Thursday, June 26, 2014


Straw is the stalk of a grain plant after the grain has been harvested.  Hay is made from any of several types of pasture grass such as fescue, timothy, alfalfa or orchard grass.

We use a lot of straw on the farm. Some of it we use to mulch our garden to hold moisture in the soil and to suppress weed growth. Most of it is used to provide bedding for the chickens. The straw provides carbon which helps to absorb the moisture of the chickens' poops thus keeping the air quality in the hen-a-bago pleasant and healthy for them. It makes our work more pleasant too.

Charlie picked up a load of 120 bales of wheat straw on the trailer and 10 in the bed of the truck. We are grateful to find a farmer who grows grains organically.  By using straw from his plants we assure that as the straw decomposes on our pastures and in our gardens it is not depositing any genetically modified components or the residue of toxic pesticides, herbicides and/or insecticides.   

Lots of tie downs kept the straw bales from falling or blowing off on the journey home.

Trailer's empty.
Pole barn is stacked with straw once again.

In about 3 months we'll do it all again.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Mowing the Rye

Getting started
One of our winter cover crops continues to work for us. The rye grew well, fed the layers fresh greens during the winter and then completed its life cycle but not its usefulness to the farm. We didn't grow it to harvest for the grain so Charlie mowed it and is allowing it to lay on the ground, helping to keep the soil beneath cool and moist on our hot, dry summer days.
Charlie is adjusting the height of the sickle bar mower.

And away he goes!

Down goes the rye.

Almost finished.

Heads of rye


Friday, June 13, 2014

Triad Farm Tour

We had a terrific turnout for the Triad Farm Tour last weekend.  Thanks to Carolina Farm Stewardship Association for sponsoring & supporting this event and to all who attended and/or volunteered.  We had a great time; even Sunday's rain did not stop participants from coming.  In fact, we were so busy giving tours that I only snapped one photo.
Charlie set up a display of some of the farm equipment including the 1953 Farmall Cub, the antique mining wagon converted to our farm store produce cart, the small John Deere lawn tractor and the larger John Deere tractor. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Burlington Downtown Farmers' Market

Here's where we'll be tomorrow from 8 to noon at the corner of Front and Spring Streets, downtown Burlington.  Come see us!
Burlington Downtown Farmers' Market continues through October.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Triad Farm Tour is this weekend!

The Triad Farm Tour is an opportunity to tour local organic and sustainable farms in the Triad area.

It's even possible to volunteer either Saturday or Sunday afternoon at a farm and Carolina Farm Stewardship Association provides you with a ticket to tour the other farms on the afternoon you are not volunteering. Sounds like a good deal!  More information about the tour and volunteering is here:

Come see us!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


The garden is coming along slowly with a late start and a too early arrival of hot weather.  The weeds are growing abundantly and we've been weeding a lot this week.
This double row of English peas is weeded on the right side while the left side shows the "before" appearance.  It's finished and mulched now!  We may not get any peas this year because the weather is so warm the peas are not flowering.  The green beans are though so we won't go hungry.

Charlie is adjusting the Farmall to fine tune his cultivation of the garden rows.  The mulched rows on the left are the two rows we've finished weeding.

Mama Hen 11; Rat Snake 2

Friday morning Charlie let the "Mama" broody hen and the 13 chicks in her care out of the brooderhouse to enjoy the day, the grass and the bugs.  These babies really know how to forage thanks to this attentive Mama's guidance.  When Jan went by the brooderhouse about an hour later she counted only 11 little yellow fuzz balls.  We searched the outside yard area and could find no signs of chicks so we guessed a snake had gotten them.  What we didn't guess was that the snake was so close by.  When Jan went into the brooderhouse to put down some fresh straw she found an unexpected "sunbather" in a corner.

Notice the lumps in this young (but large) rat snake.  Our 2 missing biddies.

Charlie caught the snake with his trusty snake catcher.  

And away we went.  With Jan driving the cart and Charlie holding the snake (who was a little angry!) we took off for the back woods on the farm and released it.  Rat snakes help to keep the rodent population under control for which we are grateful.  We'd prefer they not eat the chicks or the eggs, but sometimes one seizes the opportunity.  It's been a week of snakes.  This is the 6th one we've seen and the 4th to be caught and "relocated."