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.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Now Open Weekends - Until Christmas!

Fall is early this year, so we're a little behind in getting everyone notified - but - it's time to come and see and enjoy trees you can't see anywhere else - and - gather in your own chestnuts for your holidays.

We're open Saturdays and Sundays, 1 PM to 6 PM, until Christmas.  Right now in October, you can "pick your own" chestnuts; later we'll have them ready to sell, fresh off the farm.

We'll teach you "how" if you're not familiar.
They're picked up off the ground, very easy to find right now.  Last year at our Fall Open House (Oct. 15 this year!!) we had a bunch of pretty small kids collecting chestnuts; and in spite of the burrs, they had a wonderful time.

And - we will always have a fire going.  We'll show you how to "roast them on an open fire"; and we have free marshmallows for kids - and amazingly - free marshmallow sticks.  Actual sticks, not steel wire...

Fall color season is here now - in the early stages; you'll need to walk around a bit to find something like this  - but you're entirely welcome to wander.

This year the maples are not turning the simple traditional colors right away; the strange growing year is giving us some non-traditional patterns; also gorgeous.

We have LOTS more to see- and buy; our hybrid pecans (available nowhere else) - wool, wood of every kind you can think of, for any purpose- apple, chestnut, maple - for turning or anything else.  And you can arrange to buy plants for next year now, too.

Come and see - and stay!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Hard to catch a break.

If you would like to know why your plants may be late in shipping, here's why:

Decorah is the town we usually ship from - roads damaged, and out -

At the moment; water is still rising; and it's raining again in a spotty but heavy fashion; I just got soaked to the skin in a downpour that was not on the radar when I went out to check the sheep fence. We're not flooding here, yet; but our ground is totally saturated; and our neighbors are in real emergency situations.

Just so you know!

Friday, August 19, 2016

More - Major - Wind Damage

There is a radar picture to bring tears of joy to any meteorologist - it's absolutely classic, absolutely clear - and dangerous.  The kind of storm where they truly save lives, by giving warning in time.  This is known as a "bow echo" storm formation; because they resemble an archer's bow.  See that little white plus sign, just to the right of the middle of the bow?  That's Badgersett Farm; precisely.

And that's absolutely the most dangerous place to be for one of these storms; and if you come this weekend for the Field Day - you'll see why.  That's where the most violent winds are; trained observers in Preston reported gusts over 70 mph (hurricane) for this storm; as I watched it, I was guessing 70 to 80 mph.

From that Wikipedia entry: "Bow echoes are capable of producing straight-line winds that are just as strong as many tornadoes. A strong bow echo will produce more widespread and intense damage than the majority of tornadoes. "

Yup.  We can tell you that's true.

We got hit by a similar storm - very hard - just a few weeks ago.  This one - was worse, in one particular way.  The first storm broke a lot of trees; but left the pecans and chestnuts pretty much entirely still on the trees.

Some idea of what it looked like as we were scurrying for cover - our radios did give us the NOAH emergency warning in time.  It was darker than this, though; the camera couldn't catch it.

This storm - broke more trees; including some pecans (first one didn't break pecans) - but it also took a huge part of the nut crop off the trees.  For the chestnuts, there is no hope those downed burrs will ever have any nut inside of any use.  The pecans - are far from fully ripe; but it's not impossible they might still "force-ripen", using resources in the shuck - and make pig food, anyway.

In any case - we'll now have to pick up the downed nuts - before the true harvest; to prevent the bad ones getting mixed with the good ones.  Only twice the work - for maybe half the crop.

Come see.  It's part of the whole picture.  There ARE things you can do with your planting to minimize storm risk.  We've had chestnut crops survive astonishing winds in the past- they can.  But not this time.

Still haven't fully assessed the damage.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Annual Field "Day" - Saturday AND Sunday!

As the entire world knows, our Annual Field Day; which we've been holding every year for more than 25 years; is always scheduled for the 3rd Saturday in August - which is this weekend; Saturday the 20th.

And it looks like rain.  Really looks like rain, in this very rainy summer.  So - we'll be having Field Day activities on Sunday, too.  If Saturday is what fits your plans, and you're willing to risk the rain- we'll be here for you.  And we'll be ready for you on Sunday; too (the weather predictions look great for Sunday - at the moment - clear sky, light wind and a high temperature of only 66°F...)

This has happened only once before - but in fact we have made the decision that from now on this is how it will happen every year.

