Monday, December 29, 2008

Education Continues...

Christmas brought lots of educational materials to the ol' homestead. I received/ordered the following books:

I also have some time off from work to plan my Spring work and to look around for some local farms to support. Since leaving Texas, I have not found "my beef and chicken guy", "my lamb guy", "my eggs guy" or, tragically, "my milk guy". So I have been on the search.

A farm a few towns away sells raw milk and cream, free range eggs, and occasional meats like lamb and beef. They also provide a private farm tour just for the asking! Sign me up! The SO and I headed over yesterday, brimming with cash to buy up all their goodies. I've been jonesin' for a tall glass of real milk. Anyway, the farmer lady spent about 45 minutes with us, giving us a tour of the cows, the chickens, the calves, the steers, just about everything. I peppered her with complete newb questions like: "I see you are milking four different breeds of cows, which do you prefer?" "Which breed of laying hen do you prefer?" "Where do your cows pasture?" "What type of hay? Do you grow your own?" "How soon do you wean you calves?" "Can you make money off of free range eggs?" "Do you love farming?"

She was so gracious with all of her answers and I learned a ton, even though I didn't really know enough to ask good questions. We did talk for a bit about chicken tractors for meat birds, the virtues of a rooster, and why my hens aren't laying. (More on that in a later post). It was great and I was so appreciative. I must have thanked her for her time five times.

I did end up picking up some of her eggs, some milk and cream, and other assorted goodies. I also learned that my 2 horses and 10 chickens do not a farm make. That lady has a farm, with 100 cows and 200 chickens. I have a "farmette" or a hobby. :) Suits me fine, I am just getting started. Oh, and I also learned that I will be outsourcing for milk. I do not need or want a heifer. :)

Now that I have made some connections, it's time to hunker down and read my books and start planning for the spring. I expect the activity on this blog to pick up as I solidify my plans.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Education for the Ignorant

I put together a small list of some of the books I've read over the past years to get ideas about how to go on with this farming business. I posted it as a sidebar on the front page of the blog. I am woefully ignorant, and lacking in a paternal/maternal figure who knows the soil. My grandmother used to have an acre garden with great yields but she is past the point of remembering the essence of many details, such as canning, weather, growing patterns, etc.

I have been doing well with the fauna education, but now is the time to focus on the flora. I know very little about soil, except some basics from color, consistency, acidity. I can't identify many tree specifies and am even worse with weeds and mushrooms.

So any tips on which books to add to my bookshelf? I am looking for books about organic, diversified, small-scale vegetable and herb farming. There are literally thousands of books touting these attributes in this day and age, but are there some real gems I should pick up? Winter is a time for reading and planning, and although I missed the boat on many important items, such as liming, I would like to enter the Spring as prepared as possible.

Thanks is advance! Every comment is greatly appreciated!