which I’ll explain later. The most commonly malted grain is barley, followed by wheat. In some beers, such as American-style pilsners, unmalted cereal grains — corn or rice — may be used along with the malt. Malt supplies the sugars for the yeast to ferment and the “malty” breadlike lavors to beer. Specialty malts may add caramel, biscuit, or roasted lavors to darker beers. For 5 gallons of average-strength beer, around 5 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), 8 to 10 pounds of malt is required. Hops are the female cones of the hop bine. Hop cones contain lupulin glands that contain compounds called alpha acids. These compounds give beer its bitterness to help balance sweetness from the malt. The lupulin glands of hops also contain oils that lend a pleasing aroma to beer. For a 5-gallon batch of beer, only a few ounces of hops are needed. Brewers yeast is a living organism — a fungus — that ferments the sugars in the malt, and is separated from the beer after fermenting. So, although it’s a beer ingredient, it is not present in the inal product, except in some specialty beers like German hefeweizens, which have a layer of yeast at the bottom of every bottle. Hundreds of billions of yeast cells are required to ferment just 5 gallons of beer. However, yeast cells are tiny, so a thick slurry of only 1⁄2 cup yeast supplies that amount. The remainder of beer is water. Most beer is more than 94 percent water. The basic requirements for brewing water is that it be potable and free of chlorine compounds. If you carbon ilter municipal tap water, it can be used for brewing. The carbon ilter will remove chloramines — chlorine compounds added to municipal water sources for sanitation. Well water can be used if it meets typical municipal standards and is free of iron. If you don’t have a ilter, you can also treat your water with Campden tablets — the tablets home winemakers use to sanitize their unfermented wine. One tablet treats 20 gallons of tap water. Of course, other ingredients — including fruits, spices, coffee, chocolate, etc. — may also be used in beer, but the main four ingredients are malt, hops, yeast, and water.
CASCADING PALE ALE American Pale Ale Style 5.1 percent ABV 44 IBUs (International Bitterness Unit) Yields 5 gallons. 2 pounds 5 ounces US 2-row pale malt 7 ounces crystal malt (40 °L) 4 ounces crystal malt (60 °L) 4 pounds 2 ounces light dried malt extract 1 ounce Centennial hops at 10 percent alpha acids 1 teaspoon Irish moss 1 ⁄4 teaspoon yeast nutrients 2 ounce Cascade hops at 5 percent alpha acids, divided 1 ounce Cascade dry hops 11-gram package Fermentis US-05 dried yeast 5 ounces corn sugar, to prime bottles for 21⁄2 volumes of CO2 1 In your brew pot, heat 1 gallon
water to 161 F. Place crushed grains in steeping bag, and submerge in pot. Use a large spoon to break up any clumps of malt. Temperature should settle around 150 F. Keep mash at 150 F for 60 minutes, then slowly heat to 168 F, stirring constantly. 2 In a second pot, heat 2 quarts water to 170 F for sparge water. After steeping grains, remove and place a large
colander over your brew pot. Set grains in it, and rinse with the sparge water. 3 Add water to make about 3 gallons of wort. Stir in roughly a quarter of the malt extract, and bring to a boil. Do not let wort volume drop below 21⁄2 gallons during boil. Add boiling water as needed to maintain 21⁄2 gallons. 4 Once boil starts and the irst bits of “hot break” (particles in wort) show, add the Centennial hops, and boil for 60 minutes. 5 When there’s 15 minutes left on timer, add Irish moss and yeast nutrients, and let boil. 6 With 10 minutes left on time, add 1 ounce of the Cascade hops and let boil. When boil timer is done, add remaining Cascade hops and Cascade dry hops. Stir in the remaining malt extract in the last 10 minutes. Dissolve into small amount of wort irst to make it easier to incorporate. 7 Chill the wort to 68 F, and transfer to fermenter. Add water to make 5 gallons, and aerate thoroughly. Pitch yeast, and ferment beer at 68 F. 8 Transfer to a keg, or add priming sugar and process into bottles.
Four steps There are four basic steps in making beer, but you only need to do the last two or three at home. The irst step is malting. Barley seed is soaked in water and sprouted, and is then kilned (heated) to stop the sprouts from growing and lightly toast the husk. This process converts plain old barley into barley malt. This step is done by a maltster. Home brewers, and the vast majority of commercial breweries, buy their malt rather than producing their own. The next step is mashing. The barley malt is crushed and soaked in hot water. Then the liquid from this mix, called sweet wort, is drained from the mashing vessel. Some home brewers do this step at home. Others buy malt extract, which is sweet wort that has been condensed by the maltster. Adding water to the malt extract will reconstitute the wort. This is convenient and how most home brewers get started. Others make some of MARCH/APRIL 2017
their wort from malted grains and use malt extract for the rest. This is the approach I will explain. Next comes the boil. The wort is boiled to sanitize it and to coagulate proteins that would otherwise cause haze in the beer. Hops are added and the alpha acids are extracted and converted into a form that is pleasantly bitter. Hops added early in the boil and boiled for an extended period lend bitterness to the beer, as alpha acids take awhile to be extracted. Hops added near the end of the boil give beer a loral aroma as the volatile oils in the hops are quickly extracted, but also boil away quickly. After boiling, the wort is chilled and the yeast is added. The yeast consumes the sugars in the wort and converts them into ethanol and carbon dioxide. Essentially, hopped wort is fermented into beer. So, you can think of beer as being brewed with four ingredients, and being brewed in four steps — malting, mashing, boiling (and cooling), and fermentation.
1) For your irst time brewing, be sure to follow a recipe. 2) Combine malt extract with water to reconstitute the wort. 3) After the boil begins, start adding hops at intervals speciied in your recipe. 4) Ensure your carboy or fermenter is sanitized before adding the wort. 5) Siphoning wort to measure speciic gravity, in this case making a barley wine-style beer. 6) Pitch the yeast to your brew, and allow to ferment according to your recipe.
The irst time you brew, you will probably want to follow an established recipe. See the recipe on Page 45, or there are also numerous recipes on the internet. When you purchase the ingredients, ask the home brew shop to crush the grains, unless you have a grain mill. Store the crushed grain in a cool, dry place until it’s time to brew. Likewise, keep your hops in the freezer and the yeast in the refrigerator until then. To brew these recipes, you will also need a large colander. Your irst step as a home brewer, and the most important one, is to clean and sanitize all of your equipment. Clean everything, preferably with a brewery cleaner such as PBW (Powdered Brewery Wash), and rinse. This may be included in your beginner kit. If not, you can ind it separately at any home brew shop. Next, sanitize everything that will come in contact with chilled wort. This includes your fermentation vessel, any tubing used for transfer, airlocks, and the like. If you don’t clean and sanitize everything, you risk allowing your beer to become contaminated and develop off odors and lavors. Popular sanitizing agents for home brewers are iodophor and Star San. Fill your fermenter with sanitizing solution and let it sit for about ive minutes before draining the liquid. If you have a bucket fermenter, soak any other equipment that needs to be sanitized while you’re sanitizing the bucket. If you use a carboy, run the sanitizing solution from the carboy into a clean sink, and use this to soak the other items for ive minutes. In your brew pot, begin heating 11⁄2 gallons of water to around 160 F. Place the crushed grains in a nylon steeping bag. Steep the grains in the hot water for 60 minutes, using a spoon to break up any clumps of grain. The water temperature will drop when the
TERRY WILD STOCK (6)
The home process
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grains are added. Hold the temperature at the temperature speciied in the recipe — usually between 148 and 162 F — as best as you can. As the steeping time progresses, the pot will cool slightly. Add heat in short, 10- to 20-second bursts to reestablish the correct temperature. Heating in short bursts makes it easier to avoid overshooting your target temperature. While the grains steep, heat 3 quarts water to 170 F in a large pot. When 60 minutes is up, remove the grain bag from your brew pot and let it drip into the brew pot. Then, place it in the colander, and situate this above the brew pot. Rinse, or sparge, the grains with the 170 F water from the smaller pot, and let the runoff low into your brew pot. After rinsing the grains, set the colander and grains aside. Once the grains cool, you can feed them to livestock or compost them. Add water to the wort in your brew pot so that you have 31⁄2 gallons of liquid in the pot. Stir in roughly half (or slightly less) of the malt extract, and heat the mixture to a boil. You will need to boil the wort for about 60 minutes. Do not let the wort volume drop below 3 gallons. Top up with boiling water if needed. Once the boil starts, let it go for a couple minutes and then add the irst dose of hops. Start the timer, and boil for 60 minutes. Add remaining hops at the times indicated in your recipe. Stir in the remaining malt extract during the last 10 minutes of the boil. You can take a separate pot and dissolve the malt extract in a small amount of wort irst to make it easier to stir in. When the boil is over, chill the wort to 68 F. You can chill the wort by placing the pot in a sink illed with cold water. Change the water a few times as it warms up, then add ice to the sink water when the wort temperature drops below 90 F. Next, transfer the chilled wort to your fermenter. To do this, use a racking cane, and siphon the wort into your sanitized fermentation vessel. There will be a fairly thick layer of debris, called trub, at the bottom of the kettle. Do your best to leave as much of this behind as possible. A small amount of trub in the fermenter is a good thing, as it provides nutrients for the yeast. Add enough water to make 5 gallons and aerate thoroughly. Aeration gives the yeast oxygen. You can aerate the wort by sealing the fermenter and shaking it vigorously for a few minutes, or beating it with a sanitized whisk for the same amount of time. Home brew shops also sell aeration devices that let you pump iltered air, or even oxygen, into the wort. Once the wort is chilled and aerated, add the yeast, and ferment the beer at 68 F, or whatever temperature speciied in the recipe. Seal the fermenter, and afix the fermentation lock, illed with water, to the fermenter. This airlock will bubble as fermentation proceeds, vigorously for a couple days, then slowing. For most
normal-strength ales, fermentation will last four to six days. When the beer has stopped fermenting, let it sit for two to three days before bottling.
