Wednesday, May 31, 2017


I did some more bed forming today and also tried hilling the potatoes.  What a blast!  Evertyhing worked great.

The team also did some plowing in the cold West end.  What a muddy, not-fun mess in there.  But we dug out a lot of quack grass and if it will just warm up we can get it worked up.  My plan is for a single raised bed for cucurbits, and the rest some sort of summer cover crop.

Sebastian and Cassie are rock stars.  They had no trouble straddling the row and pulling like mad.

The hiller tracks better than I thought and it's even possible to move it right or left by moving the team.  I really think it's a winner.

We also made these beds next door for Dawn.

I have a three-wheeled work cart and I think this will be the main cart from now on.  The dolly wheel makes it easier for the donkey to balance.  Rosie needs some one-on-one work so I think she and I will do quite a few sessions like this one together.

Test Turkeys

I was basically horrified to find heads of wheat forming in the garden this week.  Where has the time gone???!  The cold and wet have really messed with my feel for the seasons.  These heads seem way, way too early, but they are probably right on time.  I hope they are free of fusarium, which can be incubated by wet conditions.

The Wisconsin Pedigree No. 2 is visibly further along than the Turkey Red.  This is interesting.

The Turkey Red has some heads but it's not as pronounced as the Pedigree No. 2.  Both of these test varieties are ahead of the Ehmke Turkey, however.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Moving Along

Probably half of the fields in our area have yet to be planted, so I feel lucky to have gotten as much going in the garden as I have.  It's going to be a weedy year--cold wet soils will always bloom lots of weeds because there's no way to get in there.  But things are moving along.

May 27 I planted four rows of popcorn in the East strip.  I think there is some good soil here to grow some popcorn well.

As we move West things get dicier--you can see the bloom of weeds to the right.  The soil is saturated and can't be worked.  But I did manage to create these raised beds for the tomatoes.

Here is what the Red Fife looked like on May 28.

I also disced the Windhaven field on May 28.  I'm happy that things are knocked back fairly well.  If I can just keep it black I will be able to prepare the field well.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Bacska Comparison

These two photos from September 25 show the two Bacska plots fairly well.  The USDA Bacska has many more surviving plants than the Aussie stuff.

There are at least 9 distinct clumps of survivors in the USDA section.

The Aussie section has maybe 3 clumps surviving.

Monday, May 22, 2017


The moisture and cold are still not letting off!  Although there have been no unusual, late frosts, there has been plenty of wind, rain, and 40 degree days.  Aaaargh,

Simon and Nigel, during their shearing ordeal.  They actually got cleaned up pretty well this year.

The new disc hiller in action.  I have high hopes for it, since it has the capacity to make the wet, low areas of the garden more usable.  The first raised bed is a mix of peppers, tomatoes, and red potatoes.  As soon as I can work in there again, I hope to make several more beds for tomatoes and cucurbits.

Peppers went into the first raised bed on May 19.  The only good thing about our cold wet weather is that I don't have to worry about transplants drying out.  The peppers looked great after I got back to the farm from a weekend trip.

I put in four short rows of sunflowers, which I hope to harvest for seed.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


The Bacska mystery is deepening.  After the die-off in November of 2016, a few plants remained in both the Aussie and USDA test plots.  Once they started to grow in the Spring, I cleaned out the weeds around them with a hoe a few times.

By May I could get a feel for what was going on, and it was clear that much more of the USDA Bacska survived.  I will do a count soon, but it's on the order of 3-5 times greater survival in the USDA seed stock versus the Aussie.  Weird!  I have no idea why the line preserved by the USDA is doing better than the one preserved by the Australian Winter Cereals Collection.

The two test plots of Bacska.  The left side is the USDA line of Bacska, and the right side is Aussie.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Windhaven Field

My friend Kathy has a two-acre hayfield that has fallen into disuse which we plan to use for a wheat crop.  The field is extremely rutted, so I began by discing the entire field once.  This helped a little bit.

I plan to keep the field bare until most of the weeds are dug up and dried out, and then put a cover crop of oats and peas on.  I will probably use it for spring wheat in 2018.

This is Brian's 3-16 plow attached to my Case 1494, and 85 hp diesel unit I found on craigslist.  This combination ran well, although I occasionally ran out of traction in wet areas.  Like everything else in our area, this field still had some wet spots.

We did make some straight furrows, which I'm very happy about!

The soil was turned over well in most places.  Especially towards the end, when the bottoms were mostly scoured, things ran well.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017


I have some of the best soil preparation to date this year, despite the cold wet spring which just does not help.  With the normal north-south field work pattern (or any other pattern), the plow is always going through both wet and dry soil.  However, in the more cooperative parts of the garden the plow is working just amazing.  I also have a new version of the disc which can go over plowed ground and make a nice seed bed.

I stuck the basket roller from my old cultimulcher project onto the back of the brinly disc and I really like the results.  It's super stable and easy for the team to pull.  I still think a second disc gang would be best, but until I find one this is a great solution.

In good soil the plow is super-stable and really turns the soil over.  It goes about 4" deep.

Here is the danish digger being pulled.  Sebastian loves to reach over and grab a bite of the super-rare wheat growing right next to him, oblivious to my objections.

Here is the renovated section of pasture, disced and seeded.

Onions went in on May 9.