The blog of Hope Grows

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

You asked for more eggs... here they come...

Somehow we were so busy that we haven't posted about our new layer chicks. They are now 1 month old and very healthy. In a few weeks they will be out of the brooder and into the orchard. We have 450 and this will double our laying flock for next year. Look for their eggs in late April!


The Potting Shed in all its Glory!

We figured it was time to spruce up the potting shed... next stop, HGTV!


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Our 10th WWOOFER Andy and his Opus.

We needed a greenhouse to start plants for the spring - luckily our 10th WWOOFER of the year, Andy, (applause!) was just the man for the job. From design to completion Andy constructed a greenhouse out of reused 2x4s and plastic he wove out of recycled grocery bags (ok... maybe he didn't do that.)


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Turkey Retrospective 2010

Here's a look back at the adventures of raising our first 65ish turkeys this year...caution: may depress vegetarians.

A Salute to Service Learners!

We had over 250 student service learners from Georgia Southern this year who were an enormous help. Here is a video tribute we put together for them -


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

GROW! The Movie Trailer

We recently visited filmmakers Christine Anthony and Owen Masterson in Atlanta for a tour of their post-production cave, where they'll be padding around in socked feet and headphones, tweaking this film tirelessly until March of 2011, when it will premiere at the Georgia Organics conference in Savannah. The resemblance of some of the farmers in the film to Elliott and I is purely coincidental.

Lessons learned from Terra Madre...

So a while back I went to Italy. And then I came home to process turkeys and the whirlwind at the end of the season--let's just say reflection at that point was not a priority. But while I was away I did keep a journal and take lots of pictures as promised. Here's a few of the lessons learned from talking to farmers from all over the world, in no particular order:

A. Italy, though often romanticized as being culturally ideal when it comes to food, suffers just as much from the encroachment of a globalized, industrailized food system as we do: fast food, confinement operations, strip malls--they got 'em, too. The fight is on at home and abroad.

B. Traveling out into the world is mostly a journey into one's self. You may go many places but ultimately what you find

C. I'm definitely not crazy. There are plenty madly passionate people out there working in their communities for an honest living in exchange for honest work. I'm not alone, and the further I continue, the more potential I have for liberating others to pursue farm dreams.

D. Visit farmers you admire on a regular basis--it will do wonders for strengthening your march.

E. Keep up a discerning vision--it's a strength. We have a right to high expectations for our communities.

F. Next to keeping our hands dirty--actually farming--education is our best and most important function. Find a way to turn education into sales.

G. A business makes money when it profits from all products and byproducts of its production. Find a way to turn a profit on waste or unwanted items.

H. BUY YOUR OWN LAND. There are a multitude of different ways to make it happen, but it is your best option for farming long term.

I. No model is too "out there" for financing your business. Don't be afraid to dream big or different.

J. While I'm thankful for Slow Food (International, USA, & Atlanta), what I'm doing is good and strong with or without the above affiliations--that is, whether or not I'm officially recognized by an organization.

K. Ask and ye shall receive! Don't be afraid to tell the people in your community you're working hard for them, and that you need their help. You have to start the conversation by asking--they will help.

L. A woman farmer is rare and beautiful.

M. Smoking is a waste. I don't care if you're European and "it's just what you do." My culture tells me to do plenty of things that are wasteful and destructive, but I take responsibility for myself and my actions at the end of the day. Quit smoking, Europe! It's not cool anymore.

N. There's nothing like a little turbulence over the Swiss Alps to get the blood pumping. I decided I definitely don't like planes--and in the future will trust my land-dweller instincts and avoid them.

O. Italian friends are extremely helpful when you don't speak the language. They're also great at making pizza.

P. Be intentional about community-building. Your job is irresistible--everybody wins when they join you.

Thanks again to Slow Food USA, Coastal Organic Growers, and Slow Food Atlanta for sponsoring my trip. I wouldn't have been able to go without your assistance.


Great News: We WON the Eli J. Segal Award

The following is an article from the AmeriCorps Alums website outlining a grant we were recently awarded from the Eli J. Segal Foundation. We'll use the funds to build an on-farm poultry processing facility that will be ready to go once our first broilers are ready in the spring of 2011. Currently Elliott and I are focused on reconnaissance--checking out facilities on other farms, scouring the internet for do-it-yourself resources. Look forward to posts about how we put the whole thing together this winter--we'll most likely be building the plucker and scalder ourselves. Elliott's new training in simple electric design will definitely come in handy--thank you Ogeechee Technical College. Here's a picture of us gratuitously basking in the glory of cash to fuel a better local food system. Thanks to everyone who graciously sent in enthusiastic letters of support--we'll build a better tomorrow together.