Bottled up To bottle the beer, clean and sanitize your bottling bucket, tubing, and large spoon. Also, clean and sanitize 52 12-ounce brown beer bottles. Alternately, you can bottle in 28 22-ounce bottles. Dissolve 5 ounces, or however much your recipe speciies, of corn sugar into water and heat it to a boil. Use just enough water to dissolve the sugar. Cool briely and add to the sanitized bottling bucket. Transfer the fermented beer into the bucket and stir gently with a sanitized spoon. There will be a layer of yeast at the bottom of the fermenter. Disturb this as little as possible. Once the beer is transferred, put the lid loosely on the bottling bucket, and begin transferring beer to the bottles. Leave a small amount of headspace in each bottle, comparable to what you see in commercial beers. Then use the bottle capper to seal the bottle. Seal the bottles as you go, rather than illing all the bottles before capping. The longer beer is exposed to air, the more it will be primed to go stale faster. So work as quickly as you can comfortably manage. You should not need to sanitize the bottle caps if they come from a clean, unopened package. But you can boil them for a couple minutes in water, if desired. Once the beer is bottled and capped, let it sit for at least a week at room temperature. Chill one bottle overnight and open it. If it is carbonated, then the rest of the beer can be chilled and consumed. If you want the beer to be clear, let the bottles chill for at least three days before opening. Sometimes a newly chilled beer will be a bit cloudy initially. To serve bottle-conditioned home brew, pour the beer into a chilled pint glass, leaving the yeast sediment behind. You will have to sacriice a small amount of beer to do this. I’ve been home brewing for about 25 years, and the best advice I can give any home brewer would be to take cleaning and sanitation seriously. Cleaning up immediately after you brew is fairly easy. But if you wait, it gets much more dificult. Second, always keep your yeast happy. Pitch an adequate amount of yeast, aerate the wort well, and keep the fermentation temperature within the yeast strain’s speciied range. Third, avoid exposing fermented beer to air as much as you can. Keep your airlocks topped up with water. Make transfers quickly, and seal the next vessel as quickly as possible. Finally, practice makes perfect — and beer has a tendency to run out quickly. Start brewing your next batch of beer before the previous batch runs out. Happy brewing!
Chris Colby is an avid gardener who lives in Bastrop, Texas, with his wife and cats. His academic background is in biology, but his main interest is in brewing beer. His new book Home Brew Recipe Bible (Page Street, 2016) contains 101 recipes for a variety of beers. MARCH/APRIL 2017
BREEDING of Pigs PAIR Considering the cost breakdown of raising a pair of pigs, it’s possible to more than break even while supplying your family with a year’s worth of farm-fresh pork. By Jim Curley
Conventional wisdom says that it is not cost-effective to keep a boar unless you have five or six sows. Based on our experience, however, I propose that this really depends on the availability and price of piglets, the availability of a boar (if you already have a sow), how much food you can produce on the homestead to feed the boar or
In my part of the country, the Midlands of South Carolina, weaned piglets from quality sources are getting scarce. When I started raising pigs for my family a few years ago, $70 could buy a pair of high-quality 8-weekold piglets. Now you are lucky if $70 can buy you one. If you want to keep a sow and get her bred by a local boar, irst make sure you can ind a quality farm to partner with. Several people have approached me about using my boar for a stud. I occasionally agree,
but only if I know the person and their farm. I am leery about bringing disease from another farm onto my homestead. Most people who have a quality boar don’t want to risk injury or disease by loaning their boar out for breeding or bringing sows in. Let’s say you would like to raise four pigs a year for your family’s freezer. How much will it cost to keep a breeding pair to produce these four pigs? It might be more approachable than you ever thought.
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breeding pair, and how much space you have to keep them in.
CLOCKWISE, FROM TOP LEFT:
KIM CARR; JANET GARMAN; WENDY SLATT; JANET GARMAN
Inputs A boar will require about 2,000 pounds of feed a year to stay healthy and productive. To keep the boar in good shape for breeding, you want him in lesh, but not fat. Two thousand pounds of feed translates into 40 50-pound bags of feed. At $11 per 50-pound bag of 14-percent protein, this is $440 per year. However, if you have pasture, grass, vegetable patches, scraps, excess garden produce, or have access to other bulk feed at a lower cost, you should be able to cut this igure approximately by half: $220 per year. At our homestead, approximately half of our boarâ€™s feed is comprised of commercial feed of 14-percent protein. The other half is comprised of grass, weeds, hay, excess garden produce, and table scraps. (We boil our table scraps and do not include meat scraps.) Often we rotate the boar between pens which have been planted with pumpkins, turnips, cornstalks, or grass. We are also fortunate that a neighbor sometimes brings us unsold produce or allows us to glean unharvested crops from his ields
before he plows them under. This all helps us keep the cost of feed for the boar reasonable. A sow generally needs the same 2,000 pounds per year, except when she is feeding a litter. While she is nursing, we feed 4 pounds of feed per day, plus 1 pound for every piglet she is nursing. A sow will have two litters per year. Litter size is variable, but if you have a quality boar and sow, weaning 10 piglets per litter is not unreasonable. If you keep the piglets on the sow for 8 weeks per litter, this translates into approximately 1,600 pounds of feed or 32 50-pound bags, equaling $352 dollars. The rest of the year she will need 1,385 pounds of feed (based on the 2,000 pounds per year), which translates into $305. However, as with the boar, this last igure can easily be cut in half to $152 if you have the same alternative feeds as for the boar discussed above. Our sow stays with the boar except when she farrows and the subsequent eight weeks until weaning. Thus, for most of the year, she beneits from the same alternative food sources. During the time a sow is nursing the piglets, it is
The signiicant cost-savings comes into play when you are able to feed your herd alternative food sources in the form of pasture, vegetable patches, excess garden produce, and more.
Fruits of the labor
One of the highlights of pig farming is the interaction with these highly intelligent and entertaining animals.
best, at least for the beginner, to keep the sow and piglets on commercial feed in order that you ensure they get the appropriate protein and balance of minerals they need. However, it is also good practice to feed them some extra items so they enjoy and get used to the alternative feeds you will be giving them after weaning. Assuming all this, your cost for keeping the breeding pair is between $724 and $1,097 per year, depending on alternate feed sources available.
We live and keep our livestock on about 3 acres. When we had eight sows, we didn’t have the space to move the boar and the sows from pen to pen. Additionally, we couldn’t grow enough excess produce to feed them, because the additional sows were living on potential garden space. Thus, we had to bring in almost all the feed my herd consumed. This wasn’t cost effective. But with only one sow and boar, we now have enough space to rotate them between pens planted with plenty of nutritious greens, and we have space to grow feed. At least half the feed for our breeding pair is not purchased. If you want to keep four piglets every year for your family, this leaves you with 16 piglets to sell per year. At $50 per piglet — a conservative price — this yields $800. At $70 per piglet, this yields $1,120. Even when I had eight sows yielding some 160 piglets to sell every year, I never had trouble selling them. In fact, I never had enough to meet the demand. In addition, if you had to buy the four piglets instead of farrowing them yourself, they would have cost an additional $200 to $280. The table at the top of Page 51 gives a conservative summary of costs and savings based on typical prices in our area of South Carolina. Of course, feed costs and selling price of piglets vary greatly regionally, but they generally, if loosely, correlate with one another. That is, when feed costs
GRIT.COM A lesson in animal husbandry: Sometimes it’s best not to meddle, and leave the farrowing to those with good instincts (www.Grit.com/winter-farrowing).
TOP TO BOTTOM: JANET
The cost of raising one pig from weaning to slaughter will greatly depend on how fast you want to get there and by which path you take. Recall that the irst 6 to 8 weeks, the cost of the piglet is included in cost of keeping the breeding pair. Typically 230 to 250 pounds is a good slaughter weight. After 250 pounds, the hog adds fat at a greater rate, so the conversion of feed to meat is not as eficient. Some people do want more fat for cooking or soap-making and will wait until the hog reaches 300, 400, 500 pounds or more. Based on a 250-pound slaughter weight, a hog will be ready for slaughter 6 to 8 months from birth (4 to 6 months from weaning). The hog will reach 250 pounds faster if free-feed — a self-feeder is installed in the pen and always available. Typically these hogs are ready for the freezer four months or so after weaning. Alternatively, a steady diet of 4 pounds a day of a 14- to 16-percent protein hog feed will get the hog to slaughter weight six months from weaning. Some or all of the 4 pounds per day can be replaced with the same alternative feeds you may be feeding your breeding pair. Four pounds per day of commercial feed at $11 per 50-pound bag for four months comes to $105.60. Your yield from the slaughter should be about 65 percent, or 162.5 pounds. If you now include 1⁄4 cost of keeping the breeding pair, or $181, then you are paying $1.76 per pound of pork. If you only consider the four-month cost, then you are paying $0.64 per pound of pork. This assumes, of course, that you slaughter and butcher the hog yourself. And why not?
GARMAN; JASON HOUSTON
RAISING FEEDER PIGS TO SLAUGHTER
PIG PROFITS & LOSSES Cost of Boar per year Cost of Sow while nursing Cost of Sow not nursing Cost total Sale of 16 piglets ($50/piglet) Money saved ($50/piglet)
$ WITH ALTERNATIVE FEEDS (220) (352) (152) (724) 800 200
$ WITHOUT ALTERNATIVE FEEDS (440) (352) (305) (1097) 800 200
are high, piglet prices are higher, usually because less people are raising them, thus demand is greater. This analysis doesn’t consider the capital costs of obtaining your boar and sow or the fencing and shelter costs. These are one-time costs. The price of a good breeding pair can range from $500 to $1,000. Fencing and housing costs can vary depending on your materials, area, and access to used materials. I’m not saying you are going to get wealthy keeping just a breeding pair, but with careful management, it is possible to supplement your income, or at least
break even, and have the security of sourcing and producing your own pork for the year. Jim and Lori Curley moved to their rural South Carolina homestead with their seven children in 2004. Besides raising and processing their own pork since 2008, they have raised chickens, turkeys, ducks, and goats, keep a milk cow, and grow a small crop of sorghum and peanuts every year. Jim and his sons have helped numerous friends and neighbors in the Carolinas slaughter and process their first hog.
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Grow your most flavorful watermelon yet, and behold a taste like no other when the hot months hit.
By Andrew Weidman Summer just wouldn’t be the same without picnics and cooking outdoors. And what’s a picnic without watermelon?! Maybe you get that melon from the supermarket, or if you’re lucky, a roadside stand. Maybe it’s local, but more likely, it comes in from one of the Southern states or
“good one” is always at the bottom of the bin. GRIT.COM Check out even more heirloom cultivars of delicious watermelons that thrive in the North American countryside (www.Grit.com/heirloom-watermelons).
California on a semitrailer piled high with melons. It never fails: That
Watermelons are fun and easy to grow, as long as you know a few secrets about things like when and how much to water, and when to harvest.
Now, imagine serving up your own homegrown melon at the next Labor Day picnic, knowing for certain it’s a good one. That’s not a pipe dream: You can grow good watermelons right where you live.
