“Finches and sparrows build nests in my chimney with remains of the small flightless birds that you failed to protect.”
Andrew Bird – Spare Ohs
Two days after we made this yummy frittata the fox came. He ate all our ducks and one of our chickens. The fox: I feel like I know him. I see him all the time. He prances under streetlights when I go for a run. He sprints across the street, in front of my truck when I’m coming home from work. The fox lives in a burrow under the railroad tracks a block or so from here. He stalks the neighborhood. And he’s taken our birds before. We’ve lost at least three other chickens to the fox. He comes at night and kills birds. Not that I blame him. It’s his nature, we know that and we’re the ones who’ve failed to protect the birds.
Obviously, we didn’t know we were going to lose our ducks when we made this frittata. But, in retrospect, having considered all the special things we could have done with our last ever duck eggs, I’m glad we made this recipe. It was the perfect “bridge” recipe, bringing together the last few seasons on our tiny farm. We used storage onion grown last fall, spinach tended over the winter and fresh duck eggs from this spring. Continue reading Spring Frittata with Storage Onion, Over-Wintered Spinach and Duck Egg
Boy, I just went a month and a half without a post. Shameful. Sackcloth and ashes. All I can say is things have been incredibly busy and I lost control. So, to get everyone up to date, here’s a quick recap of our last 90 days:
- First, to do the initial prep on our new land we called in the cavalry (we’re farming two properties this year; one is a 1/4 acre at our home in downtown Longmont, the other is 2 1/4 acres, about 20 minutes away in Gunbarrel, and is new to us this year). We hired a very experienced local farmer named George to bring his big tractor and break the land. Prior to us the land had been untended weeds and grass for decades. So, to begin George brought his moldboard plow and flipped the soil 18-inches deep. This is good practice for new land that’s thick with weeds. The plow blades cut the weedy rhizome roots a feet and a half deep, giving us a big head-start on our cultivation. (The pictures in this post are of Milo in the field right after moldboarding.) We then let the land sit for two weeks, to dry and germinate any weed seeds. Then George came back, this time with his cultipacker and knocked the clods down to seedbed size. Now we just need to compost, till in our beds, install the irrigation and plant it up. We don’t have a tractor yet but even if we did, we’d have hired George to do this custom tractor work for us. Small tractors can’t pull heavy enough implements to do a good job of primary tillage. Everyone I know who tried to do this themselves was disappointed with the results.
- Next, we finished and submitted the application and paperwork for an Farm Service Administration (FSA) start-up loan. Our tiny farm model is super cheap compared to starting a large conventional farm, but the expenses can still be daunting (we’re budgeting $30-$60k). Also, it’s impossible to get a start-up loan through a traditional bank. We know because we had to go through the unpleasant process of getting rejected in order to qualify for the FSA. They just don’t understand the business model and so they either charge way too much or are just not interested. Thank goodness for the FSA. It’s a branch of the USDA dedicated to financially supporting American farmers. They make low interest loans under reasonable terms to growers of all sizes. Unfortunatly, as is the case anytime you deal with the government, the paperwork is legion. Things were especially difficult for us because this year, until last week when the federal government finally approved it’s budget, the FSA didn’t have any money to lend. That meant that despite our application being complete and approved we couldn’t close the deal. Things are looking up now that the federal government has funded itself. We’ll sign the papers tomorrow and then be able to move forward with things like an irrigation system, a market stand and a small tractor. Continue reading A Dispatch From the Front