Richert/Phillips Farms

  (North Liberty, Indiana)
ventures of a small fresh pick farm
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This weather

What is going on this weather is jumping all over the place--dry, wet, snowy, raining, cold, warm don't know what to expect from day to day. The good thing is we have gotten a lot done in the buildings, but the taps(maple taps) are not producing like they should. That is all right the farmstead has not been this clean in a long while--if not for the first time ever.

   CSAs are rolling in and we are anticipating turning are wholesale field into production just for CSA members. Wholesale markets take up most of our production over the past many years, but CSAs may pass that portion of the farm. We have always set land aside for commercial buyers, markets, and CSAs by dedicating those fields for that specific purpose. In away by doing that we have several small farms all rolled into one.

 

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Organizing the greenhouse and seeds

   We were planning to be collecting sap for cooking.But, after about half the taps were set a cold front came in and we have been looking for stuff to do. It is a little early to start organizing the greenhouse, yet it beats doing other things around here.

   It did not take long working in the greenhouse, so we decided to tare-apart the plug chamber and redesign and move it into one of the sheds--a plug chamber is where the seeds are started and the temperature as well as the moisture is monitored regularly.

   Having thousands of dollars wrapped up in seeds and knowing that one's entire planting can be wiped out in less then an hour is not a pleasant feeling. So, the plug chamber is very important to a vegetable farm--we enjoy this profession, but from now till harvest and sales we will be tense, on edge, and more serious. Ninety percent of our income is made in less then sixteen weeks and yet it takes twenty plus weeks to get us to harvest and on the other end the remain part of the year is preparing the fields and equipment.

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Making a seeder and maple syrup

   We drove over to Leon's house today to pick up a tank for to transport the sap collected for cooking and he was quite excited about a contraption he made. The contraption was a narrow box with many holes drilled though the top and a vacuum connected to the side to provide suction for holding the seeds in place. When the box is turned up side down over the plug tray the vacuum is turned off and the seeds fall into place on the tray. He was excited about it, but we had to tease him for a while before telling him it was a good idea.

   Maple sap has a higher sugar count this year, which means less cooking (boiling off excess water). But, brix change all the time according to the weather.

   We are still taking CSA applications but time is running out, so if you may be interested please contact us. We are not planning on taking CSA applications at the markets this year--only excepting them before hand.

    

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cleaning things up and tapping trees

   Starting to get busy around here. Cleaning and preparing for sugaring season. Tomorrow we will run a few test taps and with some luck--if the sap is flowing start running all the lines.

   Today we really dug in and got a lot done--we have been taking it easy and being lazy for a spell. That might be why our muscles are a bit sore.

   Most of the seeds are here and nearly all the supplies are on a truck heading this way.

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Vacation and farming

   For the first time in twelve years we were able to take a vacation. Southern Louisiana is the best place I have ever been to and I have traveled the world exploring new places when in my twenties.

   Many people we come across, nearly all the people, think farming is easy. They so often want to have what they call the simple life and yet hold on to the city life of living it up in various ways. But if one wishes to be a farmer that or those people must give up the life style they have completely and embrace the dirt fully--we have a simple saying," are you farming for money or are you farming with money?" Several young farmers who did not give up their previous life styles have lost the farms they had...they blame cost, weather, consumers, gas prices, and what ever else can be thought of--but they do not look at the real reason of not putting the long hours in(some times 16-19 hours the day before market), not knowing tricks of the trade because they are to busy talking and not listening. When a produce farm goes under most of the time it is the farmers endeavors that caused it not the excuses.

   My advice is when you attend a market or any place a small farm is selling goods for reasonable prices make sure that it is a farm that is farming for money and they do not have another job. Because small gardeners are not trying to make a living.

 Jesus Loves

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