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BAKER CREEK HEIRLOOM SEEDS, WWW.RARESEEDS.COM; FOTOLIA/EDUARDSV
The right melon With more than 1,200 varieties, there’s a melon that’s right for just about any growing condition in the United States, even as far north as Alaska. Spend some time going through seed catalogs, and you’ll be amazed by what you discover. Melons come in all sizes, from 1-pound single-serve to 100-plus-pound record-breakers. Rinds can be hard and thin, good for shipment and storage; or tender and thick, perfect for making watermelon pickles (see recipe on Page 56). Even their lesh comes in a variety of colors: crimson, orange, yellow, even icy white. The most important information in the catalogs usually gets overlooked — days to maturity. Watermelons can mature in as few as 70 days and as many as 110 days. These are counted from the day you plant your melons in the garden, whether as seeds or transplants. They absolutely must be warm days for best lavor, at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit, day and night.
son ranging from 90 to 100 days. All types are large melons, ranging in size from 15 to 40 pounds. The fruits are oblong, with dark green rinds dusted with tiny yellow “stars” and larger “moons.” There are red-, pink-, orange-, and yellow-leshed strains available. Moon and Stars also makes excellent pickles. For seedless melons, try Harvest Moon. A descendant of Moon and Stars, Harvest Moon yields 18- to 20-pound pink-leshed seedless fruits in 90 days. Note that seedless watermelons require cross-pollination. Pollinator seeds are included in each packet, so plant every seed. Hailed as one of the most lavorful melons, Bradford Family also holds the reputation of the deadliest. In the past, growers would go to great lengths to protect their Bradfords from marauders, including armed guards, electriied melons, and even poison-laced bait
Stalwart varieties Charleston Gray produces large, 20- to 40-pound oblong fruits in 90 days. The lesh is deep red, and the rinds are thick enough for watermelon pickles. Cream of Saskatchewan gets by with a shorter season, needing only 80 days to deliver sweet, pale yellow, even cream-leshed melons. The melons are 8 to 10 pounds, round, icebox type fruits, perfect for the fridge. Moon and Stars is more a family of heirloom melon varieties, and it’s a popular one. They need a seaMARCH/APRIL 2017
as deeply as possible, working in plenty of compost or composted manures. Watermelon roots can reach 6 or more feet deep, if the soil allows it. If you have heavy, compacted clay, all is not lost. Burpee Seeds recommends building a mound on top of the ground, mixing two 40-pound bags of compost or composted cow manure with one bag of potting mix. You can easily do this wherever you want to plant watermelons. At the end of the season, simply pull the vines and rake the soil lat, then pick a new spot the following year.
Bradford varieties, shown at right, are extremely rare to ind, so if you’re lucky enough to ind seeds, it’s wise to save your own seed from the legendary fruits.
Preparing soil Watermelons need deep, sandy soil, preferably amended with plenty of organic matter. Till your soil
Well-timed planting Wait to plant until the soil temperature reaches 65 degrees, 4 inches below the surface. In my area, that’s usually when peonies begin to bloom. The choice is up to you whether to direct sow seeds or transplant started plants; there are beneits to each method: Seeds don’t suffer transplant shock, while plants started indoors have a better germination rate. If you choose transplants, it’s best to start them
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melons. Bradford delivers large, 40-pound melons in a surprising 85 days. Its red lesh is ideal for fresh eating, distilling brandy, and making molasses; and the rinds are reputed to make the best pickles. Almost lost since the middle of the last century, the variety has been preserved by the Bradford family. Seeds are available on a limited basis, so if you get a hold of some, it’s wise to save your own seed.
Make use of microclimates, small pockets of warmer conditions. Place your melon patch in front of a heat sink, such as a south-facing brick wall. Protect your spot from the wind early in the season with a temporary burlap windbreak. Begin warming your soil early in spring. Cover the soil with clear plastic or use water-illed plastic hot caps to take advantage of the sun’s energy. Cold frames or high tunnels are even more effective at turbocharging your season.
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Heat the soil
in large biodegradable pots to avoid disturbing the roots at planting time. When you plant them, plant the whole thing, and peel back the rim of the pot. Exposed pot material can wick moisture away from roots, drying them out and possibly killing the vine. Plan on two vines per hill. Plant four to six seeds per hill if you direct seed. Once they are up and growing, nip out all but the two strongest seedlings. Allow at least 4 feet between each hill, and 10 feet between rows.
Eliminate competition Weeds can become a threat, draining moisture and nutrients away from your vines. Keep them in check by covering the ground with organic mulch. Straw, shredded leaves, or grass clippings (as long as they’ve been dried) make excellent mulches. They also protect your melons from ground contact and rot. Early in the season, when the vines are still small, you can make use of the space between hills by planting lettuce or other fast-growing spring crops between the hills. Once the vines begin rambling, it’s time to harvest the remainder of those spring crops to give your vines elbow room.
Water with care Developing watermelon vines appreciate a steady supply of water. Provide an inch of water per week, less when it rains. Since mildew and other diseases love wet leaves, especially overnight, avoid wetting the leaves or watering late in the evening. Consider using soaker hoses laid out at the base of each hill. Alternately, set leaky gallon jugs of water at each hill to provide a slow, soaking drink. The water should soak to at least 6 inches deep every time you water. Some growers recommend feeding the developing vines with a diluted solution of Borax for sweeter melons. Mix 1 tablespoon of Borax with each gallon of water for an occasional boron boost. At the same time, feed your vines every week with a solution of 1 tablespoon of liquid ish fertilizer per gallon of water. Once the vines set fruit and the melons begin maturing, cut back on the water severely, watering only in the event of a drought. At this point, water will only dilute the sugars and lavors in your melons. Speaking of setting fruit, allow only two melons per vine for the best harvest possible.
Cream of Saskatchewan is an 80-day watermelon that’s well-suited to northern growing. Fruits are around 8 to 10 pounds with sweet, tasty, creamcolored flesh.
LEFT TO RIGHT: Black Seeded Ice Cream is an old sweet-flavored, pink-fleshed variety that was popular in the 19th century. Golden Midget matures in just 70 days, and weighs around 3 pounds.
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LEFT TO RIGHT: Moon and Stars melons come in a variety of flesh colors. Chris Cross is an almostextinct variety irst bred in Montrose, Iowa. Fruits are 15 to 20 pounds and have a tasty, crisp, red flesh.
Use your melon
4 to 5 quarts watermelon rind 4 quarts plus 2 cups cold water, divided 3 tablespoons salt 3 cups vinegar 10 cups sugar 1 tablespoon whole cloves 3 sticks cinnamon 2 teaspoons peppercorns 1 piece dried ginger root 1 ⁄2 cup maraschino cherries 1 Trim outer green skin and pink flesh from melon, leaving thin line of pink.
Cut into 11⁄2-by-1-by-3⁄4-inch pieces. 2 In large pot or bowl, soak melon in mixture of 4 quarts cold water and salt for 24 hours. Drain. 3 In large stockpot, cover melon pieces with boiling water, and boil gently for 11⁄2 hours. Drain, and put melon into ice water until thoroughly chilled. Drain. 4 Combine vinegar, remaining cold water, sugar, and spices tied in clean, thin white cloth, and bring to a boil. Add rind, and boil gently for about 30 minutes; remove spices. Let stand for 24 hours. 5 Add cherries, and bring pickle mixture to a boil. Pack in hot jars. Adjust lids at once. Process in boiling water bath at 212 F for 5 minutes. Remove jars from canner and complete seals, unless closures are the self-sealing type. NOTE: Substitute 1⁄2 teaspoon oil of cloves for whole cloves; 1⁄2 teaspoon oil of cinnamon for stick cinnamon. If cherries fade in the jar, substitute a few from a new jar before serving.
Andrew Weidman lives and writes in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. In his opinion, nothing improves a summer evening like a big wedge of watermelon, with or without seeds. (2)/DEBBISMIRNOFF, GARYSFRP; FOTOLIA/ELENAMIRAGE
(Farm Journal Freezing and Canning Cook Book, 1973) A small bottle of maraschino cherries gives pickles a pretty rosy color. Yields 5 pints.
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ROSY WATERMELON RIND PICKLES
Picking a ripe melon can be a challenge if you don’t know what to look for. Melons don’t just slip off the vine, but they do let you know when they’re ripe. As a melon ripens, its belly will fade from green through white, then yellow or cream. Some gardeners also claim that a ripe melon will also form faint “ribs.” I’ve never been able to reliably pick a good one according to ribbing. The big giveaway lies in the tendril, that little corkscrew growing by the melon. When it dies and dries up, you’re in business. Don’t pick a melon too early — once it’s off the vine, it’s inished. There’s a myth about watermelons that needs busted: Watermelons will not cross with cucumbers. Yes, they are closely related. And yes, watermelons will readily cross — with other melons. However, contrary to popular belief, they won’t cross with cucumbers. Even if they did, it wouldn’t affect the resulting fruit; only the seeds would be “cucamelons.” Don’t blame a bland melon on an innocent pickle patch. It may have been picked too early, the vines might have had a late start or wilted, the season may have been too cool or too rainy, but cucumbers had nothing to do with it. Finally, your moment of truth has arrived. You’ve pored over seed catalogs, choosing the perfect melon. You picked the best spot in the garden, sunny and protected. You warmed the soil early and fed it well. You planted at just the right time. You kept the weeds out. You watered early but not too long. You waited patiently for your melons to ripen. Finally, you picked each melon at just the right time. Now it’s time for a little lair, a little picnic ceremony. Go ahead, grab that carving knife (or sword if you prefer) and do the honors. Your melon will be a good one. Have a slice of summer. There’s nothing like it.
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Shaping the landscape of the American farm, barns of all designs have a fascinating past. By Kirsten Lie-Nielsen
Sprawling throughout the rural American landscape are iconic symbols of our forefathers’ tireless hard work and ingenuity: the American barn, in all shapes, sizes, and variations — modern-day pyramids built by our agricultural ancestors. Despite their rich legacies and strong timber frames, so many of these structures have been left empty, doors loose in the wind, as new generations head to the city and abandon the old family farm. When my partner and I took on restoring our late1800s Yankee barn, we had no idea how much history would pass through our hands. We had only begun to appreciate the amount of labor that had gone into its original construction. These seemingly simple structures were precisely crafted to it the needs of the farmer and the farm. And spanning the history of American geography, they have changed to suit the trends of farming.
