Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Tornado (?) ... Again

What do you do when you discover your sheep worming practices - have stopped working?  You medicate the flock; again.  Immediately.  Which means rigging a catch-pen, then wrangling 40 sheep. This situation was discovered when a ewe went down, and the vet called. (This isn't the tornado part yet; wait for it.)

 That ewe is fine now; but her lamb died; and we lost 2 more sheep; both of them not strong animals to begin with.  If you're losing animals- more can go down fast, if you don't act.  So; drop everything- and for several days we had a worming rodeo -

Far above and beyond the call of duty, Sara and Tommy provided 98% of the muscle - and agility.

The vet thinks a major factor in our worm treatment being inadequate is - the worms are becoming resistant to the 'usual' medications.  We'll be changing several management practices to lessen the pressure on the sheep.  The previous years we had no problems.

They've responded quickly to the medication; now entirely back at work mowing wild parsnip, etc.

Oh, and the tornado.  We got hit by something last night; the damage is actually far more extensive than the previous event.

The Weather Service says that storm carried 70 mph winds - but I've been through hurricanes, and this looks worse- a lot worse.  Some of the damage is healthy trees just snapped off, from this MinJon apple to a mature sugar maple within sight of the house.  Some of the trees smashed are in a straight line; but some trees are down at different angles, like the winds were rotating.

 We've lost some very significant trees- tops broken out of several very big chestnuts- which we'd been encouraging large crowns on for better nut production.  For those familiar, M-241 may have to be entirely coppiced, M-096 has lost about 1/4 of the crown, M-073 may be snapped entirely off.  Plenty of big chestnuts survived, of course, but those trees have long records of great production...

A big loss- this Luscious Pear tree- set fruit with all this blossom - but more than 3/4 of the crown was broken out -


The big butternut survivor that we've watched for decades- blew down, uprooted in spite of the ropes and anchors we put on it after the first tornado.  It lost the wind protection from the sheltering aspens - which all blew down, twisted

...  Big Momma is what we called her.  She's down right across our woods road.  And if you'll look behind the down tree - you'll see a young, totally healthy hackberry that was just broken over.

We have quite a few seedlings of Big Momma growing, and her progeny are all over the woods - but this is a real loss.

Now we get to play Pick-Up-Sticks.  Used to be a favorite of mine, 60 some years ago...

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Elite Hazel Tubelings Available NOW -

1,200 Elite Genetics Hazelnut Tubelings

Available NOW - First Come First Served-

We have a new supplier of hazel tubelings this year; and they have 1,200 unique tubelings ready for planting.

These are NOT tubelings from Badgersett’s catalog, and are not included in our calculations of supply and the shipping queue; the plants are in Illinois, and have been grown in the greenhouse of the NW Illinois grower.  They belong to the grower, and the money goes to them; Badgersett is just acting as the connection here. 
It is hard to emphasize enough how very special the genetics of these hazels are.  
First: Each bush for seed was personally selected by Philip Rutter; on site, at harvest.  The parents are the best of the best; in most cases based on multiple years of crop behavior; Philip has been part of the harvest crew there almost every year. 
Second: This planting is from the most advanced genetics available when it was planted; genetics again selected by Philip Rutter. This planting is isolated from other neohybrid hazel plantings- therefore the pollen cloud that produces the nuts is also select.  Tubelings from Badgersett will sometimes be pollinated by plants from earlier cycles- since all exist there simultaneously, for continuous research purposes.  That’s not a bad thing for research and genetic progress; but it does make the seedlings a little less predictable for production purposes.
These tubelings come from the most reliable parent lines available.  They are primarily Cycle 3 Expansion genetics, with some Cycle 2 Elite plants included.
Third: These tubelings come from the same genetic collection that is now being planted both at Badgersett and at Open Source Ecology’s Missouri farm as the next step in development of neohybrid hazel crop genetics.  Badgersett has not made a large hazel planting for some years, as data was inadequate to provide good selection criteria.  That selection is now possible - and this is IT.
785 of these tubelings come from parentage that is “Short-statured; Machinable”.  
Some of the test plantings with these genetics were “breeding true” for these characteristics at VERY high heritability rates: short stature- 94%; heavy crop - 60%; annual crop - 75%.  We can NOT guarantee these tubelings will perform with the same consistency; since the pollen cloud is different; but the high consistency of the female parent is very significant, typically an excellent predictor.
420 are from the other well differentiated group of “Tall-statured; Hand Harvest”.  
These are hazels that tend towards the growth habit of pure European hazels, with heavier wood and taller plants that make machine harvest with the current pickers difficult when the bushes get older.  They get tall and heavy quickly after coppice, also.  We are making a major planting of this type at Badgersett this year, with the specific intention of managing the plants with sheep to prepare for harvest by traditional methods.  Heritability of all characteristics for this group is lower- tall stature - 60%; heavy crop 40%; annual crop 40%.
For all these hazels, EFB resistance and cold hardiness in zone 4 are “fixed” genetically; inherited at over 95%; Big Bud Mite is well established in the Illinois fields, and seed is selected only from plants little affected, for multiple years.  The trunk-borer data are less clear yet, but badly affected plants are never selected for seed; and some very resistant plants do exist. 
Orders and payment are through Badgersett; email
Prices: Super Elite hazels; $8.50 per plant; 100 plants or more $8.10
Delivery: arranged with grower; pick-up only.  We’ll put you in touch.

