Birdie Brain (I Will Take Us Home)

I must admit it...three weeks of unseasonable warmth will lead me away from this machine every time. And what an action-packed three weeks it has been (another reason for my prolonged absence.)

The ends of our hoop house have been framed (many thanks to Greg & Jen), the plastic film has been purchased and the cooler temperatures are approaching (though four more days of 60 degree temperatures await), so a post dedicated to that process will soon be up.

This week we were able to expand our electric fencing in preparation for the planting of our apple and asian pear trees that arrived last Friday, as well as some table grape vines and the remaining blueberry bushes. That make two posts that are due.

But the fluffiest, chirpiest, hoppiest new arrivals have taken center stage at the farm. It goes without saying that I missed the first call from the Carbondale P.O. (at 3 a.m.) last Friday, but I was up when the next one came at 5. Our chicks were leaving for our local branch, housed in the quiet valley that we call Makanda. And a quiet valley it is at 7:15 on a November morning, but that silence was soon broken as I followed our postmaster, Laura, into the building. She disappeared through the door, declaring, "I hear you, but I can't find you!" A few moments later she reappeared with a shoebox-sized carton.
Did I mention that they were loud?

Actually, they were more confused than anything, but their panicked chirps calmed relatively quickly considering the bumpy ride through the southern end of Giant City State Park (not a bad first trip). It was probably the heat pouring from my vents more than the scenery (they were in a box), but who knows.

Unfortunately, by the time I got home, the girls only had about ten minutes before they had to leave for school, but that night was a fun one. Our youngest, T, was up at 6 a.m. Saturday, wanting to hold the chicks some more.

Not to be outdone, Wrigley may have been even more interested, with different motives, I assume.

With completion of the coop within site, all we have to wait for are some big girl feathers, and they will really be home.

Ed. Note: We got our chicks from McMurray Hatchery.

Dear Mr. Supercomputer

It was brought to my attention (thank you, Trisha) that my comment process had a hang-up. I would like to blame it on the weather, but I'm afraid some settings needed tweaking.

I'm sorry if your attempts to comment were thwarted by my errors.

Thanks for visiting!

Let It Grow (Michael Pollan)

I just finished watching the second half of The Botany Of Desire on PBS (I missed the first). For those of you who don't know, Michael Pollan, is a genius. The author of, among others, The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, and major contributor to the movie Food, Inc. as well as The Botany Of Desire (based on another of his books), he is one of the most influential and inspirational voices in my life.
His understanding of the complexities of the natural world is surpassed only by his ability to convey it. "Everything we do, what we choose to eat, what flowers we choose to put on our tables, what drugs we choose to take, these are evolutionary votes we are casting everyday, in many, many different ways."
This program will be broadcast at least twice more this week on both of the PBS stations we get. Watch it, or record it and watch it later, tell others to do the same.
"The order we impose on nature is never more than temporary or illusory. In the end the logic of nature will win out over the logic of capitalism, the logic of the factory, the logic of efficiency. It's always been so, and it always will be so. Nature is stronger than any of our designs, and nature resists our control."
(This is the first in a series of posts honoring the work of those who are changing the way we see, grow, acquire, or otherwise encounter food in today's world. May their seeds grow with the vigor of all living things.)

Rainy Day, Dream Away

Today brought one of those fall rains that just settles in your bones. While many of the still brightly colored leaves fell to the ground prematurely, they created a blanket sure to provide quite an early morning scene, so long as the sun re-appears as is the forecast.
I had hoped to continue work on our recently acquired hoop house, but a rain soaked ladder is never a good place to be. There was a brief midday reprieve, long enough to clean up the strawberry patch in preparation for winter mulching, but then the rain returned.
Having worked in the landscaping field since 1995, I am all too accustomed to "forced holidays," though I am usually able to find something worthwhile to do outside upon returning home. On this day it was raining too hard, however, and I gave in and took refuge in the house.
Upon drying out, I was able to make some overdue phone calls. Most exciting among these was a call to Stark Bros. Nursery, located in Louisiana, MO, between St. Louis and Hannibal. They have been in business since moving from Kentucky in 1816, and have introduced into production a number of world famous varieties of fruits, including both the red and golden delicious apple. I ordered three varieties of apple trees, two var. of Asian pears, and three var. of grapes. They should arrive mid-November.
There is also garlic that recently arrived from my good friend Nate near Urbana.
And the additional blueberry bushes I purchased last week from Anna Nursery, a local wholesaler of hundreds of varieties of native and rare trees and shrubs for the landscape industry since 1925.
I have a lot of friends in need of a home. I can only hope that there are drier days to come.

Welcome To The Jungle

Welcome to our blog, dedicated to life at Frontwards Farm in Makanda, IL.
As our motto implies, we believe in a timeless approach to life, in general and on the farm. While we are confronted on a daily basis with ideas, systems, and tools that attempt to make life exponentially easier and more efficient, we must remain grounded in the trials of generations past, as well as our own. These experiences are agents of change and growth.

And though we may have at our disposal the ability to change the very blueprint of what we eventually eat (not to mention the mechanisms that bring it to our table) so that it fits within the parameters of our modern lives, we must ask if the pace of this change fits within the realm of nature itself.

Here we celebrate, communicate, navigate, and propagate a localized, sustainable approach to slow food, one that lies in the world beyond organic regulations and diesel stations, where our food comes from fields, not factories.

Over the coming days and weeks, we will add multiple posts with background info about us and our endeavors. As the new year approaches, we will transition towards updates regarding preparation for the 2010 season, sure to be an exciting one here on the farm.

Your insight, inquiries, and insults are always welcome.