And.  Even BIGGER NEWS - we've made the decision to be formally "OPEN" - on ALL the weekends, from this start in August - until Christmas.  If you can't make it here for our Field Day; you'll now be able to just COME - any Saturday or Sunday; from 1 to 6 PM.

And.  Besides 'seeing the sights' - on those days you will now be able to "Pick Your Own!" - both hazelnuts and chestnuts.  When they're ripe, of course.

We'll show you how, and teach how to handle them afterwards.  We're going to be learning how to teach and show, of course; but we're ready to do that.

So.   COME SEE.  Come pick.  Come talk.  (And come buy; we do have products to sell nowadays.)

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Everything Done Right

If you come to visit Badgersett Farm, it can be a little difficult to visualize the process of establishing productive nut plantings.  For one thing, our plantings, hazels, chestnuts, and pecans, all neohybrids, are now so extensive it takes several days to actually see them all.  For another, our plantings are insanely variable from a grower standpoint, because of the 40 years of necessary, and ongoing, research.  A field with 10% stocking can look like a failure; and be an enormous success- since it identified the plants for the next generation.

But now, you can visit a planting where the process is crystal clear - and it's a bit easier to get to than SE Minnesota; north central Ohio; about 15 minutes off of Interstate 90.

The planting of Badgersett neohybrid hazelnuts as part of the Oberlin College Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies is a stellar example of “how to do it right”.  The establishment success, growth rate, and early nut bearing in this planting are simply the best it has ever been done- and approaches even theoretical limits.  It may be a long time before it is done better, anywhere.  And- we learned some things here that may change future plantings.

The Lewis Center is globally recognized as one of the most important examples of “green architecture”.  The hazel planting was conceived both as a demonstration of a biomass fuel crop, and an ongoing living experiment used for teaching.  The decision to immediately implement an experiment in fertilization was directly responsible for the outstanding success - meticulous individual fertilization was performed, starting in fall of 2011.

Planted under the guidance of Philip Rutter, Badgersett founder and CEO, the field was installed June 14, 2011, on a bright sunny day, with abundant participation by students and faculty.  Note that summer, and sunny days, are not usually associated with tree planting success - but the tubeling system worked exactly as planned.

June 14, 2011
Soil preparation was unconventional; but needed for the deeply compacted heavy clay soil.  Leaf compost from the College supply was incorporated with about 12” of tilled clay; leaving ridges that were sure to subside.  Several larger clonal hazels were included as reference genetics, but the majority of the planting is straight “standard” hazels; the same thing we recommend to growers.

As always recommended, the newly installed tubelings were provided with 0.5 to 1 gallon of water, on the day of planting.
June 14, 2011

Oct, 2011
By October of 2011, the tubelings had made very little top growth and were close to disappearing under the white clover that had been planted as cover, nitrogen, and rabbit diversion.  Some judicious mowing next to the rows and a little hand weeding kept them with their heads up in the sun.

This is the usual experience with the tubelings - they will look unimpressive, even worrisome in year one.  Long years of comparative research, however, have consistently shown that by year 3, they will far outgrow bare-root dormant transplants.  And that was demonstrated once again at Oberlin.  The ridges from the compost amendment are still evident here; but you will see they have subsided in the 2013 photos.

Planted in 2011.  So far we have been unable to locate and photos from 2012.  The planting looked like not much of anything that year.  But regular care, mowing of grass/clover, and most importantly - fertilization - continued on schedule.

Remember these plants were seeds in spring of 2011, outplanted when they were around 3 months old.  In spring of 2012, they were one year old.  In spring of 2013 — two photos.  From this point on, we have photographs; and they are — astonishing.  Pay very close attention to the dates on the following photos:

May 23, 2013
At right is the field on May 23, 2013; these plants are actually not quite 2 years old.  Already, however, as big as the best bare root nursery stock ever gets.  
And below - is the field in the same year; 2013; but on August 5.  In 2 months time (count them) the same plants are now easily equal in size to 5 year old bare root transplants.

And below - is the field in the same year; 2013; but on August 5.  In 2 months time (count them) the same plants are now easily equal in size to 5 year old bare root transplants.

August 5, 2013 

August 5, 2013
Above, with the Oberlin hazel team at the time, are the prize-winning hazels in the field; the same day; August 5, 2013.   These plants are 3 1/2 years old —from seed.  The tallest member of team is 6’3” tall - the tallest hazel is well over 7 feet tall.

