Monarchs 9/2/22

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Back in the 90’s I found myself living in a slum of an apartment on a cliff overlooking the beach just north of Santa Barbara.  The weather was always about 76 degrees and a billion fit blond people were jogging, surfing, or partying on 3 streets every day of the week.  It was the most densely populated area west of the Mississippi and it was virtually all 20 year olds.  Nobody ever left those 3 streets.  You’d have a hard time convincing a friend to walk more than a block to the next street.  With a party at every house, why walk 3 blocks away?   I joined a woodland fire crew for a summer and the physical demands were significant,...

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Beneficial Insects Part two 8/26/22

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  Last week we discussed big picture organics and the idea of trying to incorporate natural systems into the process of farming in order to reap the benefits of nature’s services while minimizing harm by reducing or eliminating human made inputs (You can read here!). In that vein, I promised to talk about how we did just that with our dahlia production and took a crop that used to be our most heavily sprayed and eliminated organic pesticides completely.    Dahlias are amazing.  Dahlias are gorgeous.  Dahlias are delicious.  Every insect in Georgia wants to eat a dahlia .  Or better yet, all the dahlias.  For years we would plant in early Spring like all the textbooks advise.  We’d watch in fascination...

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Beneficial Insects Part one 8/19/22

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  So, there’s organic and then there’s organic.  We’re somewhere in the middle.  Let me try to explain.     If you think of ag as a subset of nature it might help.  Let’s use a rainforest as our example of nature.  In the rainforest, you have a form of balance, but truly it’s more of a dynamic equilibrium.  It’s more about oscillations around a sweet spot as opposed to a perfect and unchanging balance.  Plants eat all the nutrients in the soil and air (think orchids and bromeliads), then grow and produce habitat, flowers and fruits, which provide homes and food for insects, birds and bats, which provide food for larger animals, which excrete what they ate and again provide food for...

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Cover Crops 8/12/22

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Georgia red clay.  It’s notorious.  It’s chunky.  It's lifeless.    The red is a result from the affect of a warm, humid climate weathering acid crystalline rocks on rolling hills over a long period of time, but the intensely imbalanced ratio of clay to silt, sand, and organic matter is a remnant from a past marked by terribly inconsiderate agricultural practices, where all the nutrients were stripped from the soil and none were replenished.   It’s like any relationship.  If you do nothing but extract value, without putting in value, the relationship will fail.  Drive your car for years without an oil change.  Take your spouse for granted for years without investing in their well being.  Withdraw from your bank account, without...

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Unexpected Visitors 8/5/22

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Watch your step in the garden.  We’ve unfortunately run into 2 copperheads this week.  One in the woods at the cabin construction site and one outside Rachel’s office. It’s never a pleasant encounter.  We are fond of most snakes and are happy to share the farm with them, but copperheads are venomous and aren’t as welcome.  They tend to like woodpiles and mulch covered areas according to the literature and that is where we usually see them.  We’ve also found them in our barn and in a greenhouse we were weeding (Mandy almost grabbed one with a handful of weeds!!). So, you can never be too sure, but it’s safe to say that flip-flops are not farm friendly attire in...

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Dinosaurs 7/29/22

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 Lots of folks ask us about our strange flock of earth bound birds.  What are they? Do they ruin garden beds, peck food crops, need a coop, eat pests?   When we first started farming this land, we were covered in ticks constantly.  Most rural southerners seem to accept it as part of the landscape and pay it no mind, but there’s a growing awareness of the damage they can cause.  Ticks carry not only Lyme disease, but Babesia, Alpha-gal, Bartonella, Ehrlichiosis, and more.  The widely spread misinformation that Georgia ticks don’t carry Lyme disease, seems to now be losing its foothold on much of the populace.  There’s still some doctors who don’t seem to have gotten the message, but the...

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Reset, Repair, Rebuild 7/22/22

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Well, we’re finally moving forward with the cabin that was destroyed at the beginning of the year (You can revisit here).  An old friend who got his start in construction under the tutelage of Mandy’s dad years ago, went on to become a contractor and is going to come in with his crew and carefully take it down and set the salvageable lumber aside for me to re-use.   We’re both super excited to have some motion on this project.  We’re not 100% certain about the design of the rebuild (or even when I’ll get the time to do it), but we’re thinking either a full replica of the original, or possibly a 3 walled structure with the 4th wall just...

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The Swing of Things 7/15/22

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We’ve been getting afternoon showers again.  It was so dry for so long and despite the fact that our friends and neighbors were getting rain for weeks all around us, the drops avoided our soil for the longest time.  It seemed as though the clouds were taunting us.  Holding tight to their sprinkles until they passed overhead and then dropping them generously onto the neighbors’ fields while casting a wry grin over a shoulder in our direction.      The weather patterns here have so much more nuance than the ones I grew up with in Northern California.  It’s really interesting how much variation there is in just a half a mile out here.  Sometimes it works to our benefit (multiple missed...

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We're Back! 7/8/22

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We are so excited to be home and reconnect with the farm!     Mandy and I just had a heckuva trip to Italy.  We attended a family wedding in the region my grandparents are from, with cousins from Tuscany, Ireland, and Brazil.  It was fantastic!  The dance floor was filled for 5 hours with all generations of cousins and friends from all over the world and everybody was smiling, dancing, laughing, hugging and just all around having a wonderful time and soaking in this once in a lifetime experience to all be together.  I can’t tell you how much it warmed my heart and filled my spirit and I’ll forever be grateful to my amazing international family for making this...

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Lavender Harvest 6/10/22

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Back in the early days of our life together, Mandy and I lived with my little brother in a big, old, poorly insulated, and seemingly always wet house, on a wooded north facing slope, with massive single paned windows, that was too expensive to heat during the cold months.  When it was 32 outside, it was 32 inside. There was a massive fireplace, but no matter how big the fire, the heat would all just escape up the chimney, or out the single paned windows.   After work each night, we’d put on our coats, grab our dinner plates, turn on some records, and pull our old couch right up to the fire and do our best to absorb as much...

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