The recipients of the 2010 Eli Segal Award are Arianne McGinnis and Elliott McGann of Hope Grows. Hope Grows is a modest organic farm located in Sylvania, Georgia. Hope Grows places value on the transparency of farming methods and philosophy, and having the community involved in their sustainability and growth. The relationships that Arianne and Elliott have not only helped the farm grow, but have also brought a new perspective to the community. Unlike many large farms in the area, Hope Grows does not use chemicals, antibiotics, or heavy machinery.

“We produce pasture raised poultry, pork, and organic vegetables, but our business is healing: the land, the food, the economy, the community”

The farmers at Hope Grows sell the products of their hard work at their farm store and local farmers’ markets. Oftentimes these outlets are used as an opportunity to spread the word on ecologically conscious farming. The farm is also open to visits throughout the year, and holds two large on-farm events in the spring and fall. Pictures, commentary, and video of their work is displayed at Here you can learn how to clip a chicken’s wings, start a garden, or even process your own Thanksgiving turkey! Recently a group of students from Georgia Southern University were dubbed the “Pasture Clearing Brigade” by the Fresh Farming blog. A group of students lent a helping hand to the Hope Grows farm by weeding the overgrown pasture. To answer the question “Why not use a tractor and do it in five minutes?”, it is explained that those at Hope Grows are “too averse to debt and mechanically challenged to invest in a tractor.” It also inhibits pasture growth and diversity. Instead the Hope Grows farm made some new friends, and encouraged individuals in the community to participate.

“We view farming as activism for restoring healthy communities, and find it spiritually and economically rewarding to establish direct relationships with our eaters as often as possible”

With their $5,000 grant, Hope Grows hopes to build upon their mission to provide “local food access, education, skills training, and rural community development” through a small-scale poultry processing facility. Off-site processing currently adds considerably to the cost of Hope Grows' products. Therefore, by having their own processing facility, Hope Grows will provide more families access to the healthy products they have to offer.

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Winter Plan and A Party

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!
Elliott and I are taking some time to rest and be with our families, but we wanted to post a quick note about where you can find us (and our eggs, chicken, and pork) now that the markets have officially ended in both Statesboro and Savannah. The success of our farm is built on personal relationships, so we plan on keeping you updated throughout the winter season on how we can continue to support and nourish each other. Also, we want to invite you to a party!

How to support us in Savannah:

EVERY Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to noon - starting TOMORROW! - we'll be setting up with other vendors at the Corner of Bull and Park, across from Brighter Day. We will have eggs, chicken, and pork available throughout the winter market season. Our eggs are limited due to limited daylight (less daylight = less eggs), so please be flexible if we do not have them when you arrive at the market. Chicken and pork sales help us feed our laying hens in the winter when they're not pulling their weight on the farm, so we encourage you to give them a try if you haven't yet.

How to support us in Statesboro:
We will be marketing our products through, an online retail space. The ordering and pick-up details for every week are on the website, so take a look and call us if you have any questions at 912-863-6436. We will have eggs, chicken, and pork available throughout the winter market season. Our eggs are limited due to limited daylight (less daylight = less eggs), so please be flexible if we do not have them. Chicken and pork sales help us feed our laying hens in the winter when they're not pulling their weight on the farm, so we encourage you to give them a try if you haven't yet.

You're also more than welcome to come out to the farm to purchase directly from us any day of the week. We'll even let you pick out your eggs directly from the coop, and your chicken directly from the freezer (though that's less fun). Just give us a call at 912-863-6436 so we can expect you.

You're Invited! Farm Open House/Arianne's Epic 25th Birthday Party On Saturday, December 11th we are throwing an epic party: for you, for us, for the farm. We'll open at 4pm for those who want to come and see in the daylight what we've been up to all season and what we're planning for next year. Dinner is potluck-style at 7ish. We will provide chicken and beer. Please bring a side dish or dessert--and your friends! We will show-and-tell, but mostly we want to say thank you for your continued commitment and friendship. Please RSVP by e-mail or phone: 912-863-6436.

