After enjoying most of my Sunday in the woods, clearing undergrowth for a camp area, I was ready to settle in and start reading Sir Albert Howard’s An Agricultural Testament. Fascinating! And, of course, a little ironic since Sir Howard felt that using livestock was optimal on a farm. I do believe in using livestock, but a little help from mechanization sure does help with some projects. I think, as with most things in life, it is a balancing act. As soon as I finish this post, I am going to read and learn more.
Yesterday, was my first day chainsawing, and it felt great to do it myself. I was fairly sore this morning after all that work of sawing and pulling and piling, but it was well worth it. Today, I bush-hogged (don’t you just love that word) the back field, and tried not to knock down all the buckwheat. The pig-weed, however, was getting out of hand, and I had to try to manage it. I need to figure out a way to get rid of that weed before it becomes even more troublesome.
Back to Sir Howard…
We are very excited that Jeff and Diane Frisbee have officially opened Addison Farms Vineyard in Sandy Mush. We dropped by for a tasting and tour today, and we took home a bottle of their Smokehouse Red to enjoy with dinner. It was a subtle blend with a hint of pepper that went very well with our pork. We are looking forward to learning more about their process and sampling their varieties. This is a family affair, with both Jeff and Diane’s families pitching in to help; a true family farm venture!
We enjoyed the sunset from the porch as we relaxed with a bottle of Addison Farms Smoke House Red that complemented our pork chops from Hominy Valley Farms Land and Cattle that we marinated with Smoking J’s Fiery Fatalii BBQ Sauce. These were just three of the farms that we toured on ASAP’s farm tour weekend. Hominy Valley Farms Land and Cattle and Smoking J’s Fiery Foods are located in Candler, and they are both at the Asheville Tailgate markets on Saturdays (S. Charlotte St.). Addison Farms Vineyards is in Sandy Mush. Yeah, we have our very own winery in Sandy Mush!
Last night we enjoyed watching the 2011 documentary Queen of the Sun: What the Bees are Telling Us. I am concerned that we take way too much for granted in our hurried lives. We must slow down, pay attention, and care for the honey bees; they are essential for life. This brief article, 3 New Studies Link Bee Decline to Bayer Pesticide, has interesting information with links to resources that are worth reviewing.
Yesterday, I had a wonderful time visiting Sandy Mush Herb Nursery. It is a beautiful place to wander, surrounded by lush plants and guided by very knowledgeable hosts. They provide a wide variety of locally grown herbs, shrubs and trees. I am already looking forward to my next visit after I do a little landscape planning.
We are working on improving soil, and we appreciate our neighbors for their generous contributions toward our goal. Our neighboring dairy farmer provided some wonderful cow manure to help improve the corral area which will eventually be a mixed-use garden area. We have sub-soiled this area, incorporated green manure (winter rye), poured on the brown manure (thanks Aubrey and Rita), and are hoping to have a nitrogen enriching crop of clover to continue to build the soil structure. We will continue to work on this area over the next year. We are going to do another soil test and check drainage to see what other preparations are needed.
Additionally, we were very excited this weekend to get a rich load of composted llama and mule manure full of earthworms. (Thanks Jean and Bruce.) We incorporated it into our garden, with the very eager help of our hens who I eventually had to shoo away to save the earthworms so that they could do what they do best.
As my cousin has discovered, Glenn and I are willing to muck the horse stalls in order to reap the benefits of enriching our soil…a mutually beneficial arrangement.
You can see ariel views of the farm from these photos in the slideshow by Ken Abbott Photography. Ken used L.E.A.P (low elevation ariel photography) for these photos. The photos in this slideshow that are labeled Bee Branch (when you look at picture list) are of the farm; some of the photos are other farms/locations. View Ken’s photography.
I believe the importance of the health of our soil must not be overlooked for the long-term sustainability of our farms our food and our health. If you are truly concerned about our future generations, then please start educating yourself about farming practices and farm policy and support those who are working to build healthy farms. Here is another interesting article from Tom Philpott; this one focuses on the connection between soil and climate change.
Wendell Berry has highly recommended The Soil and Health by Sir Albert Howard. I have it on my order list and will start reading it soon. I believe education is three-fold: learning from others who know the land and have worked it, researching and reading what others have learned in the field, and your own daily experience of trial and error. There is never a dull day!
We enjoyed checking out the livestock at the North Carolina Mountain State Fair yesterday, especially the goats. We are intrigued with the Oberhasli breed. If anyone has experience with these goats, we would appreciate your feedback. We are in the research stage right now, but are thinking about getting a couple of goats in the spring to help clear some pasture and overgrown areas. You can see photos of the goats at Ivy Patch Farm. I enjoyed talking with Cheryl Harris, breeder and farmer, of Snow Camp, NC. Her Oberhaslie seemed to have good temperaments and fun personalities. I think they will be a fun and useful addition to the farm.
I do miss my bi-monthly fix of Mother Jones’ smart investigative journalism. Here is Tom Philpott blog post from the Mother Jones’ site addressing the misleading information from the Stanford study. 5 Ways the Stanford Study Sells Organics Short.
I believe that beyond nutrition, we should also look at the environmental impacts of conventional vs. organic, and, more importantly, we should consider the many benefits of the sustainable and diverse family farm rather than the monoculture of industrial agribusiness. I believe that if a comprehensive study is done on the many family farms who work hard to create thriving, diverse farms in order to be healthful and sustainable versus the monoculture industrialized farms, whether they be conventional or organic certified, that we will find numerous benefits of the diverse family farm.