“The Earth is not a dead body, but is inhabited by a spirit that is it’s life and soul. All created things, minerals included, draw their strength from the earth spirit. This spirit is life, it is nourished by the stars and it gives nourishment to all the living things it shelters in its womb. Through the earth spirit received from on high, the earth hatches the minerals in her womb as the mother her unborn child.”
— Basilius Valentinus
|The pure pleasure of being a pig photo by Katelyn Black|
|Can’t beat some fresh hay straw
photo by Katelyn Black
|Please don’t inject me with salt water. I swear I’ll be delicious if you just love me|
|“Finishers” renovating a winter pasture on the Deck Family Farm. Some of these are Yorkshire and some are Red Wattles, while others still are a piggy blend of both breeds. The ‘wattles’ visible on the necks have no known function. They are a characteristic usually passed on to crossbred offspring.|
The hotwire set-up. Good at keeping hogs in and interns out. Or maybe the other way around..
|Saint Filbert, the patron saint of nuts|
|Seasoned intern Sarah Gocek feeding out a bucket of hazelnuts to some eager mouths|
|Fourth down and ten more yards to go. Our linemen work just as hard to get to the endzone, only their salaries are only slightly less inflated.|
|When the weather cooperates, we’re going to graze the pigs through the garden. They’ll knock down all the sunflower stalks and other vegetable matter that would take much longer to compost, till the beds for us, and add fertilizer out the back end.|
|Shanti Deck and Intern Sarah Gocek feed out the lambs on a beautiful foggy day|
|“It’s time you get your own udder free-loader”|
but my fellow interns as well and the knowledge I’ve already gleaned from them is still processing in my brain.
|Feeding Bambi the day after she was born|
The above photo was from this morning, Friday January 10th. Pictured on the trailer are Shanti, Lucy, and barely visible behind them is Sarah, driving the tractor is Raul.
Some items of note about what is going on in this photo:
- The hay is going from our main barn to the back barn to feed cows on our remote hillside.
- There are three bales of alfalfa perched on the front-forks going to feed sheep in the fields.
- Lucy, our faithful golden retriever, is going along for the ride. In fact, as soon as she sees someone even looking at the flatbed trailer, she will jump on and wait for hours for the moment that it will be loaded up. She lives for trailer and truck rides.
Bummer lambs are those that are rejected by the mother including triplets that can’t be fed, or other lambs that have trouble coping outside for one reason or another. The Ewes are in full swing giving birth to baby lambs and so we have our share of bummers. Right now, they’re ending up in the house. Shanti has found some good names for this set of trouble-makers.
Deck Family Farm and interns are featured in an article appearing in the Eugene Register Guard on December 16th. The article talks about the Rogue Farm Corps program, which works with farms and interns to provide educational opportunities on sustainable farms in Oregon. There are many great shots of the farm, which were taken several weeks ago, and feature photos of our interns doing chores.
|Screenshot of the Register-Guard Article. Click here taken to the Register Guard site to read more.|
We have had to cancel some egg deliveries for this week. The reason for this is due not only to lower than usual production due to the winter season, but that most of our eggs were freezing and cracking in the nest boxes before we had a chance to pick them up on Sunday and Monday (when we had the coldest temps). We’ve found generally on the farm that -8 deg. Fahrenheit is very cold weather for all sorts of things: water pipes, eggs, and people. The livestock, however, seem well adapted to the cold since they are dry and have food and water.
The photo below some of our chickens surrounding their trailer. Typically they roam further away from the trailer but during the cold snap they’ve preferred to either stay in the trailer and roost or roam around under the trailer itself.
Due to the snow and freezing we will not be attending some of our markets this weekend:
- Hollywood Market has been cancelled.
- We are not going to the Eugene Market on Holiday Market on Saturday the 7th (but will be returning the following week)
- We are not going to the PSU Market on Saturday the 7th (but will be returning the following week)
We WILL be going to the St. John’s Stock-up market on Sunday the 8th and doing milk-drops and other deliveries in Portland on the 8th.
Meanwhile, here are some photos of the farm from Friday the 6th, where he had temps in the 20’s and 6 inches of snow. The previous day we had a low of 10 degrees, which for our climate is very unusual and thus tested our outdoor plumbing systems!