Let's keep in touch...

Friend Hope Grows on Facebook if you haven't already.

For the run-down on what we do and how we do it (including pictures and videos), check out our website:

For stories and in-depth updates on farm projects that include a bit of wit and ranting, check out our blog:

Also, we're still good at communicating the old fashioned way. Call us at 912-863-6436 or stop by 284 Dover Road in Sylvania, GA.

This isn't the kind of relationship you have with your grocery store--we want to be a part of your family, and we want you to be a part of ours.

All the Best,

Arianne and Elliott
Hot. Young. Farmers.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Hope Grows on TV

Look at me, mom, I'm on TV. Listen to our nasally voices here - we are on the Farmers' Market Show which airs on the Northland Cable Channel. Thanks Jake and Suzanne!

Farmers Market Show, ep. 5 from Jake Hallman on Vimeo.


Thanks Service Learners!

We had a great group of students out last week helping us de-nail 2x4s, pick pecans, and clean up our orchard, here they are in their power pose!


Friday, October 15, 2010

Here comes the Pasture Clearing Brigade

So our back pasture was...well...a bit...well...A LOT...weedy. Pig weed, dill weed, goldenrod. Anything that grows tall and fast in the summer heat--we got it. For a while we fretted, especially around June when things really started taking off. And since we don't own a lawnmower, and the one that we do use is broken more often than not, we were overgrown--past our knees, then hips, then shoulders, then heads. Turns out, however, the problem is sometimes the solution (attention: little golden nugget of permaculture wisdom ahead). Just when we were about to let the weeds get to us--mentally, emotionally--the laying hens rotated into the back pasture. We learned very quickly that without the shade and protection offered by the overgrown foliage, the laying hens would have suffered severe heat and predation. Voila! Let 'em grow we did--realizing that nature is smarter than we are, and if we just watch and listen we can catch up to the connections she already has in mind for us.

But now the temps are cooling and it's time to clear everything anew--to start with a fresh slate for next year's grass growth. Enter the GSU Pasture Clearing Brigade. They descended upon our weedy pasture en masse with good attitudes (only one exception--and we made good fun of him) and work gloves to help with a task that would have taken Elliott and I...well...weeks. Why not use a tractor and do it in five minutes? Why use hand labor? Well, first off Elliott and I are too averse to debt and mechanically challenged to invest in a tractor. Secondly, when you drive repeatedly over pasture with heavy machinery, you inevitably compact the soil, which makes it difficult for roots to sprawl, inhibiting pasture growth and diversity. So we made an event of it--us and 10 new friends from GSU--and cleared over half the overgrowth in a few hours. Many hands make for fast, drastic, yet ecologically sound results. Thanks again, y'all. You're welcome back any time.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

We have friends! (Country livin' ain't all that bad...)

So it could be said that for a while we were--well--a bit isolated. Elliott and I, in addition to being aspiring community educators, simply got tired of staring at each other. But with the WWOOFer program, service-learning students, and the farmers' markets combined--things have started to change. Our lives are now filled with fabulous, fearless people we'd like to tell you about...the movement is...moving!

Meet Kyle Huff (far left). A WWOOFer from the St. Louis area, he was with us for a glorious month. Didn't have a problem wrestling pigs or herding turkeys--a can-do sort of guy. He's now entertaining the idea of starting a farm on some family land. Godspeed, Kyle.

Meet our SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) friends. Introduced through Mike Royer, a co-producer (customer) and friend of ours from the Forsyth Farmers' Market, this picture marks the first time we've ever had so many young people in the house at the same time. They're not all farmers, but each in their own way is connected to sustainable living/design. Everybody looks better when they're laughing...

Meet two truly fearless dudes--David and Brian. They hail from a GSU Environmental Biology course, and before coming to our farm had only seen chickens on TV. About 15 minutes after landing in Dover, GA, they were helping us clip the wings of our 450+ laying hens. (Below: Definitely weren't afraid to get dirty...yeah, that's what you think it is. It happens, man. But look at that smile on his face.)

And this is Ian, Jordan, and Preston--also from Environmental Bio at GSU. They helped us whip the garden into shape: mulching paths, weeding, planting, and watering. Aren't they so helpful and cute?