May, 2014

Clusters of nuts showed up on many plants in 2014; indicating that plant mass is likely more significant than plant age in determining onset of nut bearing.

August, 2015

Harvest for class analysis in  August, 2015 - plants are now 4.5 years old. The photovoltaic array for the Lewis Center is in the background.

July 2016

 To the right: this year, 2016; the plants are 5.5 years old.  All of the bushes are bearing crops; some of them extremely heavy.  If you are familiar with the patterns of neohybrid hazel branch structure - you can tell this plant bore a crop last year, too -

This is, simply, the best and fastest these neohybrid hazels have been grown in the field  

The Lewis Center neohybrid hazel field, July 13, 2016.  5.5 years old.  Unfortunately, the young man in the photo is 6’5” tall - making the plants look a little smaller than they actually are  (humor.).  The very large hazel just to the right of him is a G-029 tissue cultured reference clone, and was 4 years old at planting; not a tubeling.

Note that the field is fully populated; initial survival over 90%.  It’s not hard to duplicate this success with these plants – it’s just necessary to follow the instructions – all of them — and remember, they are NOT bare-root dormant nursery transplants.- and treating them as if they were; will kill them.  Note also that EFB (Eastern Filbert Blight) is present on campus; this is what genetically fixed EFB resistance looks like.

If you wish to visit; the Oberlin College Lewis Center welcomes visitors {they get plenty coming to see "The Most important green building constructed in the last 30 years" according to Architect Magazine (July 2010)}.  It's easy to find using any modern map app; or you can just ask the friendly folk to direct you.  If you would like someone to show you around, Ben Hobbs, the Facility Manager will try his best to be available; best arranged ahead of time: or cell phone is 216-407-1351.

Phones: 815-275-1632 or 815-598-3264.  

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!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Lamb - Blossom - Mom Day - Authors, Artists, And Activities - Oh My!

This May 8th; Mothers Day, Badgersett will hold our First 
Annual Lamb - Blossom - Mom Day!
10 AM  to 7 PM

May 1 - On Schedule!

We intend that this will become an Annual event - there will always be apple blossoms; there will always be new lambs, there will always be Moms who need a little time to enjoy the world with their kids, and there will always be friends we want to share it all with.

            We have a Spectacular Day arranged for you! 

Look below here for Authors, Artists, Things To See, Things To Do; and Things To Buy.

— Authors — Artists  —

Beth Dooley - One of Minnesota's most beloved food writers - WILL BE HERE - to sign her new book In Winter's Kitchen !  How do we rate such wonderfulness?   Well.  One of the chapters in Winter's Kitchen is - "Chestnuts".  And we get mentioned a bit.  So she'll be signing her books- under chestnut trees for you.  (We hope you're bringing some of your other books too, Beth!)

Tom Teller - a wood turner of considerable reputation - will be showing and selling his work.  Tom has been interested in transforming several of the unusual woods we can provide into his art for several years.  Not too surprisingly, some of our wood has proved - difficult.  But you'll see from his other work how gorgeous his results can be- and you'll understand why we're not giving up.

Dee Teller - Internationally known Asian Brush Stroke artist - will be showing and selling her work.  Her paintings of Horses - continue to win important prizes, and you will see why!

Josh Landy - Award-winning Mead and Cider Maker - will be here to talk about the cider he made from these trees last fall - and the hopes for scaling those test batches up.  Beth Dooley got a little taste of it last November...  All but a few of our apple trees are Heritage varieties; Golden Russet, Roxbury Russet, Westfield-Seek-No-Further - the cider they can produce is as different from regular commercial ciders as champagne is from grape juice...  all starting with the blossoms.

And - More!  We still have artists/artisans letting us know.  Are you one?  Let us know!  What's Mother's Day without a sale or two for Mom to look at??

We - will of course be selling and signing our new book from Chelsea Green, Growing Hybrid Hazelnuts.  This would be the one where Joel Salatin's enthusiastic comment was "Sign me up!", and John Torgrimson of Seed Savers: "Apply Johnny Appleseed’s pioneering spirit to the science of breeding and cultivating hazelnuts, and you’ll begin to understand..."

Speaking of Seed Savers!  You should be aware of the chance for a great weekend here; their annual Spring Plant Sale; and Spring Garden School - happen May 7 - the day before Lamb-Blossom-Mom.   And Seed Savers, in case you didn't know - is just 20 miles away from us.

