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Keeping Records Is Key

The More Data You Have, The Better You Can Plan

Farming is a physically rigorous vocation – no doubt about it. Day after day, week after week, you have to be physically engaged in the field. You can’t weed vegetables virtually or collect eggs online.

But to increase your chances of being a successful small farmer, you must pay attention to details.

You see, our garden can be compared to a big science laboratory, and each row of vegetables, and each cycle of planting-to-harvest, is an experiment that we can study and learn from. So, we implemented a record keeping system to help us keep track of what did well and what can be done better, with a goal of improving our work-to-harvest ratio.

With each planting (of each kind of vegetable), we try to capture various details, like “how many plants per row?” or “how far apart are the plants?” What setting was used on the seed spreader? How often did we spray with nutritional supplements? And as the plants grow, we do on-going assessments about crop health and fruit yield.

We even record details about our regular chores. How much time did each task take? How often did we do it? How often do we need to order supplies?

With 31 different crops being planted at different times on 200 garden beds, and many crops growing at different rates, keeping all these details can be dizzying. So we have job checklists which include gathering these statistics each day while the specifics are fresh. It may seem like overkill, but aggregating this data can provide us with helpful information that improves efficiency.

We won’t have time to take a hard look at all this info until December. But hopefully it will help us plan better, schedule better, work more efficiently and see greater yields from our garden next season.

Gentle Beasts

One of Joel’s favorite things to do in the pasture is to lay down among the cows.

Although they are quite large (and can seem even bigger when you are laying on the ground!) cows are really quite docile creatures. They are also friendly and curious. After a while they will come up and check you out.

It starts with sniffing your feet but can often progress all the way to face licks (not for the faint of heart!). Of course, if you move suddenly, they will jump back. But if you're still and calm you get a one-of-a-kind experience. As their huge bodies get close, and you see their hooves come closer and their heads swing above you, you have an instinctive impulse to get away. But if you steel yourself and remain calm, you’ll see that they are just curious and are careful not to hurt you. In fact, you discover that they'll jump away if you even flick your hand.

Cows really aren't dangerous when they're calm. But they will only remain calm and safe if you are calm and safe. When your fear makes you move -- they feel fear and move quickly in response -- and that’s when you need to be careful.

New Home On The Range

Speaking of our cows, we finally did move them over to the fields at Osprey Wilds, the environmental learning center where we have helped get an organic garden up and running.

It took several trips with a borrowed trailer to transport them, but now they are settled on the property and enjoying foraging through new “salad bar” of green grasses and clover.

As we blogged about a few weeks ago, our pasture grasses had mostly failed to regrow due to this summer’s drought conditions. But Osprey Wilds has more than 30 acres of untouched pasture that we were able to use. In return, our cows’ natural interaction with their land will improve their pasture too – so it is a win-win situation!

We are grateful for their offer to use their land. It is this kind of neighborly interaction that encourages us and reminds us how good it is to cultivate our community friendships as much as we take care of our farm’s plants and animals!

NOTE: We have a few more shares (quarter, half or full) of our beef cows available. More information You can place orders HERE.

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