Humble beginnings The irst barns were not American by design, but were European-style longhouses that included stables and sleeping quarters. Builders utilized skills many had learned in creating the arching hallways of cathedrals to create roomy and functional farm outbuildings. Brought to America along with the irst settlers, the oldest style of barn still graces our landscapes in the classic “English barn” style.
GRIT.COM Determine whether the old barn on your property is worth saving or salvaging for lumber (www.Grit.com/restoring-old-barns).
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A HISTORY OF
Changing times As with any structure built for functionality, this design did not follow one pattern for long. By the mid-1800s, the English style was being adapted and changed to suit the changing nature of agriculture. The irst major change was the addition of basements. Farmers began building barns on hillsides to allow for a full basement with lower-level ground access on one side, while the uphill side allowed upper-level access to the irst loor. This particular style, called a bank barn, was developed to be most eficient during harvest time. A hay wagon could be driven into the
A barn for every farm As New England farmers were building bigger barns, those in other parts of the country were also feeling the need to house more livestock. The Pennsylvania Dutch had their own unique take on the barn, with longer, lower roofs and gable end doors. As cattle farming became more mainstream, they heightened the roofs, and some rounded them to allow for more hay storage. They are also distinguished by the use of folk art symbols, known as hex signs, painted on barn walls. In similar fashion, to accommodate for keeping more cattle and other livestock, and hay to feed them, the prairie barn, or Western barn, was popular among settlers of the 1800s. Those moving out West would often build barns with high, steep roofs that allowed for plenty of storage space and a central hallway. German settlers built a type of barn called the “crib barn,” mostly used to store corn. A common sight in Appalachia, crib barns would be simple structures made of rough, round logs, with no closing doors. In the Deep South, a common design was an open barn for good ventilation with no stalls and racks for hang-
LONDIE G. PADELSKY
English-style barns were built from the 1600s through the 1800s, and had a large, open central loor for wheat threshing. On either side of the loor were small stabling areas for the family horse and hay storage. As grain production was the principle focus of the irst American farmers, the English barn was designed with the largest area of space dedicated to threshing with few or no windows, and only a single door on the long side of the barn. In fact, it was not until the 1800s that the connection between plentiful light and healthy farm animals was made and windows became more common. Most farmers were not then, and are not today, professional carpenters. One of the most fascinating aspects of barn construction is the common use of simple farmstead creativity. A barn’s construction often revolved around the farmer’s schedule, which was always full, and his skill level, which was untrained yet honed by years of providing for himself and his family. Building a barn could take years, with frames being laid out by one generation, while the next put the inal hinges on the doors.
central bay on the upper level and unloaded without the need for an elevator. Soon, basements were being used as a place to let manure turn to compost, as well as housing for some of the animals. Bank barns had one major downside, especially when their lower level was being used for manure storage. They held moisture, which would rot the beams of the barn and ill the building with the odors of compost. To combat these issues, farmers began adding cupolas and other ventilation systems, along with windows to allow for more light, both of which contributed to livestock health. In New England, English barns were further adapted into larger, timber-framed structures, which became known as the Yankee barn. Yankee barns have large sliding doors on either of the gable ends, with large areas for livestock on either side of a central hallway. Overhead lofts allowed for convenient hay storage, and oftentimes basements were added in the bank barn style. Yankee barns, also called New England barns, allowed for more cattle to be housed, and were the irst step in a continuing trend of larger barns to accommodate more animals. By the late 1800s, cattle were becoming the “crop,” as more of the population demanded fresh dairy and beef. Until this point, the largest crop for a farmer was wheat, while livestock was limited to only what the family needed for meat, milk, and transportation.
ing tobacco. In the northern most towns of Maine, a style of two large barns joined together in the middle to form an “H” was called a Madawaska twin barn. In New England, a particular style of building was common among small family farms. Having built a house and a barn, farmers would ind themselves adding other outbuildings, including a woodshed, chicken coop, garden shed, and workshop. Harsh northern winters brought these outbuildings closer to the main house until they were all connected, allowing the farmer to stay inside during all daily chores. The connected barn, also called the “connected farm,” became so popular that there was a nursery rhyme about them: “big house, little house, back house, barn.” The style lost its appeal for reasons of sanitation, and because if a single building caught ire, the entire homestead would be lost.
Finding the perfect it Since the late 1700s, the farming community experimented with round barns. In the early 1900s, the Shakers made an effort to make the round barn the quintessential farm structure. In theory, round barns were the epitome of eficiency. With cattle stalls around the ground loor, livestock faced inward and hay could be dropped from haylofts above to a central feeder accessible to all livestock. Walkways on both loors allowed for easy maintenance and milking. Conventional farmers were skeptical, though, foreseeing higher building costs to add the abnormal building to their farm. As barns and cattle operations grew, sanitation and keeping animals healthy became an issue. At the turn of the 20th century, this largely inluenced the way barns were built. Storing manure in the same building as livestock caused foul fumes, and dark, windowless barns became home to disease. Cupolas, windows, and wider doors were added, and instead of wood or dirt loors, concrete became more common. Concrete looring was crucial to the expansion of dairy operations across America, as it is easier to clean, and loors can be hosed and scrubbed to a clinically clean condition. The country farmer was quick to adapt. Along with providing better living conditions for the animals, the material was inexpensive and easier to install than wood looring. To allow more space for livestock, and to keep materials separate and sanitary, outbuildings began taking the place of dedicated areas in the barn for farmrelated needs. Granaries, ice houses, milk houses, and hay barns emerged on the property to allow storage away from primary barn space. By the early 1900s, America was on trajectory
for the huge dairy operations that we see today. Silos were built to store grain, and inexpensive, lightweight vinyl siding replaced heavy and more costly wooden clapboards. Large gambrel roofs with cupolas and dormer windows allowed for improved airlow and better ventilation. Ground-level windows ran along the sides, and oftentimes folks built into a hillside for a bank design.
A place in time When you ind an old barn, you might be curious where it falls into the history of barn building. Once you have identiied the category, be it an old English, distinctive Dutch, or large Yankee barn, take a closer look at how the timbers are cut and itted together. The earliest barns are built with timbers hand-hewn to shape, and you can see the rough chopping marks of an axe. Slightly older timbers might be hand-cut with huge two-person saws, while newer barns have the clean-cut lines of sawmill machinery. Because they were hand-hewn, the irst barns were it together with precision. Joints were built speciically to match each other, and each mortise and tenon joint was unique. To solve this problem, each joint was marked with carved Roman numerals, denoting its place in the larger frame. These numbers typically mark a barn as pre-1900. For most of American history, barns were the center of farm life, and still are for many families today. As Eric Sloan describes in his book An Age of Barns, barns are “the palaces of America.” Today, many of these grand structures are falling into disrepair as farmers turn their tractors in for sedans. The best way to pay respect to these palaces is to keep them maintained and put them to work.
Kirsten Lie-Nielsen is a freelance writer and farmer from Liberty, Maine. She is currently restoring a 200-yearold barn and farmhouse, while tending to geese, chickens, and goats. She blogs at Hostile Valley Farm (www.HostileValley Living.com), and hopes to help others learn about self-reliance and simple living. MARCH/APRIL 2017
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GROW A BU ILD A
A fulfilling project for gardeners who might want to use a piece of their bounty to attract some feathered, crooning critters.
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DUNN; BRAD ANDERSON ILLUSTRATION
By Jesse Vernon Trail
Feathered fowl give us great joy for their beauty, antics, and delightful songs, so much so that we often want to attract them to our yards and gardens. The irst things that come to mind might be planting elderberries or other alluring vegetation and building wooden birdhouses, but what about making a special birdhouse from the fruits of a plant you grew from seed? Gourds, which are often colorful and unusually shaped, are just right for this. One gourd in particular is especially great for birdhouse production, and this is the appropriately named “birdhouse gourd.” GRIT.COM If you’re looking for a woodworking project to attract bluebirds, we have easy DIY plans (www.Grit.com/bluebird-house). MARCH/APRIL 2017
Growing your gourds Gourds require a long growing season and resent transplanting. If possible, start each of the fairly large seeds indoors, in individual peat pots, three weeks before planting outdoors. Provide a warm soil temperature between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and keep the soil evenly moist. Germination will take about one week. Two plants can easily cover an area about 15 feet by 10 feet. Make sure you provide your plants with a sturdy support like a trellis. You may need to tie some of the stems to the cross pieces. Also, because of the quick growth, do not allow the plants to engulf any nearby shrubs you value. Some of the developing fruits will be fairly heavy and may require net bags or even foot panty hose for extra support. Even though the vines are heat- and droughttolerant, it is best to provide them with good soil moisture, particularly during fruit set. Plants also prefer full sun exposure on the foliage and plenty of organic matter worked into the soil.
Harvesting your gourds Harvest these gourds in autumn when the smooth, greenish rind turns creamy brownish-white, and when the stem and leaves start to die and dry out. Cut off the fruits with hand pruners, making sure to leave a 4-inch portion of the stem attached. Handle the gourds with care to prevent bruising. Complete your harvest before the irst frost.
Making a gourd birdhouse Making your own gourd birdhouse is a fulilling project anyone can participate in and enjoy. Keep in mind that it is important to handle undried gourds carefully, as they can break easily, and bruised areas can rot during the drying process. After harvesting, the irst step is to wash your gourds. Some people wash them in warm, soapy water and rinse with a strong solution of non-bleaching disinfectant. Other sources recommend washing the fruit in a mild solution of water containing 10-percent bleach to protect gourds from rot and fungal mold. To do this, soak gourds in the bleach solution for 15
minutes, rinse thoroughly, and then dry them with a soft cloth. Store the gourds for ive to six weeks in a wellventilated room until they turn light brown or strawcolored and are light in weight. Hanging the gourds is best for maximum air circulation, as other curing and drying methods can take longer — from two to four months or more, depending on size of gourds. If desired, you can poke a small wire-sized hole in the blossom end of the gourd, which may speed up the internal drying time. Inspect drying gourds regularly, and discard any that are immature, soft, or rotting. Your gourds are cured when thoroughly dry and hard shelled. If you shake the gourds and hear seeds rattling, they are ready to make into birdhouses. But before this, your dried gourds should be washed in warm, soapy water again. Any tough stains or marks may need to be scrubbed with sandpaper. Rinse and dry thoroughly. Now that all these steps have been taken and the gourds are fully dried, you are ready for drilling holes, etc. – put your craft skills to work! The entry hole for your bird friends can vary in size, dependent on the size of gourd, though 1-inchdiameter seems pretty standard. Chickadees, swallows, and purple martins are a few of the bird species that will enjoy these homes. The diameter of entry hole you drill and height of birdhouse will help determine the species it will attract, so determine the species of bird you’d like hanging around, and research that species’ preference. Use a hole saw or drill bit of the appropriate size. You may wish to drill a small 1⁄8inch or so hole under the entry hole to insert a perch for the birds to stand on. Drill two holes at the top of the gourd, one on each side, to insert the wire for hanging the birdhouse. Next, use your ingers and a long knife or spoon to clean out any seeds and pulp that may have remained in the gourd. Save the seeds for planting and sharing for next year. Now you can wax and polish, paint, or varnish your birdhouses, if desired. If you prefer to leave your gourd natural, it will last about one year. Weatherproof paint, etc., will provide a longer-lasting house, but remember to clean out the inside at the end of each nesting season. Hang your gourd birdhouse in a suitable spot, ideally under some shelter protected from predators. Then watch and wait, as you’ve grown and created a beautiful ixture assured to attract a beautiful creature or three. Jesse Vernon Trail is an author and former instructor of environment, horticulture, and natural history studies.