They keep us fresh. They keep us socialized. They are our sanity and our salvation--couldn't do it without 'em--our neighbors, our friends.

Feeling Grateful,

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Community Farm, WE ARE!

Many thanks to the fantastic students from Georgia Southern University that crawled out of their Environmental Biology classroom and into Dover to put in some sweat hours here on the farm. Our mission: Garden Revival. Did we do it? Yes we did! They hand weeded (no chemicals or machinery here) over half the beds, which are now ready for fall planting (greens, broccoli, and carrots--oh my!). Hopefully they'll all become young farmers...or find some to support in their neighborhood.

By the way, I asked them to do their "power stance" for this photo. They really need to work on their power stances...

Gotta love it.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Help Arianne get to Italy--go to Field of Greens!

So, I'm going to Italy...soon. Yep. Been a dream I've had for four years now--and finally, thanks to the generosity of: Slow Food Atlanta, the Coastal Organic Growers, and Slow Food USA (whew, that's alotta hyperlinks) it's coming true. If you haven't heard yet, I'm headed to Terra Madre--an international network of food producers, cooks, educators and students from 150 countries who are united by a common goal of global sustainability in food. The "food communities" of Terra Madre come together biennially in Turin, Italy to share innovative solutions and time-honored traditions for keeping small-scale agriculture and sustainable food production alive and well.

Huge honor, right? Right. I still don't believe I'm going. But I'll take pictures and videos and it'll probably all seem real once I get back...

In the meantime, Field of Greens is a farm festival
happening this Sunday, October 3rd that brings together locally grown food, live music, and green living education, all in a family-friendly, fun environment. I'm mentioning it here because:

1.) I definitely think you should go if you can--I'll be there volunteering.

2.) Proceeds from Field of Greens benefit Slow Food Atlanta, who will then turn funds over to Terra Madre delegates from Georgia (ahem--yours truly) to help cover travel expenses to the conference.
3.) There's going to be good food, good music, and lots of sexy people (this is unconfirmed at the moment--but entirely possible when you're talking about folks that eat well).
4.) Why wouldn't you go?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Turkey Brooding Lessons

I've asked one of our turkeys to write down his tips and thoughts on brooding for any future turkey farmers. Here goes:

"Hi, I'm turkey #57. Here is my list of tips -

Brooder Safety
Always keep in mind that we will kill ourselves if given half a chance. Look in you brooder and get in the mind of your turkeys, say to yourself 'I'm a suicidal turkey - what can I kill myself on in here?' and then go over every inch of your brooder and remove any questionable situation - nail, spot we can get our legs caught, etc.

If there is an area with a drip we will get soaked there even if the rest of your brooder is dry and toasty.

Remember - we are NOT CHICKENS - we NEED fresh bedding every day, pine shavings for 2 weeks, hay for 6.

Green Material
We LOVE grass and weeds, start feeding this to us ASAP.

You would be bored too if you spent 8 weeks in a brooder so keep us busy with green material, piles of straw, and other novelties or else we'll start pecking each other.

If one of us gets a wound we will all turn into Hannibal Lector and peck him to death - so please check us frequently and pull anyone out before its too late!

Brooder Floorplan
If you try to use sides - like this - we will escape.

Better to use an open floor plan so there is no way out.

Feel free to contact me with any further questions."

Thanks Turkey #57! Appreciate you taking the time.

Up next - (once we've got it down) tips and thoughts on pasturing turkeys)


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Belated Pig Moving Videos

We have been so busy blogging has fallen by the wayside.

If you follow the blog, our first attempt at moving our pigs out to pasture was not very successful - see here.

It was a great learning experience however.

*Make sure your fence is properly grounded, 1 rod per joule. Our charger is 1.5 joules so I used 2 rods this time, instead of 1.

*Pigs do not like walking up steep inclines (i.e. 5 foot plywood up to the bed of the pickup), longer ramp into a trailer is best.

*Give your pigs access to what they will be moved in so they get used to it.

Loading, transporting, and unloading went very smoothly this time, we had one little hiccup once they were unloaded though...

With everyone back in and relaxed, pig bliss ensued.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A word from Lea young farmer in training.

Fortunately we didn't have to pay her to say this. If we did, we'd have paid a lot. Lea was with us for 3 glorious weeks, experiencing the animals, the elements, and the markets with us. We will miss her face.

