Ginny

Yesterday was a day of deep sadness on White Flint Farm, as we had to say goodbye to our beloved and faithful companion Ginny.

DSC_0029

Lady Virginia Guerrant June 2003-July 23, 2015

She will be greatly missed.

Advertisements

Get off the gate

It’s OK to sit on the gate for a while, but at some point you have to take wing, move on and get to work.

IMG_7345

Not Making Hay

This summer, for the first time in many summers, I did not cut, rake, bale or stack any hay. We made no hay this year.

Instead, we sold our hay equipment and will buy our hay from now on.

That may seem like a step back from self-reliance and sustainability, and in a sense it is.  But I became convinced that we should focus on reducing our need for hay and buy what little hay we need.  So we reduced our herd size and set aside a paddock in which to stockpile forage for the harshest winter months. And my rough guess is that what we got for the hay equipment is enough to buy us the hay we need for 15-20 years. And I no longer have to worry about maintenance, expensive repairs or burning down our barn.

It feels weird to look out at the fields that I would’ve hayed, and see them waist deep in grass and vegetation instead.

Cherie often tells me we should work smarter, not harder.  Maybe this is a good step in that direction.

A Drag

We’re enjoying lots of great produce this summer, but as with all summers, it has had its challenges.

Weeds and pests have taken their usual (but manageable) tolls. We expect some losses from them and we willingly pay that price.

But once again it is the deer that are hurting us the most this year. I wouldn’t have expected things to get worse than they were last year, but they have.

This year our deer have expanded their diets to include tomato and pepper plants–plants that I had understood were toxic to deer. Evidently I was wrong about that.  Our tomato production has been decimated.

2 foot tall heirloom tomato plants that should be 6 feet tall and loaded with tomatoes. We have hundreds like this.

2 foot tall heirloom tomato plants that should be 6 feet tall and loaded with tomatoes. We have hundreds of plants like this.

The pepper plants were severely pruned but the verdict is still out on whether they will be productive.

Cayenne pepper plant, stripped

Cayenne pepper plant eaten by deer

The parts of the pepper plants they spared are still producing peppers.

The parts of the bell pepper plants they spared (notice how they’ve bitten off the top of the plant) are still producing peppers.

And sadly some enterprising deer jumped our fences and destroyed our spaghetti and butternut squash. Luckily they don’t seem to like acorn squash.

This is what the butternut squash garden looks like. The squash is gone, and the plants are trampled.

This is what the butternut squash garden looks like. The squash is gone, and the plants are trampled.

They also ate the peas and they’ve been munching on the watermelons.

Purple hull pea remains

Purple hull pea remains

A deer took a bite out of the melon, making it unsaleable. They also ate the runners, so that no more fruit will set.

A deer took a bite out of the melon, making it unsaleable. They also ate the runners, so that no more fruit will set.

And our cover crops? Not happening. They mow down the buckwheat as soon as it starts coming up.

Our production this year will be a fraction of what it should have been.  That’s a drag.

Hopefully next year we’ll come up with a solution.

Brazilian soybeans

There is an interesting article in this months Progressive Farmer magazine (an industrial ag publication) about the meteoric rise of the soybean industry in the Amazonian region of Brazil–from virtually no production 15 years ago to 9% of the world’s supply today.

The original trigger for this was not an increased demand for soybeans in Brazil (or even South America), but rather in China. In the 1990’s China abandoned its policy of soybean self-sufficiency and began importing beans–going from nearly no imports in the 1990’s to importing over half the soybeans traded on the global markets in 2014.

So virgin land in Brazil was converted to soybean production, where 40% of the land is “double-cropped” each year (bringing two crops to harvest each season). Land purchased for $160/acre now sells for $6,900 per acre and 25% of the farms in the region cover 15,000 to 50,000 acres. Vast fortunes have been made by investors and agribusinesses.

A belated attempt by the government to preserve forest (passed in 2012) requires the industry to maintain some land in forest and experts say it will be necessary to reforest about 2.5 million acres to bring them into compliance.

So Brazilian forest is cleared to make room for soybeans to be floated across two oceans to China.

How can that make sense?

Far-sightedness

Caring for ecosystems demands far-sightedness, since no one looking for quick and easy profit is truly interested in their preservation. But the cost of the damage caused by such selfish lack of concern is much greater than the economic benefits to be obtained. Where certain species are destroyed or seriously harmed, the values involved are incalculable. We can be silent witnesses to terrible injustices if we think that we can obtain significant benefits by making the rest of humanity, present and future, pay the extremely high costs of environmental deterioration.

Pope Francis
from Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home

Roads

There are several roads on our place.

IMG_7341

IMG_7342

IMG_7349

IMG_7350

IMG_7351IMG_7352

IMG_7353

IMG_7354

IMG_7355

I like that, but they do require maintenance, usually at the time of year when we least have time to spare.

How to grow grass in the South? Put down gravel.

How to grow grass in the South? Put down gravel.

Of course, it grows without gravel as well.

Of course, it grows without gravel as well.

This one turns into a ditch after every heavy rain and must be regraded.

This one turns into a ditch after every heavy rain and must be regraded.

Sometimes this happens

Sometimes this happens

And this.

And this.

Still, it’s nice to be able to walk quiet roads.

Roads that are your own.