These won’t last long- order now!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Woody Ag #3: All Hands On Course

The course we're running June 21-25 is essentially our training tool #3; the first is the Short Course (not offered this year), the second is the Book; and now for the first time we're offering the next step: "Hands On", 5 days in the field with both direct work experience and training in "what" and "how"; in detail and with practice.

Exact activities on each day will be determined by the weather (since this is 100% outdoors); but we expect to have:

2 days of twig by twig, leaf by leaf, hoof by hoof examination and training on neohybrid hazels, chestnuts, and pecans; and the accompanying animals we now include; sheep, horses, dogs, and cats.  Some content about our heritage apple orchard may be possible.  We now consider all of these to be important to making the farm work, and have sufficient experience with the integrations we feel able to teach others.  Other animals and other tree crops will be adaptable to processes and principles you can learn here.  Badgersett is home to the northernmost germplasm collection of Black Walnut, a joint project with the USDA and the Walnut Council; that grove will be included.

2 days will be actual planting of crops; hazels and chestnuts; by both hand and machine processes.

1 day will be training in the necessary skills and habits of "seeing".

Attendees are invited to camp here on the farm for the duration; or local motels are available (though not as convenient).  Facilities are primitive; both tent and vehicular camps can be accommodated.

Cost: $970 for the 5 days.  Food is not included in that price; we hope to be able to offer 2 meals a day catered very reasonably; or attendees are welcome to do their own camp cooking (we can provide  wood for campfires.)

Attendance will be limited to 15.  Spouses and children are welcome to join the camping process; but only paid students can be present for teaching procedures.  Multiple possibilities exist for daily activities for families, lists will be provided.

Course content will be provided by Philip Rutter; this will be an exceptional opportunity to spend time with the originator of these neohybrid crops.

Day 1, June 21, classes will begin at 9 AM (camping the night before is welcome).  Since that day is also the Summer Solstice, we will be having our annual Solstice Bonfire that evening, families welcome of course.

The final day, June 25, we expect to end official activities at 3 PM; those wishing to stay/camp longer are welcome to do so.

More details as we have them.

To register, please email with your information, and arrange payment.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Short Course- Becomes Long Course...

Notice is short, but - instead of our usual Annual 2 Day Short Course - this year we are going to run an entirely different, and much longer event.

We're looking at the last full week of June.  The event will probably start Tuesday, June 21, and will run for 5 full days.

Content and format will be completely different from all past courses.

At the moment, details are still a bit flexible; if you're planning to attend, your input is requested in the next 5 days; then specifics will be determined.

We will not be using the meeting spaces and classrooms at Eagle Bluff, rather 100% of this event will take place outdoors, on Badgersett Farm.  We hope, and recommend, that attendees will plan to camp here for the duration; either tent or vehicular camping is welcome.  Food- is yet to be figured out, but might be easiest if folks planned mostly on a little camp cooking on their own.  If you want to cook on a campfire - we can provide the wood.  (That's humor.)

Approximate content: 2 days will be spent on "whole-systems integration"; looking at the interactions of the various crops, and including the livestock, coppice wood, biochar, and biodiverse pest management.  We'll walk, see, and discuss; 2 days is not too long.  2 days will be spent actively planting the next breeding cycles of all 3 crops; neohybrid hazels, neohybrid chestnuts, and neohybrid pecans.  This is a major planting year; moving the genetics of all 3 up a notch; genetics details will be explained as we plant.  And one day will be devoted to teaching and learning to "see." As explained in our book, Growing Hybrid Hazels, these crops all require farmer geneticists - who have to know what they see - just as dairy farmers can look at their cattle and see the details invisible to those not involved.

When you register, we will immediately ship you the DVDs for the past 2 Short Course years.  You'll need to watch and be familiar- material covered there is NOT going to be repeated during this event.  This is "next stage" information.

You can put comments here; to register and for further details please email

Details as fast as we can provide them; right now- have to get on the plow and get land prepared for machine planting, before the ground prep done by the horses goes to waste-

Thursday, May 5, 2016

This post is an update; main Lamb-etc. Day Activities list is just below.

The weather forecast for Mothers Day: PERFECT.  Not kidding!  Sunny, top temperature 70°F, top winds- 5 mph; chance of rain 0.  And my farmer-weather-expert confidence in those projections is around 95%.

The apple trees and blossoms are absolutely on track to be at PEAK on Sunday.  Here is one of the first to reach "early-full", from yesterday:

And we ARE in luck - our Mystery Bloom IS GOING TO BE PEAKING on Sunday!  Not only are these Gold Buds everywhere; but the earliest trees are already nearly at "peak orchid" stage! Took these photos yesterday.

I have to wonder if Robert Frost was seeing these buds, along with the flowering maples and oaks:

"Nature's first green ... is gold. Her hardest hue to hold. Her early leaf's a flower; but only so an hour..."   His poem "Nothing Gold Can Stay"

 Adding to our list of distinguished guests and artists; we will be having a "mini-show" - and sale - of ceramic art from Iowa's Potter Laureate, Dean Schwarz.  Dean has pots in museums around the world.  He and his entire family are dear friends; and for the first time anywhere, we will be displaying the vase he created especially for us; for Philip and Meg's wedding.  It's gorgeous; and not for sale, .  Four of his pots will be for sale, and we'll also show more of his work in the "nfs" category.
And the lambs!  We're at 16 this morning; and counting - the tiny thing that looks like a rabbit on the left is a 2 day old; the 2 all the way to the right are 2 week old lambs- that were much the same size when they were born.  Icelandics are born that small, and they grow that fast!  Come and See!