Thistle Byre Farm

  (Delphi, Indiana)
Wisdom over the backfence and happenings around the farm
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Weather Forces Delivery Changes

his year's weather has been pretty harsh .  We apologize for the delivery changes and cancellations we have had to make.  Please bear with us and check here as we move forward.  Private message me if you need items so I can be directly in contact with you.  As always, if you have any questions feel free to call us at 574-686-2889. 


We are happy that Sunspot is pretty well stocked and we should have the rest of our non-nitrate products on their shelves by the end of the week.


We prepared for this cold winter by getting the wood out of our woods in December...the horses were a big help.  We also insulated  the honey beehives with bales of straw..time will tell.  Our grapes are a very cold hardy variety and the strawberries have had a layer of snow.  All the sheep were all moved into our barn and the hogs were given extra deep bedding.  Our cows do have shelter in the pasture if they need it.  We have brought cows in with young ones occasionally as the temperatures drop.  They have had increased hay available as livestock will need more kilo calories to keep warm during these temperatures.  Graham's Galloway cows are suited especially for this weather with two layers of hair that insulate their bodies from the cold.


Spring is 55 days away and our planning is in full swing.  CSA enrollment is open- look for details on the website that has a new look and more changes coming...


We appreciate your business and encourage you to look at the pictures we recently posted from around the farm on Face book.  They will remain pinned to the top of the farm page a bit longer. 




When the Wind Blows Hard....

We were hit by a tornado in July.  The winds blew hard.  The warnings were nil.  The weather radio touted severe thunderstorms but did not mention a tornado once...the winds blew hard.

So hard that many large strong trees were twisted from their foundations and crashed to the ground narrowly missing our house and barns.  The big greenhouse, egg mobile and chicken tractors were less lucky...they found themselves twisted apart and distributed all over the pasture.  Several buildings were twisted off their bases, our outhouse is in the pond.  Picnic equipment, a birdbath, birdfeeders and a Martin house are past tense. Our chickens..well they are in at least three counties by now...two lone survivors were left to roost and lay eggs...These ladies have been so badly shaken since the storm we have yet to see their eggs.  Our market trailer was blown into our house. Wood was blown so hard it penetrated a van tire flattening it....the winds blew hard!

There is tremendous power in a storm.  The winds blew hard!  So too do the winds of life. The storm's power is NOT just seen in the damage it does. This storm has allowed me to count my blessings and be thankful in a way the drought of 2012 did not.  WE were in the basement, literally feet from the path of most damage.  Our house was left standing except for a few window screens and a chimney that was blown off. I was in the basement with most of my children. ...all of us were shaken but safe.  This storm could have killed US and many more animals.  It spared us.  It could have taken our larger, more costly buildings,  They were safe.  It could have taken our home. The path it took was least damaging.

The winds blew hard, but we have SO much to be thankful for. This storm, like many storms in life, can allow us to focus on our blessings or our losses.  WE were rockin' and rollin' in our house's slight depression underneath almost basement.... while the wind blew hard.... we are alive. We can replace and clean up the material parts of our life.  We can't replace each other. It crystallizes important things...

The greenhouse will be replaced. I was able to find an Amish man with 35 chickens that will begin to lay in August as well as some replacement ducks. They already have a temporary house...The wind blew hard but we remain blessed!


Hay in the Barn

Every grass farmer wants hay in the barn or hay stockpiled before winter feeding arrives.  We are no different --especially since we had to buy 60 tons of hay last year.  Last summer where our dry, parched hay field produced 2.5 large, 1000 pound bales we were blessed to have 43 bales of dry, sweet smelling hay this cutting!  Rain was our secret ingredient. 

Dry hay, under cover, brings with it the hope of our future as a farm.  It is the encouragement we needed this week to keep farming.  We had a dry spell where we were able to catch up a bit on weeding, planting and hay harvest.  A window in time when we had clear, sunny skies and a breeze to our backs.  This wonderful summer weather made it possible to spend the longest day in June in the field working late.  These are the days that make farming rewarding.  The days when you feel the exhilaration of being a farmer.  Our hay is in the barn. The smell is sweet.  It means we will NOT have to buy hay for a second year if all keeps going well.  It means that our animals will eat. 

This is he time when our early potatoes are ready to dig, beets are yummy and sweet, the chard is crisp and the kale prolific.   It's the time of year we begin to savor the tastes of summer, basil pesto and dill in the pot of peas. It's canning time.  Soon the pickles will be ready.  It's the time to plant more seeds to keep the produce going through the fall season.  This week we have planted more lettuces, squashes,  French pumpkins, French beans, horseradish, elderberries, beans, beets and more tomatoes.  This is the time of year when we start to think of blueberries and cherries.  This is the time of year when we look for the first tomato...its when the hay is in the barn....


Fire Blight!

Fire Blight!  [Read More]

Spring is Around the Corner..

New snow fell thickly last night, but the new lambs playing in this morning's snowy cold blanket  remind me that spring is just around the corner. Planting time will be upon us sooner than we realize.  Our grass will begin growing green again!  This has been a tough year for those of us who feed hay.  We bought about 55 tons and we are nearing the end of our stock piles.  Normally, we can grow ALL we feed through the winter ourselves.  We are thankful for the snow and rain that rebuild the ground water supplies.

The new fences are up around our hogs. This spring we hope to replant their pasture.  We disked it up last spring only to find that nothing grew without much needed spring rains. It is our hope that we will be able to rotate the hogs' pasture this summer.

Sheep have eluded us many loading times even with a corral.  We hope to improve their loading area and to make more of them available for meat this Spring and Summer.  We also anticipate a slow transition from our Dorset/Tunis/Suffolk flock to hair sheep.  This will eliminate the need to shear.   We will keep several of my favorite Tunnis ewes.  Tunnis sheep are on the Slow Food Ark of Taste and have a rich history in the American colonies.

Jeff  worked with an Amish friend cutting the tree limbs that surround our perimeter fences. This did not net much wood for our stoves but, it will help us maintain our fences. Serious woodcutting  this spring is needed as soon as the snow is gone.  We cut the dead and fallen trees cleaning up our forest floor.  We allow this wood to dry until the next winter. We burned about all of what we had cut to heat our home and cook with this winter.  Sustainable heat for our family means being warmed twice...once cutting our wood and once burning it.

Indoor planting has begun.  It will not be long until we are outside planting the first of our greens and potatoes.  Some greens were planted last fall for this spring.  My Amish friends do this each fall and I decided to try it.  Follow us on face book.  Like us often to continue to get our feeds.  We will make quick updates there.  Join our LinkedIn page. We're firming up some computer changes..this is an area of challenge to us.  Our 2013 CSA is closed.  For those still interested there is a waiting list. 

Those unable to get into our CSA can still purchase from us and visit the farm by appointment. You may also find us at the Lafayette Farmer's Market and Sunspot Natural Market in West Lafayette. Remember to eat at two of Lafayette's best restaurants- La Scala Italian Restaurant and the Black Sparrow to taste our free range, pastured meats and sauages.  Tell them we sent you!  Spring is just around the corner.





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