Farm Newsletter!

Hams for Easter!

We have about a dozen 6-8 lb smoked and cured hams (end cut, not center cut) for Easter. Order them now!

Silvopasture and Alley Cropping Grant

We encountered a bit of a bureaucratic roller coaster this week. We applied for and received a planning and design grant through PASA (and by extension, the NRCS) to install an Alley Cropping system on our farm, only to have it taken away.

Alley cropping is an agricultural practice that alternates rows of perennial plantings with fields of annual crops. In our situation, we were envisioning permaculture guilds of fruit and nut trees, low growing shrubs (maybe elderberries, blueberries, and hazelnuts) with bramble berries, perennial flowers, and ground cover on the bottom layer. We would maintain our 40′ – 60′ wide veggie fields in between the alley crop perennials. The planning grant would have connected us with Alley Cropping design professionals that help to maximize the resources on our farm, taking into consideration the land, water, common uses, amenities, natural features, etc..

All fine and dandy until the NRCS (Natural Resource Conservation Service) throws down the kibosh and nixes our participation in the grant. NRCS will not work with farms that are pasturing pigs. They want nothing to do with it. Granted, (based on feral pigs across the southern US), it’s clear that pasturing pigs can create a serious problem to the environment, especially if they escape and run wild. Keeping pigs contained and on a pasture system takes work, planning, and more work, as pigs can really screw things up. We’ve seen it. We’ve done it. We know.

Despite a bit of a hurt ego, we bounced back with the realization that we don’t really need the grant to actually do the Alley Cropping plans. We both know enough to do some damage and have a network of permaculture friends that could put in their two cents to polish off the plan. What’s really annoying is NRCS policy.

It doesn’t make sense for the NRCS to bury their heads in the sand, refuse to work with pastured pork farmers, and pretend that this isn’t a growing market. We’re drafting a letter to the NRCS and letting them know that there needs to be some policy change with the up and ups of the pencil pushers. Farmers gonna farm and if the NRCS wants to influence and educate the burgeoning posse of pastured pork farmers, they’d better get ahead of the crowd. For those of you who need a bit of farmer drama, we’ll post a link to our letter peppered with policy improvements and notifying them of thier hidebound ways. We’ll see where we get with the Wonks.

speaking of pigs…..

Finally we have new piglets! – Pig Wifery, by Greg

Lilac’s neat pile of piglets

About a week ago, Lilac, having the namesake of her mother, had 9 piglets in an uneventfully smooth first birth. Olivia and Evelyn were present to catch the majority of the babies, and mom did great keeping them out from under the teats over their first night. Already a week later and she has managed to keep all 9 piglets alive!

From the photo it looks like she’s got these guys under control. Keeping an organized pile-o-piglets is no easy task! Lilac is shining!

Chicks have an accommodation upgrade!

Disco ball coming soon!

Egg cartons please

Our friend Kevin came looking for our stockpile of used egg cartons (thank you all for continuing to return cartons). He normally buys new cartons by the 500s. Like many things in this COVID economy, there’s a backlog and he needs cartons. Chickens don’t know much about COVID, but they do know that when Spring’s around the corner, they gotta get layin’. More eggs necessitates more cartons and we were happy to oblige. Even our ladies have picked up the pace and we’ve a few more eggs to sell each week. We try to keep your order to a minimum, so we can share the love a good egg.

If you’d be so kind to send us more egg cartons, we have a few parameters: They should be clean (don’t put cracked eggshells back in the carton). Please send only paper pulp cartons, and only 1 dozen sized cartons.

Leave it up to NPR To answer last week’s question.

What happened to the Texas agricultural industry during the heavy freeze? Here’s a bit from Science Friday to explain. Expect the price of orange juice to go up, at the very least. My sympathies to the farmers, farm workers, and related industries. That said; we really, really, need to work towards a decentralized food system, eat seasonally and learn how to grow and preserve food. Maybe this year would be a good year to start a garden? Check out our Garden Share program!

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