Saturday, July 29, 2017

Hazel, Chestnut, and Pecan Pickers Needed!

 The hazels, chestnuts, and pecans are all LOADED with gorgeous crops this year, and we’re looking for folks who are interested in helping with harvesting any of the three crops, from early August through early October. Hands-on experience is BY FAR the best way to learn about all of the various aspects of growing advanced woody crops, including the reality of the work that’s involved. And we love to share the knowledge! We regularly have visitors and harvest workers tell us that they learn more in a few days here – picking nuts, asking questions, experiencing all of the sights and sounds of the farm at its peak – than they do in months (or years!) elsewhere.

The hazel crop is often difficult to see when it's still on the bush (the nuts hide - on purpose!), but this bush is pretty showy. Aside from the visible clusters, you can tell how loaded it is by how much the branches are bending over from the weight of the crop, even in mid-July.  

Harvest is a rush! And it’s the most beautiful, inspiring time of the year to experience the farm, and to see the future of regenerative farming in the Midwest for yourself. It’s already here! Check us out!

There they are! There's A LOT to pick! Details below.


Compensation: We’re offering $10/hr. in credit towards plant or seed purchases from our greenhouse. Plant genetics you can’t find anywhere else! No credit is given for the first day of picking, which involves a significant amount of time for orientation. We’re also open to your keeping a portion of the crop that you pick as payment, if you would prefer that over greenhouse credit.

Accommodations: Primitive camping, bring a tent! We can supply drinking water and a shower bag. We’ll do communal meals depending upon the number of harvest workers at the farm at a given time, but it’s a good idea to bring some of your own food and the tools to cook it. We’ve got all the campfire wood you could possibly want!

Length of stay: Anywhere from 1 day to 2 months to 10 years! We ask that you commit to at least one full day. We’re also looking for longer-term entrepreneurial farm partners, particularly people who are interested in greenhouse plant production, animal management (we have an expanding Icelandic sheep flock, 4 horses, and a mule – all critically important to the management and production of the nut crops – and we NEED a pastured poultry flock), and coppice wood products at Badgersett. Working the harvest is a great opportunity to check us out, and see if you’re interested in more.

Contact: Please contact Mark Hamann at 617 922 0196 or or to coordinate.

Friday, July 21, 2017

U of Mn Silvopasture tour HERE Aug. 5

Although we're behind posting to our Badgersett Icelandics blog, it's not because we aren't "doing sheep".  To some extent it's because we now have about 40 sheep, up from 25 when we started writing that blog.

And in year 6 of the sheep, it's been decided that they are permanent now.  The benefits are very large, and alternatives (fossil fuel fed machines) far less - EFFECTIVE.  The sheep work better.

Which is why we are the last feature of the upcoming U of MN Silvopasture Workshop; Aug. 4 and 5.  You can sign up for both days, or one day, I'm pretty sure.  Unfortunately - and fortunately at the same time, for us- the scheduled cattle silvopasture tour at Dana Burtness' farm had to cancel.  So, the tour will be here for 2 flexible hours (or more) instead of 1 tight one.

Some of this year's lambs; they are a riot to watch.  The movie was in April; the lambs are now 3-5 times bigger than here; still frisky.  Incidentally, we have a bunch of very interesting color patterns; 2 lambs here with "Panda Face" eye spots; black ears, white face and top of head; white rear legs and black front legs...  Anybody else seeing this in their Icelandics?

We'll be showing both the sheep and the horses- they both do very serious work for us just as grazers, not counting other benefits.  And there's a ton to show.  It has been a learning experience- but since 40 is more than 25 (actually we started with 5) - we're probably doing things mostly right.

We discovered fairly quickly - Icelandic lambs are eating as much grass as an adult sheep - about 3 days after they are born.  They go through pasture, and have to be moved more often.  We are, in fact, looking for a couple of people who would like to live here at Badgersett, and make their living from the sheep.  And horses.  And pastured poultry, perhaps.  There is a good living to be made; but it's a full time job.

