Bountiful Blessings Farm Produce

  (Hinckley, Illinois)
Locally Grown - Quality Farm Produce at Affordable Prices
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Illinois Desert Weather

It's been awhile since I have had any time to post an entry, so I thought I would write a few things while I am in for lunch. The days have been filled with plenty to do this last week. We are still planting, but it is very dry. On Friday, we ran another 400 feet of irrigation line into the field. I sas hoping we would not need to irrigate this year, but I was wrong. The ground is bone dry and it doesn't look super promising for rain in the forecast. The weathermen are saying we have a forty percent chance of precipitation tomorrow, but I am not holding my breath. Most everything looks pretty good in the field. Some plants are looking a little tough as the wind has been beating them up almost everyday for a week. I have the irrigation system on this morning as it is already approaching ninety degrees. Working out in the field zaps your energy real fast on a day like today. Kim and I have been out since seven and had to come in to get out of the sun for a little bit. We are going to try planting more cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower this afternoon. I would like to get it all in the ground. I am not so sure about planting seeds, unless they can be watered. Anyhow, that is the plan. May God richly bless you this holiday weekend. 
 
 

The Biz

It you ever want to hear a million opinions on how to do something, start a farm produce business. It seems now matter where I go or whom I speak with, everyone has an opinion about how to grow vegetables. When I tell someone what I do, it seems like they either have a better way of doing it, or they want to let me know how they have done it for years. It is all well and good, and I listen, and many times I learn something new, but until a person gets into growing vegetables on a fairly large scale, they will never really understand the dynamics of this business. I am sure that sounds somewhat arrogant, but having a garden of almost twenty acres is a whole bunch different than a backyard ten by ten patch. I can actually say that growing is something I have been involved with for quite a few years, however, I feel I am a green-horn when it comes to knowing the produce business. I can grow almost anything, but there is a lot more to this. I have to have product for the entire season and that is no easy task. Just the shear dimensions of growing this many vegetables is at times overwhelming. It takes me over an hour each day day to scout the field for problems. Then I have to monitor the greenhouses and make sure everything is watered. With the weather being so dry, that takes a lot of time and effort. Beleive me, I am not complaining, but just letting you know, it is not a walk in the park. Anyone in the business can tell you, growing vegetables for market is very labor intensive. Nonetheless, I love it and would not have it any other way. My suggestion to anyone interested in knowing where their food comes from is to visit your local vegetable farmer. It could make for an interesting day. May God bless you in this upcoming week. 
 
 

GAP Practices

This week has been a whirlwind. We have been planting non-stop and getting things ready for the market season. I am so blessed to have my wife, my dad and my nephew helping me. Dad is working on the preparation area where we wash and clean the vegetables before they go to the stands or the markets. We are working hard with our GAP practices. GAP stands for Good Agricultural Practices which are a collection of principles that apply for on-farm production and post-production processes, resulting in safe and healthy food and non-food agricultural products, while taking into account economical, social and environmental sustainability. We are very consciously working to ensure safety and quality of produce in the local food chain. It is our goal to maintain high standards when it comes to cleanliness and quality. 

Tomorrow we will be back in the field planting more seed. The cucumbers and zucchini squash are going in the ground tomorrow! I am going to plant some in peat pots and some will be direct seeded. I want to experiment to see which method is better. I think it will be the direct seeded method, but I am looking forward to the results of this little test. Unfortunately, I will not be able to be in worship tomorrow as this is crunch time for planting and we only have so many hours before the next rain. I pray that your Sabbath day is blessed; that your worship is true; and that God richly bless you in this upcoming week.

 
 

Hinckley Farmer's Market - June 23rd

The Hinckley Farmer's Market group met once again last evening to discuss plans for this season's market. The first market will be held on Saturday, June 23rd from nine to noon at the Hinckley Fresh Market parking lot. The market is located at 710 James Street in Hinckley, Illinois. This year everyone is excited as we have several new venders joining us. The market will feature fresh locally grown vegetables, crafts, jellies and jams, flowers, honey, eggs, granola, baked goods, and much more. We are really hoping for a big turnout and anticipate a wonderful year. The market is open each Saturday through September. 

At Bountiful Blessings Farm, we are still planting and maintain the crops already in the field. Dad ran the cultivator yesterday while I planted beans. Today we plan to plant more sweet corn, so it will be a very busy day. The end of the week looks promissing for more planting. I would like to get the balance of the large tomatoes in the field. I will most likely start planting zucchini today. Hope you have a wonderful day. May God richly bless you in Christ Jesus.

 
 

A Productive Day - Sweet - - - - Corn!!!!