RICK WETHERBEE (4)
There are many types of gourds in the cucurbit, or gourd, family, Cucurbitaceae, but our focus will be on the bottle gourds, Lagenaria spp. and speciically Lagenaria siceraria, which is also known as the whitelowered gourd or sometimes as calabash. Within the species, there is great diversity in gourd size — from 4 inches to 3 feet long — and in shape: round, spoon, coiled, bottle, and still other shapes. This is why it is important to buy seed for the particular cultivar you desire — in our case, the birdhouse gourd.
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In the Wild
Pronghorn Pilgrims Quick and agile, pronghorns are one of the fastest animals in the world, and they can be found roaming the grasslands of the West. By Chuck Graham Running is actually their inal line of defense. No other land mammal on the planet can keep pace with the pronghorn. Even the fastest animal in the world, the cheetah, lames out after a few hundred yards. Pronghorn can run 35 mph for four miles, 42 mph for one mile, and 55 mph for a half mile. How are pronghorns able to sustain such speeds for those distances? They’re built for speed. They possess a large windpipe that enables them to take in a large amount of air. They also have large hearts and lungs, hollow hairs, and an extremely light bone structure. Their hooves have two long, cushioned, pointed toes which help them absorb shock while they are on the run, leet of hoof. The teary-eyed, cud-chewing pronghorns are still running from their distant past more than 10,000 years ago and are the living heritage of the Great Plains. Ghost predators like the giant short-faced bear, American (“false”) cheetahs, and longlegged hyena preyed upon pronghorns during the Pleistocene Era, but today they easily outrun predators like coyotes. However,
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I HEARD THEM BEFORE I saw them, thundering hooves kicking up shards of grass as a herd of 32 pronghorn antelope ran across a sweeping meadow in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. A marauding coyote was loping toward the lustered pronghorn, their white rumps standing out against their powerful, tan-colored hindquarters. The fastest land mammal in the Western Hemisphere, and the second fastest land mammal in the world only behind the cheetah of the African Savannah, the pronghorn antelope (Antilocapra americana) isn’t actually an antelope after all. Its closest living relatives are also in Africa, the unique-looking okapi and the giraffe. Its distant relatives happen to be cattle and goats.
Sight and flight The next time you look through a pair of binoculars and scan the horizon, that’s the equivalent of the pronghorn’s vision. Their eyesight is legendary. They can pick up movement three miles away, and with their huge eyes set far back on their heads, they can keep watch while their heads are down during feeding.
GRIT.COM Learn to identify animal tracks and other wildlife signs (www.Grit.com/animal-tracks). MARCH/APRIL 2017
In the Wild
grating south to the Grand Tetons across government land, private lands, and ranches. For three days, the herd is on the move until inally arriving at the Upper Green River Valley.
Running from extinction The pronghorn’s range extends from the Canadian plains of Saskatchewan and Alberta, descending southwest into Minnesota and South Dakota, all the way down to central Texas, and west to central southern California. Subspecies of pronghorn include the Sonoran pronghorn, which occurs in Arizona and Mexico. Other subspecies are found in Oregon and Baja California. It wasn’t until the Lewis and Clark Expedition in the early 1800s that pronghorns gained scientiic notoriety. Unfortunately, by the turn of the 20th century, extinction of the pronghorn was a real possibility. Nearly hunted out, their numbers were a meager 13,000 when conservation efforts began by the 1920s. Conservation groups realized fencing was impeding their propensity to roam and migrate. On December 31, 1936, then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed legislation to preserve 549,000 acres, beginning the recovery of pronghorn in North Ameri-
ca. Since that initial conservation boost, pronghorn numbers have swelled between 500,000 and 1 million. Highest concentrations are found in Wyoming and Montana, where annual rainfall averages 9.8 to 15.7 inches per year. Pronghorn even outnumber people in Wyoming and parts of northern Colorado. Fencing is still an issue for pronghorns, especially with sheep ranches, but pronghorn advocates are pushing to remove the bottom of barbed-wire fences and installing barbless bottom fencing — one thing pronghorns are not is big leapers.
Historic migration With a perpetual urge to roam over open, expansive terrain from elevations between 3,000 to nearly 6,000 feet, it only makes sense that the pronghorn antelope performs the longest land migration in the continental United States. The only other land mammal to travel farther in North America is the caribou in Alaska. The pronghorn’s 300-mile round-trip journey extends between Wyoming’s Upper Green River Basin and Grand Teton National Park. Their trip is grueling, requiring them to cross private property and, of course, to negotiate fence lines. The pronghorn’s biggest threats used to be predators and weather, but today they are cars, fences, and encroaching development. Their migration is initiated when snows start falling in November. They start mi-
Speciied eaters The pronghorn’s diet relies heavily on forbs (non-woody lowering plants) and brush. Grasses are only a small portion of their diet. Sagebrush can be critical to them, especially during long, harsh winters when snow levels run too deep and forage is unavailable. Pronghorns seldom drink water, gaining most of their moisture from the plants they eat. With an average life span of 10 years, pronghorns have proven their hardiness on those wide open spaces crucial to their survival. There’s something about seeing pronghorn antelope on the open plain that appeals to Chuck Graham. North America’s fastest land mammal is also one of the most iconic.
pronghorns have been forced to deal with other obstacles such as fencing, and especially barbed wire. Pronghorns lare out the white hairs of their rump when alarmed. It’s a warning to other members of the herd. Herds run in perfect unison in a tight oval-shaped formation — much like a lock of birds — meaning more eyes to see oncoming predators, but easily seen by predators too.
With long legs, short tails, and long snouts, pronghorn antelope have similar body types to deer. The color of their fur luctuates from reddish to brown, tan or darker brown. Weighing between 75 and 130 pounds, these ungulates (hoofed animals) range from 31 to 40 inches tall at the shoulder. A buck’s horns, not antlers, reach about 10 to 15 inches long, revealing the distinctive prong. Males have a black patch on their jaw below the eye. The females do not, and only about 40 percent of females have horns, which are smaller, at 1 to 5 inches in length. The females typically have twins at the end of winter. The young weigh 5 to 7 pounds at birth. Amazingly, they’re up walking in less than an hour after birth. Four days later, they can outrun a man. At this time, coyotes and golden eagles are their biggest threats. To avoid these predators, the young hunker down and lie still. They have no scent at this time. Does visit the young about every ive hours or so to check on them and nurse.
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Panorama of the Llama What you never knew about the versatile and useful homestead barnyard camelid.
By Terri Schlichenmeyer Illustrations by Brian Orr
Around the farm, it’s important to have the right tools, and it’s just as important to have tools capable of pulling double-duty. How about a tool that can carry cargo, watch your sheep, keep you warm, haul your stuff, and feed you in a pinch? It’s no lie and no illusion: It’s a llama! Millions of years ago, back when it was possible to travel from Russia to Alaska without GPS via the Bering Strait land bridge, a few descendants of the camel decided to see what all the fuss was about in North America. One of them, the guanaco, moseyed on down to South America and, in due time, launched the llama. The Incan people noticed the new critters’ surefootedness on steep Andean mountains and perhaps thought, “Aha! Meat and blankets on hooves.” Subsequently, they domesticated the llama somewhere around 6,000 years ago.
Llamas, by the way, are not alpacas, nor are they vicunas. The latter two are only llama-like, and only a llama can be called Lama glama. For centuries, people of the Andes revered the llama, both culturally and religiously, and with good reason: Llamas make great companion pets, they can carry a load equal to around a third of their own weight, their wool is soft and warm when woven, and their meat is a nutritious source of protein. All are good reasons to put llamas irst in the Andeans’ book. Experts have speculated that llamas
GRIT.COM Learn how to raise llamas for a life full of laughter with an unusual animal (www.Grit.com/raising-llamas).
Easy Spring Cleanup Clear Tons of Debris Sitting Down! may have even been used in fertility rites. When the Spanish came to South America in the early 1500s and brought sheep with them, it was baaaad news for the llama. The Spaniards loved their “woolies,” and for the next 300 years, llamas and their alpaca cousins were treated like a loud uncle at a fancy wedding. Then someone noticed that sheep aren’t exactly great on trails, and someone else said anew, “Aha! Blankets on hooves!” and llamas were loved once again. Meanwhile, back in North America after the turn of the 20th century, U.S. House Representative and newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst brought a group of llamas to his San Simeon home in California. It took some 70 years for the animals to shake the “exotic” label and to become an animal anybody could keep in their pasture. The llama on your lawn can live well past his teenage years. He can be as tall as a man and weigh upwards of 400 pounds. Llamas do not have hooves, in the traditional sense, like a horse, cow, sheep, or goat. Instead, they have toes, which may need regular or annual trimming, and a soft leathery pad, not all that dissimilar from the padding on a dog’s foot. They do very well in pastures. Your llama may be one shade of brown, white, or black, or he may be multicolored.
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He could have ancestors from Brazil, Chile, or Argentina, and you may even ind llama drama in Yokohama. Breeding season is generally anytime March through October, although llamas have been known to breed year-round. After about 11 months, the llama mama gives birth to a cocker-spaniel-sized cria, which is as cute as the dickens.
