Working towards a closed loop farming system


We are juggling a few long term projects here at MHO those being building a pavilion over the pizza oven, building a farm vacation cabin rental, raising another greenhouse and finally reclaiming pastures. A few years ago our neighbor Ken Pangle made a comment to us something like, “You’ve got so many irons in the fire you don’t know which is hot!”. Read this for a history of this phrase which appears to have first been recorded back in 1549. Our neighbor Alvin has recently said to us, in regards to a greenhouse we are currently constructing, “Have you foundered on that greenhouse project?”. The term Foundered is used frequently with cattle and horses which is where he began using that term.  It is fun hearing about all the old time phrases that folks in our area use.
The problem with us being entrepreneurs is we are sometimes a bit idealistic, and if we weren’t idealistic, than we probably wouldn’t undertake many of these projects here on the farm because we would lack the confidence to start them and follow through to complete them. So perhaps it is this personality trait as to why we are undertaking so many projects one time. As Carl says, “Any strength taken to extreme can become a weakness”.  So I guess this idealistic thing is a weakness for us here at MHO.
Sometimes It seems to me that we aren’t making much progress on any one project, because most of our long term projects span over a year, and we try to work on these projects in between growing food for you wonderful CSA shareholders and market customers. One such project is to reclaim pastures for cattle. We’ve had plans on eventually raising just a few beef cows, which in the past, was a big part of this family farm before we became the stewards. Since the 1980’s, an area that was once pasture has returned to a young forest, with most of the trees only a few inches in diameter.
Once we began farming this land, being tree huggers, we couldn’t bring ourselves to cut any saplings down which is why the pastures have returned to a very young forest. Our main farming goal has always been to be sustainable and environmental friendly, which is why, we choose to use organic farming practices and are highly diversified. For us to keep five acres of cropland productive, we use an organic fertilizer which is primarily made from composted chicken manure. Although we are using a by-product from the chicken industry, we are still purchasing fertilizer, that it is composted then made into pellets and shipped here. It requires a some precious non-renewable resources to make our fertilizer so our long term goal is to have livestock who will produce our fertilizer right here on the farm. We farmers’ call it a closed loop system when you have all inputs (fertilizer’s and minerals) that are produced right on the farm.
Our neighbor Alvin is helping us to reclaim our pastures.  He has used his bulldozer to push down the saplings and just this past week Carl seeded the pasture with grass.  It will be another year until the pasture is ready for cattle, mostly because we need the grass to become established, so it is baby steps for us in achieving our goal of having a closed loop farming system. We are certain our neighbors and CSA members the Daltons might just have a heart attack when they take their annual hike over the mountains and into the valley. We nearly had a heart attack when we first saw the newly graded pasture. But pastures and open land are needed for cattle. We will be using the wood from the trees that were in this area for heating the greenhouses and our home so nothing goes to waste.

Our neighbor Alvin is helping us to reclaim our pastures. He has used his bulldozer to push down the saplings and just this past week Carl seeded the pasture with grass. It will be another year until the pasture is ready for cattle, mostly because we need the grass to become established, so it is baby steps for us in achieving our goal of having a closed loop farming system. We are certain our neighbors and CSA members the Daltons might just have a heart attack when they take their annual hike over the mountains and into the valley. We nearly had a heart attack when we first saw the newly graded pasture. But pastures and open land are needed for cattle. We will be using the wood from the trees that were in this area for heating the greenhouses and our home so nothing goes to waste.

We are hoping it is a good year to seed a pasture, because with rain nearly every day, it must be ideal for grass seed to germinate, as long as the seed doesn't wash away.  After Carl seeded, Alvin walked the seed in with his dozer, so we are hoping the seed won't all germinate at the bottom of the hill.

We are hoping it is a good year to seed a pasture, because with rain nearly every day, it must be ideal for grass seed to germinate, as long as the seed doesn't wash away. After Carl seeded, Alvin walked the seed in with his dozer, so we are hoping the seed won't all germinate at the bottom of the hill.

Sylvestre helping to process a trailer full of onions. Thank him for all the amazing photographs on Facebook and those included in this journal entry! We are estimating that we have lost about one third of our onion crop due to the wet weather but we are hoping that our CSA Shareholders will make use of the soft onions so we will not have to compost them.

Sylvestre helping to process a trailer full of onions. Thank him for all the amazing photographs on Facebook and those included in this journal entry! We are estimating that we have lost about one third of our onion crop due to the wet weather but we are hoping that our CSA Shareholders will make use of the soft onions so we will not have to compost them.

Besides weeding, the past couple weeks have been spent processing onions, digging and washing potatoes, harvesting and grading melons that the crows haven't eaten, plus all the gazillion farm jobs required to keep the veggies growing and the animals healthy on this small farm!

Besides weeding, the past couple weeks have been spent processing onions, digging and washing potatoes, harvesting and grading melons that the crows haven't eaten, plus all the gazillion farm jobs required to keep the veggies growing and the animals healthy on this small farm!

We on the farm are enjoying the ever decreasing day length as fall approches. Us farmers' can work ourselves to death being outdoors trying to accomplish as much as is possible when the sun is up.

We on the farm are enjoying the ever decreasing day length as fall approches. Us farmers' can work ourselves to death being outdoors trying to accomplish as much as is possible when the sun is up.


About Farmer

About Us: We are mostly market gardeners and sell our offerings at local markets; however, in addition to preserving our harvest for winter, we raise egg laying chickens, chickens for meat and dairy goats. We can’t claim to do all these things alone - we normally have a farm apprentice living on the far – who helps us with all the farm chores. .

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