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This Week on the Farm 7/7
This is a big week on our farm, as of last Wednesday we are 100% Certified Organic! This is our first weekly box to go out as fully certified and we couldn’t be more pleased. It has taken a lot of work, paperwork, and time (about five years,) to get here but we think that it has been worth it. In the next few weeks/months you may see some logos popping up on our website and our other media so I thought that I would clarify what some of them stand for. First is what many people refer to as “The Green Dot” this is the USDA Certified Organic logo. It means that the product referred to has been raised, harvested (or slaughtered in the case of meat products), packed, transported, and/or processed in accordance with the National Organic Practices (NOP). Second is the logo for our organic certifying agency Midwest Organic Services Association. The USDA does not directly certify farms as being organic, they pass that work on to other independent agencies to verify that each producer is following the NOP. Any producer who makes a claim that their produce is organic, must have a certificate from an organic certifier that stating such, or else they may be subject to large fines or other consequences. In our case we chose to certify through MOSA, they are based in Viroqua, WI and have been very helpful with this long and sometimes frustrating process.
On to other farm news and activities. We were able to get off the farm this weekend! Woot! We went camping for the Fourth of July holiday thanks to a few of our workers who were able to take care of the greenhouse for us. It was nice to be able to relax for a couple days. But when Monday morning rolled around we were right back at it. We are very pleased with the way this season is shaping up and are excited to have harvestable yields of some crops that we haven’t had for a while.
This past week we side dressed the sweet corn plantings with some chicken manure pellets. We retrofit our old potato planter to use as a side-dress fertilizer applicator. It worked pretty well, we just have to fabricate a couple of arms to agitate the pellets to keep everything flowing evenly for the next time we try it. It sure beats spreading it out by hand from a five-gallon bucket. We got the tomato trellises in the ground, and the first line of twine on the plants. The tomatoes and peppers look very good right now, quite green with beautiful yellow blossoms opening. The summer squash and cucumbers are blossoming and they have even started to set some fruit, but it may be a couple weeks yet before you see them in your boxes. The plants are a little uneven in the field and not every plant is at the same stage. We think this can be traced back to transplanting. Some of the flats of plants were not watered as thoroughly as they should have been, and so they suffered a little more transplant shock than we would have liked. Thankfully we planted a lot of plants, so even with some loss we should still have a crop.
The winter squash are looking good, as are the melons and watermelons. I just cultivated them all today, and probably for the last time as the plants are starting to rapidly vine out. The first planting of green beans is blossoming heavily and we should probably have beans for the boxes in two weeks. The peas are going gangbusters as we have both snow and snap peas in the box this week. They have a short harvest window in the spring and are quite labor intensive to pick, so please enjoy them! Needless to say, with all of the blooms, our bees are very happy!
Things have been going so well here of late, we knew something would happen to slow us down, and it has. The steering mechanism on our 860 tractor went out on us this week. My dad has been looking at it and reading about the repair, and it looks like it is going to be a fairly major project. It won’t cost us much money because the part is only about $50, but it seems that you have to take half the tractor apart just to get to it! We will have to remove all of the tin body work, the steering wheel, remove all of the gauges from the dash, and disconnect most of the wire harness just to get to the bearing that is shot. The tricky thing with tractors of this age is that to remove some parts you have to have specific tools. Many of these tools are extremely rare and are difficult to find. So whenever we have projects like this we end up having to manufacture tools to remove/replace parts. The last time we did this a section of the part broke off inside a larger part and we ended up having to take it in to get fixed by the local mechanic. Hopefully this time around it goes more smoothly.
It is still a little ways off, but no better time than now to put our Farm Fiesta on your calendar! Come out to the farm on Saturday, August 15th for a farm tour, potluck meal, campfire, and socializing with other Burr Oak Gardens members. Everyone is welcome!