Friday, October 20, 2017

It is not going to rain HERE on Saturday-

UPDATE, Sat morning, Oct 21 - We're going ahead with the event today, Sat.  Other options look worse.  We got just enough rain to wet the grass this morning; but it's stopped and isn't supposed to start again until 7 PM.... See you there!
Update Sun. 22: It didn't rain.  Except at 8 pm - 1.44".  :-)

I've been watching all the weather predictions like a hawk all week, and in spite of a few weather sites saying casually "rain on Saturday", that's a major oversimplification.  It will certainly rain in Northern Minnesota, a little, tomorrow; but we're in the extreme SE corner, and often the standard predictions just do not apply to us.

This is one of those occasions - according to 40 years of watching weather and predictions- it is NOT going to rain here tomorrow - until after the sun goes down.  And it's likely that will be very light.  Sunday - it's much more likely we'll be wet.

Open House will be Saturday.   Fall color here is near peak- and gorgeous this year!

The neohybrid pecans, seen to the left, are a mix of very bright, and almost fully colored.  Some of the chestnuts are bright, though in most years they mostly fade quickly

Come and see!

Besides the cider and nuts - you'll see some of our livestock-for-mowing crew-

And they can be pretty interesting, too!  Check the information post for times etc.

Monday, October 9, 2017

October Open House - Sat. Oct. 21

Announcing: Another New Crop 

For The Upper Midwest

 From Badgersett Research: Hybrid Pecans

Tested on our Zone 4a farm in Minnesota for 30 years; our population of "neohybrid" pecans passed its final tests over the last two years.  We now guarantee they are completely cold hardy in zone 4a, and will consistently produce crops of salable nuts.

These are a brand new category of commercial nut; as can be seen in the photo, they are not identical to pecans, and consumers will need to become familiar with them.  We have test marketed these nuts for 5 years, with universal acceptance.

Our breeding process involves the scientific merging of multiple species, in this case the gene pool includes 3 species; pecan, shagbark and bitternut hickories.  From the pecan, these nuts get their thin shell, crackable with a hand cracker; and flavor.   The cold hardiness necessary to survive in Zone 4a comes from both the bitternut hickory, the most northern of all hickories, and from shagbark, which naturally grows very far north of where pecans can survive.  These trees have survived 43° below Zero twice without damage.

Come and taste them at our October 21 Open House!  We will have tours that feature these trees and how to grow them, and tours which feature our hybrid chestnuts.  Both nuts will be available for sale as well as tasting, and "pick-your own" chestnuts will be possible.

The hybrid pecan trees will be sold only under a "limited use" agreement.  While these trees are definitely ready for commercialization, the breeding and selection process is not "finished"; therefore we are not allowing other growers to sell trees from their plantings - without testing from us.  The detailed agreement will be available.

AND - Heritage Apple Cider Tasting - 

At Oct 21 Open House!

 Did you know we have an antique apple orchard here? Big, standard trees, which I grafted 35 years ago. And now- we have a cider maker- and PRIZE WINNING cider. Josh Landy, the artisan- is making some as we speak - which we will be TASTING here on Oct. 21.

These two medalists were single apple ciders. The Gold Medal is for a Jordan Russet cider.

Josh actually brought back 2 medals from that show; besides the Jordan Russet, he also won a silver medal for another single apple cider, from our Roxbury Russets.  Those are Roxburys in front of the bottle - and if you can't quite tell them from the Jordans above, you can be forgiven.  They're easier to tell apart in your hand than in a photograph.

Josh wins medals regularly; including "Cider: Best of Show" for the 2017 Minnesota Mashout competition for home brewers.  That one wasn't from our apples; but - next year?

Come, see, taste, and handle some!  The apple crop is abundant, and most can be tasted right in the orchard.

Details For Oct. 21 Open House

Open for tours from 10 AM to 5 PM.  Cider tasting starts at 1 PM, and formally last until 4 PM, although informal tasting later will be possible.

Rain Day - in the event Saturday 21 is rained out- we will run the event the next day, Sunday 22.  We'll announce here what the status is

This event requires an entrance fee.  Pre-registration before the 20th has a discount:

Pre-Registration: $25/ adult, or $45 per family.  Children under 12 free; 12-18 $10.

Registration at Entry: $30/ adult or $55 per family.  Children under 12 free; 12-18 $15.

All payments non-refundable; in the event of rain on the 21st, we will also be open on the 22nd.

To pre-register, please email; include your name, address, email, and the number in your party.  She will email you back with payment instructions; usually via PayPal.

Check back for more information in the coming days!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Hazels are FINALLY getting ripe; and...

This is possibly the latest I have ever seen the neohybrid hazels ripen.  We're still just in the early part of ripening; many totally white/green nuts are still there; but you can reliably expect to find ripe bushes to pick now.  That was not true just a week ago- which would normally be near mid-peak.

When they choose to get ripe has long been a puzzle, and continues to be so.  Cold and heat are factors, but not consistent and not the only factors.

A thing to keep in mind as you harvest - the appropriate fall color for hazel leaves is not yellow or orange, but maroons, purples, and bronzes.

If most of your hazels develop yellow or orange leaves- this is an indicator that they are very under-fertilized.  It may indicate low nitrogen more than other nutrients; more study needed.

These leaves are the right color for a well fertilized hazel - BUT - this is very much the wrong time.

Normally hazels should stay fully green well into October.  You can see the nuts and husks are far from ripe here- and yet the leaves are turning.

This is another indication of inadequate fertilization. There can be many details to why; but the basic factor is that this bush is carrying more nuts than it can feed through normal channels.

As a sign of the progress towards domestication; this is a good one.  Wild plants will drop nuts they cannot support- giving you no crop.  The neohybrid hazels have been selected to bear the crop, no matter what; since we're talking about feeding people.  This premature fall color means the plant is now stripping nutrients from adjacent leaves - and wood - to finish the nuts.  You'll get ripe nuts; but this is likely to kill the wood back one - two years.

If we have the ability, we'll fertilize hazels like this immediately with foliar fertilizer; that can save the wood.  In the long run; you need to figure out how to keep the plants fed well enough that they stay green - into October.

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.