Intern Sean Slyes filling up waters in a bucket for our Sows in the barn.
|Even though our pigs have shelters, they usually choose to play outside in the snow!|
Folks in the office are busy arranging Turkey orders. We are mostly sold out but I’ve been told there are just a few larger Turkeys left (bigger than 20lbs). Call the office very soon if you’re interested.
Here are a couple of shots to keep you stay at home farmers satisfied with the happenings out here. The first one below is a shot of our Turkeys out on the pasture, you’ll see some sheep in the background.
And another shot here of the pig-o-tillers at work:
Mike Suarez from AWA put together a great video on Deck Family Farm. Excellent photography and a great interview by Christine!
We just moved our layers from the summer pastures to their winter pastures (up on a hill, sitting 50 feet above the bottom fields, offering better drained soils). The winter pasture was grazed by both chickens and pigs last winter and then planted with wheat and sunflowers in the Spring. We brush-hogged the field last week and were left with a variety of wheat/sunflower seeds whole, sprouting, and sprouted. The photo below shows what the field looks like.
You can see some clumps of wheat that has dropped and begun to sprout following some early fall rains. Also visible is alot of straw stubble and straw chopped up on the ground… this was left on the field to stabilize the field during the winter months where the chickens and chicken trailers will have some impact.
I’m generally pleased with the outcome of this crop-rotation experiment. The wheat yield was somewhat low and wild turkeys/squirrels and various birds harvested most of the sunflowers. Next year, i’ll sub-soil the field since i suspect compaction from years as a sacrifice pasture impacted growth. However, right now, the soil has a nice mulch layer and should stabilize over the winter, allowing us to keep the chickens outside and there is a decent quantity of feed on the ground for the hens, supplementing their usual ration.
The fall issue of Take Root, Willamette Valley edition features a great story on Deck Family Farm. Click on one of the chickens in the photo below and scroll to page 20!
The following photo is a just a small tragedy, a cracked mainline. This has stopped our irrigation for a few days while we fix this crack.
Finally, the cows are enjoying this years summer annual grass crop, moving into this field on July 15th, 45 days following initial planting. This is a sudan grass that thrives in the heat. Sudan grass also does well with minimal watering, allowing us to limit the amount of irrigation we need to apply.
We’re proud to be a featured ranch on the Voices for America’s Wildlife page. This article does a great job in capturing what we’re all about: building soil fertility and protecting biodiversity while building a sustainable farming enterprise.
The Long Tom Watershed Council (LTWC) will be holding a tour on Tuesday, May 28th at 5:30pm at Deck Family Farm. This tour is free and open to anybody who is interested. Speakers will be John Deck, Pat McDowell (University of Oregon geomorphologist), and Jed Kaul (LTWC fish biologist). Topics will include landowner goals, how improving stream habitat coexists with the goals of a working farm, how the project improves the migration for native fish, and why the Bear Creek basin is important for cutthroat trout.
Last night Christine and I were talking about how we, as humans, in this day and age, use our time. So much of what we do centers around the “manufactured” and “processed” – tv shows, processed food, paying mortgages on houses constructed with manufactured products, driving to work, driving to entertain ourselves. The real tragedy here is for our children and our environment. The environment suffers due to the by-products of consumption – exhaust, and depletion of natural resources. Children suffer from being educated in a vacuum – learning theory in schools but, in general, minus a feeling that they are really needed by their family and community. When people have something to care for, to live for, there comes a purpose in life.
I heard a quote a long time ago from someone who asked a teacher accusingly, “Do you think a women’s place in the home?”, to which he replied, “Yes, certainly! and so is a man’s”. We so often forget about home-based food production, learning, and building. However, when we talk about what really matters to us, its the simple things, and the things we find in the home that truly matter. This is contrary to what we spend most of our time doing– running around, driving, and working all hours. We’re a long way from where we really want to be, but in the meantime, we’ll continue making choices one step at a time… do we eat out or cook a meal at home? do we stay up watching a movie or do we get up early on a Saturday to clean the house to make it a friendlier place? At any rate, i think these choices about where we spend our time and focus our energy is really the way to work for peace for all humans, slowly change our military-industrial society, and change the world… one person at a time, one choice at a time.