Circle #26; see card pg 65
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Llamas, by the way, are not alpacas, nor are they vicunas. What’s probably the llama’s most notorious “talent” is known as the spit bath. It’s said that their accuracy is uncanny at up to six feet, sometimes as far as 10 feet. Llamas will also nip if they don’t like you. All that aside, though, young llamas are generally sweet-tempered and will follow the people they love, much like a funnylooking puppy. If you plan on hiking with yours, it’s advised that you halter train them and start them out with small packs. They’re pretty simple to feed. They mostly eat what sheep eat, which is great for shepherds who want a helping hand. Llamas are known to be ierce protectors of their herds, and they seem to enjoy being with sheep. That is, despite the way their ancestors were treated by sheepherders centuries ago. Even so, most breeders recommend that you have another llama around for companionship. In the end, if you want a little love, a lush leece for a layer of warmth, or something to haul your luggage, then look no further and feel no trauma. What you want is some llama drama! Terri Schlichenmeyer, book reviewer and trivia collector, lives in Wisconsin with her two dogs and more than 11,000 books.
In the Shop
Here’s Your Sign Highlight your farm-raised produce and the personality of your homestead with a homemade sign for the farmers market or farm stand. By Carole West
TOP TO BOTTOM:
BRAD ANDERSON ILLUSTRATION; CAROLE WEST
GROWING UP around farm communities in the Northwest, I always enjoyed country drives during the summer and fall. Roadside markets were plentiful, full of fresh produce, and sales were most often based on the honor system. Many times I remember skipping from the car to a market stand where a bag of corn or a box of strawberries was exchanged for a couple dollars. For a kid, it was like winning the lottery because you always knew that produce was going to be fantastic. I dreamed of one day operating one of those farm stands; it’s possible at that young age I was more excited about the idea of creating a stand with a neat sign than actually growing the food to sell. Later in life, those memories followed and encouraged me to shop at local farmers markets, where a variety of vendors were at your ingertips. Both avenues were illed with nice folks living this natural rural lifestyle that I’d always dreamed about. It was very moving.
Both shopping opportunities offered displays that almost always represented the vendor’s farm or ranch. They represented them with strong branding and marketing, their name, logo, and presentation. Creating a display can sometimes be almost as important as the product. A welcoming appearance can draw in customers and make shopping appealing. It was those personalized spaces with colorful produce and a clean presence that left the best impression. When I look back and remember those
GRIT.COM Signs of a different type: Blogger Charlotte McMullen offers a humorous “5 Signs You’re a Farmer’s Wife” (www.Grit.com/farmers-wife). MARCH/APRIL 2017
In the Shop
Visualize success It might be a good idea to study the trafic that travels by your farm. See if folks drive fast or slow. This simple evaluation can help you create a sign that grabs attention without causing too much of a distraction. To create an effective sign, let’s irst focus on four key areas. Each one is important and could relect the success of your market.
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roadside markets, I smile because they were truly the ones that left the best impression. Some of the signs were hand painted, and their stations appeared to be made out of leftover wood, handcrafted for long- and short-term use, and they caught your attention, inviting drivers to stop. Eventually I did end up on my own farm, and recently opened an honor system farm stand. The idea sparked after I started making stenciled signs for our garden and found this activity to be really fun. I built a shelf-style stand using 2-by-4s, plywood, and fence planks. It’s a very simple design that I painted red, and I sell mostly simple things like plants, produce, and fun signs I make that express farm life. It’s been a great way to share our efforts with neighbors and visitors driving by. Setting up a farm stand may involve some building skills, but the basics are really all that’s necessary; being able to operate a power saw and drill will get you far. The next step is to create a great-looking sign. This is where having an eye for artistic creativity comes into play. Remember: Make something that will catch the driver’s attention.
Noticeability is another key that draws customers in. Incorporating some design elements that help your message stand out is important, but don’t take away the uniqueness if the design. A fun attraction can serve to make a sign more noticeable.
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Circle #21; see card pg 65
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A creative sign and portal for a pick-your-own operation can entice trafic to stop and shop.
Readability is a manner of organizing a message so that it conveys the product. Use key words and short phrases if necessary. Anything you want to stand out should be in bold. Basically keep it clean, simple, and easy to read.
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If youâ€™re selling lowers, perhaps a watering can graphic or a sunlower would be a good addition to center oneâ€™s attention.
Legibility has to do with type style, and this is critical. The proper font should convey your message, not take away from it. Many new fancy fonts are pretty, but they can be dificult to read, especially from a distance. Make sure the font is clean and crisp, and it stands out.
See all Smart Products in action at www.smartproductsamerica.com Circle #14; see card pg 65
FOOD Once you have a good handle on these four principles, itâ€™s time to choose sign colors. The sign may either accent the market or farm location. When I began planning my sign, it made sense to use cedar fence planks because this wood was also incorporated on the walls of the stand. Everything appeared cohesive. Fence planks work well for signs and tend to be inexpensive purchased new at any home improvement store. You can also use other types of wood or even reclaimed wood if itâ€™s available. Get creative and decide if the sign base should be left natural, stained, or painted. Once the size and base of the sign is established, itâ€™s time to add letters. The best way to create a legible sign, regardless of your skill level, is to use stencils. Many craft stores or online shops can offer single letter or word stencils.
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In the Shop
STENCILING A SIGN Stenciling is a lot of fun, and there a few steps that will help you create a flawless sign. THESE STEPS INCLUDE: 1. Work on a clean space. 2. Make sure everything is lined up correctly. 3. Tape stencil in place with painters tape. 4. Use white or black paint for letters (base this choice on the sign backdrop color). 5. Use a scrap piece of wood as a paint pallet. 6. Load the brush with paint and brush out as much as possible before stenciling. 7. Dot paint onto stencil while also holding in place. 8. Reload brush as needed.
your time with this step if it becomes necessary to implement. With a small piece of sandpaper, lightly sand out the error.
9. Reveal the letter when inished and keep moving forward. 10. Always do a practice letter irst before applying to your sign. ■
The most important thing to remember is to never overload your paintbrush with paint. The less paint on the brush means less bleeding through your stencil and fewer mistakes will appear.
Any mistakes can be removed with sandpaper after the sign is completely dry; take
Adding other details to your sign is also an option. Ribbon can sometimes add a line of color and texture that can help your sign stand out without taking away from the words. Additional stenciling is another option as long as you keep it simple, such as a swish arrow or a double line to help your
market name stand out. ■
Three-dimensional logos are a nice touch if pumpkins, watermelons, or other produce is your specialty. Get creative and have fun with it.
Once your sign is inished, connect it to the stand with screws prior to setting up shop. It would also make sense for you to drive by and make sure your sign is easy to view from the street. This will help you notice if something needs to be added or removed.
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In the Shop
Sometimes you may have to take additional precautions to keep your entire structure secure. It can be windy where we live, so I placed T-posts behind the stand and wired the back wall to those posts. Providing security will help prevent a possible disaster from occurring. If your farm is located away from a main street and doesn’t receive a lot of trafic, then you’ll have to think about making additional signs to direct cars to your market. You can use the same sign-making methods as previously discussed, just remember to attach that sign to a stick so it can be properly placed at an intersection, and include an arrow to show the destination. One or two of these may be all you need to lead drivers to your farm stand. If you need to place temporary signs on land that you don’t own, always seek permission from the landowner irst. Be sure any street signs resemble your main sign, as it will help those trying to ind
your farm connect the dots. This little detail will also help you look professional and stand out. The inal step, of course, is to add product, a payment box, and think about inviting friends or neighbors on opening day. If operating a farm stand isn’t an option where you live, then I encourage you to take a drive to the countryside and look for one of these honor system markets. Stop by and take note of their sign and display before making a purchase. Shopping from the farm is a real-life opportunity to meet people who’ve decided to live simpler; it’s where the desire to do more is encouraged. It could be an outing you’ll never forget. Carole West lives on a small farm in northern Texas with her husband and a variety of small livestock. She is a freelance writer, author of Quail Getting Started, and shares advice about gardening, quail, and building projects on her blog www.GardenUpGreen.com.
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By Callene Rapp
Meddle as little as possible on delivery day, but be prepared to assist in case of surprises.
Boy meets girl, boy woos girl, romance ensues, and there’s nothing else to worry about until birthing time, right? Yes and no.
Perfect conditions One of the most valuable things livestock owners can do for their animals is make sure their females are in the ideal body condition at breeding and birthing. Being in good body condition gives the female an advantage in responding to the physiological stresses she will undergo during the next few months, and it gives her offspring a good healthy start. An animal that is under-conditioned or thin can have problems lactating. Thin animals may not be able to produce enough milk for their baby, and the caloric requirements of lactation can further reduce their condition. This can make the next breeding dificult, and she may not conceive again until her condition is markedly improved.
The majority of livestock pregnancies and deliveries are problemfree. It’s a common event to go to sleep one night and wake up to a new lamb, foal, or calf already up nursing and trailing after mama. Or after patiently watching for hours, to go to the house for a cup of coffee and 40 winks, only to ind the delivery over with and your mare or cow with an innocent expression of “what?” on her face. Even so, there are several things you can do at certain times throughout the gestation to give your animal the best possible chance at a trouble-free pregnancy and uneventful birth. You may be surprised to ind out that several of these things can occur early on in gestation.
On the other hand, an animal that is overconditioned or fat can have problems, too. Overweight animals can be dificult to breed and settle into a pregnancy. If they should become pregnant, excessive fat deposits may restrict the birth canal and cause dificulty during delivery. Overweight animals may not produce as much milk as those in more moderate condition, but restricting the animal’s diet before they give birth in an attempt to reduce their weight can backire. If a female is unable to take in enough calories to meet the demands of the growing fetus, she can suffer from a condition known as pregnancy toxemia, which can be fatal. One of the handiest tools is the species-appropriate body condition scale chart. A simple visual assessment of your animal early on in the breeding and pregnancy process can stave off a lot of problems. Maintaining an ideal body condition from start to inish is much easier than making big adjustments at critical times. It can be dificult to be objective about the condition of animals you see regularly, and having the unbiased information from the condition scale chart can ensure she’s in the best possible shape. Think of that animal as an athlete. You can’t expect an athlete to perform well if he or she is too fat or too thin, and gestation and birth are nothing if not athletic events. Athletes need to be in top condition with a diet that meets their caloric needs, and so does your breeding female. Another handy tool is the nutritional requirement table for the particular species. Although sometimes the tables can be intimidating, they can provide a baseline for a good, nutritious diet. As a general rule, nutritional demands in the irst few months of pregnancy are not much different than those for maintenance. During the irst part of gestation, fetal growth is tied up mostly in differentiation, specialization, and making sure all the parts are there and in the right place. A female in good body condition on a healthy diet will be able to handle the nutrient demands of the growing fetus with little problem. In the last third of gestation, however, the fetus grows at an amazing rate. Approximately 70 percent of a calf’s growth occurs in the last trimester of gestation. That means a fetus that weighs between 15 and 20 pounds at six months of development can grow to 70 to 80 pounds in just three months. That’s a tremendous growth rate and a tremendous drain on the mother. Growth rates in the last trimester are similar for all species of livestock. As her nutrient demands go up, start conditioning her to a grain supplement if she’s only had access to pasture or hay. But beware, giving her more than she needs can lead to the fetus grow-
ing too large, leading to problems with the baby being too large for the dam to birth easily, called dystocia. It can be a tricky balancing act, but by maintaining good condition through the early stages of gestation, you are well on your way to staving off potential problems.
