October 1st

Monday October 1 2012

Our pumpkin harvest was a success. We had four plants that produced over 100 pie sized pumpkins in total. The seeds are from an organic pumpkin that are friend Jess B grew in Madison last summer. She gave us three pumpkins still in great shape in taste and form over the 2012 new year holiday. We have found that pumpkins when properly cured store longer than squash.

These pumpkins can be prepared just like squash, either by baking or cooking it up on the stove top with some oil. We have been eating these like they are going out of style. Pumpkin curries, fajitas, chili, and alone with poultry seasoning for that thanksgiving flavor.

Soap manufacturing has also been a project in our tiny cabin. We have a full inventory of unscented bars. We plan to launch a whole line soon. Check out our “soap page”:market_soap.html. We have been talking with some local retailers, some that are interested and some that are not. We have also gotten some valuable feedback in packaging and promotion. We also plan to sell our soap through mail in a flat rate box via advertising on the Internet as well as the local paper. We are thinking of a gift package for the holidays would be great.

Firewood cutting has also been a happening in our lives. Barry and his family are experienced woodsmen and loggers. Along with his brother Dustin, we cut some trees down along a gravel road by request of the town. This is a big project that we will keep working on. This last weekend in September we cut firewood for Barry’s grandma and grandpa. All the siblings, significant others, and the kids came out to help.

Taking advantage of the dry weather, we have been hauling swamp muck up from the now dried out pond and placing in our garden. The rich soil and debris will make a nice addition to the soil, which is still mostly clay.

The tarps and scrap lumber that covered the garden for the pumpkin patch were moved to a new space that has been resting. We are very proud of the use of permaculture in our garden design. The tarps and some of the lumber come from a housing manufacturer in the area. The rest of the lumber holding the tarps is from our cabin construction.

We plan to pry the smashed culvert open yet again. We also plan to dig out the area around it to allow better flow of spring water below the road. This time we are going to keep the grass trimmed and place posts in the ground so when the renters come through with their machines, they do not run over the culvert.

Making paths and chill or private areas in our property has also been on our mind. We made a complete circuit path that goes down close to the swamp that is the most private in our yard/prairie. Back in the woods we have staked out a maple tree that will serve as the center piece for a campsite with a fire ring. We need to start clearing out the small brush.

August Update

Wednesday August 29 2012

In this unusually dry summer, we have been working on our homestead and in envisioning a business model for Wolfbear farms. We have been using our own home made soap for a while now, are now producing enough for sale. We also are networking with local farmers about growing winter greens for this season. We hope to get a small CSA going this winter. We harvested apples last night and will be making apple wine this weekend.

Slugs and Bugs

Tuesday June 26th

There are slugs eating our pumpkin plants. We put out some traps, essentially it is beer in a small bowl. Another tiny bug is eating our kale and even the hastas. If any one has any suggestions reach us at our contact page.

Went for a canoe trip down the yellow river over the weekend, unusually high due to the rains, at times a canoe is unable to navigate the water way. Went for a bike ride today to see the bank of the black river, also high. The ground is dry, the grass is dry. It seems we get all or nothing. What is with this imbalance?

Summer Solstice Storms, Solar, and Author

Sunday June 19th 2012

There have been several storms that have passed through the area producing strong winds. The northern winds passing under the cabin have been really strong. Last night there was hail. A friend from Madison contacted us today to see if we blew away and to regal us with news that is still dry in the southern part of the state. It has been especially dry out, and the rain is much needed. Luckily our homestead is safe and secure. We just adjusted our solar array to the summer setting, and hope that it will hold up. We did some bracing with 2x4 that were scrap material from a manufactured home factory, coincidently enough, all employees from the factory are on lay off.

Eric and Barry are both intrigued by a local author. His book is titled, Enough! A critique of capitalist democracy and a guide to understanding a new normal. The author is Jerome D. Belanger, founder of counrtyside publications, also local, with help from his wife, Diane, as an editor. As we blog this, we assume with launching a book, that they are alright with the publicity.

The book is a condensed American history class. The housing market crash is the tipping point for revaluations of the new normal, when our society at is most lavish point of excess decompresses exponential growth and and searches for sustainability, because “Infinite Growth is impossible on a Finite Planet.” Jerome invites you to ponder how much is indeed enough. What do you need, using the limited resources on this planet to feel comfy deep down in your psyche? He also asks the reader to ponder the repercussions of China and India having their very own “American Dream,” and to see how fast the resources and environment are no longer habitable for those who call this planet home.

He explains the butterfly effect, how most things are entangled entangled in a complex web both part of the problem, part, and part of solution, how a capitalist democracy is still well within the spectrum of communism and socialism-and in most cases that is what democracy is. It is a tale of the winners and losers of democracy-the trade offs of globalization and infinite expansion ideals on our planet.

On Factory Farms

Thursday June 7th 1012

While chatting with an Errand Boys client, the topic of farming came up. We got to talking about the going rate of crop land (to feed livestock). In his opinion, the large factory farms are growing fast in the area. They are running out of land to grow cattle crops, mostly corn which is harsh on the depletes the soil of nutrients and, pollutes the local environment with herbicide run off. Small family farms loose out because they are raising 20 cattle rather than 2000, and they cannot afford to pay what the factories with their voluminous production can offer.

The loss of the family farm is one concern, but there is also ecological concerns such as excess nitrogen polluting the waterways. What do you do with 2000 large animal poop? Ultimately, it comes back to the land, knee deep. The use of herbicides is also a concern, just Google Herbicides and Toxicity.

The client also brought up that a lot of these farms have government subsidies on feed, chemicals, and large equipment that encourage their growth despite the other losses. Antibiotics are used to keep the crowded cows knee deep in shit from falling ill- making viruses and bacteria more resistant both in cows and people.

Late Spring/Early Summer Update

Saturday May 26 2012

It is Memorial Day Weekend. There were intense severe storms during the week, luckily our homestead made it through. It is has been raining and storming for much of the afternoon and evening. This is a good thing for farmers and gardeners because it has been rather dry.

We now have a NCF 41 certified composting system. We built an a prefabricated shed to house it in. It was $1200 on sale, but luckily a local retailer began stocking the product, and there is a box to check for this toilet system in the Taylor County sanitary permit.

We purchased a 1997 Ford 150. It has been a nice addition with hauling things, four wheel drive, and garden improvements.

As far as gardens, we have 6-7 varieties hops planted in the new location, those that we transfered from Madison. It is easy to divide up hop roots. The large tarp is still over our intended garden spot for this year. The goal is to kill the grass, and make it tillable by hand. A gas powered one is not in the budget this year. One though is to make it a gigantic pumpkin patch.

Off of the front porch we put in some herb plants, we basically dug a whole in the ground, planted and watered. It is fertilized with horse poop, mulched by cardboard boxes and then covered with some free mulch from the city of Medford. We mow the grass around each plant. Some of our Errand Boys clients have offered some herbs, and perennials to us, in which we have accepted. Much of the decor plants, are around the cabin with no official garden, landscape or mulch yet.

Once again we planted the property boundary to the north, this time with 2 foot spruces. Also planted two larger spruce trees near our cabin.

We planted a small test garden. There is some Kale and Head Lettuce that survived the cats. Now they just poop over the monsanto field.

Barry’s sister let us plant some of her garden, as she has a big space, and is going to be busy with a newborn baby this summer. After this rain, it will need weeding.