The following is a summary of her experience:

I’ve heard throughout my life that the best job in the world is one you love, and at Hope Grows farm that’s what makes everything work. You have to love waking up to feed the baby turkeys, get bird droppings all over you and have flies attack your face. You have to have love to lift a fifty pound bag of feed and push a broiler pen, or five, to fresh grass and you have to have love to plant every single seed and take care of every little leaf until it can stand on its own. Arianne and Eliot love what they do and working with them I’ve learned why.

I think like many people I assumed that the key ingredients to a successful farm were blood sweat and tears but Eliot and Arianne have opened my eyes to what a hot young farmer’s life is really like. Instead of sweating all day in the hot buggy sun only to spend the evening doing puzzles or worrying about how many eggs the hens will lay, these farmers break up the day with amazing meals, good conversation and most importantly, with a lot of laughter. I understand now that the profit of a farm doesn’t increase with stress and exhaustion, only with enjoyment and compassion. A day didn’t go by that I didn’t need a nap after the morning work but I also didn’t have a single day slip pass me that wasn’t full of jokes and cracking up at the dinner table. Every morning I was up with the sun to sweat and dress myself in mud but every evening I had to relax, use the internet (yes, even farms can enjoy modern technology) or go on a little adventure with the farmers.

Over the past couple weeks I’ve become even more conscience of where my food comes from and much more grateful for the farmers who bring it to the table. More importantly though, I’ve realized that this is a lifestyle that can be very enjoyable and rewarding with a little blood, sweat, tears… and love.

Thank you hot young farmers.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Adventures in Moving Pigs

Today we were going to move our pigs from their woodlot accommodations to the pasture to become 'Lawnmower Pigs'. Earlier in the week I set a test electric fence in the pig's habitat to get them used to it, which worked fine. This morning we set up a full scale fence in the pasture, so far so good.

Now for the tricky part - moving 2 very large and 3 medium sized rambunctious pigs. The plan: load them in the bed of the pickup via a loading chute and then deposit them into their new electric fenced area in the pasture. Easier said than done! Here we are looking only a little bit harried after having successfully loaded Pork:

After that Ham got in too so we closed the tailgate and made for the pasture. Pork had other ideas:

Luckily Pork was unhurt by his leap to freedom and made his way back to the woodlot.

We did manage to get Ham to the new fenced in area, but to our dismay the full scale fence did not deliver the same shock as the practice fence did--not even close. Ham happily walked in and out of the area, undaunted by the static shock.

As stressed as he was, he wasn't interested in going home. We roped his midsection to encourage him - to little effect. Then suddenly he started jogging, so I ended up running with him (the same rope was tied around my midsection as well), guiding him back to his accomodations in the trees. We'll try again soon. In the meantime, the grass will have to wait.

(with some editing from Arianne)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Bringing the Sexy Back

This is a bit from our new marketing campaign to lure hot, young people into ecological farming. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Three Little Piggies

Meet our 3 new pigs - Bacon, Sausage, and Ham!


Friday, July 16, 2010

A Fig Pickin'

Growing behind our 100 year old chicken coop is an epic fig tree we give love to in the winter with pruning and mulching with chicken manure and compost. This year it has rewarded our efforts with lush, rampant growth and the season's first sticky-sweet, ripe figs. They're amazing, of course, but hard to glean. Here's a photo of the shenanigans we had this morning in the name of good fruit, rigging up a pulley system to shift the limbs downward while I stood anxiously on the roof of the chicken coop (with questionable integrity) and gathered figs. I'm holding a perfectly ripe one in my hand, and the folks holding the tree limb within my reach via 100 feet of rope and a brick are Ben and Bethany, our two new WWOOFers. They'll be here for the next two weeks or so, sharing in our adventures before starting their own farm in Alabama. Couldn't have done this without them...

Figs have extremely flexible branches that are easily bent to gather fruit, but this tall, tall branch required the leverage of both Ben and Bethany.

A belt looped through the handle of a bucket gives a two-handed advantage. Note: Standing on roofs of decaying 100 year old buildings not recommended or endorsed by Elliott, Arianne, or any of the chickens at Hope Grows.

Ben and Bethany holding down the tree. Aren't they cute? We can't get enough of young farmers in the making.