It’s vital that the newborn consumes the mother’s colostrum, or irst milk, within a couple hours of being born to receive important nutrients.
Checklist for a healthy baby Good nutrition is vitally important for a healthy gestation and delivery, but there are several other things you can do, especially in the last stages of gestation, to keep things running smoothly. Four to six weeks before her due date, make sure mother is up-to-date on her vaccinations. A booster before birth will allow her to pass good immunity along to her baby via her colostrum, or irst milk. Colostrum is high in energy and an important source of passive immunity, meaning immunity is passed to the baby rather than acquired from exposure, vaccination, or antibodies. Without good passive immunity, the baby can be at a higher risk for certain illnesses and environmental challenges, so be sure to get those MARCH/APRIL 2017
BIRTHING KIT CONTENTS
vaccinations in during that four- to six-week window. Two weeks out from the due date or less, and there isn’t enough time to get the antibody boost you are looking for. About four weeks before her due date, you can give the mother-to-be a dose of dewormer. Read the instructions carefully, but most dewormers are safe for pregnant females. Pre-birth deworming will help reduce risk of worms from the exposure baby will see early in life. This is especially helpful if you will move your females to a different pasture, lot, or stall for birthing. Moving in to a clean area will reduce the mother’s rate of infection as well. Two weeks before the big event, move your animals to the pasture, lot, or stall you will want them to be in during birth. This will allow her to adjust to the new surroundings and settle in. From that point on, minimize moving the mother, and unless she’s by herself, keep the herd structure as consistent as possible. This avoids the stress of readjusting the herd structure and allows her some time to relax. Make sure the pasture is clean and free from debris or junk, and if birthing in a stall, make sure you have a supply of clean bedding. For birthing, straw works best, as shavings or sawdust can irritate the baby’s eyes, nasal passages, and navel stumps. Try to minimize noise and distractions also. A little peace and quiet goes a long way to helping mama relax.
Kit and caboodle
your speed dial, but in case you aren’t around at the time, make it easy for whoever is keeping tabs on things. A checklist of signs of impending birth for whatever species of livestock you are working with. OB sleeves. These plastic shoulder length gloves will protect you if you have to go into the animal to correct a malpresentation or provide assistance, and will also help protect the mother from bacteria entering the reproductive tract as well. OB lube. Lube is essential for going into the female. Use plenty for her comfort. Rubber gloves. Regular disposable rubber gloves come in handy for picking up stuff like afterbirth or other soiled material. A squeeze bulb. These come in very handy for clearing noses and mouths of some of the inevitable fluid. Gentle Iodine dip or spray. This is essential for cleaning navel stumps. The navel cord acts like a wick, and can easily draw bacteria and dirt up into the baby’s system. You can spray or dip the navel in the solution. This can also help dry up the cord stump. A thermometer. Towels you don’t necessarily want to take back in your house. An old blanket that you don’t mind parting with, as it will get dirty. A watch, clock, or timer. It’s easy to get swept away in the excitement, and it can seem like events are taking place very slowly when it’s just our perspective that has us thinking the animal has been in labor for hours, when it’s only been a few minutes. And if you should have to call your vet, giving him an accurate timeline of events can help him give you good advice.
YOU MAY ALSO WANT TO HAVE ON HAND: ❐ Milk replacer. There are several multispecies types available, but it’s always better if you can ind one that is species-speciic. ❐ Colostrum supplement. Should the worst happen, or should the mother be too weak or stressed to properly look after her baby, a colostrum supplement can help junior get off to a good start. It is high in energy and nutrition, but you only have a few hours to get it into the baby for it to help. ❐ OB chain. These aren’t essential, but handy to have when you need them.
Make sure your birthing kit is stocked and ready in advance. You can use a plastic toolbox for a birthing kit, or something as simple as a clean plastic pail with a tight-itting lid. Hopefully you won’t have to
❐ Your vet’s phone number. Yes, it may be No. 1 on
use any of the items with the exception of the iodine navel spray, but it’s better and less frustrating to have and not need these things than the other way around.
The inal countdown If you have never attended a birth before, familiarize yourself with what normal should look like. The normal presentation for delivery is in the “diving” position, with the front legs extended and the nose between the knees. This allows the shoulders to slip past the mother’s pelvis, and the rest of the baby will follow along easily. The other common delivery position is rear legs irst, with the bottoms of the feet facing up. This is more common in multiple births, such as lambs and kids, as the lambs arrange themselves around each other in utero. Other presentations, such as feet with no sign of the head, or only one foot visible will likely need assistance as the mother will not be able to pass the baby in this position. Unless you have some experience with birthing, it might be time to use that vet’s phone
number. At the very least, they can help you troubleshoot your situation and offer speciic advice. Rest assured, the majority of livestock births are normal presentation, so relax until you are given a reason not to.
Provide a clean area with plenty of bedding so the mother-to-be is comfortable while in the inal stages of labor and right after giving birth.
Stages of labor All births follow a speciic pattern, divided into three stages:
Stage 1 Stage 1 is often missed. An animal may be restless, paw at the ground trying to make a nest, or she may not be interested in eating — or she may not do any of those things. Internally, the stage is deined by uterine contractions and dilation of the cervix. The baby is shifting around and preparing to move into the birth canal. Some mothers may go on eating right up to the time they move into active labor. Some don’t. At this time, she may move off from the rest of the herd or lock a slight distance. Keep an eye on things, but let her be as much as possible. MARCH/APRIL 2017
Stage 2 Stage two is the stage that is often associated with birth, or what most people think of when they think of labor. This stage should take no more than one to two hours. The female is lying down, actively straining, and there will be lots of luid. The irst thing you will likely see will be part of the bag of amniotic luid that is surrounding the baby. At this point, the sack around the baby will usually rupture, and amniotic luid will be expelled. The baby has now entered the birth canal, and mama is working very hard to expel it. Normally once the female is in active labor and the baby’s feet are visible in the birth canal, the delivery should take about 20 minutes, once the luid-illed bag surrounding the fetus has appeared.
GRIT.COM When it’s time to wean the little ones, use low-stress methods for both mom and baby (www.Grit.com/low-stress-weaning).
By day, Callene Rapp is a senior zookeeper, and by night she manages The Rare Hare Barn with her husband, Eric. She has learned to manage all sorts of livestock at the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas.
If you have never attended a birth before, familiarize yourself with what normal should look like.
Stage 3 is just after the baby has been born, and the fetal membranes, or afterbirth, is expelled. There is often a gap between Stage 2, after the baby — or multiple babies in the case of ewes and goats that have twins — and Stage 3, but the afterbirth should pass within a couple of hours. In mares especially, a retained placenta is cause for major concern. Cattle and sheep can tolerate retained placenta with less overall ill effect, but in any case, it’s something that should be attended to by a vet. After the baby has passed, you can use the syringe bulb to remove mucus from the nasal passages, and if the baby seems very slimy, you can use a towel to dry off its face. Don’t dry it off entirely, though. Part of the maternal bonding process is the mama licking the baby. This establishes its scent to her, and the licking helps stimulate the baby to get up and start moving around. Only if it is very cold where she has given birth, or if it has been a long labor and she’s very tired and in no hurry to get up, should you do much more. Now that the baby is out, breathing and alert, and mama has gotten around to getting it cleaned up, you can take a moment to congratulate yourself on a great home delivery! Once the baby is up and nursing, help yourself to that well-earned cup of coffee, and start making plans for next time.
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Dehydrators have transitioned from the kitchens of the world’s best chefs onto the wedding registry, and this book reveals why. Find the secrets of creating who-knew treats: all kinds of jerky, fruit leathers, savory vegetable crisps, flavor-packed powders that add oomph to your cooking, and perfect, melt-in-your-mouth meringues. The 80 recipes include ways to incorporate your dried creations in your baking, cooking, and cocktails. Maybe you didn’t know you needed a dehydrator. Now you do!