— Things To See —

•  Lambs - The big problem with young Icelandic lambs is that they are so adorable - you can just watch, and watch.  They are distilled, purified, Life; and will light up any face.  We will have a couple of the ewes penned close enough so that petting their little ones should be easy; though after they're about 3 days old they can get seriously frisky.  We'll try; and we have several of the adults who love to be petted at all times, so some contact is guaranteed.

•  The Running Of The Rams (And Lambs) - Something we've always wanted to share- when the sheep are let into their new paddock - with lots of fresh grass - they usually put on a show for us; not only racing in and around, but usually with a great deal of leaping and sheer exuberant kicking; the big rams included.  It's fun to see Buster - 3 feet up in the air, forelegs going north, hind legs going south; doing a half-gainer with a half-twist before hitting the ground and chasing everything again.  We're going to have the next paddock set up and waiting - and we'll do the Running about 2 PM, for you to see.

•  Apple Blossom Time - Endless poems, stories, and songs have been written about apple blossom time - now you can find out why.

Come and wander anywhere you like under our full sized Heritage apples - which we expect to be in full bloom on May 8.  Take all the time you like- in fact- bring a picnic.

•  Chestnut trees, Hybrid Pecan trees, hazel bushes, solar greenhouse, horses, biodiverse ecosystem crop management -  All the things we normally feature during our open house days are here of course; there's 160 acres of things to see..

•  The Mystery Not-An-Orchid - It looks like there's an excellent chance we can see some on May 8.  We'll introduce you.

•  Biomass Harvest - Coppice - In Progress - We've been complaining for several years now that we were drowning in biomass.  This year we've started harvesting it seriously; turning the chestnut and hazel wood into usable/salable products: fence posts, bamboo replacements, and biochar.  Never heard of biochar?  Then you should come.  Know lots about biochar?  Come.  And yes, we'll have some of the products on sale.

— Things To DO —

•  Bring The Brunch! - Mother's Day Brunch is a tradition for many - this year - why not bring Mom, and brunch, and a blanket - and settle under an apple tree for a picnic?  Please do.  And ->

•  Blossoms For Mom - We have dozens of big apple trees- most of which actually need some pruning - if you ask us, we will cut a good branch (about 2 feet) of apple blossoms for you to give your Mom; either here, or to take home to her if she wasn't able to come out with you.  Put it in water like any cut flowers and they can keep for at least a week.

•  Your Mom Wants Nettles!  Even if you didn't know that.  Part of our sharing with you - you are welcome to pick plenty of nettles to feed your family, free.  Lots of folks would love to have good spring nettles; but it's hard to find a place to just go and pick enough.  Here we are!

Don't know about nettles?  Beth Dooley does - she says that was the thing that pushed her over the top on her decision to come.  Michael Pollan has eaten our nettles - harvested from under our hazel bushes.  He's not sure he remembers the soup (likely 10 years ago), served to him in a restaurant in Minneapolis - but he loves nettles, and told me a new way to eat them, when I was asking his permission to tell you this story - on pizza.  "I love nettles -in soup, on pizza- so fine."

So- with that in mind, Beth Dooley has a recipe for Forager's Pizza With Nettles - which we'll be handing out to those who come and pick.

We have never had so many beautiful, easily picked nettles as this year.  They are one of the few things that grow well in the dense shade of the hazel bushes; and our Biodiverse Management means we let them grow there- they're not only good food for us; but for the entire ecosystem here.  Picking them won't hurt a thing; they'll grow back; they're a crop.

As food - they are crazy delicious, and astonishingly nutritious.  It's because they're so good that they  have such effective defenses; but just wear leather gloves while picking, and before they're cooked, and they're easy to work with.  Boiled or steamed - 100% of the sting is gone.  We're nettle experts here, and we'll show you how- it takes about 20 seconds for the whole class.

Come- and pick - all you want.  Well- all you want to feed your own family; if you're interested in harvesting and selling our nettles as a business; we need to talk.  Yes, we have that much.  We're doing a lot of hazel coppice right now; and as a result, the young nettles are incredibly easy to get to; and abundant.   BRING - gloves, scissors or a knife to cut them off, and something to put them in; any bag or bucket will do.

Oh; and if while you're harvesting nettles you should happen to run into some gorgeous Dandelion Greens - you're welcome to harvest those, free, too.

•  Wildflower Scavenger Hunt - KIDS - All our tree crops are growing on land that was corn and beans.  But now - we have wildflowers coming back into the almost-forests of our groves; things like Jack-In-The-Pulpit, Mayapple - and more.  Meg is the organizer of this hunt, and will hand your kids a list of wildflowers to find.  If the find them all - and they can pick them and bring them to show - there will be small prizes.