Turkey Cam Courtesy of Anthony-Masterson and GROW! The Movie

We just spent a few days with a couple of groovy & talented filmmakers from Atlanta who are serving the good food movement by putting a face on the young sustainable and organic farmers in Georgia. As they travel the state shooting their feature length film about young, hot farmers like us, they're posting quick video teasers and photo updates on their blog GROW! The following is a video of turkey arrival earlier this week:

GROW! Hope Grows Farm from Anthony-Masterson on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Turkeys, Y'all!

What do chicken farmers do when their eaters demand turkey? They get turkeys...basically big chickens, right? This is an exciting new adventure for us, and we look forward to sharing our experience in the coming months. It's a bit of a nail-biter. Raising a bird that takes a long time to grow (4 months) with little experience is a bit of investment, a bit of risk. But this year we're giving it the old college try in hopes we can round out the season a little more diverse, a little more experienced. Whether we succeed deliciously or fail miserably, we will do our best to report it here.

They came a day earlier than expected, which made for a chaotic morning with the brooder still under construction, but all 100 of our broad breasted white poults (young turkeys) arrived safe and sound. They chirped contentedly, happy to be out of the box and with quirky, loving farmers. This counts as a major turning point. Half the year is over, and these little guys (yep--all dudes or "Toms" in farmerspeak) will hang with us for the 134 days until Thanksgiving, the big sigh at the end of the season--the farmer's most anticipated, sacred holiday.

We'll be brooding them for quite a while longer than the chickens (6 to 8 weeks) before turning them out to pasture 'till mid-November to get positively juicy and flavorful as a result of eating copious amounts of grass and bugs. If your mouth's already watering (ours is even though the poults are small and fluffy), you can pre-order one from us at the farmers' market starting next week. We suspect orders will fill up quickly, so jump on the pastured poultry bandwagon early this year (everybody's doing it) and let us know you want one. If we're thinking about Thanksgiving in July you can, too.

In the meantime, enjoy the photos and stories here so you can share them with your families as you pass the cranberry and the gravy 'round the table...

A new, yet confident turkey farmer in the making...


Thursday, July 8, 2010

WWOOFer The First

The job of a member of the World Wide Opportunities in Organic Farming program is simple and straightforward. We talk to farmers, visit with growers of all different sorts and backgrounds, and work our way through sun, sweat, and more than a few long, tiring days, and while the experience is always an event to remember, it is not always something that resounds deep enough to leave lasting impressions on a persons way of life.

The past three weeks living here at Hope Grows farm, although short in length of stay, have imparted a vastness of virtue that few experiences can hope to replicate. It is rare, in any walk of life from the actor to the athlete, writer to wanderer, to find a person so devoted, so in love with their art and everyday practice that their actions can change those around them without even trying; Elliott and Arianne certainly make that cut. From early mornings spraying sleepy dew from the tall waving grasses in the pecan orchard to spending a few moments in the heat of the day to savor a slice of melon grown not twenty feet behind you with a couple of endearing pigs in the shade, I find myself hard pressed to think of a better way to spend my scant summer vacation. Moreover, the lessons learned here have certainly not fallen on deaf ears. My body feels better, responds better, and moves better than just a month before, when I would lament my college-inspired unhealthy lifestyle of late nights and dubious sustenance.

So what is the virtue to be learned here? What have my unbelievably gracious and accommodating hosts imparted on this hungry mind? Love what you do. Be mindful. Watch the sun across the sky, get dirt under your fingernails, and above all else, listen to the world around you, because "Mother Nature is smarter than the FDA". After my stay here, I believe it.

Mark Wilco

Monday, July 5, 2010

Blog Potpourri

Sorry about the lack of posts - here is a roundup of photos taken before dark today.

The hens patrolling the pasture and getting set to go to bed.

Ahhhh, nice dust bath! Better than a hot tub.

New chicks settling in for bedtime.

We were hearing lots of buzzing and then we realized there was a huge beehive on the crepe myrtle, they have since swarmed away but left this beautiful comb behind.

A hen who has moved in with the pigs trying to sneak a bite of their feed! Lucky for her our pigs have a 'live and let live' mentality.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

More Industry Propaganda Tells Our Story For Us

In these two videos from the American Egg Board 2 clueless students visit an industrial egg farm in Indiana. Here is the link to the page.

