By Nancy Smorch
Wow! We have had a ton of stuff going on at the farm and I’ve let it become all-consuming.
Last year we planted a small group of fruit trees with the vision of developing an orchard, but, whether due to the lack of rain or the way that they were planted, over half of them died.
We ordered new trees from Trees of Antiquity (a great source for organic/non-GMO trees) and planted them in a new location that hopefully has more fertile soil.
We also tracked down some local trees that haven’t been treated with any chemicals in a year, and the family and I have been keeping busy getting them into the ground!
It’s worth the effort… I’m excited, to say the least! We’ve got peaches, apples, plums, cherries, pears, and almonds. It will be a few years before they produce any fruit, but, in the end, having easy access to fresh, organic fruit will be well worth all the planning, nurturing, and waiting. And digging!
This spring we also discovered that three of our horse pastures were loaded with weeds that are toxic to horses. It was a serious scramble to put electric fencing into some unused fields, but we wanted to keep the horses safe.
The unused fields, luckily, are full of beautiful grass; a nice moist location, a controlled burn by the previous owners, and just being left alone for a few years have rendered the soil super rich. We are fortunate to have alternatives while we deal with these “toxic” pastures.
So how do I deal with it? I know that overgrazing allowed the weeds to take over, but how do I get the soil back to health and ready for the horses again?
First I need to make sure the soil has the right nutrients – we’ve sent off soil samples to the Farm Bureau to see what that looks like, pH and chemical-wise. This will give me a better idea of what I need to do to keep the pasture at a healthy balance.
Then, obviously, I need to somehow get rid of the weeds. With all of the research I’ve been doing into the lasting, harmful effects of glyphosate (the “safe” chemical in Round-Up) and 2,4-D Herbicide, I absolutely will not spray the pastures with either!
… More on those findings in a future blog.
So, long story short, we are exploring various cover crops, fertilization, soil nutrition, and natural herbicides. If we could get a nice and sunny day, I could test out how well herbicidal vinegar (20% acidity) works as an alternative weed killer.
How is all of this relevant to food?
There is a balance in nature that must be respected, and, more often than not, there is no “quick fix” that is good for the environment, good for the animals, and good for us.
Becoming a conscious person requires research, making connections with knowledgeable people, asking the right questions—and sometimes a little pushing—to reach the long-term vision of building a healthy, happy connection with the earth and the food we eat.
Our little farm is just a miniature version of many farms in the world, but we’re quickly finding out that when you don’t pay attention and nurture, things get out of balance—and you pay the price… and the road back to recovery may not be an easy one.
On a more positive note, we will soon have at least two colonies of bees set up on our property. A local guy is helping us set up our own colonies and will be showing us the ropes of bee keeping, which means in the fall, we will have our own organic honey! Already I’m considering the flowers and plants on the property, and how to encourage the bees to gather pollen from around our gardens… rather than wander off into the local corn fields!
And finally, we are also expanding our garden so we will have enough extra fruit and vegetables to share with friends and neighbors, and still have leftovers for canning. I canned tomatoes last summer for the first time with a help of a friend, and we recently used our first jar to whip up a fresh tomato sauce for pasta. It was amazing, and I can’t wait to get going on another batch!
Life is definitely a balancing act, and I definitely let some things get way out of balance this past month! At least now I finally feel like I am treading water, rather than gasping for air…
But enough of that!
Now, I want to take a moment and thank all of my readers for taking the time to check out what I have to say. I love you all for allowing me to share my passion, and for sharing that passion with me.
We have reached a small milestone in terms of views and I just want to say thanks for engaging in this conversation! Remember that I love to hear your thoughts and comments as well. As I move forward and write more about my experiences with organic farming, clean eating, and discovering great recipes, please feel free to share your knowledge and what you’re thinking too. I love the connections we can and do make!
I hope as you continue to read you become inspired and empowered. I’m so glad you’ve joined me on this journey as we draw back the curtain surrounding our food and learn how to nourish ourselves as Nature intended.
Be proud! We are taking back the right to having a strong, healthy body and nurturing our families with real, honest food and experiences.