•  New Wildflower Species Hunt - Adults - Every year we find a new species of wildflower or other wild plants that have found their way to co-exist with our crops; and we can use your help finding and identifying them.  If you're a native plant enthusiast - this is for you.  We'd like to do this every year; it's part of the science, too.  We can get you started, and point you; but we really need a good baseline list launched.

Help Us Plant Hybrid Pecans - we've got tubelings overwintered in the greenhouse that need to get out, now.  You'll need to plant at least 10 for it to be worth while for us to show you how and where; but if you want to plant 100 - we can arrange that, too!

• Learn to divide and propagate hybrid hazels - This will likely be a one-time demonstration, around 3 PM.  We developed this technique of springtime, direct in-field propagation; and will show you how.  If you're interested enough - we could use some volunteer help to get a serious amount of this done here this year; not on May 8; but very soon.

•  Things You Could Teach US -  One of the things we're doing with our coppice chestnut wood is building horse corral, using split rails.  We know about 10 ways to do it- and don't like any of them.  Some take too much wood, some are unstable- If you know how, or have suggestions - Come Teach Us!  Another thing - we're novices at handling wool; and we have all of this year's Icelandic fleeces waiting for us to do right by them.  We don't even really know how to "skirt" a fleece- can you show us?  This would be a good time!

•  Solar Greenhouse - We think we are the oldest solar off-grid business in Minnesota, and our entirely solar heated and powered, earth-sheltered greenhouse is a big part of that; you're welcome to take a look inside and hear about it.

— Things To BUY —

   Badgersett Farm is in a transition phase; we're not stopping the Research - but we are adding to the Farm part - real production, real sales.  The crops are all at the point where that is the next step - they work (after 30 years of proof) - now we need to DO it.  So you can expect an increasing diversity of things that we have to offer you.  Here is a partial list.

Hazelnut Oil — this is what hazel oil should be; artisan made oil from France, not our own.

Icelandic sheep products - raw fleece, tanned skins, horns, and registered breeding stock

Hazel wood - hiking staff/ wizard staff / quarterstaff  unfinished blanks.  Did you know that hazel is the #1 choice of wood of the British Quarterstaff Association?  Yep.  Garden stakes; pea, bean, tomato poles; marshmallow sticks - We're calling this "Minnesota Bamboo" - because you can use it just like bamboo - but it wasn't shipped from the other side of the world...

Chestnut wood - shiitake logs, fence posts, heavy stakes, some very small saw logs, carving bolts

Live plants- sweetgrass, highbush cranberry, and our special "Sheep-o-Lantern" pumpkins.  (no, sorry, we will have not nut seedlings ready to sell yet)

Nuts To Eat - NOW

Badgersett Hybrid Pecans - these are at peak flavor, and stored in our freezer to keep them there - EXCLUSIVE with us; no one else in North America has these.

Fresh Chestnuts - If you think chestnuts are just for the winter holidays - you should buy Beth Dooley's book!  We have these available May 8th, in fresh condition.  The Atlantic Monthly used them to make a chestnut-asparagus dish; we think chestnuts and nettles are likely to work well too.

AND - There's a good chance we will have a NEW chestnut product available for you to try, and buy; something no one has ever produced or marketed before.  Not our chestnut polenta - something else.

And Don't Forget -

Books — Wood Turnings — Art — And MORE ...

May 8th, 2016; 10 AM to 7 PM

How To Get Here:  Map

Updates to all this will appear here on this blog and on our Facebook sites; and hopefully our website.

Greenhouse; 507-743-8570
Meg's cell: 507-481-6946

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Lamb—Blossom—Mom Day!!

We're having a NEW EVENT - coming up May 8, which yes, is also Mother's Day!

This is kind of short notice - but in fact this was simply a new thought for us; and sounded like so much fun we decided we had to do it.

The lambs - now happen every year- and they are simply a joy, for everyone who sees them.  Trying to count them, the other day (we're up to 14 I think; more coming) - it hit me - I wish we could SHARE this joy with our friends.  No, not making that up.  We want to share the wonderful bits.

And although yes, this is a crazy busy time for us, with planting in the greenhouse, ground prep for outplants, and blah blah blah - we DO take time to smell - not the wild roses yet, that will be in another month; but- if you've been here, you know we also have apples- actually about 80 trees; and not silly dwarfs tied to sticks; but BIG 35 year old Standard sized heritage apple trees.