Gardening HIGHYIELD VEGETABLE GARDENING Authors Colin McCrate and Brad Halm show you how you can make your food garden much more productive, no matter how big or small it is. You’ll learn their secrets for preparing the soil, selecting and rotating your crops, and mapping out a specific customized schedule that makes the most of your space and your growing season. #7841 $18.95
ROSEMARY GLADSTAR’S MEDICINAL HERBS: A BEGINNER’S GUIDE With Rosemary Gladstar’s expert advice, anyone can make their own herbal remedies for common ailments, such as aloe lotion for poison ivy, dandelion-burdock tincture for sluggish digestion, and lavender-lemon balm tea for stress relief. Gladstar profiles 33 of the most common and versatile healing plants and then shows you exactly how to grow, harvest, prepare, and use them. #5948
THE ORGANIC MANUAL, 4TH EDITION
Around the world, everyone is talking about environmental issues and the concept of “going green.” The Organic Manual opens by advising that we stop using toxic chemicals, pesticides, and synthetic fertilizers, but author Howard Garrett then goes on, in great detail, about the practical alternatives. Whether it’s growing beautiful landscaping or delicious, healthy food crops, this book explains bed preparation, planting, pest control, and compost making. It also covers natural living advice. The organic method is the most efficient, most cost-effective, and most fun of any approach. #8139
DIY GARDEN PROJECTS
THE WILD WISDOM OF WEEDS
EPIC TOMATOES Craig LeHoullier, tomato adviser for Seed Savers Exchange, offers everything a tomato enthusiast needs to know about growing more than 200 varieties of tomatoes — from sowing seeds and planting to cultivating and collecting seeds at the end of the season. He also offers a comprehensive guide to the various pests and diseases of tomatoes and explains how best to avoid them. #7504
The Little Veggie Patch Company is dedicated to helping people learn how easy it is to grow their own food and have fun doing so, no matter their space, garden size, or lifestyle. This book includes more than 38 of their best projects for those young and old who want to transform their outdoor living space. Written in a personable, approachable style, with stories to accompany each project as well as clear step-by-step instructions with colorful photographs to match, this book will inspire the green thumb in every reader. #8155
The Wild Wisdom of Weeds is the only book on foraging and edible weeds to focus on the 13 weeds found all over the world, each of which represents a complete food source and extensive medical pharmacy and first-aid kit. The 13 plants found growing in every region across the world are: dandelion, mallow, purslane, plantain, thistle, amaranth, dock, mustard, grass, chickweed, clover, lambs-quarter, and knotweed. Including more than 100 unique recipes, this book shows you how to make soups, beauty products, first-aid concoctions, and much more. #7435
GROW A LITTLE FRUIT TREE Grow your own apples, figs, plums, cherries, pears, apricots, and peaches in even the smallest backyard! Expert pruner Ann Ralph reveals a simple yet revolutionary secret that keeps an ordinary fruit tree much smaller than normal. These great little trees take up less space, require less care, offer an easy harvest, and make a fruitful addition to any home landscape. #7565 $16.95
100 PLANTS TO FEED THE BEES
The international bee crisis is threatening our global food supply, but this user-friendly field guide shows what you can do to help protect our pollinators. The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation offers browsable profiles of 100 common flowers, herbs, shrubs, and trees that attract bees, butterflies, moths, and hummingbirds. The recommendations are simple: Sow seeds for some plants (such as basil, rhododendron, and blueberries), and simply don’t mow down abundant native species, including aster, goldenrod, and milkweed. #8142 $16.95
GARDENING WITH CHICKENS
Join Lisa Steele, chicken-keeper extraordinaire and founder of Fresh Eggs Daily, on a unique journey through the garden. Start by planning your garden and learning strategies and tips for keeping your plants safe while they grow. Or choose a design that’s filled with edibles, sharing the bounty with your family and your feathered friends. This book covers chicken and composting; coop window boxes; plants to avoid; valuable crops and herbs; and more. #8138
Homesteading MOTHER EARTH NEWS ALMANAC This book contains instructions and illustrations for everything from harnessing solar energy to cultivating a sustainable garden to learning how to keep bees. The almanac is a seasonal guide with subject matter that every passionate DIYer, homesteader, or environmentally aware reader can appreciate. You’ll find recipes, money-saving tips, and homesteading techniques, such as illustrated directions for tying a timber hitch, cat’s-paw, sheepshank, and other knots; folk medicine treatments and preventatives; tips on raising chickens and keeping bees; plans for building three kinds of kites; complete instructions for fast and easy compost; and much, much more! #7868 $19.99
ADVANCED TOP BAR BEEKEEPING
Advanced Top Bar Beekeeping provides a wealth of information for backyard beekeepers ready to take the next step with this economical, bee-friendly approach. Author Christy Hemenway includes guidance and techniques for the second season; in-depth analysis of the dangers of climate change; an inspiring vision for restoring bee populations; and more. #8165 $29.95
This 476-page book is a compendium of treasured knowledge from hundreds of small booklets published as “Country Wisdom Bulletins” in the 1970s. Whether you want to build a stone fence, make strawberry-rhubarb jam or plant an herb garden, this book will show you how. #2793 $19.95
LIVING LARGE IN OUR LITTLE HOUSE
Based on the successful blog of the same name, Living Large in Our Little House is a practical and inspirational memoir about the joy and freedom of tiny house living. Unforeseen circumstances forced Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell and her husband into a 480-square-foot house in the woods. What was supposed to be a writing cabin and guest house became their full-time abode, and they quickly discovered that they had serendipitously discovered a better way of life. Whether readers are inspired to join the tiny house movement or not, they are sure to be inspired to live large with less. #8143 $24.99
Swarm Essentials outlines the ramifications of swarming behavior (highlighting the often overlooked benefits), proven management techniques, and how to recover and even prosper from a successful swarm attempt. Author Stephen J. Repasky’s inaugural publication marks the latest addition to the Essentials series from Wicwas Press and is an excellent read for any beekeeper who hopes to make it past their first year. #8052 $23.00
COUNTRY WISDOM & KNOWHOW
ADVANCED BUSH CRAFT In this valuable guide, author Dave Canterbury goes beyond bushcraft basics to teach readers how to survive in the backcountry with very little equipment. He covers crucial survival skills like tracking to help readers get even closer to wildlife, crafting medicines from plants, and navigating without the use of a map or compass. With Canterbury’s expert advice and guidance, those looking to extend their bushcraft skills will learn how to forgo their equipment, make use of their surroundings, and truly enjoy the wilderness. #7752 $16.99
MICROSHELTERS If you dream of living in a tiny house, or creating a getaway in the backwoods or your backyard, you’ll love this gorgeous collection of creative and inspiring ideas for tiny houses, cabins, forts, studios, and other microshelters. In addition, this book includes six sets of building plans by leading designers to help you get started on a microshelter of your own. You’ll also find guidelines on building with recycled and salvaged materials, plus techniques for making your small space comfortable and easy to inhabit. #7812 $18.95
BUILDING SMALL BARNS, SHEDS & SHELTERS
In 2010, Cody and his Wranglerstar family decided to turn their backs on a comfortable city life and become modern-day homesteaders. Their adventure starts in the rugged mountains of the Pacific Northwest. They are now popular pioneers in a growing movement of people seeking independence from debt, freedom to raise their family with values and faith, and the peace of a simpler, more meaningful approach to life. #7776 $19.99
Here is everything you need to know to build your own outbuildings, including toolsheds, woodsheds, barns, underground root cellars, smokehouses, animal shelters, and fences. Monte Burch provides easy-tofollow instructions along with complete information on tools and materials, foundations, floors, framing, sheathing, roofing, wiring, plumbing, adding doors and windows, finishing details, and more. #525 $18.95
Livestock STOREY’S GUIDE TO RAISING PIGS This trusted resource for new and experienced pig farmers provides authoritative advice on breed selection, housing, humane handling and butchering, disease prevention and treatment, and more. This newly updated third edition includes thorough coverage of green farming methods and an expanded breed guide, including information on rare and heritage breeds. #4649 $19.95
THE NEW LIVESTOCK FARMER The New Livestock Farmer provides pasture-based production essentials for a wide range of animals, from common farm animals (cattle, poultry, pigs, sheep, and goats) to more exotic species (bison, rabbits, elk, and deer). Each species chapter discusses the unique requirements of that animal, then delves into the steps it takes to prepare and get them to market. Profiles of more than 15 meat producers highlight some of the creative ways these innovative farmers are raising animals and directmarketing superior-quality meats. #7630 $29.95
THE BACKYARD HOMESTEAD: GUIDE TO RAISING FARM ANIMALS
Ogden Publications Inc., 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609 Please send me the items that I have indicated below. My check or money-order in the full amount (or charge card information) is enclosed. MGRPAHZ2 Ship to: (please print) NAME ADDRESS
With The Backyard Homestead: Guide to Raising Farm Animals, even urban and suburban residents can successfully raise chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, rabbits, goats, sheep, cows, pigs, and honey bees. It’s easier than you think, and it can be done on small plots of land. This essential guide covers everything from selecting the right breeds to producing delicious fresh milk, cheese, honey, eggs, and meat. #5242 $24.95
POULTRY BREEDS: THE POCKET GUIDE TO 104 ESSENTIAL BREEDS Poultry Breeds is a fresh field guide of feathered friends with stunning photos highlighting the beauty and unique attributes of 104 chicken, duck, goose, and turkey breeds. Each profile outlines the bird’s history, physical characteristics, and common uses, with specially noted fun facts sprinkled throughout. This pocket-size, browsable guide is easy to use, and author Carol Ekarius knows her birds: She has been writing about livestock for nearly 20 years and has raised her own for decades. #8162 $10.95
YEAR OF THE COW After realizing he knows more about the television on his wall than the food on his plate, awardwinning TV producer and amateur chef Jared Stone buys 420 pounds of beef directly from a rancher and embarks on a hilarious and inspiring culinary adventure. Over the course of dozens of nose-totail meals, Stone cooks his way through his cow, armed with a pioneering spirit and a good sense of humor. #8146 $25.99
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PLOWING WITH PIGS This highly readable and entertaining guide brings together answers to common problems faced by homesteaders young and old, urban, suburban, and rural. Traditional knowledge is combined with MacGyver-style ingenuity to create projects that maximize available resources, including: animal management strategies; pole building and construction; replacing farm machinery; increased selfsufficiency into a home-based business; and more. #6534 $24.95
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Author, The Marvelous Pigness of Pigs Polyface, Inc.
Author, Barbecue: Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades
Author, Practical Permaculture N.W. Bloom
Author, Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide
More than 150 practical workshops presented by the nation’s leading experts at each event! Natural Cheesemaking Poultry Processing Poultry Nutrition Backyard Chickens Renewable Energy Aquaponics Tiny Homes
Natural Building Demonstrations Medicinal Mushrooms Kombucha Demo Extending the Gardening Season Heritage Breed Livestock Keeping Honey Bees Alive Edible Landscaping
Tractor Maintenance Gardening with Chickens Home Butchering Heirloom Seed Starting Food Preservation Wood-Fired Earth Oven Soil Health
Organic Pest Control Alternative Energy Vehicles Herbal Remedies Urban Homesteading Permaculture How to Tan a Hide ... And More!
For more information and discount pre-sale passes, visit
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Louis L'Amour Buy any 6 books and get 1 free!
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Life in the country is as much about work as it is about play. Rural homeowners have long relied on dependable, high-performance equipment to work the land they love. Today, large-acreage residents are turning to Exmark for their home maintenance tasks. Pioneering innovation and beautifying America for over 30 years, Exmarks deliver legendary durability, all-day comfort and unmatched cut quality. Theyâ€™re the perfect choice for folks who want their back 40s to look every bit as impeccable as their front lawns. Visit one of our 1,500+ servicing dealers to experience the most innovative and reliable mowing products on the market. Youâ€™ll see, first hand, why the most respected landscape professionals on the planet purchase Exmark 2-to-1 over the next best-selling brand.
ATTRACTIVE RETAIL FINANCING GOING ON NOW!* *See Dealer for complete financing details. Circle #7; see card pg 65
For the dream of a better life. This is why I do it. L Series
Finding your property was just the start of building everything youâ€™ve always wanted. Accomplish your dream with the help of a truly versatile Kubota L Series compact tractor. Choose from a full line of performance-matched attachments and implements to get started today!
Low-Rate, Long-Term Financing Going On Now! See your local Kubota dealer for details.
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