Come and see!  We'll give you all the information from 6 years of rotational and mob grazing - nut silvopasture.  Summer.  Winter.  Mistakes and all.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Really, Really, Cloudy

It's been a big problem for us for several years now- one effect of the changing climate here has been a dramatic loss of sunshine in late winter and early spring.  Since the greenhouse runs entirely on solar heat - that has meant a cooler than designed growing environment- and slower than normal plant growth. 

How big a problem?  Big enough so that folks in Minnesota understand this wry joke immediately -

The "strange bright object: - is the sun; so rare as to be unrecognizable.  Paul Huttner is a nationally respected meterologist, with recognized expertise on the effects of climate change on weather.  And with a good sense of humor, too.

Humor is always useful when trying to deal with calamity.  The exremely slow growth in our greenhouse this year is very nearly exactly that.  Bear with us, please. 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

2 things...

Please - do take a look at our newly refurbished and relaunched GoFundMe campaign.  We're still very much in dire need of your help.

As some of you know, I spent most of March "on the road"; first stop the Cornell Dept. of Horticulture; where the grad students had invited me to talk.  Since I had several dozen other reasons I needed to be visiting in the area, I decided to drive...  That's always risky in the NE in March, but we now have as our main car a Subaru Forester; full-time 4WD.  Not a guarantee of anything; but- a much better safety margin.

Cornell video taped my talk, on March 9, and here it is.  Keep in mind- my audience here was pretty much - plant scientists.  So the talk is about plant science.  We'd intended to do another talk the next evening; so- we got 18-24" of snow in Ithaca, and not only the city, but Cornell- and the restaurants - shut down.   The talk has several parts - unrelated to each other; I do recommend watching it all.  Quite a bit of this is "original work" - being published here in video.

Monday, November 28, 2016

A loss-

As you'll know, we now use horses and sheep as an integral part of growing our nut crops.  If you've visited, you almost certainly know we also have dogs.  The dogs are here to protect the sheep; and horses- and cats, and children.

We have had three; all neutered rescue shepherd mixes.  Saturday night, however- Daisy, half working collie, half German shepherd - did not come home.  She was very friendly with strangers, incredibly healthy and energetic, and not a wanderer.  Normally our 3 dogs will be seen together; so when we had only two at sundown- I was worried.

At 4 AM, I was up.  No Daisy.  So I went out looking, taking Theodore, our oldest dog along- and asking him to "Find Daisy.  Where's Daisy?"  Until sunrise, he led me over very rough parts of the farm- a good two miles- but eventually it became a circle; and no Daisy.

Much of the rest of the day was spent searching also, on foot, from the tractor, calling neighbors and the sheriff.  Not a trace.

We lost a dog this way once before; it's never easy; but Daisy is harder; she's been an important part of the farm and family, for a long time.  We loved her.  She loved us. And she told us so constantly.

That direct look might be interpreted as a threat from a strange dog, but here it's just absolute focused attention - "Yes? What are we doing next?"

A few years ago, she had a pet cat.  Really.  She'd carry the cat around the farm, in her mouth.  The cat - came to Daisy, to be carried.

This isn't her pet, but another.  They're sleeping on a raw Icelandic fleece; one that got too old and feltcd to sell- except maybe for dog beds.  This one has been under the house for 4 years now- warm when wet; dries out fine- felts a little more each time they sleep on it...


I made this movie to illustrate that yes- dogs like and eat pecans.  One after another.  Mostly, we let them; it's pay for the work they do.  But- the movie also illustrates why it was hard to catch a good photograph of Daisy.  Once she saw you were focused on her - she would drop everything she was doing, and come- as close as she could.  Sitting for portraits wasn't her thing; I had to sneak them in.

A piece of us is missing.  I notice constantly.  And our team of dogs is now much less effective; she played an important part in motivating them all.

I could go on and on- as most folks who have had canine family could also.  But this is enough.