And we have Apple Blossom Time, every year- now, with lambs!

Here is SOME of what you'll see- and stay tuned, we have a lot more we'll explain about Lamb—Blossom—Mom Day as soon as we can get it up and info out.
Apple blossom yesterday -

Our big pear tree- full flower right now; always earlier than apples
This is not a day focused on learning- it's focused on joy.  Bring your Mom!  Or come and watch ours- and all the beauty.

(And yes, we'll have stuff on sale- for you to buy for Mom... quite a lot more items than ever before...)

Apple blossoms are pink - before they open, like these; then the trees show white.  This tree will likely be past bloom by May 8; but we have many that won't even start for another week yet.

Trying to time a blossom viewing event is always tricky - but this year May 8th is looking like it should be very close to peak apple blossom time.  Our 2 pears always blossom a week ahead of the apples; and the pears burst out full just yesterday-

The Mystery Bloom below is usually just a bit later; but this year with all those warm days; we could get lucky May 8th and have plenty of them to see.  These astonishing Spring ephemera are very nearly entirely unknown, even to wildflower enthusiasts.

But as showy and simply gorgeous as a tropical Bird of Paradise blossom...
We're Not Telling you what this is - but if we're lucky, we'll show you these, May 8th!!
No, it's not an Orchid... but we have thousands here now - for a few days every year...
Our apple orchard trees are now even bigger than this photo from 5 years ago - bring your Mom, and walk...

Full Apple Tree; from another year

 The apple orchard is now grazed
The lambs snuggle into the hazels, by instinct, while Moms graze...
every year by the sheep; so the walking is a pure pleasure.

Yes, we intend to have lambs situated so you - and your Mom - and your kids - can hold them, pet them.

Lambs and Moms- still working for us even at this time!  They're mowing grass and clearing weeds for hazel coppice...

 We'll have a bunch of fascinating things to sell - like Icelandic fleece-

All this wool - will be for sale (raw fleeces yet) Here on May 8!!

Check Back Soon- More info as fast as we can.  Sunday; May 8 - 11 AM to...

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Lightning strikes-

We know we're hard to get ahold of- today is going to be worse.

We've got spring thunderstorms rumbling overhead constantly - and both the house, and greenhouse, have been hit by lightning multiple times; in spite of tons of installed lightning protection.

And if we get hit while the phone, or DSL, are plugged in - current surges get in and kill anything vaguely connected.  So - we have to unplug.

I'm sneaking this post out between thunder cells; I hope-

Monday, March 14, 2016

Yep, it's the weather-

The weather is crazy; you're pretty certainly aware of that.  The media are full of "warmest on record" and so forth; pretty much daily.  It's affecting us, daily; also; and has thrown our "what we're doing this month" schedules entirely out of whack.  Leaving us about half the hours in a day we need.

Just so you don't forget winter altogether: 

That's a beautiful typical late March/early April "sticky" spring snowfall, and lovely icicles on the house eaves.  Except that was Feb. 2nd, when snow usually falls as powder, at 0°F, and never melts off the roof...

And last week:

I sent Elly scrambling out of the greenhouse, after dark, to try to catch any photo she could get- of the sudden arrival of the Redwing Blackbird migration - flock after flock; on March 8th; weeks ahead of "normal".  You realize; there isn't going to be a "normal" - ever again.  We're well into unstoppable climate change; and we don't know what happens next.  Except, it won't be normal.

Our most urgent messed up schedule has to do with sheep and horses - "normal" would mean snow on the hard frozen ground.  In winter, we don't/can't move paddocks, and we expect to feed hay.  The Icelandic sheep are wonderfully easy to care for in winter- they eat little, and utterly refuse to drink water if there is any snow available at all.  The horses are more work; they'll challenge the electric fence when snow prevents good conduction, and they prefer liquid water; though they'll eat a little snow if they need to.  For both sheep and horses, sledding their hay to them is not difficult.

When the thaw comes a month early -sleds work poorly on mud, and wheels can't be used until the ground firms up.  The sheep must be watered, and paddocks for both must be moved, or they will pound the ground they are on into oblivion; wrecking good pasture for years.

And it has to be done now.  Like, really; that's what I'm doing as soon as I hit "post."  

Which skews everything-  But - we're still here; getting tubelings going in the greenhouse; just not much time for writing just now!