In the "Roadtrip - Eggfarm" video there is one stunning moment at 1:25 - we are told that in 1925 when the farm was started it had a flock of 1200 PASTURED LAYERS! He goes on to tell us that predators were a problem (read: too much work) and the farm was converted to an indoor system and finally to a cage-based system that we will see in the next video.

In the next video "Roadtrip - Hen House" at 0:41 we learn that the hen house contains 223,000 hens, at 1:00 the moronic students learn they have to wear jumpsuits so an errant disease doesn't cause a mass infection of the flock, the rest of the video explains how keeping 223,000 hens in total confinement, living on wire floors, never seeing the light of day, never expressing any of a hens natural behaviors is better for the farmer, the chicken, and you, the consumer.


Welcome Mark!

Our first WWOOFer (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms) has come to stay with us for 3 weeks. He will be helping us with and learning about our farm. He'll be teaching us a thing or two about Karate, sharpening our knives, and other interesting things I'm sure.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Garden Dreams Do Come True

It started with a big, open space with fresh air, sunshine, invasive grasses, and farmers with faith in seeds...

And the dream--with sweat, hands, a little compost, a little mulch, a little drip irrigation--now grows up and spirals out of corn stalks and watermelon vines...

Proving that garden dreams do come true, we present the first fruits of our garden - zephyr squash - at our farmers market stand and hopefully on your dinner plates by Saturday evening.

Coming Soon: Cucumbers (White and Green), Green Beans, Sweet Corn (Bi-Color), Crimson Okra, Sunflowers, Zinnias, Moon and Stars Watermelon, Pink Tomatoes, Yellow Cherry Tomatoes, Tomatillos, Hungarian Peppers, Mauve Eggplants, Basil, Dill, and Chives.

Grow On,

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Bell Waterer How-To Guide

Warning: Farmer Stuff Ahead

Several people have asked me about our bell waterers and how you hook them up. The only other post about it is my failed attempt at turning a horse waterer into a chicken waterer. So here it is - a step by step guide to hooking a gravity fed Plasson bell up to a 5 gallon bucket reservoir, followed by a video on how to use it on a Salatin style broiler pen.

Hint: Chic-fil-A is a great source for free 5 gallon buckets.

A food grade 5 gallon bucket.

Take the end of the water tube not attached to the waterer.

The first time its hard to commit, is this really what I should be doing? The answer is yes, chop the end off.

Drill a hole slightly smaller than the width of the tube.

Jam it in the hole with pliers.

Pull it in 2 inches or so.

And voila! - your bell water is hooked up to a 5 gallon bucket. View the video for how to hook it up to a broiler pen.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Blueberries are coming on...

During a routine farm meander this morning, I discovered that the blueberries had finally decided to "pop." After housing the laying flock in the patch and laying down heavy mulch during the winter--both of which provided continuous weed control and fertilization--the bushes are LOADED with fruit. Last year we picked over 400 lbs from our 1/16th acre patch, and we're hoping to exceed that this year.

How are our blueberries different from the ones you buy in the grocery store?

--We DON'T use any chemicals or heavy machinery

--We DO weed by hand to provide you with a clean, healthy product

--We DON'T use exploited immigrant laborers working for an unfair wage

--We DO pay ourselves fairly for the year-round task of weeding, mulching, pruning, and picking

--We DON'T pick our berries before they're ripe for shipping all over the country

--We DO pick right before the markets to get you the freshest, sweetest, "bluest"berries

You-pick appointments are available from June 1st through July 4th if you'd like to come out and have the sensory pleasure of picking berries with the dew still on them. Early mornings or late afternoons (Monday through Friday or Sunday) are best to avoid mid-day heat. We suggest you bring a hat and wear pants and tennis shoes. Limited appointments available, so call 912-863-6436 to schedule asap and get your berries for $5/lb.

If you can't make it out to the farm, we will have berries available at the Forsyth and Statesboro markets starting June 5th. We recommend coming early to make sure you get them.

Looking forward to the antioxidant rush.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

He's Back!

After a 10 day battle with his intestines, Elliott started his recovery last week. He's now feeling like a lean, mean, farming machine--and here's the proof, taken yesterday evening after a hoeing stubborn Bermuda grass in the garden. Thanks to everyone for your thoughts, dances, and/or prayers.