Another day in the field at the Bountiful Blessings Farm. We planted another twelve rows of sweet corn this morning. Dad cultivated sweet corn, onions and potatoes. I had to pick up a few supplies from our local fertilizer dealer this afternoon. Once that was complete, I had to water tomatoes in the field. The wind today dried the ground out real fast. I could barely tell they were watered last night. Dad mowed lawn this afternoon while I was watering. Once Kim came home from work, we continued to plant cauliflower and broccoli. I guess we planted about 300 plants before it started to storm. It came up quick and only lasted a few minutes, but the lightning was fierce and we had to come in from the field. I wanted to get the rest of the cole crops planted, but still have about four flats left to go. I guess tomorrow is another day. I don't think we got enough rain to slow us down. I am going to have to planted some mid-season sweet corn in the next day or so. We are moving along almost perfectly on schedule. We have to keep to our plan in order for this to run smooth. If we break away from our plan, things could get very hectic. I am really learning that planning is probably the most important thing a person can do in this business. I am also learning that I should have done even more planning. But as for now, I plan to eat and relax a bit before another productive day tomorrow. Hope you have a great evening and God Bless!!
 
 

Popcorn

Well, tonight sets the first record of the season; it is 9:30pm and I just got in. It has been a very productive day and I feel good about the way things went. Dad worked on equipment most of the day and then came out to the field to give me a hand planting. I put in all of the ornamental corn, broom corn and popcorn. That took most of the day. I had to work down some ground, then lay out the plot. Nonetheless, it was a big task. I am looking forward to the popcorn this fall. We planted popcorn last year, but only for our own use. This year we planted popcorn with the intent of selling it in the winter. Last year's popcorn was awesome. 

Kim just finished making supper, so its time for me to eat. I hope you all have a great week! We will be planting more tomorrow. I will keep you up to date! God Bless!

 
 

Mother's Day 2012

Once again, it has been very busy at the Bountiful Blessings Farm. We have been working ground and planting. Today it will be repeated again. My dad worked ground down for us to plant today, so I should not have to do any more preparation; just get out there and plant. Right now we have over seven hundred tomatoes planted. About 2/3 of them are heirloom varieties and most of those are list in the Ark of Taste. We are very excited to be able to offer our customers these wonderful, unique and rare vegetables. Once you get a taste of an heirloom tomato, you will never want to eat the general market varieties available elsewhere. 

Today is Mother's Day and I wish I could spend some time with my mom, but I am going to have to be in the field. My sisters and their families came out to the farm yesterday for lunch with mom. It was nice. We ate in the Bountiful Blessings office and had food from our local drive-in. It was great to take a little break from the hecticness of this spring to spend time with those we love. We will be planting tomatoes and cole crops today. I want to also get some seed in the ground. I will most likely plant some beans today. Well, its time to get out to the field. Hope you have a wonderful day and God Bless you!

 
 

Plant Sale

First of all I need to apologize for not keeping up with the blog on a daily basis. However, we have been very busy at the Bountiful Blessings Farm. Now that the weather has broken, and the soil has dried out enough to get back in the field, we have been planting nonstop. Today we planted about 400 tomatoes in the field. Yesterday, we were not able to plant, but we were able to lightly rototill between rows on some of our crops. In the morning I worked on some tomatoes I donated to a local plant sale at the House Café in DeKalb, Illinois. A group is hosting a plant sale to benefit the DeKalb County Community Gardens. Here is the information from the event post on Facebook:

 

DEKALB COUNTY COMMUNITY GARDENS FUNDRAISER. Come by and purchase a native plant or flower, a beverage or a bite while listening to some awesome local music and enjoying the company of others who want to support our garden efforts. What a great way to celebrate Mother's Day! Whether you want to honor our Mother Earth, show your Mom how much you love her, respect the memory of a Mom who has passed or celebrate someone who has touched you with a Mom's love -- this event is a perfect way to celebrate the Moms who have touched our lives. Plant sale starts at 1pm -- music for this event begins at 5pm. Proceeds to benefit DeKalb County Community Gardens.


http://www.facebook.com/pages/DeKalb-County-Community-Gardens/172974836084982

 

The House Café is located at 263 E. Lincoln Hwy, DeKalb, IL 60115.

 

If you are in the area, take a moment and stop in the House and say hello to my friend Matthew. The food is great and the music - - always a pleasure! Hope you have a great weekend and God Bless!

 
 

The Greatest Job in the World!

Peter Criss the famous drummer for Kiss once stated, “As busy as I claim to be, I've still got the greatest job in the world.”  Even though I am not a drummer, I feel I have the best job in the world. Growing vegetables is a very rewarding and interesting job; and I really do not consider it a job; it’s and opportunity. More than an opportunity, it is a blessing. Everyday I get to witness a little of God’s wonderful creation and see His hand in the little miracles of each individual plant. Then in the end, I get to provide wonderful, tasty vegetables to my customers. What a fantastic blessing!

