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Searching for higher ground

May 27, 2015

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IMG_3411 I do not mind feeding my chickens in pouring rain, especially when it is warm, but I will not move electric net fencing in a lightening storm, so the sheep are going to have to stay in where they are for a while. The sheep and chickens are soaked, like I am, and the prognosis for drying out within the next week is dismal. So far the flowing sheet of water across the pastures has drowned only one 8 week old broiler chicken–one too many. Even our well adapted Gulf Coast Native Sheep do not like having their hooves wet all the time. We spent the evening yesterday doing Famacha testing for internal sheep parasites that thrive in warm wet weather and can be deadly to sheep. The gardens, our June income, are gone, sitting in standing ( and sometimes running) water most of the month, and much of the road is impassible.
Additionally, we suspect the sheep are not getting as much nutrition out of the grass because the rain has leeched so much from the soil.
Farmers are always working in a tug of war with the weather, but this season has been especially challenging. Since Jan 1 we have received over 40 inches of rain, half of it here in May and 9 inches in the last 36 hours. On the bright side this morning at 8:15 am, as I was hooking up the battery/inverter power to the freezer, electric power returned and I expect the internet will return soon and I will post this.
Kenan and I are some of the lucky farmers because we have the opportunity to take decent paying part time off farm jobs. Many farmers do not have that choice. But we still have to work long hours at the farm to keep the animals as happy and healthy as possible and to maintain the systems we have in place for the future of the farm.
This weather calamity to local farms is coming at a time when ethical and health concerns abound from industrial food sources. Your chicken might be from China, your pork may be from pigs that have never been able to turn around in their cages, organic vegetables from foreign countries might have no regulations. The problems go on and on. You have to know your farmer. The farmer has to stay in business.
At Laughing Frog Farm we are going to be fine, but it will take time for us all to recover from this. We all appreciate the customers who continue to support us.
Buy local, healthy, ethically raised food direct from the farmer whenever possible. I want to thank all my customers, past, present and future–and I will see you at the market.
We farmers plan to be around for you in the future.

Brazos Valley Growers Alliance

May 19, 2015

Look for this sign when you go to the farmers market. 11080376_876457052708_931889189288788909_o
The Brazos Valley Growers Alliance is a cooperative of farmers dedicated to the support of honest, healthful growing practices that lead to a stronger, healthier local food system. Members commit to transparency in growing and each farm is audited by the other alliance members to verify that only approved practices are used.

All food crops are grown using organic/sustainable practices.
(No synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides or fungicides)
All food animals are pastured and kept in humane conditions.
Anything sold by a member farm has been produced by that farm; any exceptions will be clearly marketed as such, and will be offered with information on the originating farm.

In addition to promoting complete transparency, the BVGA seeks to increase each member farm’s sustainability on an economic level. The alliance is committed to seeking marketing solutions that, whenever possible, eliminate middlemen, which often come with financially crippling costs.

Spring Farm day Canceled due to rain, rain and more rain.

April 19, 2015

Aquaponics Workshop – Sunday June 7, 2015

February 24, 2015

images SignalCrayfish IMG_1148 IMG_1392 We will discuss the biological system, various systems being used by others, possible fish and other aquatic life, various organic feed options, pumps, stocking rates and growing bed sizes. We will talk about the types of plants that do best, the nutritional information of aquaponic fish and vegetables, types of media for the beds, and what you are eating when you buy grocery store fish. This class is for the backyard aquaponic operator and we will go through the construction of a simple, inexpensive system. We will put together an IBC system, a simple to build system that will cost you around $250 and can yield 50 pounds of fish annually and lots of vegetables on a 4′ x 8′ footprint in your garage or backyard. This class will come with a complete parts list and written instructions.
Workshops begin at 2:00 in the afternoon and will last until about 4:00. The cost is $45 per person. sign up for class or contact me by email.  You will have the opportunity to purchase an IBC system without the fish, water, media and plants. Classes are limited to ten people. Most of the class is outdoors.  
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Pastured lamb for sale this Saturday at the Eastside Farmers Market – Feb. 7

February 6, 2015

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Our seasonal lamb will be available at the market for the next few weeks only.
We raise Gulf Coast Native Sheep, a breed known for its heat tolerance, parasite resistance and exceptional flavor. The meat of the Gulf Coast Native Sheep is so exceptional that it is listed on the Slow Food Arc of Taste.
Our lamb are pastured all the time. We practice rotational grazing on diverse pastures that provide a choice of grasses, brassicas, forbs, honeysuckle, beautyberry, tree leaves, and much more. We call this “forage fed” because they hunt out and eat what they need at that time. When we move them to a new location they might all start eating acorns voraciously for 15 minutes and then run to the honeysuckle before settling to a long graze on the many grasses we have in the pasture. We plant seasonal cover crops to supplement the native grasses and fertilize with compost tea. We never spray herbicides or pesticides.
Our sheep graze in small movable net fenced paddocks and are moved to a new location every other day. Their manure is left behind to fertilize the pasture as they move to a new nutritious dinner. Moving them often like this is good for the soil as they grind their manure into the ground, good for the grasses, because they eat quickly, not overgrazing a single species, and good for the sheep, because they get a diverse diet and do not spend much time in the same place with the same food and. They are fed supplements like salt, sulfur, kelp, magnesium, etc. These supplements are fed free choice and come from Coyote Creek Organic Feed. The lambs are never fed grain. Due to their unique parasite resistance, we have not had to deworm our lambs.
Forage fed lamb is lower in fat and calories, yet higher in Omega-3 fatty acids. It also has a much higher rate of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Lamb is an excellent source of zinc, iron, vitamin B12, and carnitine.

Pepper propagation box

February 5, 2015

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Peppers need a very warm soil in order to germinate, so we usually build a box with a heater or some light bulbs in the box. The box needs to be insulated so I insulated my box with wool, of course. I used unsustainable styrofoam for the lid lid that goes on top.
We are growing aji dulce peppers, 3 different types, and a few of the heirloom peppers New Mexico State University got out of the national seed bank. And yes, my peppers will be late this year. I should have planted them about Christmas.

Growing fruit trees and berries by organic methods

February 2, 2015

On Sunday, February 8, 2015 I will be teaching a fruit tree management class.
We will discuss chill hours, root stock, grafting, planting, variety selection, soil reports, soil amendments, fertilization, pest control, compost tea, beneficial insects, pruning, and a lot more. All information will be presented from a holistic, organic perspective.
We will plant fruit trees, berries, and muscadines. We will prune fruit trees and vines.

This class will not include production of annual fruits like tomatoes, melons and strawberries.
Class is from 2:00 until 4:00 and costs $45.00 . sign up for class
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