Voices From the Farm: Paradise Lost, Paradise Gained

1991 (continued)

July 1: Paradise lost! The economy was slow, Sean was laid off from his job at the John Deere Dealership. It was somewhat of a mixed blessing, as we had more goals to accomplish before our Field Day later in the month. He could now devote more time to finishing these. Fortunately, I was allowed to use grant funds for hired labor, so I was able to compensate Sean for grant related work. Paradise gained!

July 20: The weather was beautiful for our 2nd Annual Sustainable Ag Field Day. There were 65 people in attendance, and there was a great deal of interest in learning more about forage species, controlled grazing methods, and electric fencing options.

Our paddock system for rotational grazing drew a lot of attention. We were well along on our 2nd rotation of the year, which allowed people to view several paddocks that had been grazed, and which were in various stages of regrowth, also a paddock presently being grazed, and paddocks not yet grazed in this rotation.

Along with interest in rotational grazing, several people were inspired to try introducing Birdsfoot trefoil in their pastures. I had prepared handouts, which were made available, on both Birdsfoot trefoil establishment, and controlled rotational grazing methods. It was an enjoyable day, and we had many enthusiastic comments.

August: Now that the field day was behind us, we had more time to take care of unrelated tasks, such as harvesting, canning, and freezing the bounty from the vegetable garden, and constructing a brick patio just off the entry to the sunroom.  Of course, Sean was doing most of the work on this, and I was mostly the “sidewalk superintendent.”  I still had the sore hand from the mowing accident, and was not up to laying 8-pound bricks, but that didn’t prevent me from giving good advice!

Later in the month, construction began on a large dam and pool at the rear of the farm.  We and an adjoining land owner were cooperating on this project, each contributing some land area.  It was an excellent conservation effort, and a beautiful spot for a large pond.  A dozen years earlier we had planted 3000 pine and black walnut trees, and 500 wildlife shrubs on slopes above the pond area.  Also, there were Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) strips in Birdsfoot trefoil, and the 9-acre Birdsfoot trefoil pasture, so there would be no erosion from our side of the pond.  On the opposite side the other
party raised crown vetch, another soil holding crop.  It was like a huge flower garden back there when the trefoil and vetch were in bloom!

September: Sean and I had been invited to make a presentation on controlled grazing and fencing systems at a Small Flock Conference at Albert Lea Technical College.  I had been taking slides of fencing, forage species, and grazing options as we prepared for the Sustainable Ag Field  Day, and those came in handy for the conference.  Sean presented on electric fencing options for sheep, and I presented on pastures, forages, and grazing. The slides helped make our points, and we also had hand-out sheets on our subjects available. Our presentations were very well received, and we got to enjoy and learn from the other presentations. A good day!

September 10: A friend from the Land Stewardship Project decided to add a sheep flock to the CSA farm he and his wife operated, and came and purchased 40 ewe lambs.

Later in  the fall, I sold 4 ram lambs, and 10 locker lambs, also 8 tanned lamb pelts, and 40 pints of trefoil honey, which my bees harvested from my pastures while pollinating the trefoil blossoms! What a beautiful process! The remaining wether lambs were again marketed through the National Farmers Organization (NFO).

It had been a very productive year. We had now completed our 5th year of farming organically and were an officially certified organic farm! One more goal accomplished!

In the photo on the right is part of the completed brick patio and a flower planter being protected by portable electric fences, while the ewes graze the dropped acorns from the huge oak tree in the background. The sheep love acorns and I hate walking on them, so “Voila!” This is the solution!

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2 comments to Voices From the Farm: Paradise Lost, Paradise Gained

  • How in the world did you find time for all of this? Honey producting on top of everything else? I also had to chuckle that you gave Sean “good” advice? Would that be his recollection? Thanks for sharing your stories.

    • Lea McEvilley

      To tell you the truth Sands, I really don’t know how I found time for all the projects!

      It must have been that old saying, “An idle mind is the devil’s playground”, so I was constantly thinking up new projects to keep me out of trouble… ya think?

      Lea