In the last few days, we have received almost two inches of rain. It was dry and we needed the rain, however, I hope it stops soon. I’d like to get back into the field to plant. The tomatoes are jumping out of their pots and the cole crops are busting out of their containers. I am moving peppers and tomatoes up so they will continue to grow. It is not really a problem, but it would be much easier to go straight into the field; and cheaper! Dad has been working in the produce building this week. We are taking out a wall and revamping our washing area. Last year things were very primitive. This year I purchased a stainless steel sink and preparation counter which will be well suited to our operation. Dad took the wall out today and it looks great. He also cleaned an area where we can store equipment and other items we use over the season. Things are moving along real well. It is busy, but I have the greatest job in the world. Have a great week! God bless!

 
 

A Very Brief Post

The last few days have been very hectic. We have been transplanting, planting in the field, planting tomatoes in the high tunnel and working around the farm. Dad built another hay rack to be used for selling our produce in town. Kim has been planting her little heart out and I have been trying to keep up with all of it! I will post more later tonight or in the morning. Hope you are have a great weekend! God Bless!
 
 

Mice and Men

Have you ever heard the phrase, "such are the best laid plans of mice and men"? That was kind of how my day went. It started out well with a trip to a friend's to move a refrigerator and shade cloth. We will be using the frig on the farm at the stand to put lettuce and other items in for the customers. The shade cloth will be used on the high tunnel and hoop houses in the future. Once that was finished, I thought I would plant tomatoes in the high tunnel, however, with more thought I realized that since I was by myself, it made more sense to transplant. That way tomorrow, I could work with Kim and maybe the grand babies in the high tunnel. So, with that decision made, I began to transplant tomatoes. Then I came to the realization that I was almost out of soil for the flats. So dad and I went to Maple Park to pick up more soil. We got back around two and I had to get a P.A. system out for my nephew's wedding. They came to pick it up and by now it was almost three. My dad then asked me to help him move some things from the produce building to the shop. I helped him and then it was almost four. I teach on Thursday evenings, so there was not much time to get anymore transplanting done. The day was almost over and I did not have very much accomplished. My plans had changed and I guess it did not work as well as I had wanted it to. So tomorrow, we will be planting in the high tunnel and then transplanting. If we do not get rain, I am going to make an effort to get back into the field. The wedding is Friday evening, so again it will be a fairly short day. I hope all is well for you! May God richly bless you!
 
 

Do Not Worry

Today has been another busy day. In fact, I just got inside. I picked up some lumber and cement blocks this morning from a friend. Dad met me over there and helped me get loaded. I hauled the stuff home and we unloaded it and put it away. I took the truck and trailer back and ate lunch and then began another afternoon of transplanting. Dad painted some equipment and finished up a few things he had been working on. I put all of the equipment away and closed up the high tunnel and hot house. I moved a few flats from the seed room to the cold frames and some from the hot house to the hoop house. The tomatoes look excellent. They have bounced back after the cold snap and really look good. I am hoping to get them into the field this upcoming week. I guess it all depends on the weather. I try not to let the weather worry me too much. God is in control. I do what is necessary on my end and let Him handle the BIG stuff. Faith is a big part of this business; I call it FROG - Fully Relying on God. The Bible tells us not to worry. In fact, Philippians 4:6-7 says this: "Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life" This is quoted from The Message, a contemporary translation. I figure if I worry, I am not letting God do His thing. This Spring has been one of those seasons that could cause a person to go nuts if they were to continue worrying about everything. I will continue to work as hard as I can to do what I know is best and allow God to handle the BIG stuff.

My son and his family will be in tomorrow for a family wedding. That means the grand children will be here! I am very excited about that. I hope they can spend some time at the farm. My daughter and her boy friend will also be here. I can't wait to see them. Tomorrow is another big day. I am going to try to get the balance of the tomatoes planted in the high tunnel after I move a refrigerator in the morning. Kim just brought me supper, so I guess I better eat. After all it is 8:30pm. Such is the life on the farm during planting season. I hope you all have a wonderful night. May God richly bless you!

 
 

New Digger

I was able to pick up the new (old) potato digger today. It is a Champion Potato Digger made in Hammond, Indiana. I am guessing it was mafe sometime between 1908 and 1922. It looks pretty much complete except for part of the hitch. I think with a little work we can make this work. I am really excited about it! In between picking up the digger and helping dad with his projects, I managed to transplant over six hundred broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. I think that made it a very productive day. I am extremely tired and will eat supper and then its off to bed. Tomorrow we have to pick up some lumber from a friend's place for our hay racks. I hope you are enjoying a great week! God's blessings!

 

This is what the digger looks like. (This is not the one we got, but it is similar.)


 
 
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